Teachers may romanticize or villainize students based on conjecture, personal experience, and anecdotal observations. But for the most part we remain in the dark about what students actually do and want. In My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2005), Rebekah Nathan moves us beyond speculation and gives us a useful portrait of college students’ lives, reporting on her observations during a year-long “undercover” anthropological study of college culture. This portrait includes bad news, good news, and an overall more complex and informed way of understanding students.
In “Student Engagement and Learning,” Jillian Kinzie presents an overview of the current research on student engagement and learning. She concludes that when students are engaged, they are usually learning—and vice versa. In other words, “Engaging pedagogies matter . . .” (p. 151).