Building Student Engagement and Sense of Belonging: Small Group Discussions in the Online Learning Environment


This paper shares the results of a research study conducted in online higher education courses. The study utilized small groups in online graduate courses to promote student engagement and sense of belonging. Through a survey design, the study determined that the use of small-group discussions in synchronous seminars indicated a positive experience for online students. We share the results of this study which indicate that small group learning opportunities have a positive impact on student engagement and sense of belonging in the online course environment.


Sheffield Coulter
Education Faculty and Concurrent Coordinator, Teacher Education/Early Childhood, Southark Community College, Arkansas, United States

Misty LaCour
Professor, Education and Communication, Purdue University Global, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Considering Digital Pedagogies


Small group, Online learning, Online instruction, Discussion, Higher Education, Collaborative

Digital Media


Building Student Engagement and Sense of Belonging (mp4)