Home News How One Professor Helps Online Students Forge Connections – The Chronicle of Higher Education

How One Professor Helps Online Students Forge Connections – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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This week:

  • I share one professor’s approach for helping students in her remedial math course deepen their understanding – and connect to their classmates.
  • Planning a course? We point toward a tool that can help you decide how much work to assign.
  • We pass along the titles of some new books on teaching.

Office Hours for Online Students

Students who placed into the University of California at Irvine’s remedial math class sometimes felt like they started their college careers in a hole. To avoid that, the university moved the course online in 2012, allowing students to take it before their other courses, even if they weren’t on campus.

Rachel Lehman, a lecturer with a continuing appointment who teaches the course, worked hard to build a great online version, which she teaches in the summer, fall, and winter. But she kept hearing the same complaint from students: Given the asynchronous, online nature of the course, they didn’t get to know their classmates.

That presented a particular challenge for new students, Lehman observed. “They don’t know anybody,” she said. “They’re afraid. They feel stupid because they’re not in the class they’re supposed to be.”

Besides, Lehman said, students can be a tremendous resource to one another, since they all have different pieces of the material mastered. Students who don’t connect with their classmates are missing out on that.

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