From Antagonist to Protagonist: Shifting the Stories to Support Gen Z Students

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Eileen Camfield
Leslie Bayers


This article explores prevalent stories about “Gen Z” students that unintentionally undercut both their success and learner-centered pedagogies. The authors consider how those beliefs might be reframed to serve all learners more effectively. We also explore how the racial reckoning, health pandemics, social unrest, and additional compounded traumatic events of 2020 complicated stereotypes about college-aged youth and magnified the ever-present need for more inclusive, flexible, and compassionate teaching approaches. We now have an opportunity to build on the lessons of 2020 and expand the lenses through with we consider our students’ visible behaviors and invisible experiences. We offer a rationale for and concrete pathways toward crafting more empathetic and productive stories about Gen Z students, which in turn allow us to develop teaching and assessment strategies that better align with our student-centered missions.


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How to Cite
Camfield, E., & Bayers, L. (2023). From Antagonist to Protagonist: Shifting the Stories to Support Gen Z Students . Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 23(2).
Reflective Essay
Author Biographies

Eileen Camfield, University of California at Merced

Eileen Camfield is a professor of Writing Studies and faculty associate in the Center for Engaged Teaching & Learning at the University of California at Merced

Leslie Bayers, University of the Pacific

Leslie Bayers is the associate director of the Center for Engaged Teaching and Learning at the University of the Pacific. 


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