Creating a Supportive Climate for Engagement

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Creating a Supportive Climate for Engagement

In a January 2019 tip titled Creating a Supportive Climate for Engagement, a variety of strategies were provided for fostering and encouraging student engagement in courses.  This week, we’ll focus more closely on the various ways you can build community in a course regardless of the delivery method.


Provide opportunities for peer instruction and interaction.  Peer instruction can take many forms, including:


As the instructor, you are the power source from which the course draws its energy.  Engaging with your students, whether one-on-one or in small groups, is the foundation for building a class community.

  • Encourage students to introduce themselves early in the semester.
    • Model what an ideal introduction covers by sharing a bit about yourself.
  • Create an environment of inquiry and encourage students to ask questions by sharing your own questions and concerns about a topic or concept being covered.
  • Create a Q&A discussion forum for students to post questions. Doing so allows students to assist in answering questions and makes answering questions scalable.
  • Provide students with opportunities to connect with you and peers via office hours or group conferences.
  • Post announcements regularly using the Announcements feature in your learning management system.

Community Norms

Including students in establishing community norms is key.  Providing an opportunity for students to participate in creating “the rules” can instill a sense of personal ownership of the class experience.  

A few examples of community norms are:

  • Everyone has the right to be heard.
  • Be respectful while still being critical.
  • No name calling.
  • One person speaks at a time.

There are many simple solutions to creating a community in your course. For support implementing any of the tips provided, join us in our On-Demand Virtual Space.

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.