I almost can’t bring myself to write a rant about how I, and all my Social Media-Friendly Colleagues, have been saying this all along.
…I said almost.
Of course it’s more important that first years engage rather than how they engage. And of course, a more engaged student is going to have more friends than a disengaged student. The engagement argument has been supported by scholarly research since 1985. Meeting students in their environment and encouraging them to engage with academia in which ever ways they feel most comfortable is as self-evident as breathing. “Allowing” the student to choose their own preferred means of engagement is an expression learner-centered education.
And no, I don’t have a great lot of data to support my observations that this balance of power shift away from teacher-centered environments can only be good for higher education, and that it will lead to more transformative experiences for traditional-aged college students. I don’t have the data because that’s someone else’s agenda. The mentor in me shuns the agenda’s of others and only allows me to care about those of my students.