Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 426–448 | Cite as

Student-to-student connectedness in higher education: a systematic literature review

  • Jason MacLeod
  • Harrison Hao YangEmail author
  • Yinghui Shi


Student-to-student connectedness is promoted by active, student-centered learning processes. It is a socio-psychological result of interpersonal communication and behavior in the classroom, which emulates belonging, cohesiveness, and supportiveness among peers. Currently, two survey instruments exist—Dwyer et al.’s (Commun Res Rep 21(3):264–272, 2004. Connected Classroom Climate Inventory and Johnson’s (Commun Res Rep 26(2):146–157, 2009. amendment thereof, which have been used for nearly two decades to gain insight into instructional processes in face-to-face environments. However, research on student-to-student connectedness is relatively limited in the context of modern, technology-mediated learning environments. Arguably, where student-to-student connectedness is most urgently needed because of the decrease in face-to-face contact time between students and their instructors within online and hybrid learning environments. This study is a systematic literature review that presents a synthesis of twenty-four peer-reviewed journal articles, which empirically investigate student-to-student connectedness within face-to-face, hybrid, and online environments. The documentation of data is organized in accordance to the six aspects of activity theory (subjects, objects, mediating artifacts, rules, community, division of labor) to provide a basis for understanding the dynamics of each research report, as well as to assist identifying the trends and gaps in the literature, thereby expediting future research on this topic.


Student-to-student connectedness Connected classroom climate Connected classroom climate inventory Activity theory Literature review Higher education 



This study was funded by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (Grant No. 14JZD044).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

No human participants were involved in the scope of this study.

Informed consent

No human participants were involved in the scope of this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.D’Youville CollegeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Central China Normal UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.State University of New York at OswegoNew YorkUSA

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