A new approach to faculty development has empowered instructors to support students and student belonging through instructional practices.

How to cultivate student belonging on a community college campus

A comprehensive approach to faculty development has led to confident instructors who are empowered to support students through instructional practices

Key points:

  • Faculty felt demoralized as student mental health negatively impacted engagement and course completion
  • Increasing faculty confidence in designing effective online courses helped re-invigorate students

There are many reasons people come to our community college in north central Ohio. They seek to earn more money, accelerate careers, receive vocational training, or obtain technical certifications. Our youngest students want to get a head start on college.

Whatever the reason, they envision a better life through education–and see North Central State College as a way to get there. As the faculty and staff at a small-town community college like this, we take pride in doing our part. When students graduate, we know they’re likely to stay in the area, work jobs that sustain our region’s economy, and become leaders in the community.

COVID-19 disrupted this sense of mission and pushed us to reimagine our roles in helping students achieve their goals. More than 75 percent of our students attended college part-time–a group that was disproportionately affected by pandemic disruptions.

Even as we moved beyond the emergency transition to remote learning, student mental health continued to negatively affect engagement, participation, and course completion. Faculty bore the brunt of these challenges and felt demoralized. They were experienced, highly skilled practitioners whose long-held instructional approaches and beliefs were being turned upside down.

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