Research into Affinity Groups to Create Connections & Engagement
For the last year, students have been experiencing school with limited connection to their peers, teachers, and learning community because of the Covid-19 pandemic. From March to October 2020, students attended school virtually. Everyone, students and adults, felt the isolating effects of the shelter in place orders. Eventually, students were able to return to school for a limited time each week with strict social distancing guidelines. Classes were taught using a hybrid model which had students in class virtually alongside students that were in person. The normal middle school social interactions were not happening. There was a disconnect between the virtual students and in-person students. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of affinity-based collaborative groups in breakout rooms as a vehicle to create connections between students to encourage social interactions, especially between virtual students and in-person students. Students were asked to reflect and report on their feelings of connection, comfort with sharing ideas, and engagement with their learning when they were working in affinity-based collaborative groups. The results of this action research reveal that more than half of the students in the study had increased feelings of connection, comfort with sharing ideas, and engagement with their learning after working in affinity-based groups.
Background and Need, Rationale, etc.