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Student-to-Student Engagement in the Classroom

Creating opportunities for students to connect with one another in the classroom fosters a sense of community and also lays groundwork for developing communication skills that are essential for future coursework and the professional world.

Below are ideas from fellow adjunct faculty members that you may already be doing or enjoy trying out.


Since my course was a hybrid format due to COVID restrictions, I found a great online tool, called Padlet, which I used throughout the course as a weekly assignment for self-reflection.  Each student posted their thoughts on how they felt their clinical week was going, and had the chance to read and respond to their peers posts.  The sharing of self-reflection and self-assessment of one's own progress, I believe truly helped the students to feel connected as a cohort, and provided a group activity space to unify individual learning experiences "as a whole" and celebrate their growth of knowledge and skills.


-Susan Alliss, PTA, BA, CSCS, Clinical Education Coordinator/Instructor, Physical Therapist Assistant Program


At the beginning of the term each student shares 1 book, 1 song, 1 TV show, podcast et al they think each other should know - then by midterms they share with the student their post-thoughts.  They quickly find 'shared' connections they didn't think they had initially, even with the group share list....


-Sue Lafferty, PhD, Adjunct Faculty, Humanities

I enjoy promoting student-student engagement at the beginning of the semester by having students interview one another and then presenting their partner to the class. This works well in both virtual and face-to-face environments. I also try to model Kagan Strategies in class, such as Think-Pair-Share. This allows students to learn different cooperative working strategies while practicing them with a partner.


-Megan Wilson, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, Education


I do many large group and small group activities, but perhaps my favorite activity is an exercise that teaches them the mindset for analytical writing. I split students up into groups where they analyze all the elements of four famous artworks to analyze meaning, the focal point, relationship to color, the lack thereof, placement, historical context, the message it provides, and if this image provides closure to the audience. This enables students to see how all of the pieces come together to form the whole. This helps to break down the process of analyzing their writing topics. Are they going to analyze a film, social issue, historical event, a poem, short stories, video game, television series, a sports team, etc.? What prevents all the parts coming together to make meaning of the topic? What works well to make all the parts come together that create success in the topic they are analyzing? This activity is fun and highly engaging!


-Fonda Ginsburg, Adjunct Faculty, English


Competitions.  I use simulations where the students compete against one another.  Some students really thrive.


-Jason Reid, Adjunct Faculty, Business


I’m a big believer in games as a teaching tool precisely because they force students to interact with each other, so I use them whenever possible.


-Neal Heatherly, Adjunct Faculty, Speech Communication


Having a little time left over during a VCM class to talk about interests or current events was a way to get students engaged. Break out rooms also worked. For online, I like to post a discussion board as a get-to-know-you board. 


-Dr. Katherine Cable, Adjunct Faculty, Anatomy and Physiology


What I just discovered recently is to show past student success with a variety of students both male and female and different ethnic groups so students can identify.  I give recommendations to students and they keep in touch and share their success stories. 


-Bob Burrows, Adjunct Faculty, Computer and Information Science


I like to use media sources to engage students. For example, in Spanish class we may watch a fun music video and discuss not only the lyrics, but topics related to that particular artist's culture, etc.


-Jessica L. Rangel, M.S., M.S.Ed, M.A., Adjunct Faculty, Spanish

Thanks to everyone who shared ideas during Teacher Appreciation Week.  We’d love to hear from others about how you create community and encourage students to collaborate with one another.  Email us at

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