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The 4 Connections are simple practices that many faculty members already apply to build relationships with their students. As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, these practices are more meaningful than ever - students in 4 Connections classes at COD reported increased feelings of belonging and support and appreciated their instructor’s empathy, flexibility, organization, and feedback. Implementations at community colleges have shown a positive correlation between 4 Connections practices and an equitable improvement in in-class retention rates, as well as increased student success and persistence.

Incorporating these practices into your classroom - whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid - can be as straightforward as adopting a new technology or as involved as redesigning your curriculum. Learn about the rationale for adopting the 4 Connections and then click through to see strategies, tools, and resources you can start using now.

1. Interact with Students by Name

Learn your students' names and begin using them on the first day of class and throughout the semester.

  • Reduce anonymity in the classroom & get to know your students through surveys, activities, online chats, etc.

  • Share your interests, passions, and personal learning process

  • Describe your own fears and struggles in learning new material

2. Check-In Regularly

Pay attention to student behavior and track student progress. Empathize with students. When a student is struggling, intervene. Refer students to campus resources.

  • Set up informal and formal anonymous processes to receive feedback on climate

  • Consider collecting feedback electronically

  • Review feedback comments and report back to students

3. Schedule One-on-One Meetings

At the beginning of the quarter and throughout, schedule required one-on-one meetings with students.

  • Schedule meetings at the start of the semester and throughout

  • Require meetings as a project milestone

  • Structure meetings with known-in-advance questions

4. Practice Paradox

Structure your course clearly. Communicate your expectations regularly. Then, be reasonably flexible when students come to you with concerns.

  • Structure your course clearly and communicate your expectations regularly

  • Be reasonably flexible when students come to you with concerns

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  • Last Updated: Jan 18, 2022 1:22 PM
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