Book by Dave Knowlton & Kevin Hagopian
Review by Christine Simone
Honors College
University of South Florida

Millennial students, those born from 1982-2001, are commonly considered to be increasingly disinterested in their learning as they become more concerned with grades and attaining social experiences during college. In From Entitlement to Engagement: Affirming Millennial Students’ Egos in the Higher Education Classroom, Knowlton and Hagopian reframe the “Millennial student ego entitlement” and suggest a myriad of methods for embracing this generation of learners.

Rather than dwelling on characteristics of this population that many professors would consider negative, the authors encourage instructors to adjust to student needs. Instructors who continue to assume students’ egos should be altered may, in turn, perpetuate student entitlement. At its core, Millennial students are not necessarily self-centered, but rather closed off to others. Professors have a responsibility to create engaging classroom environments capable of explaining to students why certain skills are necessary for their success outside the realm of merely attaining a degree.

Told largely from a highly academic, research-based, first-person perspective, this book provides several anecdotes from the authors’ own classroom experiences to illustrate methods of shifting student perspectives through tangible examples of proven approaches. In particular, the authors devote an entire chapter of the text to embracing students’ knowledge and appreciation for technology by demonstrating methods of encouraging social media use for classroom engagement. Similarly, strategies for implementing service-learning and goal-setting projects are discussed.

Chapter nine, devoted to discussing out-of-class, informal interactions with students is of particular relevance to academic advising practices. Though not all academic advisors would have the opportunity to apply the concepts from the text in a classroom environment, advisors frequently interact with Millennials and teach them in other ways. Many of the concepts suggested for classroom use can be applied to advising interactions with students so that advisors may encourage students’ engagement with courses that they are most inspired by, rather than using other factors to determine students’ academic paths through the institution.

The authors highlight research on student perspectives that draws conclusions that students are increasingly viewing themselves as customers of universities, partly due to the increase in the cost of education over time. Advisors who successfully get to know their students can embrace the customer service that students wish for from their institutions while learning which campus opportunities might be best to recommend for students to feel engaged and valued in their learning experience, thus shifting students to ego engagement rather than a culture of entitlement.

The authors, both university professors, explain in their conclusion that “addressing the needs of Millennial students and their egos has created a setting in which some of our earliest ambitions for a truly engaged classroom could come to fruition. In some ways this book is a moment in the history of that 20-year conversation that we’ve been having” (Knowlton & Hagopian, 2013).

From entitlement to engagement: Affirming millennial students’ egos in the higher education classroom. (2013). Book by Dave Knowlton & Kevin Hagopian (Eds.). Review by Christine Simone. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. 112 pp., $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-118-77010-8
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