How do Teaching Practices and Use of Software Features Relate to Computer Science Student Belonging in Synchronous Remote Learning Environments?
When faculty behaviors foster students’ sense of belonging in class, students report better learning experiences and are more likely to remain in the major. Sense of belonging is the feeling of being a valued and legitimate member of a community. Student belonging is relevant to the classroom, the program of study, and the institution at large. Understanding teacher immediacy behaviors that cultivate belonging in postsecondary synchronous remote classrooms is important for retaining students in computing, where remote coursework is increasingly used to address increases in enrollment. This paper reports on an exploratory, survey-based study on the relationship between instructor immediacy behaviors and use of conferencing software features (e.g., chat, breakout rooms) with student sense of belonging in synchronous remote learning environments. Responses from 125 computing students from approximately 53 courses across the US show that students feel a moderate sense of belonging in their courses, with no differences found across demographic groups. Belonging was found to have a strong relationship with students’ overall opinions of their courses and their likelihood of completing the major. Students’ camera preferences and instructor camera requirements had no effect on belonging. A regression analysis showed that no tool use variables predicted student sense of belonging. However, two teacher immediacy behaviors, increase in frequency of setting aside class time to talk about upcoming course content and use of humor, were significantly associated with an increase in sense of belonging.
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