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Community Building: The Learner’s Perspective

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In Spring 2021, we asked our student consultants to reflect on their experiences with community building* in the online classroom setting. 

In the following, four undergraduate students share their reflections on when they felt part of their classroom community and what helped them form positive relationships with their classmates and their instructors. One common thread among the students’ responses is the importance of creating an inclusive space for students to interact with their peers and the instructor. While the students’ reflections are specific to their remote learning experiences, they provide insights that are applicable across all instructional modalities.

*To learn more about community-building strategies, see the CTL’s resource Community Building in the Classroom


I feel part of a classroom community when…

Michelle Yao

“…the professor is accessible to me and cares about my learning …” [and] “… uses technology intentionally to create a space to connect with my peers and professor outside of the classroom. – Michelle Yao, Columbia College (Major: Biological Sciences)


“…my professors and peers remember my name and how to pronounce it correctly” [and] “…I am heard by the instructor and my peers, and they actively engage in debate and conversation.” – Sajan Bar, School of Engineering (Major: Chemical Engineering)


…the instructor creates many opportunities for the students to work together and learn together” [and] “…I feel comfortable asking questions… I learn best when both the professor and students create a culture of questions.” – Donian Chyong, Columbia College (Major: Biological Sciences)


…personal connections with my peers and instructors are able to be made…With the instructor acknowledging our struggles, making us feel that all questions are welcomed, and offering ways to improve, we felt that we can openly struggle together, and the atmosphere felt less competitive and more collaborative.” Yarin Reindorp, General Studies (Major: Neuroscience and Behavior)