Special issue


In this paper, the authors explore the conditions that support belonging in remote VU Block Model® teaching. They examine the role of arts-based, embodied pedagogy in promoting engagement in learning, connection between students, and between students and teachers, and in an environment in which vulnerability and risk-taking in learning is valued. A discussion of belonging in higher education and the practice of embodied learning is followed by the reflections of seven participants. These participants were students in a remotely taught, arts-based higher education block unit, which had been mindfully adapted to retain the embodied nature of delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. After students’ participation in focus group interviews, the lead author constructed found poetry from their comments and reflections. This found poetry forms the dataset through which the questions of belonging are explored. The researchers found that when explored through the lens of the Community of Inquiry Framework, embodied and arts-based practices provided opportunities for students to develop a sense of belonging, deepen understanding of lived experiences, and realise higher education and career goals. This study elevates the voices of students, providing opportunities for higher education teachers to consider the importance of belonging for student success in remote, intensive, and on-campus modes of delivery.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Arts practices in remote teaching provides Arts practices in remote learning provide opportunities for students to develop a sense of belonging.
  2. Teacher focus on belonging significantly impacts students’ experience and success in remote and intensive delivery modes.
  3. Relational teaching, essential for student wellbeing during the response to COVID-19, remains a priority in remote, in person and intensive modes of delivery, especially for vulnerable student cohorts.
  4. Consideration of timetabling in intensive delivery modes allows students to work together across the semester or year which enhances belonging and student outcomes.
  5. Students will embrace challenges in their learning when teachers model vulnerability and the willingness to move outside of their own comfortable zone.

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