“Just Don't Get Too Personal”: Millennial Students' Perceptions of Transformative Teaching

“Just Don't Get Too Personal”: Millennial Students' Perceptions of Transformative Teaching

Dana R. Atwood (University of Wisconsin – Sheboygan, USA) and Sandra E. Schroer (Muskingum University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3873-8.ch014


In this chapter, the authors explore Millennial students' perceptions of contemporary transformative teaching pedagogy. Following a review of the literature on popular transformative teaching practices, the authors share their findings from a survey of 400 students from two different colleges regarding teaching methods that students perceive distracts them from learning. The authors argue that while students appreciate many feminist teaching goals, they are distracted by some of the strategies that professors often use to accomplish these goals. More specifically, while students wish to be respected as valuable co-producers of knowledge in the classroom, a number of them claim to be distracted by the use of self-disclosure and physical movement. The authors suggest that professors may wish to revisit their strategies with the understanding that our current students' experiences with technology and family alter their expectations of faculty behavior.
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Literature Review

A review of the literature suggests that a transformative classroom in higher education is focused on illuminating multiple perspectives in a collaborative way in order to highlight the oppressive structures and deconstruct the monolithic cultural stereotypes working in our lives. In the college classroom many of us seek to “decenter the authority of the professor” (Giroux, 1995, p. 11) and construct knowledge with our students taking special care to make personal identity and experience a valued source of knowledge (Babar and Murray, 2001; hooks, 1994; Macdonald and Sanchez-Casal, 2002; Sasaki, 2002; Seymour, 2007; Shrewsbury, 1987). Indeed, as Blaisure and Koivunen (2003) found through their interviews with 25 self-identified feminist teachers, “reducing hierarchy, or the sense of power over others, was important to the participants who held themselves accountable to recognize and illuminate multiple forms of oppression” (p. 24).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Disclosure: To share one's personal experience.

Decentering Authority: Allowing for collaborative learning between the teacher and student, in contrast to a professors control over students access to knowledge.

Personal Narrative: A form of self-disclosure.

Digital Divide: A cultural lag in competency between generations regarding the use of digital technology.

Digital Native: The first generation to grow up surrounded by/immersed in digital technology.

Transformative Teaching: Akin to feminist teaching in that the teacher seeks to be a facilitator of critical thought and reflection in collaboration with our students as opposed to the authority based passing down of knowledge. Transformative means allowing for flexibility in pedagogical models that respect student’s cultural lens/perspective.

Millennial Student: Students born between 1980 and 2000.

Grounded theory: A research method that allows theory to develop from the analysis of data.

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