Review: Introduction of Cathy N. Davidson & Christina Katopodis’ The New College Classroom


The introduction to Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis’ co-authored book, The New College Classroom, invites the reader to imagine an alternative classroom in which all students enjoy the opportunity to participate in their learning.  They divide the introduction into the following six subsections: “The Problem,” “The Alternative,” “Why Change?”, “Success for Every Student,” “What Is Learning?”, and “The New College Classroom” to guide the reader through their goals, interventions, and methodologies. The book begins with a familiar anecdote that details the issue with the often devastating silence of a classroom or a meeting when only one person is responsible for the conversation and ideas. Davidson and Katopodis explain that even though lecturing is “the traditional fallback” in a silent classroom, it leaves most students out of the learning process (2). Per contra, “active learning” engages students from all backgrounds, particularly students from low-income and marginalized social groups, so that they can play a role in their learning. Moreover, Davidson and Katopodis argue that active, or participatory, learning builds conditions and skills that students can carry with them for the rest of their lives. The New College Classroom aims to idealistically offer methods, exercises, and activities to instructors who are eager to implement community-based approaches to equitable pedagogical development and learning. While the authors acknowledge that “change is hard”, they provide us with a glimpse into another type of future in higher education that stops perpetuating exclusionary educational traditions in the United States to transform the lives of the students and society writ large.

The New College Classroom. Cathy N. Davidson & Christina Katopodis, The New College Classroom. Harvard University Press, 2022. Pp. ix, 303. ISBN 9780674249954.

Review by Waleska Solórzano, Cornell University.