Complete Literature

14 Reasons Why Students Need Literature

  • Post author: Marie
  • Post published: July 19, 2019
  • Post category: Classroom Ideas / Lesson Planning / Literature Programming / Uncategorized
  • Post comments: 83 Comments

Some people love to read.  Others don’t.  Sometimes having students that don’t love to read can seem like torture, both to the teacher and to the student who doesn’t love to read.   But at the end of the day, there are many reasons why students need literature.  And as teachers, we can help both the students that love to read and the ones who don’t so much learn to recognize the richness that literature brings to life.   In turn, those book-haters might just end up loving books more than they ever thought they could!  

So, in light of us teachers bringing along all of our students into a love of reading, here is a list of 18 reasons why students need literature.

Table of Contents

1.  It Expands Vocabulary and Communication Skills

Okay, I’m going to apologize here.  This is probably one of the most boring reasons on the list.  I realize the majority of students don’t care about the size of their vocabulary or their communication skills.  But I guarantee, this is one skill set that they will be so grateful for as adults.

The great news about this boring point is that implementing it into the classroom can be fun!  There are tons of great vocabulary games online. A google search will give you more than you can handle.  Many times, kids will think of ways to change those games up too, which keeps things fresh in your class.  AND letting them use their creativity to tweak those games covers most of the categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy–remember, understand, apply, analyze, and create.   Here is a link to Bloom’s Taxonomy  if you would like more information.

Kids also love to talk and be heard.  I have had some of the most interesting (and sometimes lengthy) conversations with students who were learning new words.  I found it so rewarding to see the light bulb come on. And I could see that they recognized something that they could use to expand their world.

One of the things kids love to do the most is argue.  We don’t want to directly encourage them to argue.  But teaching them vocabulary and communication skills (and adding reasoning skills) will help them to be able to express themselves in healthy ways.  That is a win-win for teachers, parents, and students!

2.  It Bolsters Their Imagination

Reading a great book can make some kids’ imaginations come to life.  But for other kids it may not be so magical  That’s where an awesome literature program comes in.  Teachers can bring a book to life by helping the kids experience the book instead of just reading it.  Finishing a dramatic reading of it (I love listening to recordings of the books with the kids), then discussing what the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) experienced brings the story line to life. Ask them how they would have handled it if they were involved or if they one of the characters. It puts them right in the middle of the book.

Adding snacks, games, crafts, and even fun worksheets to the lineup immerses the students into the life of the book.  It reaches all of their senses.  They will see the book as so much more than just a book.  They will be disappointed that they have to end with that chapter and excited to come back for the next one.

3.  It Teaches Them About Other Cultures

Most kids see life through the very limited life that is happening directly around them.  Some kids are fortunate enough to be well traveled and have a wide range of experiences at an early age. However, most of them only get that kind of life experience on a limited basis.

That is what makes this one of the best reasons why students need literature.  Great books allow us to bridge that gap for them and experience life through a totally different lens.

Teaching the Difficult Stuff

There are also cultural themes that we would like our students to recognize. But we don’t necessarily want them to experience those themes.  We want them to empathize with those around the world that struggle, whether it is for health, oppressive laws, or just personal difficulty in navigating life.

Every single culture in the world has downsides that cause its people to struggle.  We may not want to go into great detail about these things with younger students.  But it is good to talk to students that are old enough to start seeing the intricacies of the world. Even if it is in a limited context, it can do great good for them to recognize.

Using the Proper Perspective

We  also want our students to realize that life looks different to everybody. This is especially true when people are from different parts of the world. They should recognize that some people live magical lives they would never be able to imagine in their own world. But even within those magical lives, they still struggle in very real ways.

Teaching them that life looks drastically different for everyone, rich or poor, healthy or sick, is good for them.  And teaching them that it is okay to be different than everyone else is a good thing.  We can help them realize that it is okay to be happy for someone that has more in life than they do.  Hopefully that encourages them to feel blessed about what their life looks like.

We can encourage them to not feel that they need to compare themselves to others.  Learning about these things through a book gives kids the perfect way to experience these difficult things.  They can learn how to handle them without actually experiencing them.

Examples of Cultural Differences

A great book that falls in this category is  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian   by Sherman Alexie.  It is a loose autobiography of a young man who grew up on a reservation in Spokane, Washington.  It details his struggles to stay there as well as his struggles with identity on choosing to leave.

For a totally different spin on cultural experience, I wholeheartedly recommend  Who Was Princess Diana  by Ellen Labrecque.  It speaks to how she was born into a wealthy family. She grew up to become the most famous princess in the Western World.  But yet her life was anything but easy.

She never faced poverty or hardship personally. But she worked with those who were impoverished all around the world. She faced struggles that could arguably be way more difficult than poverty or ill health.  Much of the time her struggles were agonizingly difficult.

And this leads us straight to the next reason.

4.  They Can Learn Resilience Through the Struggles of Characters

We can impart to kids at a pretty young age that everybody struggles.  But we need to teach them a bigger lesson.  They can learn that the issue  is not necessarily the struggle itself. It is  how to get through it that is the most important factor.

Show them ways to fight adversity with dignity and a GOOD fight.  Show them that there is almost always a good way and a bad way to fight adversity.

Most people learn this lesson the hard way after many years.  What if we could start teaching our kids about this from an early age?  They may still choose the harder path over time, but they are at least better equipped to make a choice.  This lesson alone could make this one of the top reasons that kids need literature.

This will be one of the students’ favorite reasons why they need literature because they will get to see how strong and resilient they can be, even at a young age.  Sometimes kids think they are irrelevant and not able to be strong simply because they are not adults.  Showing them that they can be strong and respectful and wise even at a young age is a magnificent lesson and one that they will treasure.

5. They Learn to Respect People that Live Different Lives Than Them

This point is also closely related to the third point in this article.  But it is actually a valid point for anybody that students encounter, whether in books or in real life, from a different country or local.  They can read books about characters and relate to them in positive ways.  It doesn’t matter if the character being discussed is making decisions that are right or wrong.  It also doesn’t matter if the character is making a decision that the student doesn’t agree with.  In fact, that makes for perfect discussion. And that is why this one of the better reasons why students need literature–because this is a lesson they will use constantly the older they get.  Learning it now sets them above and beyond the norm and equips them for life.

It is a great opportunity to teach the students how to respect people even if they don’t agree with what they are doing.  It’s also a great opportunity to teach them how to graciously disagree with someone if they are faced with something that is blatantly wrong, and not just a judgment call.

I am not saying that they must respect anybody, regardless of whether they have done some really terrible things.  I’m just saying that most people are generally just trying to do what they think is right or best most of the time.  Respect and encouragement are great lessons to learn at an early age.  But the better lesson is to learn them not just when it’s easy, but especially when it is difficult.  But only when appropriate!  That may be a lesson for another time.

6.  It Helps Them to Learn About Empathy

Empathy is similar to respect in that you are walking a mile in someone’s shoes. Better understanding their circumstances enables you to relate to them in a better way. Empathy towards the people around us is a critical trait to have. But is is apparently one that can be in short supply these days.

So how do we teach kids that are conditioned to get what they need to stop looking inward and start looking outward toward others?

Dialog is always so important.  Asking kids how they feel about someone is probably going to get a very direct answer, especially from younger students.  But it gives you a foundation to gently guide their thoughts to stable ground.

It is easy to teach them to  empathize with the character that is full of goodness. Their struggle is not from something they did that was bad but facing a trial that seems insurmountable at the moment. Conversation can flow easily when you ask them how they could possibly help someone facing the same trials as the character in the book.  You can praise their heartfelt thoughts and even encourage ways to move even further towards helping a struggling person.  If they aren’t sure how to answer make sure to have thoughts about this beforehand.

Showing empathy to someone who is struggling because of making bad choices ( The Outsiders  by S.E. Hinton comes to mind here) is a bit more challenging.  It is a delicate balance between supporting someone but not supporting the wrongdoing.  But what a rewarding lesson it will be!  It is something that could very well remain with your students for their whole life.

7.  Teaches Them Good vs. Evil

Good vs. evil is everywhere.  It is in real life.  It’s  in the Bible.  It’s in the movies.  It is even in the Iliad and Odyssey.  Actually, we might be hard pressed to find a place that it is not.  Not counting Heaven or Hell.

When kids are very young, they tend to see the good in everything.  It is pretty easy to block out evil, especially since their parents are most assuredly doing that for them.

That fact makes this one of the best  reasons that students need literature.  It is a really good way to introduce them to one of the toughest aspects of life.  The best thing about it is that they are learning through situations that they don’t have to experience personally. There are so many places that they can see this lesson on a daily basis, but in literature the lessons are definitely bigger and more pronounced.  That makes for much better conversation. It also makes kids able to pick up the nuances of good vs. evil more easily down the road.

I already brought up several places that you can use this lesson for kids.  It can even come up in casual conversation, which can be the best way to reach kids.  But one more  really good example that you can use with  your students is  The Narnia Series  for younger grades and  Lord of the Rings  for older grades.  Both series work well in either secular or religious settings.

8.  They Can Be Warned of the Consequences of Making Bad Choices

I know that I have already talked about discussion with the students more than any of the other regular stuff that we do in Complete Literature.  But really, the bottom line is that no matter what extra special projects we are doing in literature to drive the application home, keeping the lines of communication open is going to be the thing that the kids remember the most.

They will remember the special games, the crafts, the awesome themed snacks, and even the homework assignments that allowed them to be creative and artistic.  But what will stand out even more is the fact that the whole time they were doing those things in class you heard them.  You listened to them and cared about what they had to say.

So in this next reason that students need literature, I want to talk about how they can be warned about consequences before they get themselves over their heads.

What Making Their Own Choices Looks Like

As time goes on, they will have to make their own choices.  And inevitably, they will make the wrong choice.  We all do.  But talking about the choices that were made in the books they read and evaluating why the characters made the choices they did make for really productive conversation.  Then being able to talk through the consequences that the characters ended up facing after the decision is a great way for kids to see cause and effect in action.  They learn that everything they do results in a consequence and they can start learning reasoning skills related to that at a pretty early age.  Babies are taught very quickly not to touch hot stoves or play in the road.  So middle school students can very quickly learn less tactile lessons with some great discussion.

A bonus to this is that you will very much enjoy listening to the kids feelings/thoughts as they work through this real-life exercise.

9.  They Can Be Inspired by a Hero/Heroine

Reading a book that features a hero or heroine is probably one of the biggest imagination-generators.  Kids instantly start dreaming of themselves being in the battle.  Their imagination takes them to partnerships with the hero, being able to help out the hero, taking the hero’s place once he is gone, and even being rescued by the hero.

A great conversation to have is how we can all be heroes every day in so many ways.  Being proactive about helping people (without being told to!), talking about ways we can make the world a better place, and recognizing people in our own lives that are heroes in their own rights are great ways to help students realize what really makes a hero.

10. They Can Learn Different Solutions to Problems Than They Would Have Thought of

This is one of my favorites, because I can literally see the wheels turning in their heads as they work through this.  I love seeing the inspiration in their face when they realize there were even more options than what they had already thought of and they loved those new options.

A perfect way to implement this is in a way that your students will clearly see how their decisions affect what happens next or even down the road.  In   The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,   Eustace starts out making all the wrong decisions.  His decisions are derived from jealousy and bitterness and meanness.  He also hasn’t spent much time with other people in order to interact in healthy ways.  So when he ends up spending the summer with the Pevensie children and faces life-threatening crazy adventure, he learns pretty quickly that personal responsibility in making good choices is critical.  Of course, Eustace goes through some things that no child in your class will ever face.  But the concepts remain the same.

Sometimes what seems common sense to us is not to others, especially kids.  And if they have not learned good decision-making skills, it will not automatically make sense to them.  Younger kids (and sometimes older kids) are not thinking about consequences, but about what they want at the moment.

I am sure that most kids of school age have learned that certain things they do will render certain consequences.  But most of them haven’t yet learned how even seemingly benign choices can cause a different path in life.  Those don’t have to be bad–it could change life for the better or worse,  and they may not be significant changes.  But things do change based on decisions made.

All of this is not to say that we should scare kids into being fearful of choices that would bring them unbearable consequences.  But it is a great opportunity to see them understand how life works a bit better. It will equip them to make harder decisions as they get older because they will have had experience already.

11.  It Could Inspire Them to Choose a Career/Job Field

Kids spend a lot of time dreaming.  Getting them to talk about those thoughts and dreams is even more rewarding than the dreaming.  It allows them to collect their thoughts and gain support for their dreams.  And an adult who hears them and chooses to encourage them in productive ways is worth even more than the books that got them there.

It’s pretty cool to hear stories about people who chose a job field based on a book they read as a child.  It is so awesome to hear those stories from people who went on to become doctors, teachers, decorators, engineers, homemakers, or any of a number of great choices.

It would be pretty awesome to hear from older teachers who had the privilege of seeing where their former students ended up and what it was that inspired them to get there.

The next reason why students need literature is tied closely to this one.

12.  It Can Help Them to Picture What They Might be Like as Adults

This goes a bit further than inspiration to choose a certain job field.  This is a great reason why students need literature because it allows them to see themselves as a whole person.  They can apply themselves to whatever aspect of their reading touches them.  It can be a character’s background, behavior, thoughts, dreams, relationships, location, or literally anything.

We can all think of times that kids came up to us and said, “When I grow up, I’m going to _____.”  This is the perfect opportunity to hear the aspirations of kids who are thinking about what their future is going to look like.  Will it look like what they are thinking at the moment?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that this type of thought isn’t  greatly productive.  And it will still shape their future greatly, even if they can’t predict their exact future and it likely won’t turn out exactly like they are thinking.

By inserting themselves into an adult character’s life, they can actually picture what their life could look like based on their life experiences combined with what they are reading.  This is a great way for them to gain knowledge and wisdom without having to go through trials to get there.

Of course, we cannot guarantee that students will grow up to be totally reflective of themselves or choose the right pathways, but equipping them to be able to do so is as far as our job can take us.

13.  It Helps Them Learn Ways to be in Better Relationship with Others

Kids can read a book and think about how they would have done things the same or differently than the protagonist.  Or maybe there is a character in the background that resonates with them.  They could think about how they would handle things if they were that person.  Or they could even think about how they would help out that person or encourage them or be a friend to them.

On the flip side, they may read about an antagonist and react positively or negatively to how they would deal with whatever the situation is.  In that case, you have two great avenues to guide them.  The first is to praise a good decision they made in how they would deal either with the antagonist or the situation if they were the antagonist.

The second is to ask them some questions (non-interrogation style) as to how they came to the decision about how to handle the situation.  The questions should be designed to help them form their train of thought in a way that lets them come to their own conclusion.  This allows them to come to a better decision.  But, even more importantly, it shows them how to guide their own train of thought for future decisions.

The possibilities are endless when kids start thinking about what they have read.  And the best time to hear their thoughts is either while they are reading or right after.  Their thoughts are fresh and easier for them to communicate during those times.

14.  They May Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading

And here I have saved the best one of all for last!

I have had students that came into my class and immediately let me know that they were not fans of reading.  My usual response was just to smile at them and let them know that some of my own kids felt the same way.  What I didn’t tell them was that in the end just about everyone who finds a book that they actually do love will gain a love for reading.  Some may just be a little pickier in which books they will read.  At the end of the day, literally everyone can tell you about a book they read that was their favorite.

This is where the classroom is at a huge advantage in teaching a love for reading.  Teachers have a captive audience, but they also have the ability to craft the literature program to what their current students love to do the most.  Incorporating what they love into what they may not love at the moment (reading) could just turn the tide for the rest of their life.

Being paid to teach is a good thing. But almost nothing feels better than seeing a former student years later and hearing them tell you how something you did in that classroom years ago inspired them to change the course of their life, whether in some small or huge way.

I love to hear stories about how this has happened!

For an excellent list of the top ten middle school/young adult books   click here.

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This post has 83 comments.

importance of literature to a student

I love this. I’ve always been a huge reader and I feel like it helped to shape who I am. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

importance of literature to a student

Yes, Krysten. I feel the same. Reading has definitely shaped who I am.

importance of literature to a student

Yes! Books are the best. My kids have always been surrounded by them. I think that’s so important.

importance of literature to a student

I think everyone need literature. Even adults. I read a lot as a kid, but as a grown up, I don’t have as much time as I would like to have to read.

I have such a huge pile of books waiting to be read!!! I constantly read growing up but have a hard time finding time as an adult as well. Maybe someday!!!

importance of literature to a student

I think it honestly goes without saying that kids/everyone needs literature for all of these reasons!! Thank you for emphasizing this!!! 🙂

importance of literature to a student

Reading is always a good thing. My kids love reading at bedtime.

importance of literature to a student

As an avid reader since childhood, I could not agree with this more! I still love reading and enjoy reading with my kids.

Me too, Jessica! Reading is awesome, reading with your kids is even more awesome!

importance of literature to a student

Great points!! Most of these could also apply to movies, but books do have a few added points as you mentioned of bolstering imagination, and of course improving reading comprehension and spelling. My oldest is turning 7 soon and just starting to get into books, mostly comics and not especially educational stuff, but I’m hoping to introduce him to the magical world of Harry Potter soon!

That’s awesome, Heather! And those comic books could be the thing that makes him love reading tons of books for the rest of his life!

importance of literature to a student

I love reading and I never understand how some people hate it. I have learnt a lot from reading books.

I feel the same way, but as it turns out, while most of my own children loved reading, a couple of them did not. I guess it just depends on the way we are wired.

importance of literature to a student

Great article. I totally agree! Literature definitely helped me develop my creativity and open my mind to different perspectives. I believe that it’s important to also recommend literature that students are interested in, in order to keep them motivated.

Absolutely true, Candace. If you don’t catch them with literature they will like, then you have lost their attention from the beginning.

importance of literature to a student

So many great reason why literature is great for kids. I like that it teaches empathy the most, a book usually puts you in the protagonist shoes which creates instant empathy.

Yes, Kiwi! Empathy is one of the most important lessons that children can learn. It will prepare them for a much smoother adulthood if they can walk alongside those that they brush shoulders with.

importance of literature to a student

Every child should be thought to love reading. The main reason is, and you started with it, the developing of the vocabulary.

There are so many good reasons, Joanna! Thank you for weighing in!

importance of literature to a student

I totally agree. My kids love to read. They are 6 and 10 and they have vocabulary that can rival even college students. Or even professionals.

Yes, Mommy Sigrid, reading makes such a huge difference in all the other language skills.

importance of literature to a student

I’ve always loved reading and see it as a form of escapism

importance of literature to a student

I enjoy reading so much, it’s a great relaxing activity and takes my mind off everyday problems.

Me too, HolyVeggies! If I could I would spend most of my time in a corner, snuggled up and reading. 🙂

importance of literature to a student

Wow, so many great points here! Reading is definitely important as books can allow one to learn about seeing things in different perspectives.

importance of literature to a student

I admit that I’m really not a book-ish person. But I’ve read some and most of them were fictional novels with adventure and magic related themes. However, I really do regret that I have read less books during my younger age yet here I want to be a content creator which actually I have been struggling because of my limited vocabulary. So I definitely agree with you that young ones should start engaging in literature, it would really help them a lot in the future.

You are right, Loise. But it’s also never too late. And your writing is good now–it will improve even more with time and more reading! Thank you for sharing that with me. ♥

importance of literature to a student

I love to read, its always been a passion for me since I learned how to read! I hope to instill my love of reading in my nephew as well.

I really think that you will instill that in him. I can picture you sitting him on your lap to read to him. 🙂 ♥

importance of literature to a student

It’s true, reading is more than escaping to a wonderland. There are many lessons to be learned if we just open a book and really look at the message the author is sending. Thank you for the book recommendations.

importance of literature to a student

Reading is so important for learning. Thanks for the information so I can motivate my kids to read more

importance of literature to a student

This made me realize how lucky I was to grow up in a ridiculously literate household. You make great arguments and made me realize some of the luck I had growing up. Thank you!

That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing!

importance of literature to a student

I grew up reading literature and yes I 100% agree with you, it helped shaped me in so many ways…Literature is a must for students there is no doubt about it.

importance of literature to a student

I couldn’t agree more! Reading is so important and beneficial for soooo many reasons. I especially appreciate how you pointed out that it helps kids to learn empathy. That is something every child needs to learn!

I agree, Empathy seems to be becoming a lost art.

importance of literature to a student

I do believe that literature should be a part of every student. and we are all students, regardless of age. It teaches us a lot of things that we can apply in our own lives.

importance of literature to a student

Literature teaches visualization and formation of one’s own perspective. These two skills come in handy for the rest of our lives.

importance of literature to a student

I agree with you that students can benefit in numerous ways from literature. They should be aware of this fact and it’s our task to inform them of these reasons! 🙂

importance of literature to a student

Excellent post. I love to hear of kids reading as I don’t think enough do nowadays. My nieces certainly don’t but I’d love to get them into the joys of reading.

I know, seriously, it’s so hard to separate them from their devices. Once I get my kids away from them they are fine. But it is so hard at first.

importance of literature to a student

As someone who was a humanities major (specifically English Literature), I strongly support these reasons. My worldview has expanded greatly as my professors introduced us to other cultures, cultures I never would have experienced otherwise.

importance of literature to a student

I was, and still am, a big literature nerd in school, so I totally don’t understand why kids don’t love it! You’ve listed some important points; bolstering imagination and empathy is vital.

I have always been a literature nerd myself, lol. But I guess you can probably tell by my website. I never grew out of it!

importance of literature to a student

Literature should be a part of every students lives because it teaches us a lot of things that are applicable to real life.

This is so true! Students can learn more from literature than regular textbooks because they see these things being lived out and not just facts spewed at them.

importance of literature to a student

These are all great reasons! I love to read and literature is a big part of my life. I also try to share this with my kids as much as possible. I try to read to them everyday.

Thank you, Carrie! You and your kids will love the one I am finishing up tonight! I will be publishing soon!

importance of literature to a student

sounds like a great tool to have anything that offers a helping hand is great in my opinion

importance of literature to a student

It’s so true — presenting children with literature is so important! It’s beneficial in the long run.

importance of literature to a student

These are all great points. I’ve actually had discussions about literature and brought up a few of these. I’ve always viewed literature as more than reading. Reading the classics is a combination of reading, history, social studies, and more when you get right down to it.

importance of literature to a student

I totally agree that literature is so important and necessary for children! I am going to have to check out these books now!

Kileen cute & little

importance of literature to a student

My daughter loves to read, and I recognize all these valid points you make about what reading can do and how this benefits children/students. This is a list that every parent and student should read. Thank you for sharing this!

importance of literature to a student

Wow this is such great info, It is so important to teach your kids the right way. I still try and learn everyday.

importance of literature to a student

Literature is great at every age. I would have struggled to come up with 24 reasons for kids to engage but you make your points well.

importance of literature to a student

This is really cool and spot on. I developed a love for reading at an early age. I don’t do as much of it now as I did then, but to this day I remember fondly several of my favorite heroes, books, etc.

importance of literature to a student

My girls have loved reading since they were very small. It’s definitely done wonders for their imagination!

importance of literature to a student

I agree with you. Students need literature, but they need to be taught to feel, not to think logically on a subject. I believe it’s when literature brings to them imagination and creation.

importance of literature to a student

I agree with these and not just for kids but also for adults. I always read things that interests me.

importance of literature to a student

Students definitely need literature because it could help them learn better about the things around them and about many more things as well, this was a nice summary of all the benefits it could give, thanks for sharing these with us!

importance of literature to a student

Literature is one of the subject that I love the most because it gives me a lot information about the culture and traditions not only by my own country but also the other country/tries.

Wow! This is such a thorough article you’ve posted for us and I loved it. Literature is so important as it help individual to develop sense of good and humility.

importance of literature to a student

good point about cultural differences. i learned so much about other people groups and areas of the world by reading.

importance of literature to a student

I agree with you, I always find it interesting learning cultures about different countries , hopefully they find it interesting as I did.

importance of literature to a student

I think literature is enriching and very helpful to grow as a person

importance of literature to a student

These all points are damn true..literature, reading books helps a person especially in self development…well glad to know that you shared this with us..great work though…

importance of literature to a student

Yes to all of this! My mom is retired English teacher and reading is so important!!

importance of literature to a student

Such a great article thank you for sharing, so many great points made!

importance of literature to a student

Reading is a powerful way to expand our acceptance of the world and connecting to others.

importance of literature to a student

Literature is really important to all of us. Teaching them to respect different lives is a good way to accept all kinds of people in the world.

importance of literature to a student

My father was a journalist so I had access to a huge library at home at an early age. Literature is definitely great for kids and I owe my success today to being a voracious reader of literature when I was growing up!

importance of literature to a student

I agree. It Expands Vocabulary and Communication Skills. It’s very helpful now especially during pandemic.

importance of literature to a student

I love books , It has been my best friend while growing up !

importance of literature to a student

Wow! I never thought about how literature shapes young minds like this. You sound like an awesome teacher!

importance of literature to a student

Nnniiiiccceeeee….if there is anything that I ever loved and picked from studying literature, it was and is, “They Learn to Respect People that Live Different Lives Than Them”. I realise the world is so much bigger than I have been “told” it is.

importance of literature to a student

This is exactly why I am introducing my kids to literature at a young age! IT’s so important.

importance of literature to a student

Yes I 100% agree with this, it is great for both their imagination and also creativity. Additionally helps to express yourself x

importance of literature to a student

Literature is one f my favorite subject when I was in college. I found it very interesting it gives me so much imagination.

I didn’t appreciate it enough as a child. I am glad I came around! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

importance of literature to a student

Great post. So many benefits for kids. I agree. Also better to start them at a young age too.

importance of literature to a student

reading is so important. these are great tips.

importance of literature to a student

I love how you mention that literature helps students imagine what they may be like as adults. I never really put that together, but now looking back I remember reading as a kid, and subconsciously dividing characters into categories of “wow, this could be me one day” and “this will never be me.”

I did the same exact thing, Jessie! It really does help us to dream and picture ourselves as we grow up!

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The Role of Literature in Education: Why It Matters

Esther Lombardi

Literature is more than just entertainment or a way to pass the time. It can shape our perspectives, challenge our beliefs, and inspire us to brood over the world. Literature is a valuable tool for developing critical thinking skills, empathy, and creativity in education. This post will explore why literature matters and how it can benefit students of all ages.

Literature Promotes Critical Thinking Skills

Reading literature requires active engagement and analysis, which helps develop critical thinking skills. When students read literature, they are forced to think deeply about the characters, themes, and messages presented in the text. They must analyze the author’s choices and consider how they contribute to the work’s overall meaning. Critical thinking is essential for success in many areas of life, including academics, careers, and personal relationships. Literature helps students become more thoughtful and independent thinkers by promoting critical thinking skills.

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Literature helps develop empathy and understanding.

Besides critical thinking skills, literature also helps students develop empathy and understanding. Through reading about characters from different backgrounds and experiences, students can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. They can learn to see things from different perspectives and develop greater empathy for others. This is important in today’s diverse and interconnected world, where understanding and empathy are essential for building strong relationships and communities. By exposing students to a wide range of literature, educators can help foster a more compassionate and understanding society.

Literature Encourages Creativity and Imagination

Reading literature can spark creativity and imagination in students. By exposing them to different styles of writing, unique characters, and imaginative worlds, literature can inspire students to think outside the box and develop their creative ideas. This is important in a world where we value innovation and creativity. By encouraging students to read and engage with literature, educators can help foster a generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers.

Literature Provides a Window Into Different Cultures and Perspectives

One of the most critical roles of literature in education is its ability to provide a window into different cultures and perspectives. By reading literature from different parts of the world, students can better understand the experiences and perspectives of people from different backgrounds. This can help to promote empathy and understanding and can also help to break down stereotypes and prejudices. This is an essential skill for students to develop in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse.

Literature Can Inspire Personal Growth and Self-Reflection

Literature has the power to inspire personal growth and self-reflection in students. By reading about characters who face challenges and overcome them, students can learn valuable lessons about resilience, perseverance, and the importance of a positive attitude. Literature can help students reflect on their own experiences and emotions and provide a safe space to explore complex topics and feelings. This can be important for students who may not have access to other forms of emotional support or therapy.

Esther Lombardi

Esther A. Lombardi is a freelance writer and journalist with more than two decades of experience writing for an array of publications, online and offline. She also has a master's degree in English Literature with a background in Web Technology and Journalism. 

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What Literature Can Teach Us

Communication and research skills—and how to be a better human being

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Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. Derived from the Latin word  literature  meaning "writing formed with letters," literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama , fiction , nonfiction , and in some instances, journalism , and song. 

What Is Literature?

Simply put, literature represents the culture and tradition of a language or a people. The concept is difficult to precisely define, though many have tried; it's clear that the accepted definition of literature is constantly changing and evolving.

For many, the word literature suggests a higher art form; merely putting words on a page doesn't necessarily equate to creating literature. A canon is the accepted body of works for a given author. Some works of literature are considered canonical, that is, culturally representative of a particular genre (poetry, prose, or drama).

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Some definitions also separate literary fiction from so-called "genre fiction," which includes types such as mystery, science fiction, western, romance, thriller, and horror. Think mass-market paperback.

Genre fiction typically does not have as much character development as literary fiction and is read for entertainment, escapism, and plot, whereas literary fiction explores themes common to the human condition and uses symbolism and other literary devices to convey the author's viewpoint on his or her chosen themes. Literary fiction involves getting into the minds of the characters (or at least the protagonist) and experiencing their relationships with others. The protagonist typically comes to a realization or changes in some way during the course of a literary novel.

(The difference in type does not mean that literary writers are better than genre fiction writers, just that they operate differently.)

Why Is Literature Important?

Works of literature, at their best, provide a kind of blueprint of human society. From the writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt and China to Greek philosophy and poetry, from the epics of Homer to the plays of William Shakespeare, from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Maya Angelou , works of literature give insight and context to all the world's societies. In this way, literature is more than just a historical or cultural artifact; it can serve as an introduction to a new world of experience.

But what we consider to be literature can vary from one generation to the next. For instance, Herman Melville's 1851 novel " Moby Dick "   was considered a failure by contemporary reviewers. However, it has since been recognized as a masterpiece and is frequently cited as one of the best works of Western literature for its thematic complexity and use of symbolism. By reading "Moby Dick" in the present day, we can gain a fuller understanding of literary traditions in Melville's time. 

Debating Literature 

Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author writes or says and how he or she says it. We may interpret and debate an author's message by examining the words he or she chooses in a given novel or work or observing which character or voice serves as the connection to the reader.

In academia, this decoding of the text is often carried out through the use of  literary theory using a mythological, sociological, psychological, historical, or other approaches to better understand the context and depth of a work.

Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and analyze it, literature is important to us because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us on a deeply personal level. 

School Skills

Students who study literature and read for pleasure have a higher vocabulary, better reading comprehension, and better communication skills, such as writing ability. Communication skills affect people in every area of their lives, from navigating interpersonal relationships to participating in meetings in the workplace to drafting intraoffice memos or reports.

When students analyze literature, they learn to identify cause and effect and are applying critical thinking skills. Without realizing it, they examine the characters psychologically or sociologically. They identify the characters' motivations for their actions and see through those actions to any ulterior motives.

When planning an essay on a work of literature, students use problem-solving skills to come up with a thesis and follow through on compiling their paper. It takes research skills to dig up evidence for their thesis from the text and scholarly criticism, and it takes organizational skills to present their argument in a coherent, cohesive manner.

Empathy and Other Emotions

Some studies say that people who read literature have more empathy for others, as literature puts the reader into another person's shoes. Having empathy for others leads people to socialize more effectively, solve conflicts peacefully, collaborate better in the workplace, behave morally, and possibly even become involved in making their community a better place.

Other studies note a correlation between readers and empathy but do not find causation . Either way, studies back the need for strong English programs in schools, especially as people spend more and more time looking at screens rather than books.

Along with empathy for others, readers can feel a greater connection to humanity and less isolated. Students who read literature can find solace as they realize that others have gone through the same things that they are experiencing or have experienced. This can be a catharsis and relief to them if they feel burdened or alone in their troubles.

Quotes About Literature

Here are some quotes about literature from literature giants themselves.

  • Robert Louis Stevenson : "The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish."
  • Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey" : "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."
  • William Shakespeare, "Henry VI" : “I’ll call for pen and ink and write my mind.”
  • What Is the Canon in Literature?
  • What's the Difference Between Classical and Classic Literature?
  • The Basic Characteristics of Effective Writing
  • 5 Novel Setting Maps for Classic American Literature
  • Why We Don't Read
  • Notable Authors of the 19th Century
  • What Is a Modern Classic in Literature?
  • Genres in Literature
  • American Author Maps: Informational Texts in the English Classroom
  • An Introduction to Metafiction
  • AP English Literature and Composition Course and Exam Information
  • Interior Monologues
  • Feminist Literary Criticism
  • High Interest-Low Reading Level Books for Reluctant Readers
  • Banned Books: History and Quotes
  • SAT Literature Subject Test Information

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Why Study History and Literature?

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In the following excerpt from the concluding chapter of What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn Jr. discuss the importance of history and literature in the American high-school curriculum.

The book draws on findings from the first national assessment of students’ knowledge of those subjects. The authors report the results of the test and offer recommendations based on the conclusions those results suggest.

We urge the study of history and literature because we believe they are important. It is not simply because they are repositories for our cultural heritage, nor is it merely that they help us understand the past. Those who study these subjects become more knowledgeable, more perceptive, and more intelligent by doing so. They learn about the forces, individuals, trends, and events that shaped the present; they discover from their own experience the power of novels, poems, plays, and stories to move, delight, entertain, inform, shock, and reveal us to ourselves.

History and literature are the essential studies of the humanities because they interpret for us the human experience. To the extent that we are knowledgeable about these subjects, we are better able to communicate with one another. And the more knowledgeable we are, the more complicated are the discussions that we can have together. Paradoxically, the broader our shared background knowledge, the better able we are to argue, debate, and disagree with one another.

But will we all possess a sufficiency of that shared knowledge, or will it become the near-exclusive property of the more fortunate among us? Remember that not all members of the 17-year-old generation are equally at risk. Some of them possess a decent reservoir of knowledge of history and literature, and those who do tend (with significant exceptions) to be the children of the well educated, the well employed, the well motivated, and the well off.

It is a pattern as old as civilization: A society’s elites nearly always strive to ensure that their sons and daughters acquire enough of the knowledge, the cultural lore, and the intellectual traits associated with success in that society. And while success in American society--be it gauged in terms of wealth, prestige, public office, scholarly distinction, social status, or whatever--does not automatically follow from being well versed in such subjects as history and literature, one’s prospects are certainly enhanced by being “culturally literate.” Hence we can take for granted that the elites will continue to do their best to equip their own children with this knowledge and to send them to schools that furnish substantial quantities of it. But neither our culture, our politics, our civic life, nor our principles of equal opportunity can be satisfactorily maintained if most youngsters enter adulthood with little knowledge of this kind.

It is on that conviction that we base our reply to all who inspect the evidence in this book and conclude that the students did better than might have been expected, that they did reasonably well, that they did well enough, that the proverbial glass is a bit more than half full. It is not just that the complacency of this attitude irks us; it is the elitism lurking within it that the citizens of a democracymust not condone. We cannot settle for an education system that imparts “passable” amounts of important knowledge to its more fortunate students while the majority learn less than the minimum required for successful participation in the society they are about to enter.

Nor need we be fatalistic about this distribution of knowledge. It is not adventitious. It is within the capacity of adults--educators, parents, librarians, television producers, and all the rest--to take the steps by which all our youngsters learn enough to participate in selecting our leaders, in shaping our culture, in renewing our civic life, and in discussing and resolving the important issues before us. One premise of our democratic society, as Jefferson recognized two centuries ago, is that, for it truly to succeed, all its members must have an education that will “enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.” We believe that this remains a valid premise now and for the future.

We hope it is clear’ that we do not make a case for a single, immutable body of knowledge that is to be transmitted from one generation to the next like an uncut diamond. Both history and literature are shaped and transformed by the social context in which they are studied. As a nation and a people, we continually add to, reconsider, and redefine the history that we study, because we tell a story to ourselves about who we are and how we got that way. Others who disagree with the consensus version write conflicting interpretations, and these are often so persuasive that in time they change the way we see the past.

In this way, history changes, as it is revised by new discoveries, fresh interpretations, and altered understandings of what American society is, has been, and should be.

Literature changes, too, as new writers add their contributions and emerge as important voices in the American dialogue. Our conceptions of literature also are changed by the discovery of writers whose works were ignored when they wrote but whose voices now seem prophetic, speaking to our own time with an urgency that was neglected during their lifetimes.

No one can know everything. It is possible to spend a lifetime studying history or literature without reading every important book or learning about every significant event. The most we can hope for in the years of formal schooling is that students learn to tell the important from the unimportant; that they know enough about literature to distinguish for themselves what is fine and what is dross; that they know enough about history to inform themselves about the vital connections between the present and the past; that they cultivate a desire to learn more; and that they acquire a foundation of knowledge on which to build for the rest of their lives.

This is a tall order. We do not think it is an impossible order. Nor do we think it is beyond the capacity of our educating institutions. Certainly it is not beyond the capacities of our 17-year-olds.

A version of this article appeared in the September 09, 1987 edition of Education Week as Why Study History and Literature?

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The importance of studying literature, why learning literature is important.

There is no doubt that literature plays an important role in our society. It can be used to teach, entertain, and inspire people of all ages.

But what many high school students don’t realize is that learning literature can also be incredibly beneficial to their personal growth and development.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the reasons why learning literature is so important. We hope readers will come away with a new appreciation for the power of books and stories.

Table of Contents

What is Literature?

Literature is any form of written work, whether it’s novels, short stories, plays, poems, or even songs. It can be anything that tells a story or conveys ideas and information. The written word has been around for thousands of years, and literature has been an important part of every culture.

The Different Types of Literature

There are many different types of literature , but some of the most common are:

  • Fiction – This includes novels, short stories, and plays. Fiction is usually based on imaginary characters and events.
  • Non-fiction – This includes books, articles, and essays. Non-fiction is usually based on real people and events.
  • Poetry – This is a type of literature that uses words to create images and feelings. Poetry can be either fictional or non-fictional.

Top Reasons Why Literature is Important

Some of the reasons why literature is so important include:

Literature helps us develop empathy

One of the most important benefits of learning literature is that it helps us develop empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is a fundamental human quality that allows us to feel compassion for others, and it is essential for leading a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Literature exposes us to different perspectives and points of view, which can help us to develop our empathy. By reading about the experiences of others, we can better understand their feelings and motivations. This understanding can then lead to more compassion and kindness in our own lives.

Encourages critical thinking

In addition to developing empathy, reading literature also helps us to develop our critical thinking skills. To be a good critical thinker, you need to be able to analyze arguments and identify flaws in reasoning. This is an important skill for making informed decisions in all areas of life.

Literature provides us with opportunities to practice our critical thinking skills. When we read a book, we often have to analyze the characters, plot, and themes. This analysis can help us sharpen our critical thinking skills and learn how to better identify flaws in arguments.

Expands our vocabulary

Another benefit of literature is that it helps us to expand our vocabulary. A wide vocabulary is valuable for many reasons. It can help us communicate more effectively, understand complex concepts, and make a good impression on others.

Reading literature exposes us to new words and phrases, which can help us to expand our vocabularies over time.

In addition, literature can also help us to better understand the meanings of words. When we encounter a new word in a book, we often have to look it up in a dictionary or ask someone else for clarification. This process of actively seeking out information about new words can help us to better remember and understand them.

Improves our writing skills

Another benefit of reading literature is that it can help us improve our writing skills . To be a good writer, you need to have a strong command of language. You need to be able to use grammar correctly and express yourself clearly and concisely. Reading literature can help us to develop these crucial language skills.

When we read, we are exposed to different styles of writing and different ways of using language. This exposure can help us to develop our own writing style and improve our grammar and usage.

Enhances our understanding of culture

Literature can also enhance our understanding of culture. Culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and traditions of a group of people. It shapes our identities and influences the way we see the world.

When we read literature, we are exposed to the cultures of different times and places. This exposure can help us to better understand our own culture and the cultures of others. It can also help us to appreciate the richness and diversity of human experience.

Fosters imagination and creativity

In addition to enhancing our understanding of culture, literature also fosters imagination and creativity. Imagination is the ability to create mental images of things that do not exist.

It is a fundamental human quality that allows us to see the world in new and innovative ways. Creativity is the application of imagination to create something new and useful. It is what allows us to turn our ideas into reality.

Literature encourages imagination and creativity by exposing us to different ways of thinking and different ways of looking at the world. By reading about other cultures and times, we can learn to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.

Builds emotional intelligence

Additionally, literature can help us to build emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others. It is a key ingredient in success personal and professional.

Literature can help us develop emotional intelligence by providing insights into the human condition. When we read about the experiences of others, we can learn about different ways of dealing with emotions.

We can also learn how to better understand our own emotions and the emotions of those around us.

Cultivates wisdom

Moreover, literature can help us to cultivate wisdom . Wisdom is the ability to make sound decisions based on experience and knowledge. It is a quality that we all strive for but few of us ever achieve.

Literature can help us develop wisdom by providing us with insights into the human condition. By reading about the experiences of others, we can learn from their mistakes and make better decisions in our own lives.

Improves a person’s communication skills

In addition, literature can help us to improve our communication skills. Communication is the process of exchanging information between two or more people. It is a critical life skill that we use every day. Literature can help us develop our communication skills by providing us with insights into the human condition.

By reading about the experiences of others, we can learn how to express ourselves better and communicate with those around us.

Literature teaches readers about our history

Moreover, literature teaches readers about history. History is the study of the past. It is a record of human experience that can teach us about the present and the future. Literature can help us learn about history by providing us with insights into the human condition.

Reduces Stress

Not only is reading a great way to relax, but it can also help to reduce stress. Studies have shown that reading can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it can even help to reduce anxiety and depression.

So, if you’re looking for a way to wind down after a long day, consider picking up a book instead of watching television or browsing the internet. Reading literature can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health.

Improves focus and concentration

In addition to reducing stress, reading can also help to improve focus and concentration . A study conducted by the University of Sussex found that reading can increase brain activity and improve cognitive function.

So, if you’re looking for a way to boost your brainpower, try picking up a book instead of playing video games or watching television.

Reading literature can help to improve your mental clarity and focus.

Stimulates the imagination

Another benefit of reading literature is that it can stimulate the imagination. By reading about other cultures and times, we can learn to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.

Literature exposes us to different ways of thinking and different ways of looking at the world. By reading about other cultures and times, we can learn to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.

Source of entertainment

Last but not least, literature is a great source of entertainment. Whether you’re reading a novel, a play, or a poem, literature can provide you with hours of enjoyment. It can also help to broaden your horizons and make you more cultured.

So, if you’re looking for a way to entertain yourself, consider picking up a book instead of watching television or going to the movies. Reading literature can provide you with hours of enjoyment and enlightenment.

While the benefits of literature are many and varied, it is important to remember that like any other subject, literature should be taught in a way that engages students and makes them want to learn. That’s where High School of America comes in.

We offer an interactive online high school program that teaches literature in a way that helps students understand and appreciate its value.

With our affordable program , your child will have access to top-quality instruction from experienced teachers who know how to engage students and make learning fun.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child excel in this essential area of education.

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Why Literature is important for Students

importance of literature to a student

Written By: Cudy

12th April 2023

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Table of Contents

How is the Literature nowadays?

In this modern and technological world, the importance of literature seems to be decreasing. People are less and less interested in reading books and reading habit is diminishing day by day.

But the fact is that literature is not a luxury it is a necessity. The importance of literature cannot be denied and it is a fact that literature makes us what we are.

Literature makes us think and feel. It helps us to see the world differently and therefore makes us more mature and more intelligent people. Literature is not just about reading books. It is about reading between the lines.

It is a wide field and includes everything from magazines to newspapers and from novels to poems. Literature helps us to explore the world around us. It makes us understand the speech and behavior of other people. Literature teaches us to observe things and to understand them in a better way.

Literature is important for students because it helps them to develop their imagination and creativity, improves their language skills and also enables them to appreciate the arts. It also helps in developing emotional sensitivity and gives them a taste of beauty.

Reading literature helps students to discover the world beyond school. It enhances their knowledge about society, history, science, geography and politics.

Even though they may not understand everything that they read, but as they grow older they will realize how it has helped them in building a strong foundation for life.

Why do Students Read Literature?

Students read literature because it teaches them about the world around them and gives them an insight into human nature. They learn about different cultures from reading literature from other parts of the world through poetry, drama or prose fiction such as novels, short stories, etc., which are written by writers from different countries.

Through this experience students can understand various cultures and societies better as well as develop an appreciation of other’s views. Reading literature also makes reading enjoyable when it is read with understanding rather than mere decoding of words on a page.

The pleasure derived from reading good writing does not come merely from experiencing the story; it comes from experiencing the emotions of characters in a story through their words and actions.

How to Encourage Students to Read Literature?

There are many ways in which students can read literature.

Firstly, the interest of students should be piqued by means of various types of activities such as quizzes, debates, creative writing competitions, etc., where all students are involved.

Secondly, we should choose books that are interesting and entertaining; this will help students develop their reading skills with enjoyment and enthusiasm.

Thirdly, we should select literature books that focus on central themes of social relevance or universal values. Such as friendship, love and family relationships etc. So, that young adults can easily relate themselves with them. We need to ensure that they make a connection. Between what they read in literature books with their own lives and experiences.

Fourthly, we must encourage students to talk about their feelings and share ideas about the book. Sharing with others in class or outside class via online forums or other means of communication like social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc..

Thus, that they become more aware about the world around them. Fifthly, we can also encourage students to write creatively and critically about the books they have read on different topics related to human values based on contemporary issues such as pollution or global warming through poetry or short stories.

Final thoughts

It is true that most of the people do not love to read books and it is also true that they are less involved in reading habits. But the fact remains that these people love to be entertained and literature is more than just a form of entertainment. It helps us to discover the meaning of life and our place in it.

Literature helps us to understand ourselves better, which in turn makes us better human beings. If this does not mean anything to you, then you must read some books about human nature, psychology or philosophy and find out what you have been missing all your life.

Literature makes us more thoughtful and helps us to see things from the other person's point of view. It makes us understand what is happening in the world around us and what other people are going through.

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Home » Purdue University » What Is The Importance Of Literature?

What Is The Importance Of Literature?

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Literature allows a person to step back in time and learn about life on Earth from the ones who walked before us . We can gather a better understanding of culture and have a greater appreciation of them. We learn through the ways history is recorded, in the forms of manuscripts and through speech itself.

What is the importance of literature to students?

Literature provides a language model for those who hear and read it . By using literary texts, students learn new words, syntax and discourse functions and they learn correct sentence patterns, standard story structures. They develop their writing skills.

What is the purpose of literature?

The purpose of literature is to give pleasure to the reader .

What is literature and its importance essay?

Literature is the foundation of life. It places an emphasis on many topics from human tragedies to tales of the ever-popular search for love . While it is physically written in words, these words come alive in the imagination of the mind, and its ability to comprehend the complexity or simplicity of the text.

What is literature in your own words?

Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material . Derived from the Latin word literature meaning “writing formed with letters,” literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and in some instances, journalism, and song.

What can we learn from literature?

Through literature, we develop emotional connections with characters and a shared community . We witness unparalleled kindness and terror. And though these experiences, we start to learn about ourselves and others. Reading the right passage can feel like the author knows us better than we know ourselves.

What are the benefits of reading literature?

Benefits of Reading Books: How It Can Positively Affect Your Life

  • Strengthens the brain.
  • Increases empathy.
  • Builds vocabulary.
  • Prevents cognitive decline.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Aids sleep.
  • Alleviates depression.
  • Lengthens lifespan.

How does literature relate to life?

So after the sequential elapse of time, it is proved that, literature definitely has profound sway upon life to a large extent. Literature influences us and makes us understand the every walk of life . Narratives, in particular, inspire empathy and give people a new perspective on their lives and the lives of others.

What does literature mean to you as a human being?

Literature is the foundation of humanity’s cultures, beliefs, and traditions . It serves as a reflection of reality, a product of art, and a window to an ideology. Everything that happens within a society can be written, recorded in, and learned from a piece of literature.

Why literature is important in the 21st century?

It teaches us about life by exposing us to the lives of different people through their stories, and from these vicarious experiences, we learn important lessons and values. Literature teaches us humanity – to be sensitive and empathetic towards others.

How literature influence the world?

Literature has had a major impact on the development of society. It has shaped civilisations, changed political systems and exposed injustice . Literature gives us a detailed preview of human experiences, allowing us to connect on basic levels of desire and emotion.

Can literature change a life?

Crucially, literature holds the power to change the self ; to reconfigure outlooks and imaginations, and to lead to increased understanding of our identities as well as question what we believe to be true about ourselves.

How does literature make us human?

Sharing a character’s experience through reading gives us a guide for experiences in the “real world.” Because these characters show us what humans have in common, literature can help tear down barriers in our divided society .

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By Travis Thornton

Travis Thornton is an education expert who has dedicated his life to helping students achieve their academic goals. He has worked as a teacher, tutor, and administrator in both public and private schools, and he currently serves as the dean of admissions at a prestigious university.

Travis believes that every student has the potential to succeed, and he tirelessly works to help them reach their full potential. He is a passionate advocate for education, and he believes that every student should have access to a quality education.

Travis is also a father of three young children, and he loves spending time with his family. He enjoys playing sports and watching movies together.

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Five Reasons to Study Literature

Posted in Homeschool View on Monday, October 1, 2007

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importance of literature to a student

Importance of Studying Literature

Studying literature broadens our minds since we gain a better understanding of people who are different from us. If you wish to know the importance of studying literature then here know the complete guide.

Alternatively, we might come across characters or poems that resonate deeply with us — it can be extremely gratifying to find out that your exact thoughts and feelings have been shared with someone else.

Since literature displays such effects, we are encouraged to pay attention to the full range of human experiences as we make decisions in our daily lives. In addition to improving our writing skills, studying literature also allows us to expand our vocabulary.

People these days tend to forget how important literature is, or they underestimate its ability to stand the test of time and impart great knowledge. The stigma in society asserts that those whose interests lie more in science and math will somehow be more successful in life.

While those who are more enthusiastic about literature and other art forms will be restricted to low-wage jobs and unfulfilling careers. Literature has been marginalized somewhere along the way.

What is Literature?

What is Literature?

Literature encompasses a wide range of written expressions. There are several types of poetry and drama, as well as short stories, essays, and letters. The selection ranges from epic works such as The Iliad to modern murder mysteries such as those by Agatha Christie.

Many people believe that any writing is literature, whereas not all writing is literature. Generally, the best literary works are those that have been written over time, by many different authors, usually after being inspired by earlier literary works. These works are considered among the best examples of the art form, and they discuss universal themes.

Top Reasons Why Literature is Important

In general, individuals describe literature as writing that has cultural, artistic, and/or intellectual importance. In this type of writing, complex issues are examined, and readers are encouraged to consider new viewpoints. What is the purpose of literature? Below are the reasons:

1. Stress can be relieved by Literature

Stress can be relieved by Literature

Literature relieves stress and anxiety , and that’s no secret to readers. Reading a good book does wonder for a stressed mind. A fast heartbeat can be slowed down by reading, reducing anxiety, and taking the reader’s sense off their racing ideas.

2. Literature inspires imagination

Among the finest methods to cultivate a vigorous imagination is to read, according to the World Literacy Foundation. Watching a movie requires very little mental work, whereas reading words from a page requires readers to mentally create the scene. In addition to strengthening the imagination, this exercise promotes creative thinking and innovation.

3. Literature keeps the brain active and healthy

Literature keeps the brain active and healthy

The benefits of reading to the brain cannot be ignored. In addition to improving concentration, reading can also stretch the imagination. A person can keep their brain healthy and active by exercising it regularly. Alzheimer’s and dementia are degenerative brain disorders that can be delayed with regular mental stimulation.

4. Literature helps a person to expand their vocabulary

The vocabulary in literature is often more challenging than that in magazines or light books. Many readers might be unfamiliar with the language used in books published in the past.

A person’s vocabulary is expanded by reading a wide range of literature. The study of literature is a great way to enhance language skills for those learning new languages.

5. Literature enhances a person’s writing skills

Literature enhances a person's writing skills

Reading more will help an individual improve their writing. In order to improve, most successful authors praise reading. In addition to fueling imagination and expanding vocabulary, literature provides insight into different literary styles, ideas organization, character development, and more.

6. Communication skills are improved by reading literature

Reading improves a reader’s ability to write, which helps them to become a better communicator. This extends to their daily interactions and conversations as well. Every aspect of life requires good communication, from career to personal relationships.

When people are exposed to literature at a young age, they are able to build communication skills right away. Reading helps adults enhance their communication skills.

7. Literature motivates critical thinking

Literature motivates critical thinking

To live a fulfilling life, we must think critically. It helps people figure out what the truth is and work through problems. Literature is an excellent way for students to learn how to think critically.

To fully understand what’s going on in the book, readers must pay attention to details, form relationships, and develop their individual ideas. Textbooks are frequently used by teachers to help expand students’ vital thinking skills. They will be nicely prepared for their future careers with this tool.

8. Readers learn about history through literature

People say history repeats itself if we don’t learn from it. Literature offers a unique way to engage with history. It is much more exciting than learning a timeline or memorizing facts.

Regardless of the book’s fiction or focus, readers are exposed to perspectives from the time when it was written. In ancient China, books from 19th century England reveal different truths.

9. Reading literature can motivate kindness

Reading literature can motivate kindness

Empathy is necessary at every level of society, or we descend into a dog-eat-dog atmosphere, which harms everyone. The study of literature has shown that reading can make one feel more empathic. Fictional literature has a particularly powerful effect on empathizing.

Why? Because it forces the reader to put themselves in the shoes of more complex characters. Scientists at Princeton’s Social Neurosciences lab have discovered that reading fiction regularly improves one’s ability to guess what other people are feeling and thinking. The idea that literature can help us grow as individuals is intriguing, even if it hasn’t been proven by science.

Also read, How To Study Smart Not Hard

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Using effective questions.

Questions can do more than measure what students know. Appropriately challenging, engaging, and effective questions stimulate peer discussion and encourage students to explore and refine their understanding of key concepts.

Why ask questions?

  • Questions can diagnose student understanding of material.
  • Questions are a way of engaging with students to keep their attention and to reinforce their participation.
  • Questions can review, restate, emphasize, and/or summarize what is important.
  • Questions stimulate discussion and creative and critical thinking, as well as determine how students are thinking.
  • Questions help students retain material by putting into words otherwise unarticulated thoughts.

Considerations for developing & using effective questions

What are effective questions?

  • Effective questions are meaningful and understandable to students.
  • Effective questions challenge students, but are not too difficult.
  • Closed-ended questions, such as those requiring a yes/no response, or multiple choice can quickly check comprehension.
  • Open-ended questions probe and elicit expanded thinking and processing of information. By discussing the questions in groups, students have the opportunity to learn from a variety of perspectives.

 Some examples of ineffective questions:

  • Too vague. Students are unsure of what is being asked and may refrain from attempting to answer.
  • Too loaded. Students may guess at what you want them to say rather than tell you what they think.
  • "Does everyone understand?" or "Any other questions?" Most students will not reply and even if they do, their answer is only a report of their own assessment of their comprehension. 

Getting started with designing effective questions

  • Determine your learning objectives and align the questions with the objectives
  • Consider which level of learning you are targeting (i.e. remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate). Refer to Bloom’s taxonomy
  • Ask students to explain the cause of an event or why a given situation or condition has arisen (these usually begin with "Why" (open-ended questions)
  • Ask students to explain their reasoning for a multiple choice answer and explain why the other answers are incorrect
  • Ask students to compare and contrast situations, cases, ideas, people, or objects
  • Ask students to explain how to do something
  • Ask students to use their reasoning to predict something
  • Does this question draw out and work with pre-existing understandings that students bring with them?
  • Does this question raise the visibility of the key concepts the students are learning?
  • Will this question stimulate peer discussion?
  • Is it clear what the question is about?

Incorporating effective questions into your course

Although the most common way to ask a question is to pose it to the entire class, this may result in nobody volunteering to answer the question or only a few students attempting to answer it. Questions can be incorporated in a course in a variety of other ways:

  • Think-pair-share/Write-pair-share
  • Small group discussions
  • Online synchronous discussions
  • Minute papers or short, low-risk writing activities
  • Classroom polling systems  with which students can answer questions using clickers or mobile devices. Answers are tallied instantly, and results can be displayed as they come in
  • Ask them to write questions they have about a topic or reading. Consider asking students to post them to an online forum before class
  • Quiz their neighbor on the lecture content or readings
  • Write down one or two remaining questions a few minutes before class ends and turn them in
  • Design questions to guide a small group discussion
  • Suggest and submit exam questions

Encourage students to answer questions by creating positive classroom norms and expectations:

  • Provide enough time for students to respond to questions. Let students handle awkward silences
  • Encourage student responses even if they are wrong. If a student is wrong, inaccurate, or unclear, respond with probing questions such as, "That's interesting. What makes you say that?" or "Could you rephrase that?"
  • Ask for students to respond to each other
  • State the relevance of a student’s response to the topic or use a student’s answer to your question as a link to some part of the topic framework in order to increase interaction and participation
  • See additional suggestions on creating a positive  classroom climate .

More Information

Bloom's taxonomy

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Approaching literature review for academic purposes: The Literature Review Checklist

Debora f.b. leite.

I Departamento de Ginecologia e Obstetricia, Faculdade de Ciencias Medicas, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, SP, BR

II Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, PE, BR

III Hospital das Clinicas, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Pernambuco, PE, BR

Maria Auxiliadora Soares Padilha

Jose g. cecatti.

A sophisticated literature review (LR) can result in a robust dissertation/thesis by scrutinizing the main problem examined by the academic study; anticipating research hypotheses, methods and results; and maintaining the interest of the audience in how the dissertation/thesis will provide solutions for the current gaps in a particular field. Unfortunately, little guidance is available on elaborating LRs, and writing an LR chapter is not a linear process. An LR translates students’ abilities in information literacy, the language domain, and critical writing. Students in postgraduate programs should be systematically trained in these skills. Therefore, this paper discusses the purposes of LRs in dissertations and theses. Second, the paper considers five steps for developing a review: defining the main topic, searching the literature, analyzing the results, writing the review and reflecting on the writing. Ultimately, this study proposes a twelve-item LR checklist. By clearly stating the desired achievements, this checklist allows Masters and Ph.D. students to continuously assess their own progress in elaborating an LR. Institutions aiming to strengthen students’ necessary skills in critical academic writing should also use this tool.


Writing the literature review (LR) is often viewed as a difficult task that can be a point of writer’s block and procrastination ( 1 ) in postgraduate life. Disagreements on the definitions or classifications of LRs ( 2 ) may confuse students about their purpose and scope, as well as how to perform an LR. Interestingly, at many universities, the LR is still an important element in any academic work, despite the more recent trend of producing scientific articles rather than classical theses.

The LR is not an isolated section of the thesis/dissertation or a copy of the background section of a research proposal. It identifies the state-of-the-art knowledge in a particular field, clarifies information that is already known, elucidates implications of the problem being analyzed, links theory and practice ( 3 - 5 ), highlights gaps in the current literature, and places the dissertation/thesis within the research agenda of that field. Additionally, by writing the LR, postgraduate students will comprehend the structure of the subject and elaborate on their cognitive connections ( 3 ) while analyzing and synthesizing data with increasing maturity.

At the same time, the LR transforms the student and hints at the contents of other chapters for the reader. First, the LR explains the research question; second, it supports the hypothesis, objectives, and methods of the research project; and finally, it facilitates a description of the student’s interpretation of the results and his/her conclusions. For scholars, the LR is an introductory chapter ( 6 ). If it is well written, it demonstrates the student’s understanding of and maturity in a particular topic. A sound and sophisticated LR can indicate a robust dissertation/thesis.

A consensus on the best method to elaborate a dissertation/thesis has not been achieved. The LR can be a distinct chapter or included in different sections; it can be part of the introduction chapter, part of each research topic, or part of each published paper ( 7 ). However, scholars view the LR as an integral part of the main body of an academic work because it is intrinsically connected to other sections ( Figure 1 ) and is frequently present. The structure of the LR depends on the conventions of a particular discipline, the rules of the department, and the student’s and supervisor’s areas of expertise, needs and interests.

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Interestingly, many postgraduate students choose to submit their LR to peer-reviewed journals. As LRs are critical evaluations of current knowledge, they are indeed publishable material, even in the form of narrative or systematic reviews. However, systematic reviews have specific patterns 1 ( 8 ) that may not entirely fit with the questions posed in the dissertation/thesis. Additionally, the scope of a systematic review may be too narrow, and the strict criteria for study inclusion may omit important information from the dissertation/thesis. Therefore, this essay discusses the definition of an LR is and methods to develop an LR in the context of an academic dissertation/thesis. Finally, we suggest a checklist to evaluate an LR.


Conducting research and writing a dissertation/thesis translates rational thinking and enthusiasm ( 9 ). While a strong body of literature that instructs students on research methodology, data analysis and writing scientific papers exists, little guidance on performing LRs is available. The LR is a unique opportunity to assess and contrast various arguments and theories, not just summarize them. The research results should not be discussed within the LR, but the postgraduate student tends to write a comprehensive LR while reflecting on his or her own findings ( 10 ).

Many people believe that writing an LR is a lonely and linear process. Supervisors or the institutions assume that the Ph.D. student has mastered the relevant techniques and vocabulary associated with his/her subject and conducts a self-reflection about previously published findings. Indeed, while elaborating the LR, the student should aggregate diverse skills, which mainly rely on his/her own commitment to mastering them. Thus, less supervision should be required ( 11 ). However, the parameters described above might not currently be the case for many students ( 11 , 12 ), and the lack of formal and systematic training on writing LRs is an important concern ( 11 ).

An institutional environment devoted to active learning will provide students the opportunity to continuously reflect on LRs, which will form a dialogue between the postgraduate student and the current literature in a particular field ( 13 ). Postgraduate students will be interpreting studies by other researchers, and, according to Hart (1998) ( 3 ), the outcomes of the LR in a dissertation/thesis include the following:

  • To identify what research has been performed and what topics require further investigation in a particular field of knowledge;
  • To determine the context of the problem;
  • To recognize the main methodologies and techniques that have been used in the past;
  • To place the current research project within the historical, methodological and theoretical context of a particular field;
  • To identify significant aspects of the topic;
  • To elucidate the implications of the topic;
  • To offer an alternative perspective;
  • To discern how the studied subject is structured;
  • To improve the student’s subject vocabulary in a particular field; and
  • To characterize the links between theory and practice.

A sound LR translates the postgraduate student’s expertise in academic and scientific writing: it expresses his/her level of comfort with synthesizing ideas ( 11 ). The LR reveals how well the postgraduate student has proceeded in three domains: an effective literature search, the language domain, and critical writing.

Effective literature search

All students should be trained in gathering appropriate data for specific purposes, and information literacy skills are a cornerstone. These skills are defined as “an individual’s ability to know when they need information, to identify information that can help them address the issue or problem at hand, and to locate, evaluate, and use that information effectively” ( 14 ). Librarian support is of vital importance in coaching the appropriate use of Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) and other tools for highly efficient literature searches (e.g., quotation marks and truncation), as is the appropriate management of electronic databases.

Language domain

Academic writing must be concise and precise: unnecessary words distract the reader from the essential content ( 15 ). In this context, reading about issues distant from the research topic ( 16 ) may increase students’ general vocabulary and familiarity with grammar. Ultimately, reading diverse materials facilitates and encourages the writing process itself.

Critical writing

Critical judgment includes critical reading, thinking and writing. It supposes a student’s analytical reflection about what he/she has read. The student should delineate the basic elements of the topic, characterize the most relevant claims, identify relationships, and finally contrast those relationships ( 17 ). Each scientific document highlights the perspective of the author, and students will become more confident in judging the supporting evidence and underlying premises of a study and constructing their own counterargument as they read more articles. A paucity of integration or contradictory perspectives indicates lower levels of cognitive complexity ( 12 ).

Thus, while elaborating an LR, the postgraduate student should achieve the highest category of Bloom’s cognitive skills: evaluation ( 12 ). The writer should not only summarize data and understand each topic but also be able to make judgments based on objective criteria, compare resources and findings, identify discrepancies due to methodology, and construct his/her own argument ( 12 ). As a result, the student will be sufficiently confident to show his/her own voice .

Writing a consistent LR is an intense and complex activity that reveals the training and long-lasting academic skills of a writer. It is not a lonely or linear process. However, students are unlikely to be prepared to write an LR if they have not mastered the aforementioned domains ( 10 ). An institutional environment that supports student learning is crucial.

Different institutions employ distinct methods to promote students’ learning processes. First, many universities propose modules to develop behind the scenes activities that enhance self-reflection about general skills (e.g., the skills we have mastered and the skills we need to develop further), behaviors that should be incorporated (e.g., self-criticism about one’s own thoughts), and each student’s role in the advancement of his/her field. Lectures or workshops about LRs themselves are useful because they describe the purposes of the LR and how it fits into the whole picture of a student’s work. These activities may explain what type of discussion an LR must involve, the importance of defining the correct scope, the reasons to include a particular resource, and the main role of critical reading.

Some pedagogic services that promote a continuous improvement in study and academic skills are equally important. Examples include workshops about time management, the accomplishment of personal objectives, active learning, and foreign languages for nonnative speakers. Additionally, opportunities to converse with other students promotes an awareness of others’ experiences and difficulties. Ultimately, the supervisor’s role in providing feedback and setting deadlines is crucial in developing students’ abilities and in strengthening students’ writing quality ( 12 ).


A consensus on the appropriate method for elaborating an LR is not available, but four main steps are generally accepted: defining the main topic, searching the literature, analyzing the results, and writing ( 6 ). We suggest a fifth step: reflecting on the information that has been written in previous publications ( Figure 2 ).

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First step: Defining the main topic

Planning an LR is directly linked to the research main question of the thesis and occurs in parallel to students’ training in the three domains discussed above. The planning stage helps organize ideas, delimit the scope of the LR ( 11 ), and avoid the wasting of time in the process. Planning includes the following steps:

  • Reflecting on the scope of the LR: postgraduate students will have assumptions about what material must be addressed and what information is not essential to an LR ( 13 , 18 ). Cooper’s Taxonomy of Literature Reviews 2 systematizes the writing process through six characteristics and nonmutually exclusive categories. The focus refers to the reviewer’s most important points of interest, while the goals concern what students want to achieve with the LR. The perspective assumes answers to the student’s own view of the LR and how he/she presents a particular issue. The coverage defines how comprehensive the student is in presenting the literature, and the organization determines the sequence of arguments. The audience is defined as the group for whom the LR is written.
  • Designating sections and subsections: Headings and subheadings should be specific, explanatory and have a coherent sequence throughout the text ( 4 ). They simulate an inverted pyramid, with an increasing level of reflection and depth of argument.
  • Identifying keywords: The relevant keywords for each LR section should be listed to guide the literature search. This list should mirror what Hart (1998) ( 3 ) advocates as subject vocabulary . The keywords will also be useful when the student is writing the LR since they guide the reader through the text.
  • Delineating the time interval and language of documents to be retrieved in the second step. The most recently published documents should be considered, but relevant texts published before a predefined cutoff year can be included if they are classic documents in that field. Extra care should be employed when translating documents.

Second step: Searching the literature

The ability to gather adequate information from the literature must be addressed in postgraduate programs. Librarian support is important, particularly for accessing difficult texts. This step comprises the following components:

  • Searching the literature itself: This process consists of defining which databases (electronic or dissertation/thesis repositories), official documents, and books will be searched and then actively conducting the search. Information literacy skills have a central role in this stage. While searching electronic databases, controlled vocabulary (e.g., Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH, for the PubMed database) or specific standardized syntax rules may need to be applied.

In addition, two other approaches are suggested. First, a review of the reference list of each document might be useful for identifying relevant publications to be included and important opinions to be assessed. This step is also relevant for referencing the original studies and leading authors in that field. Moreover, students can directly contact the experts on a particular topic to consult with them regarding their experience or use them as a source of additional unpublished documents.

Before submitting a dissertation/thesis, the electronic search strategy should be repeated. This process will ensure that the most recently published papers will be considered in the LR.

  • Selecting documents for inclusion: Generally, the most recent literature will be included in the form of published peer-reviewed papers. Assess books and unpublished material, such as conference abstracts, academic texts and government reports, are also important to assess since the gray literature also offers valuable information. However, since these materials are not peer-reviewed, we recommend that they are carefully added to the LR.

This task is an important exercise in time management. First, students should read the title and abstract to understand whether that document suits their purposes, addresses the research question, and helps develop the topic of interest. Then, they should scan the full text, determine how it is structured, group it with similar documents, and verify whether other arguments might be considered ( 5 ).

Third step: Analyzing the results

Critical reading and thinking skills are important in this step. This step consists of the following components:

  • Reading documents: The student may read various texts in depth according to LR sections and subsections ( defining the main topic ), which is not a passive activity ( 1 ). Some questions should be asked to practice critical analysis skills, as listed below. Is the research question evident and articulated with previous knowledge? What are the authors’ research goals and theoretical orientations, and how do they interact? Are the authors’ claims related to other scholars’ research? Do the authors consider different perspectives? Was the research project designed and conducted properly? Are the results and discussion plausible, and are they consistent with the research objectives and methodology? What are the strengths and limitations of this work? How do the authors support their findings? How does this work contribute to the current research topic? ( 1 , 19 )
  • Taking notes: Students who systematically take notes on each document are more readily able to establish similarities or differences with other documents and to highlight personal observations. This approach reinforces the student’s ideas about the next step and helps develop his/her own academic voice ( 1 , 13 ). Voice recognition software ( 16 ), mind maps ( 5 ), flowcharts, tables, spreadsheets, personal comments on the referenced texts, and note-taking apps are all available tools for managing these observations, and the student him/herself should use the tool that best improves his/her learning. Additionally, when a student is considering submitting an LR to a peer-reviewed journal, notes should be taken on the activities performed in all five steps to ensure that they are able to be replicated.

Fourth step: Writing

The recognition of when a student is able and ready to write after a sufficient period of reading and thinking is likely a difficult task. Some students can produce a review in a single long work session. However, as discussed above, writing is not a linear process, and students do not need to write LRs according to a specific sequence of sections. Writing an LR is a time-consuming task, and some scholars believe that a period of at least six months is sufficient ( 6 ). An LR, and academic writing in general, expresses the writer’s proper thoughts, conclusions about others’ work ( 6 , 10 , 13 , 16 ), and decisions about methods to progress in the chosen field of knowledge. Thus, each student is expected to present a different learning and writing trajectory.

In this step, writing methods should be considered; then, editing, citing and correct referencing should complete this stage, at least temporarily. Freewriting techniques may be a good starting point for brainstorming ideas and improving the understanding of the information that has been read ( 1 ). Students should consider the following parameters when creating an agenda for writing the LR: two-hour writing blocks (at minimum), with prespecified tasks that are possible to complete in one section; short (minutes) and long breaks (days or weeks) to allow sufficient time for mental rest and reflection; and short- and long-term goals to motivate the writing itself ( 20 ). With increasing experience, this scheme can vary widely, and it is not a straightforward rule. Importantly, each discipline has a different way of writing ( 1 ), and each department has its own preferred styles for citations and references.

Fifth step: Reflecting on the writing

In this step, the postgraduate student should ask him/herself the same questions as in the analyzing the results step, which can take more time than anticipated. Ambiguities, repeated ideas, and a lack of coherence may not be noted when the student is immersed in the writing task for long periods. The whole effort will likely be a work in progress, and continuous refinements in the written material will occur once the writing process has begun.


In contrast to review papers, the LR of a dissertation/thesis should not be a standalone piece or work. Instead, it should present the student as a scholar and should maintain the interest of the audience in how that dissertation/thesis will provide solutions for the current gaps in a particular field.

A checklist for evaluating an LR is convenient for students’ continuous academic development and research transparency: it clearly states the desired achievements for the LR of a dissertation/thesis. Here, we present an LR checklist developed from an LR scoring rubric ( 11 ). For a critical analysis of an LR, we maintain the five categories but offer twelve criteria that are not scaled ( Figure 3 ). The criteria all have the same importance and are not mutually exclusive.

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First category: Coverage

1. justified criteria exist for the inclusion and exclusion of literature in the review.

This criterion builds on the main topic and areas covered by the LR ( 18 ). While experts may be confident in retrieving and selecting literature, postgraduate students must convince their audience about the adequacy of their search strategy and their reasons for intentionally selecting what material to cover ( 11 ). References from different fields of knowledge provide distinct perspective, but narrowing the scope of coverage may be important in areas with a large body of existing knowledge.

Second category: Synthesis

2. a critical examination of the state of the field exists.

A critical examination is an assessment of distinct aspects in the field ( 1 ) along with a constructive argument. It is not a negative critique but an expression of the student’s understanding of how other scholars have added to the topic ( 1 ), and the student should analyze and contextualize contradictory statements. A writer’s personal bias (beliefs or political involvement) have been shown to influence the structure and writing of a document; therefore, the cultural and paradigmatic background guide how the theories are revised and presented ( 13 ). However, an honest judgment is important when considering different perspectives.

3. The topic or problem is clearly placed in the context of the broader scholarly literature

The broader scholarly literature should be related to the chosen main topic for the LR ( how to develop the literature review section). The LR can cover the literature from one or more disciplines, depending on its scope, but it should always offer a new perspective. In addition, students should be careful in citing and referencing previous publications. As a rule, original studies and primary references should generally be included. Systematic and narrative reviews present summarized data, and it may be important to cite them, particularly for issues that should be understood but do not require a detailed description. Similarly, quotations highlight the exact statement from another publication. However, excessive referencing may disclose lower levels of analysis and synthesis by the student.

4. The LR is critically placed in the historical context of the field

Situating the LR in its historical context shows the level of comfort of the student in addressing a particular topic. Instead of only presenting statements and theories in a temporal approach, which occasionally follows a linear timeline, the LR should authentically characterize the student’s academic work in the state-of-art techniques in their particular field of knowledge. Thus, the LR should reinforce why the dissertation/thesis represents original work in the chosen research field.

5. Ambiguities in definitions are considered and resolved

Distinct theories on the same topic may exist in different disciplines, and one discipline may consider multiple concepts to explain one topic. These misunderstandings should be addressed and contemplated. The LR should not synthesize all theories or concepts at the same time. Although this approach might demonstrate in-depth reading on a particular topic, it can reveal a student’s inability to comprehend and synthesize his/her research problem.

6. Important variables and phenomena relevant to the topic are articulated

The LR is a unique opportunity to articulate ideas and arguments and to purpose new relationships between them ( 10 , 11 ). More importantly, a sound LR will outline to the audience how these important variables and phenomena will be addressed in the current academic work. Indeed, the LR should build a bidirectional link with the remaining sections and ground the connections between all of the sections ( Figure 1 ).

7. A synthesized new perspective on the literature has been established

The LR is a ‘creative inquiry’ ( 13 ) in which the student elaborates his/her own discourse, builds on previous knowledge in the field, and describes his/her own perspective while interpreting others’ work ( 13 , 17 ). Thus, students should articulate the current knowledge, not accept the results at face value ( 11 , 13 , 17 ), and improve their own cognitive abilities ( 12 ).

Third category: Methodology

8. the main methodologies and research techniques that have been used in the field are identified and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed.

The LR is expected to distinguish the research that has been completed from investigations that remain to be performed, address the benefits and limitations of the main methods applied to date, and consider the strategies for addressing the expected limitations described above. While placing his/her research within the methodological context of a particular topic, the LR will justify the methodology of the study and substantiate the student’s interpretations.

9. Ideas and theories in the field are related to research methodologies

The audience expects the writer to analyze and synthesize methodological approaches in the field. The findings should be explained according to the strengths and limitations of previous research methods, and students must avoid interpretations that are not supported by the analyzed literature. This criterion translates to the student’s comprehension of the applicability and types of answers provided by different research methodologies, even those using a quantitative or qualitative research approach.

Fourth category: Significance

10. the scholarly significance of the research problem is rationalized.

The LR is an introductory section of a dissertation/thesis and will present the postgraduate student as a scholar in a particular field ( 11 ). Therefore, the LR should discuss how the research problem is currently addressed in the discipline being investigated or in different disciplines, depending on the scope of the LR. The LR explains the academic paradigms in the topic of interest ( 13 ) and methods to advance the field from these starting points. However, an excess number of personal citations—whether referencing the student’s research or studies by his/her research team—may reflect a narrow literature search and a lack of comprehensive synthesis of ideas and arguments.

11. The practical significance of the research problem is rationalized

The practical significance indicates a student’s comprehensive understanding of research terminology (e.g., risk versus associated factor), methodology (e.g., efficacy versus effectiveness) and plausible interpretations in the context of the field. Notably, the academic argument about a topic may not always reflect the debate in real life terms. For example, using a quantitative approach in epidemiology, statistically significant differences between groups do not explain all of the factors involved in a particular problem ( 21 ). Therefore, excessive faith in p -values may reflect lower levels of critical evaluation of the context and implications of a research problem by the student.

Fifth category: Rhetoric

12. the lr was written with a coherent, clear structure that supported the review.

This category strictly relates to the language domain: the text should be coherent and presented in a logical sequence, regardless of which organizational ( 18 ) approach is chosen. The beginning of each section/subsection should state what themes will be addressed, paragraphs should be carefully linked to each other ( 10 ), and the first sentence of each paragraph should generally summarize the content. Additionally, the student’s statements are clear, sound, and linked to other scholars’ works, and precise and concise language that follows standardized writing conventions (e.g., in terms of active/passive voice and verb tenses) is used. Attention to grammar, such as orthography and punctuation, indicates prudence and supports a robust dissertation/thesis. Ultimately, all of these strategies provide fluency and consistency for the text.

Although the scoring rubric was initially proposed for postgraduate programs in education research, we are convinced that this checklist is a valuable tool for all academic areas. It enables the monitoring of students’ learning curves and a concentrated effort on any criteria that are not yet achieved. For institutions, the checklist is a guide to support supervisors’ feedback, improve students’ writing skills, and highlight the learning goals of each program. These criteria do not form a linear sequence, but ideally, all twelve achievements should be perceived in the LR.


A single correct method to classify, evaluate and guide the elaboration of an LR has not been established. In this essay, we have suggested directions for planning, structuring and critically evaluating an LR. The planning of the scope of an LR and approaches to complete it is a valuable effort, and the five steps represent a rational starting point. An institutional environment devoted to active learning will support students in continuously reflecting on LRs, which will form a dialogue between the writer and the current literature in a particular field ( 13 ).

The completion of an LR is a challenging and necessary process for understanding one’s own field of expertise. Knowledge is always transitory, but our responsibility as scholars is to provide a critical contribution to our field, allowing others to think through our work. Good researchers are grounded in sophisticated LRs, which reveal a writer’s training and long-lasting academic skills. We recommend using the LR checklist as a tool for strengthening the skills necessary for critical academic writing.


Leite DFB has initially conceived the idea and has written the first draft of this review. Padilha MAS and Cecatti JG have supervised data interpretation and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors have read the draft and agreed with this submission. Authors are responsible for all aspects of this academic piece.


We are grateful to all of the professors of the ‘Getting Started with Graduate Research and Generic Skills’ module at University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, for suggesting and supporting this article. Funding: DFBL has granted scholarship from Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) to take part of her Ph.D. studies in Ireland (process number 88881.134512/2016-01). There is no participation from sponsors on authors’ decision to write or to submit this manuscript.

No potential conflict of interest was reported.

1 The questions posed in systematic reviews usually follow the ‘PICOS’ acronym: Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes, Study design.

2 In 1988, Cooper proposed a taxonomy that aims to facilitate students’ and institutions’ understanding of literature reviews. Six characteristics with specific categories are briefly described: Focus: research outcomes, research methodologies, theories, or practices and applications; Goals: integration (generalization, conflict resolution, and linguistic bridge-building), criticism, or identification of central issues; Perspective: neutral representation or espousal of a position; Coverage: exhaustive, exhaustive with selective citations, representative, central or pivotal; Organization: historical, conceptual, or methodological; and Audience: specialized scholars, general scholars, practitioners or policymakers, or the general public.

  • Open access
  • Published: 20 May 2023

Measurement of student engagement in health professions education: a review of literature

  • Salah Eldin Kassab   ORCID: 1 , 2 ,
  • Mohamed Al-Eraky   ORCID: 1 ,
  • Walid El-Sayed   ORCID: 1 , 3 ,
  • Hossam Hamdy   ORCID: 1 &
  • Henk Schmidt   ORCID: 1 , 4  

BMC Medical Education volume  23 , Article number:  354 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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Student engagement is a complex multidimensional construct that has attained great interest in health professions education (HPE). Definition and conceptualization of student engagement is an important step that should drive the development of the instruments for its measurement. We have recently proposed a comprehensive framework for student engagement in HPE with a definition of engagement as student investment of time and energy in academic and non-academic experiences that include learning, teaching, research, governance, and community activities. The dimensions of student engagement in this framework included the cognitive, affective, behavioral, agentic, and socio-cultural. Guided by the student engagement framework, this non-systematic review aims to identify, critically appraise, and summarize the existing methods for measuring student engagement in HPE. Extrapolating from higher education literature, we attempted to link the theoretical perspectives of student engagement with the published methods of its measurement in HPE context. In addition, we have described the different methods of measuring student engagement including self-report surveys, real time measures, direct observation, interviews/focus groups, and the use of multiple instruments. The span of engagement dimensions measured by self-report surveys ranges from one to five dimensions. However, measurement of agentic and sociocultural dimensions of engagement in HPE is still limited and further research is required. We have also reflected on the existing methods of measuring engagement of students as active partners in HPE. The review also describes the advantages, limitations, and psychometric properties of each method for measuring student engagement. We ended the review with a guiding conclusion on how to develop and select an instrument for measuring student engagement in HPE. Finally, we addressed the gaps in the literature about measuring engagement of HPE students and future research plans.

Peer Review reports

The research agenda on student engagement in education has witnessed a progressive rise during the past three decades. The main drive for this rise is the significance of student engagement as a predictor of academic success, well-being, satisfaction, increased retention, decreased burnout, and enhanced self-directed learning [ 1 ]. Furthermore, engagement of students in learning enhances teacher motivation [ 2 ]. Accordingly, engagement of students has been used as an indicator for the quality of medical programs [ 3 ] and a measure of institutional excellence in medical education [ 4 ]. We have also recently reviewed the different aspects related to this important construct and its implications on health professions education [ 1 , 5 ]. Despite the presence of several instruments in the literature for measuring engagement of HPE students, there are no currently existing comprehensive reviews that describe these methods. There are also no guiding principles on how to develop and select an instrument for measuring student engagement in HPE.

Definition of student engagement

Previous literature in higher education has included several definitions of student engagement according to the underlying theoretical perspectives. The prevailing three theoretical underpinnings that explain student engagement include the psychological, behavioral, and psychosocial perspectives [ 1 , 6 ]. The psychological perspective considers engagement as an internal psychological state of students. According to this perspective, student engagement is defined as the students’ psychological state of activity that makes them feel activated, exert effort, and be absorbed during learning activities and students’ state of connection with the school community [ 7 ]. The behavioral perspective explains engagement as both the student behavior and the institutional factors that drive the student engagement. Accordingly, student engagement from this perspective is defined as the time and effort students dedicate to educationally purposeful activities and the practices that institutions apply to motivate students to participate in these activities [ 8 ]. The sociocultural perspective addresses the role of social, cultural, and political factors in student engagement. Accordingly, sociocultural engagement is defined as the student ability of expanding viewpoints and providing awareness of, and appreciation for, others from diverse social and cultural backgrounds [ 9 ].

Student engagement is multidimensional and multi-level

The multidimensional nature of student engagement as a construct poses a practical difficulty to its measurement. Student engagement is conceptualized into behavioral, cognitive, emotional, agentic, and sociocultural dimensions that are measured by relevant indicators. Behavioral engagement can be measured by indicators such as student attendance, participation in curricular or extracurricular activities, effort, and ability to persevere in academic pursuits despite challenges. Indicators of emotional engagement include the emotions students experience towards their learning, peers, faculty, and school. These emotions include happiness, enthusiasm, pride, enjoyment, and feeling of bonding. Cognitive engagement includes absorption in learning, metacognition, perceived value of academic tasks and use of high-order cognitive skills. Agentic engagement indicates the student power to influence to their education, their future lives, and their social environment [ 10 ]. Indicators of agentic engagement inside the classroom include the active contribution of students to their learning process [ 11 ]. Agentic engagement outside the classroom can be measured by the student involvement in teaching of their peers, active participation in school governance, and involvement in community activities. Sociocultural engagement refers to the extent of students’ awareness of, and appreciation for, the diverse perspectives and experiences represented in their learning community. Indicators of sociocultural engagement include appreciation for different cultural backgrounds, willingness to engage in cross-cultural dialogue, and accepting to learn from others from different perspectives [ 9 ].

Student engagement can be molded according to the changes in the surrounding environment. These changes will have direct implications on the methods used for its measurement. For example, student engagement varies according to the type of learning activity (e.g., large classroom, small group learning, self-learning). Similarly, engagement of students differs according to the time scale, which can range from an engagement in a short learning activity to engagement along the duration of a course or a program.

Spheres of student engagement

The spheres of students’ engagement include either engagement in their own learning or engagement as partners in education. The areas of engagement as partners include provision of education, scholarly research, governance, and community activities [ 4 ]. Accordingly, student engagement has been defined as academic experiences of students in learning, teaching, and research, at the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional levels through interactions with peers, faculty, and college community [ 12 ]. We have recently provided a comprehensive definition of student engagement in HPE as the student investment of time and energy in academic and non-academic experiences that include learning, teaching, research, governance, and community activities. Students are involved in these aspects at the cognitive, affective, behavioral, agentic, and socio-cultural dimensions [ 1 ].

Student engagement in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environments

Technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environments are essentially conducted online and offer both opportunities and challenges for student engagement. These environments offer more flexibility and autonomy for students to customize their learning experience according to the most suitable time, method, and place. However, TEL requires students to possess the technology literacy that allows them to navigate online platforms, manage multimedia resources, and manage digital information. Furthermore, students require adaptation to different methods of communication and social skills compared with face-to-face settings to get engaged in online learning activities. Therefore, methods of measuring student engagement in face-to-face learning environments may not be suitable for use in online environments. For example, direct observation is suitable for measuring behavioral engagement of students through direct interactions in face-to-face classrooms. However, measuring behavioral engagement of students in an online environment may need to rely on other measures such as self-report surveys, data analytics and log files.

This review aims to provide an overview of the methods of measuring student engagement in HPE. We linked each method with the underpinning theoretical perspectives, and described the measured engagement dimensions, advantages and limitations, and the psychometric properties of each method. In addition, we addressed the current gaps in the literature about measuring student engagement in HPE and directions for future research.


This manuscript represents a non-systematic literature review employing an explicit search strategy to reduce the biases in selection of included articles. The review included articles published in English with the focus of research on conceptualization and measurement of student engagement, and the main subjects are HPE students. We conducted literature search using the following databases: MEDLINE, PubMed, ProQuest, SCOPUS, Education Resources Information Centre (ERIC), Science Direct, and EBESCO. We searched for peer-reviewed research articles in the databases by title and abstract using key terms such as student engagement, engagement, learner engagement, students as partners, and partnership. We combined the previous terms with other words such as health professions, medical, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, allied health professions, clinical psychology, physical therapy, nutrition, and occupational therapy. In addition, we selected relevant articles from the references list of identified key publications in student engagement. The literature search was limited to articles between 1990 and November 2022. Searching the databases yielded 3019 articles, while an additional 617 articles were identified through searching the listed references and hand-searching of HPE journals. Following deduplication and excluding irrelevant articles through screening of titles and abstracts, 144 articles were selected. Individual screening of full text articles by the two authors (SK and WE) led to the selection of 71 articles to be included in the review with a date of publication ranging from 2003 to 2022. Although the main emphasis of the review is on studies relevant to HPE context, authors agreed to include additional relevant articles ( n  = 19) related to non-HPE contexts. Articles that used self-reports with only one statement for measuring student engagement were excluded from the review. We used EndNote (version 7, Clarivate Analytics, Philadelphia, United States) as the reference manager software for the bibliography of the identified articles.

Methods of measuring student engagement in HPE

The outcome of the literature search resulted in different measures of student engagement in HPE. The common methods of measuring student engagement are self-report surveys, real-time measures, direct observation, interviews, or a combination of more than one method (Fig.  1 ).

figure 1

Frequency of the methods for measuring student engagement in health professions education

Self-report surveys

Self-report surveys are the most used methods for measuring student engagement in HPE, representing approximately two thirds of the reported methods. These surveys are easy to administer, cheap, and can sample many students in a brief period. Furthermore, self-reports can measure unobservable aspects of engagement such as cognitive and emotional dimensions [ 13 ]. The number of dimensions measured by the self-reports varies from one to five dimensions. However, the problem with self-reports is the inability to measure the dynamic nature of student engagement in certain learning situations. One attempt to overcome this shortcoming is the experience sampling using short questionnaires that are distributed several times during a learning activity [ 14 ]. Most surveys are not able to capture the complex nature of the student engagement construct. Even some of the questionnaires that cover the multiple dimensions of engagement lack the alignment between conceptualization and the method of measurement. Below is a detailed description of the common self-report measures in HPE literature and a summary of these instruments in provided in Table 1 .

Self-reports measuring one engagement dimension

Situational cognitive engagement questionnaire

This questionnaire measures cognitive engagement defined as a psychological state in which students exert a significant amount of effort to understand the topic at hand and in which they persist studying over a prolonged period [ 15 ]. Items are scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (not true at all) to 5 (very true for me). The validity of the questionnaire has been tested in a large sample of applied science students with model fit statistics supporting the model [ 15 ]. Furthermore, coefficient H was 0.93 and 0.88 when evaluated on students in applied sciences and medicine [ 14 , 15 ], respectively. Because of the short nature of this questionnaire, it allows multiple measurements of cognitive engagement in response to contextual changes. However, the limited scope of this questionnaire to the cognitive dimension does not allow measurement of other relevant engagement dimensions during collaborative learning in PBL tutorials such as emotional, behavioral, and social dimensions. Another limitation of the questionnaire is the use of behavioral engagement indicators such as effort and persistence as measures of cognitive engagement.

Learners' engagement and motivation questionnaire

This questionnaire has been used for measuring cognitive engagement of health professions education students in multimedia learning [ 16 ]. The questionnaire is based on conceptualizing student engagement as a state of flow (absorption, full concentration, intense enjoyment, and distortion of time awareness). The instrument consists of six items measured on a 7-point Likert scale where 1= not at all true of me to 7=very true of me. Cognitive engagement is conceptualized into three subconstructs: 1) Attention focus (2 items), 2) Intrinsic interest (2 items), and 3) Curiosity (2 items). Although the instrument is declared for measuring cognitive engagement, indicators were a mix of behavioral (attention) and emotional (interest and curiosity) engagement. However, the scale has been pre-validated for internal structure and exploratory factor analysis demonstrated a unidimensional factor structure. Internal consistency reliability using Cronbach alpha was 0.93 to 0.95.

Self-reports measuring two engagement dimensions

Classroom engagement survey (CES)

The CES was initially designed in general education settings and imported for use in nursing education [ 33 ]. The CES consists of 8 items designed to measure behavioral and emotional engagement of students [ 33 ]. Behavioral engagement is measured by student participation in the classroom (five items) and emotional engagement measures their enjoyment (three items) . Another version of the CES consists of 8 items representing the behavioral (3 items), emotional (3 items), and cognitive (2 items) dimensions [ 34 , 35 ]. However, a major limitation of this version is the lack of validity support for the multidimensionality of the construct. In addition, two items are measuring behavioral and cognitive engagement at the group level rather than individual students. Items are scored on a five-point Likert scale (1, strongly disagree; 2, disagree; 3, neither agree nor disagree; 4, agree; 5, strongly agree). The summed scores range from 5 to 40. A higher score indicates greater engagement of students with a score of 24 considered as a neutral score. The use of CES in HPE demonstrated an internal consistency reliability of the questionnaire ranged from Cronbach’s alpha coefficient range from 0.83 [ 34 ] to 0.88 [ 33 , 35 ].

User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ)

The long version of the UEQ (68 items) has been developed and validated for measuring the experience in immersive virtual environments using participants mainly from information and communication technology or computer sciences [ 49 ]. The shorter version of the questionnaire has been adapted for use for measuring engagement of medical students during the use of 360 O videos in Anatomy education [ 18 ]. This version consists of 8 items that measure student engagement as a state of flow characterized by immersion (2 items), enjoyment (2 items), loss of time awareness (2 items), and overall involvement (2 items). Students are asked to score their degree of agreement with each statement on a scale of 0–100, and the average score represents the degree of student engagement. The main limitation of the UEQ is the lack of evidence for the construct validity either for its internal structure using factor analysis or criterion-related evidence by testing relationships to other variables.

User Engagement Scale-20 (UES-20)

The UES-20 has been developed for measuring engagement of commercial users with the learning resources to which they are exposed in online environments [ 50 ]. The scale was then imported for measuring engagement of medical students during their e-learning for diagnostic imaging using adaptive tutorials [ 17 ]. Adaptive tutorials are intelligent online tutoring systems, which provide a personalized learning experience of students through immediate feedback that is modified according to individual student responses [ 17 ]. The instrument measures the cognitive and emotional dimensions of engagement with e-learning resources. The scale consists of 20 items scored on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree) clustered under four subscales. The subscales include focused attention (ability to concentrate and absorb information), perceived usability (affective and cognitive responses to the resource), novelty and involvement (level of triggered interest, feeling of immersion and having fun), and aesthetic appeal (impression made by the visual appearance of the user interface). Factor analysis demonstrated a four-factor structure, which supports the multidimensionality of the questionnaire [ 50 ] [ 17 ].

Self-reports measuring three engagement dimensions

Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)

This scale is one of the most used self-reports in HPE and has an established theoretical basis on the psychological perspective of engagement and the schoolwork engagement model. According to this model, engagement is conceptualized as a positive state of study-related fulfillment characterized by vigor (emotional), dedication (cognitive), and absorption (behavioral) [ 51 ]. Different versions of the scale have been used in the HPE literature with larger versions consisting of 17 items [ 19 , 20 ], 15 items [ 21 , 22 ], and 14 items [ 23 , 24 , 25 ]. Shorter versions that consist of 9 items [ 26 , 27 , 28 ] and even 3 items [ 29 ] are also used. For each of the items, students are asked to identify their level of engagement using a seven-point Likert scale (1 = never to 7 = always). The sum scores of items are divided by the number of items in the scale to represent total engagement score. The different versions of the scale have demonstrated good psychometric properties in various contexts as evidenced by good to excellent internal consistency reliability and factor analysis findings that support the theoretical model [ 19 , 23 , 25 ]. Other sources of validity evidence for the questionnaire are the negative correlations between student engagement scores using UWES and perceived stress [ 21 , 25 ] and burnout [ 21 , 24 , 28 ]. In addition, there is significant positive association between perceived satisfaction of basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and student engagement [ 28 ]. Furthermore, student engagement is promoted by students’ academic self-efficacy beliefs, students’ active self-care, and resilience [ 27 ].

University Student Engagement Inventory (USEI)

The earlier version of the USEI was originally developed in Portuguese to measure student engagement [ 52 ]. This version is composed of 32 items distributed in three dimensions covering behavioral (11 items), emotional (10 items), and cognitive (11 items) engagement. However, a reduced version that consists of 15 items has demonstrated better psychometric properties [ 30 ]. The short version has been used for measuring engagement of medical [ 31 ], dental [ 30 ], and pharmacy [ 32 ] students. Questionnaire items are distributed in a three-factor structure covering the three dimensions of engagement: behavioral (5 items), emotional (5 items), and cognitive (5 items). Items are assessed on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). An evidence of construct validity of the scores from the reduced version has been demonstrated by confirmatory factor analysis, which supported the three-factor model with significant correlations between the subscales [ 30 , 31 ]. In addition, emotional and behavioral engagement scores correlated negatively with perceived burnout [ 32 ]. The questionnaire has also demonstrated an acceptable reliability (≥ 0.7) using composite reliability (CR) and Cronbach’s alpha [ 30 ].

Technology-enhanced Learning (TEL) engagement scale

This scale intends to measure the engagement of students in TEL resources, with an example of its application in Anatomy education [ 36 ]. The instrument consists of 19 items scored on a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree). Exploratory factor analysis yielded a three-factor structure as follows: satisfaction (8 items), goal setting and planning (7 items), and physical interaction (4 items). These emerging factors generally conform with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dimensions of engagement, respectively. In addition, there are significant correlations between the three engagement dimensions. TEL engagement score is calculated by summing the responses from each item with the minimum score of 19 and a maximum score of 95. The reported internal consistency reliability of the scale was 0.86 with acceptable reliability of each of the three engagement dimensions. Although the scale has proved evidence of validity in Anatomy learning resources, the outcome of its application in other HPE subjects is unclear.

Self-reports measuring four engagement dimensions

Online Student Engagement Scale (OSE)

This scale attempts to measure the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of students in online learning. The initial version of the scale has been adapted from the Student Course Engagement Questionnaire (SCEQ) for use in online communication engineering courses [ 37 ]. The questionnaire was then imported for use in nursing education [ 37 , 38 , 39 ]. It comprised 19 items divided into four factors: 1) skills engagement (cognitive), 2) emotional engagement, 3) participation engagement (behavioral), and 4) performance engagement [ 38 , 40 ]. The items are scored on a 5-point Likert scale using the following response categories: very characteristic of me (5), characteristic of me (4), moderately characteristic of me (3), not really characteristic of me (2) or not at all characteristic of me (1). The total engagement score represents the sum for the four engagement dimensions with ninety-five considered as the maximum score. The scale demonstrates high internal consistency reliability with a Cronbach alpha ranging from 0.91 [ 37 , 38 ] to 0.95 [ 39 ]. In addition, factor analysis yielded a four-factor structure including skills, emotional, participation, and performance [ 37 ]. The main disadvantage of this questionnaire is mixing between the dimensions and outcomes of engagement (performance engagement).

College students’ learning engagement scale in cyberspace

This scale has been used for measuring learning engagement in online courses for Chinese nursing students [ 41 ]. Authors conceptualized online engagement into four dimensions: behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and interactive engagement. The scale consists of 19 items rated on a 5-points Likert scale ranging from 1 (completely inconsistent) to 5 (completely consistent), with a total score of 19 to 95. A higher total score indicated higher online learning engagement. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) showed that the structure of this scale was stable and the Cronbach's Alpha coefficient was 0.972.

Self-reports measuring student engagement as partners

Educational student engagement scale

This questionnaire measures the engagement of medical students as active partners in the provision of education [ 48 ]. The questionnaire consists of six items designed to be in line with the ASPIRE criteria for institutional excellence in student engagement [ 4 , 53 ]. The items cover mainly the agentic engagement dimension and include student role in curriculum evaluation, peer teaching, self- and peer assessment, and the role of their feedback on curriculum development. Students are asked to indicate their level of agreement on each item based on a five-point Likert scale where 1= strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. The average score of the six items represents the mean level of student engagement. The internal consistency reliability of the questionnaire is 0.88. The questionnaire has also demonstrated evidence of predictive validity by the positive relationships between student engagement scores and student learning outcomes. However, the scope of the questionnaire is limited to measuring engagement in provision of education and does not measure the other aspects of student engagement as partners such as engagement in governance, scholarly research, and community activities.

Measures of institutional level of student engagement

National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

The NSSE originated in the early 20 th century as a tool for measuring student engagement at the institutional level to improve the undergraduate experiences of students, document effective institutional practices, and benchmark between higher education institutions [ 8 ]. This self-report survey measures student engagement on an annual basis and is designed based on the behavioral perspective of student engagement. The instrument consists of approximately 80 items with 10 indicators representing five themes of student engagement in addition to 6 high impact practices. The themes include academic challenge (4 indicators), learning with peers (2 indicators), experiences with faculty (2 indicators), and campus environment (2 indicators). The academic challenge theme covers higher-order learning, reflective & integrative learning, learning strategies, and quantitative reasoning. Learning with peers includes collaborative learning and discussions with diverse others. Experience with faculty includes student-faculty interaction and effective teaching practices. Campus environment includes quality of interactions and supportive environment. High impact practices include service-learning, learning community, research with faculty, internship or field experience, study abroad, and culminating senior experience. In the HPE research context, NSSE has been used for measuring engagement of nursing students [ 42 , 43 ]. The main limitation of the NSSE is mixing between indicators, drivers, and outcomes of engagement. One of the surveys developed by items borrowed from NSSE is the Survey of Student Engagement (SSE) instrument. The SSE instrument has been validated [ 44 ] and used for measuring engagement of medical students [ 45 , 46 , 47 ]. The instrument consists of 14 items grouped under three categories: 1) collaborative learning (4 items), 2) cognitive development (five items), and 3) personal skills (4 items). Items are scored on a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = Never to 4 = very often, and the total engagement score is the sum of the scores in the three dimensions.

Classroom Survey of Student Engagement (CLASSE)

CLASSE is an adapted version of NSSE to measure engagement of students at the classroom level [ 54 ]. The purpose is to provide feedback to institutions on how to enhance instructional practices for better engagement of students. The CLASSE questionnaire consists of 39 items [ 55 ] with a shorter version of 19 items [ 56 ]. Each is assessed on a 4-point Likert scale (0 = never, 1= one time, 2= three to five times, and 3= more than five times) and then multiplied by 33.3 to produce a score ranging from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest). The questionnaire consists of three dimensions: 1) active and collaborative learning, 2) student –faculty interaction, and 3) level of academic challenge. The questionnaire demonstrated good internal consistency reliability in HPE settings with a Cronbach’s alpha = 0.89 for the 39-item version [ 55 ].

Direct observation

Direct observation can measure the engagement of individual students or the whole classroom during a learning activity. The observable indicators for student engagement are mainly focused on the behavioral dimension such as attention, asking questions, and participating in classroom activities. Observation measures can provide real-time changes in student engagement and describe rich information about the contextual factors affecting engagement. However, they are time-consuming, require training of observers, and limited to measuring the behavioral dimension of engagement. In addition, direct observation mostly includes a small number of students, which limits the generalizability of these measures. In the HPE literature, there are two reported direct observation methods, which are STROBE and In-class engagement measure (IEM).

The name of the STROBE instrument refers to the strobe light that intermittently captures events at regular intervals. The instrument consists of 5-minute observational cycles repeated during the classroom activities. During each cycle, the trained observer records the behavior of the teacher and four students, and the process is repeated. Categories of student behaviors on the STROBE include: 1) Learner-to-learner engagement, such as speaking, listening, or both, 2) Learner-to-instructor engagement, such as speaking, listening, or both, and 3) Self-engagement: Learner reading, writing, or otherwise not visibly interacting with other learners or instructor. The observers also write free comments at the end of each 5-minute observation cycle. The reliability of the instrument measured by inter-observer agreement of observers who simultaneously scored the engagement of students was good to excellent [ 57 ]. In addition, validity-evidence was confirmed by the findings that student-student and student-instructor engagement were greater in PBL compared with traditional lectures [ 57 , 58 ], and that engagement scores using STROBE correlated with student self-report of engagement [ 57 ].

In-class engagement measure (IEM)

The instrument is a revised form of STROBE to determine the level of engagement of students and teachers in the classroom settings on direct observation. Each observation cycle includes recording the behaviors of an instructor and four randomly selected students as snapshots for 5-min cycles [ 59 , 60 ]. Each 5-min cycle consists of four 20-sec observations of individual learners. The observer scores student behavior on a scale 1 to 5 where 1 to 2 is non-participating personal without any communication and 3 to 5 is gradually increasing levels of participation and communication with the instructor and peers. The instrument demonstrated content-related validity evidence by review from education experts and criterion-related evidence of validity by the significantly higher engagement scores in active learning compared with traditional classes. In addition, the reliability of the instrument was proved by excellent inter-observer agreement in scores.

Real-time measures

Student engagement is a dynamic construct that responds to changes in the educational context. Therefore, several real-time measures have been developed to measure moment-to-moment changes in student engagement as it unfolds especially at the level of an educational activity. Examples of real-time measures applied for measuring student engagement in HPE are log files, physiological measures, and eye tracking. Log files are computer-generated data files that record system-related information including the internet usage patterns and activities. Log files can capture several indicators of behavioral engagement of students in technology-enhanced learning environments [ 61 , 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 , 68 , 69 ]. For example, a computer-generated engagement metric used multiple indicators to measure engagement of medical students with virtual patients such as time on page, MCQ answer accuracy, use of a clinical reasoning tool, and scores of students' written summary statements based on the VP encounter [ 69 ]. In addition, log files and physiological measures can automatically capture indicators of cognitive and emotional engagement (Table 2 ).

For example, heart rate changes are used for measuring cognitive engagement of medical students in different types of class activities [ 70 ]. Eye-tracking is another indicator of engagement with the assumption that fixating the eyes on text or images for longer period indicate that students are cognitively engaged with the subject [ 71 ]. For example, eye-tracking has been used for measuring engagement of medical students with moulage simulations [ 72 ]. Real-time measures have the advantage of collecting large amounts of information in a short period. The collected data from real-time measures are usually precise because they are not subject to human errors or bias. However, analyzing this large volume of data could be challenging. In addition, these measures could be expensive and difficult to use in real educational environments [ 73 ].

Interviews and focus groups

Interviews and focus groups have the advantage of collecting in-depth information about student engagement. The collected information is usually deep and rich as students have the chance to explain how their engagement unfolds in a learning environment. By discussing with HPE students, they can explain the contextual factors that trigger or inhibit their engagement [ 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 , 79 , 80 ]. Students can also explain the types and characteristics of their engagement [ 81 ] and how they get engaged in learning activities [ 79 ]. Despite these advantages, collecting and analyzing qualitative data from interviews and focus groups are time-consuming and require training of interviewers [ 13 ]. In addition, the small sample of students and interviewer biases could limit the generalizability of conclusions about student engagement.

e) Multiple methods

The comprehensive nature of the engagement construct made it almost impossible to measure all its components using a single instrument. To address this problem, several studies have used mixed quantitative and qualitative methods to triangulate the evidence about student engagement [ 72 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 , 87 ]. Studies have also used multiple quantitative measures to capture more dimensions of this complex construct [ 88 ]. Another purpose of using multiple methods is to identify the contextual factors that drive/inhibit student engagement as well as the outcomes of engagement. For example, a study used self-report surveys, real-time measures, and interviews for measuring engagement of medical students in Anatomy and Histology by using digital games [ 82 ]. In this study, measures were not only focused on indicators related to the engagement construct, but also on antecedents and outcomes of engagement [ 82 ]. Another study used direct observation, work sample analysis, teacher rating, and student self-report to investigate the role of virtual patient simulations (VPS) in fostering student engagement [ 83 ]. The methods used were a mix between measuring flow (a state of engagement) and antecedents of engagement such as motivation, interest, and relevance [ 83 ]. Another study used both log files and focus group discussion to examine how visual learning analytics tools such as learning dashboards can support medical students’ cognitive engagement in the classroom [ 85 ]. The log files were used for measuring cognitive engagement while the focus group discussion explored the perceptions of students about their cognitive engagement [ 85 ]. Furthermore, a study used Immersion Score Rating Instrument (ISRI), engagement self-report, eye-tracking, and stimulated recall interviews to explore how the moulage authenticity impacts on student engagement [ 72 ]. Although multiple methods can capture different aspects of engagement, the real challenge is how to reconcile the inconsistency in the findings from different methods and combine these findings to achieve a more comprehensive image of student engagement.

Conclusions and future directions

The measurement of student engagement in HPE has been a challenge despite the progressive interest of studying the construct for more than two decades. We conclude this review by highlighting important points to consider before developing and selecting instruments for measuring student engagement in HPE as shown in Table 3 .

First , conceptualizing and defining student engagement is an important step in its operationalization and developing the appropriate methods of measurement. Furthermore, aligning the methods of measuring engagement with the underlying theoretical perspectives would streamline the comparison of findings across student engagement studies. Most of the available methods focus on measuring the psychological perspective of student engagement, while the behavioral perspective is limited to measuring student engagement at the institutional level. However, methods of measuring engagement from the socio-cultural theoretical perspective in the HPE literature are still in infancy. This is particularly relevant to the sphere of student engagement as partners in HPE education where theories such as Community of Practice (CoP) and Positioning theory are applicable [ 1 ].

Second , an important consideration during the design or selection of an instrument for measuring student engagement is identifying the dimensions of engagement that can be measured. Several instruments are available in the HPE literature for measuring behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement of students. However, the instruments designed to measure the agentic and socio-cultural dimensions of student engagement in HPE are limited and should be the target for future research.

Third , a plethora of publications in HPE address the measurement of student engagement in the sphere of own learning while measuring engagement of students as partners has been limited. Furthermore, most of the existing instruments in HPE literature about measuring student engagement as partners are not focusing on the engagement construct. Instead, the instruments used in these studies are measuring the drivers [ 78 , 80 , 89 ] and outcomes [ 84 , 90 ] of student engagement. While the existing literature has provided valuable insights into the topic of student engagement as partners, further research is required to explore its practical applications and potential impact in HPE settings.

Fourth , student engagement has been conceptualized as a multi-level construct with variable time scales. Therefore, the granularity of measured engagement (learning activity, course, school, university) should be clearly identified at the outset of the study [ 7 ]. This issue has important implications on the appropriate method for each engagement level. For example, student engagement in a short learning activity can better be measured by direct observation or real-time measures. On the other hand, student engagement at the macro-level of the program can be measured by self-report surveys or interviews.

Finally , it is important to note that disengagement is not at the opposite end of the engagement spectrum. Engagement and disengagement are conceptually considered as distinct constructs with different outcomes. Accordingly, engagement and disengagement dimensions are distinct and require different structures of the instruments used for their measurement. Specifically, there is a lack of research on the measurement of student disengagement in HPE, highlighting the need for more studies to explore the different aspects related to this construct.

Availability of data and materials

Not applicable.


Classroom engagement survey

Classroom Survey of Student Engagement

Community of Practice

Health professions education

In-class engagement measure

National Survey of Student Engagement

Online Student Engagement Scale

Technology-enhanced Learning

User Experience Questionnaire

User Engagement Scale-20

University Student Engagement Inventory

Utrecht Work Engagement Scale

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November 21, 2023 | Combined Reports - UConn Communications

UConn Hartford Welcomes Transformative Project Serving Asian American Students

'The robust presence of Asian students on this campus has underscored the importance of comprehending and addressing the concerns of our diverse student body'

A view of the main building at UConn Hartford.

(Sean Flynn)

UConn has secured a notable federal grant to address needs and provide additional academic, social, and mentorship supports to the steadily growing number of Asian American students at UConn Hartford.

A group of Hartford and Storrs faculty and staff teamed up to win the U.S. Department of Education grant this fall in its Minority Serving Institutions program, which will be used to launch the Transformation, Equity, Access, and Sense of Belonging (TEAS) project.

The $1.9 million grant provides funding for five years to address the needs of UConn Hartford’s Asian American students, a group that has steadily grown to 17% on campus. The growth mirrors the rising Asian American population in central Connecticut, which has more than doubled since 2000 and now totals more than 40,000 people from more than two dozen countries.

Andrea Ybanez ’23 (CLAS), who describes herself as a “proud Filipina woman,” began her undergraduate education at UConn Hartford and is currently a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Storrs.

“The robust presence of Asian students on this campus has underscored the importance of comprehending and addressing the concerns of our diverse student body,” she says. “I express deep gratitude for the ongoing efforts dedicated to serving our AANAPI student population, and I am hopeful for the continued enhancement of support for these students at UConn Hartford.”

UConn Hartford’s grant will allow it to add a visiting assistant professor and a full-time clinical therapist as part of the work to improve Asian American students’ retention and graduation rates, as well as increase advancement to graduate and professional school.

The grant creates access to a culturally relevant curriculum, expands a mentorship program, doubles the capacity to address mental health issues, provides new sources of income for students, and helps to show students a pathway to a brighter future.

Contrary to the model minority stereotype of Asian Americans, these ethnically diverse communities show significant economic disadvantages, the program organizers say.

More than half of the Asian American students at UConn Hartford come from households earning less than $45,000 a year. Like other students, their persistence, performance, and retention at the university has been in steady decline since the pandemic, and leaders of the TEAS project have a plan to reverse these trends.

“Asian American students have long been overlooked as a population deserving of academic, career, and social services,” says UConn Associate Professor Jason Oliver Chang, who also serves as the director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute and is the primary investigator for the TEAS project.

Seeking the federal designation of an Asian American, Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) for UConn Hartford was a dream that he and Angela Rola, the co-primary investigator on the grant, shared for years.

They and others want to bringing resources, programs, and new curriculum to the rapidly growing Asian American student body at UConn Hartford that is largely composed of Southeast Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern immigrant and refugee communities.

Rola, the founding director of UConn’s Asian American Cultural Center, has been planning for the opportunity since the AANAPISI program started in 2007.

Expanding the footprint of the Storrs-based Asian American Cultural Center and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute to Hartford will increase the reach of programs with proven effectiveness, including the Asian American Mentoring Program (AAMP) and Life Transformative Education course work in Asian American Studies.

The new grant and others like it are designed to boost the region’s economic development by training the next generation of leaders from racially marginalized and economically disadvantaged communities.

To do this, the TEAS project must overcome a number of social and economic disparities as well as confronting stereotypes of the model minority, and combating Islamophobia. The TEAS project is a practical plan to address these overlapping factors, its organizers say.

Thanks to the grant, this plan is designed to fulfill two of the strategic priorities of the university: fostering broad-based inclusion, and investing in student success for the campus community with some of the largest obstacles.

Students like Sidratul Muntaha ’26 (CLAS), or Sid, who is a sophomore studying political science at UConn Hartford, understand the significance of such equity focused programs.

“I’m very passionate about creating a bond with the student body. I’ve also met amazing staff who are dedicated to the Asian American experience and how we can make our presence known at UConn,” she says.

“When it comes to South Asians in the US, we are often forgotten and not seen as ‘true’ Asians due to stereotypes and how the media portrays us,” she adds. “The groups I’m involved in, like the South Asian Student Association, encourages students to join the organization to better themselves in different ways throughout their college careers, like the programs that this grant will create. We deserve the support needed for us to succeed at UConn.”

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Jesse Wegman

How Are Students Expected to Live Like This on Campuses?

Demonstrators, some holding Israeli flags and wearing the flag’s blue and white. One holds a sign reading, “Empathy on our campus now.”

By Jesse Wegman

Mr. Wegman is a member of the editorial board.

It was a relief to learn of the arrest last week of a 21-year-old Cornell University student for threatening to rape and murder Jews on campus in reaction to the Israel-Hamas war. It was also an easy case: Violent threats against specific people are illegal, and they are dealt with by the justice system, not school administrators.

Easy cases are hard to come by these days, especially at colleges and universities, where the divisions over the Middle East conflict are starker than in any other sector of American society. Examples abound of abhorrent speech by students and faculty members, mostly aimed at Israel, Jews and even Jewish students — and yet abhorrent does not equal criminal. How should a university respond when members of its community express sentiments that are at odds with the values the school is trying to inculcate, not to mention with human decency?

There are answers, and they won’t make everyone happy. They start with a core value that too often gets lost in the heat of these debates: Speech should be presumptively allowed, as a basic principle of free inquiry and academic debate. The details of achieving that may get messy fast, but the goal is fundamental on campuses. While schools have faced challenges like these before, more recent developments in campus politics and civility can help ensure that colleges don’t lose their way or make themselves vulnerable to partisan attacks and regulations.

Unfortunately, the universities themselves have done their part to add to the mess. By taking public positions on some high-profile political issues but not others in recent years, they have exposed themselves to charges of inconsistency and bias. By imposing speech codes that ban what they deem offensive speech without clearly defining it, they have encouraged illiberalism in an environment designed to cultivate the liberal arts. And by relying increasingly on an ever-shrinking number of ultrawealthy donors, they have put themselves at risk of losing huge amounts of money if the donors decide they don’t like what is being said (or not said) in the university’s name.

As a result, many schools have flailed, some more than once, in their attempts to navigate the storms of speech, activism and vitriol that have consumed their communities over the past month. Administrators continue to face intense pressure to make statements and take sides, whether from students, faculty members, donors or lawmakers.

One solution is to say nothing or as little as possible. This is known as the University of Chicago approach, after that school issued a report in 1967 urging neutrality in response to student protests against the Vietnam War.

“The neutrality of the university as an institution arises then not from a lack of courage nor out of indifference and insensitivity,” the university said in the report , named after its principal author, Harry Kalven Jr. “It arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints.”

That’s easier said than done, as the report admitted. Universities are not sealed off from the wider culture, nor should they be. Still, every institutional foray into politics comes with risks.

“There’s no answer that will please everybody,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the Berkeley School of Law and an expert on free speech, told me. “I put out a statement, the first sentence of which said I’m horrified by the terrorism that occurred in Israel. I got called a racist for that statement, because it labels it as terrorism.” He pointed out, however, that silence can speak just as loudly. “I didn’t issue any statement condemning students who defended Hamas. I got criticized for that.”

Mr. Chemerinsky wasn’t complaining about the criticism — he’s heard far worse — but even he was shocked by the degree of antisemitism he has been seeing on campus in recent weeks, much of it without meaningful pushback from university administrators.

At public universities like Berkeley, the First Amendment provides broad speech protections. At private universities, that permissiveness is not constitutionally required, but it is (or should be) part of the academic culture. All schools are obligated to follow Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color or national origin. The trick is in balancing a commitment to open, uninhibited debate with ensuring that students do not fear for their physical safety from those who disagree with them.

That’s why a university’s primary role should be to create a haven — a safe space — for open debate that emphasizes listening and mutual respect, if not agreement. “To be open to both all people and all ideas,” as Suzanne Nossel, who leads PEN America, put it. “The imperative is to make room for vigorous debate, airing ideas that are offensive or make people uncomfortable. That’s imperative in a moment like this. The answer can’t be to shut down that debate.”

True, and yet Jewish students can be forgiven for wondering why they must endure their professors referring to a terrorist slaughter of Jews as exhilarating and their fellow students calling to get rid of the Zionists. In an age of heightened sensitivity to the real harm that speech can inflict, it seems Jewish students are expected to take it on the chin.

The bottom line is that universities undermine their basic purpose if their students feel in physical danger. Administrators can and should speak out in defense of the safety of their students and the values of their academic community, even if doing so means weighing in on a larger political debate.

As colleges and universities have been discovering, a culture of basic respect and listening doesn’t appear magically. It is unreasonable to expect that students barely out of high school, not yet fully grown in body or mind, should just know how free-speech culture works, even as they are entering what for many of them is the most pluralistic environment they’ve ever encountered. “It’s work!” Ms. Nossel said. “It’s the work of democratic citizenry, how we live together and make space for one another’s ideas.”

That’s why it’s important to make it a mandatory part of first-year education, at the least, akin to the way students are trained to spot and prevent sexual harassment and assault.

The point isn’t to engender some vague idea of civility but rather to instill the importance of building a pluralistic society.

Obviously there are legal red lines to a culture of free speech: threats, intimidation and harassment, to name the obvious ones. But universities can add their own limits — for instance, no targeting of specific students or of groups because of identity.

The rules and limits are likely to be different based on regions and varying campus cultures, but they should err toward permissiveness, and they should be clear and consistent and be communicated in advance. That will give students the opportunity to learn while at school and to consider the ramifications of their speech not just in the school environment but also in their lives after graduation. (The recent warning by a group of top law firms that they will not tolerate a history of antisemitic or anti-Islamic behavior from applicants for jobs should stand as a reminder to students of the real-world consequences of their campus behavior.)

Schools must also make it clear to donors that their contributions cannot have political strings attached. Two recent cases in which donors or lawmakers objected to the hiring of Black journalists as tenured faculty members — one at the University of North Carolina and the other at Texas A&M — illustrate how corrupting it is to a university’s core mission when outsiders with money or power control academic decisions.

Finally, lawmakers who control the budgets and agendas of state universities need to respect the same educational goals that academic leaders do, especially because these institutions educate far more students than elite private schools do. This year, to cite one prominent example, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed three bills that restrict certain topics from being taught — including theories of racial history — and prohibit campuswide diversity statements. Several Republican members of Congress have introduced a misguided bill in the House to cut funding for colleges that allow what is loosely defined as antisemitic speech on campus, including claims that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own nations.

Lawmakers — no less than donors, administrators, educators and students — have a role to play in fostering the sort of culture that universities are uniquely suited to embody, and that is a building block in the maintenance of a free, pluralistic society.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram .

Jesse Wegman is a member of the editorial board , where he has written about the Supreme Court and national legal affairs since 2013. He is the author of “Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College.”


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