Authenticity, connection, belonging, inclusion, and consequent engagement

Authenticity, connection, belonging, inclusion, and consequent engagement in the context of online higher education

Theodore Bedford supervised by Gillian Proctor

Headshot of Theodore BedfordAbout the student researcher

I’m Theodore and I have just completed my master’s degree in “Cognitive Development and Disorders”. I have appreciated the opportunity to develop my research skills, especially within the area of online education, which is an important and extremely relevant topic. During my work as a support worker, I have witnessed the profound importance of education being accessible to all. I am incredibly passionate about increasing the effectiveness of online teaching and furthering its accessibility. However, the psychological phenomena which occur online and impact the effectiveness of online teaching have been discussed very little within the current literature. An example of psychological phenomena at play is the perception paradox whereby there is no shared perception between online participants; we are all potentially situated in different physical and virtual environments. These phenomena, which are not present in person, can affect our ability to interact in meaningful ways, thus affecting educational engagement.

Project overview

The project first conducted a literature review using five different databases, PsycINFO, Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, Education Resources Information Centre and British Educational Index. The literature review collated all the relevant research conducted in the past ten years on the issues which affect inclusion, meaningful connection, belonging, authenticity and consequent engagement in online higher education. The review results have been utilised to create a series of short lectures which discuss the psychological phenomenon at play and how these affect our ability to teach and learn effectively online. These lectures will be presented to research action groups constructed of students and lecturers. The research groups will then be supported to discuss solutions and adaptations to online education aimed at developing research-informed online teaching which supports active learning and engagement.