The Virtues of Good Students


What are the virtues that enable students to flourish as students, and how can we as teachers help our students cultivate those virtues? In this panel presentation, we will discuss our experiences in using virtue-focused pedagogy across multiple courses, and we will explain some methods instructors may use to enable their students to cultivate the virtues of good students. First, we will introduce the idea of a virtue-focused pedagogy and why including virtues of a good student in one’s pedagogical paradigm is worthwhile. The virtues of a good student are broad-based: they include intellectual excellences, as well as moral ones; they are cognitive, but also motivational and affective. Because of this, a virtue-focused approach is especially well-suited to the Ignatian ideal of educating the whole person (cura personalis). Second, after introducing the benefits of a virtue-focused approach to pedagogy, we will look at the development inside the classroom of both individual virtues of mind (such as attentiveness and mindfulness) and more social virtues (such as the courage to speak up and open-mindedness to peers). We will present lecture material, in-class activities, and tips on how to model in-class virtues. Third, we will discuss the out-of-class virtues of a good student. These include not only the familiar virtues of hard work, such as grit and perseverance, but also virtues that are perhaps less obvious, such as charitable reading, epistemic cooperation with peers, and the self-awareness to seek help in office hours. Finally, we will discuss how to encourage the virtues that will enable our students to be life-long learners, such as wonder, curiosity, and a willingness to fail. We will present an Ignatian-pedagogy-based virtue journal designed to help students reflect on and intentionally develop the virtues of a life-long learner, as well as discuss how to advise former students on university life and career aspirations. We plan to leave ample time throughout and at the end of the presentation for discussion.

May 23, 2019
Georgetown University