To help build inclusive student community, faculty can provide opportunities for students to interact with each other both in and outside of class. This is different from collaborative learning in that the primary goal is helping students make social connections rather than directly impacting learning. This can encourage the growth of peer-support networks and a student-centered learning community. Students who have a community related to their academic pursuits are more likely to persist.

Some suggestions

Break the ice. Use icebreakers to help students get to know each other. But be careful in the choice of activities. The goal is for students to see what they have in common. But some questions--e.g., those that draw out gender, race/ethnic, or class differences--can produce division rather than community.

Facilitate out-of-class connections. Help students connect with their peers outside of class by creating opportunities for them to discuss and meet. For example, facilitate the creation of study groups or special interest groups, and host fun, inclusive social events.

Teach professional behavior. Many students need explicit training on what it means act professionally. Build professionalism into your student culture by teaching students to treat each other with respect, how to disagree productively, and to value diversity.

Examples from the collection

Ice Breaker - Paper Airplanes

This is an ice-breaker activity you can use early in a course to help students get to know each other in a low risk, fun way.

How to Do It: Students are given templates and instructions on how to build a simple paper airplane. Before making their plane, each student writes on their paper three things about themselves that they are willing to share. It's fun to encourage them to share creative or unexpected things.

Day One Ice Breakers

This a set of "icebreaker" activities are used on the first day of an introductory programming class to help create a welcoming learning environment for students and to lay the groundwork for discussions about how to be successful in Introductory Computing. I have included student-facing slides, a sign-in handout, and a short paper with tips for implementing these activities.

Resources