||There are many themes impacting entry-level student progression. Connectedness is one such theme, suggesting that students who are more socially integrated into college life have a greater likelihood of progressing. Despite strategies and interventions to retain entry-level students, the rate of non-progression remains high. Research suggests this is partly because these interventions stop short of the classroom.
Student connectedness is subjectively felt through the network of campus life. It is the joint and interactive effect of the students' academic and social experience of college life that builds the network through which the student feels connected, thus influencing his decision to stay. The classroom is one of the busiest junctions in this web of connectivity.
The purpose of this research is to inform a classroom action research strategy to improve teaching practice by considering how students connect to each other in a design studio classroom. The research draws on the experience of design educators to inform teaching practice and impact student connectedness in context.
The research comprises several phases including a literature review on connectedness and a faculty focus group. This paper summarises the literature review and draws conclusions from the focus group discussion outcomes, which include the views, opinions and experiences of certain first-year instructors. The focus group participants were surveyed on their experience of student connectedness in the classroom, specifically in terms of which elements of their teaching strategies they have used or observed as effective in the generation of connectedness between students. Four main elements were discussed: connectedness in the classroom, classroom layout, project design, and assessment.