Facilitating Positive Student Help-Seeking Experiences in Online Courses

March 18, 11:30 AM–12:30 PM PT

In this session, participants will learn of the many struggles college students face when asking for help, particularly in courses for science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM). Research has found that avoidance of help-seeking can result from experiences of discrimination and marginalization, but studies show college students who seek help have better outcomes and experiences (Fong et al., 2023). The Postsecondary Teaching with Technology Collaborative (The Collaborative) is a research and capacity-building center aiming to study and improve how faculty build students’ self-directed learning skills and increase success in online STEM courses. To understand how faculty can foster help-seeking, The Collaborative’s researchers interviewed 25 students from online STEM courses in 4 community colleges. Drawing from 11 participants, the Collaboratives data supports two main themes which demonstrate instructor accessibility and responsiveness facilitate help seeking and close faculty-student relationships enable a stronger sense of belonging for students in an online setting. Students also reported more comfort in seeking help when instructors demonstrated transparency. In this session, presenters will discuss these findings and gather participants’ views on the best ways to facilitate transparent communication and develop skills around compassionate interaction with marginalized students.


Keena Walters, Research Associate, SRI Education

Jenivee Gastelum, Research Assistant, CCRC

Louise Yarnall, Senior Researcher, SRI Education