Jennifer Fredricks

Professor of Human Development
Director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy

Joined Connecticut College: 2000

B.A., Columbia College, Columbia University
M.A., The University of Michigan
Ph.D., Combined Program in Education and Psychology


Human development


Child and family policy

Social policy

Educational psychology

Jennifer Fredricks is an educational and developmental psychologist whose research focuses on school engagement, motivation, organized out-of-school activity participation, adolescent development and parent socialization.

She is interested in how to create school and out-of-school contexts that optimize positive academic and psychological outcomes for children and adolescents living in diverse environments. Fredricks is Co-Principal investigator on a large-scale longitudinal study with colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh that is following over 3,000 middle school students over three years to explore the influence of school and family factors on motivation and engagement in math and science, and the subsequent impact of engagement on achievement and career aspirations.

She has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, American Educational Research Association, and the Institute for Educational Studies to support her research. In 2016, Fredricks was awarded a Student at the Center Distinguished Fellowship from Jobs for the Future, to expand on our knowledge of student-centered learning and communicate these findings in a way that is accessible and actionable to policymakers and practitioners. In 2015, Fredricks was a recipient of a William T. Grant Distinguished Fellowship to deepen her understanding of educational policymaking through a long-term residency at a Connecticut legislative and advocacy organization.

Fredricks has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters in the leading adolescent and educational journals including: Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Review of Educational Research, Learning and Instruction, Child Developmental Perspectives, Journal of Adolescent Research, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Journal of Applied Developmental Science, Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, and Journal of Community Psychology.

In 2011, Fredricks received the Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments. Fredricks also serves on the editorial board of four journals, Journal of Research in Adolescence, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, School Psychology Review, and Adolescent Research Review.

Her first book, titled "Eight Myths of Student Disengagement: Creating Classrooms of Deep Learning," was published by Corwin Press in 2014. In this book, she uses current advances in educational research to debunk eight educational myths related to student disengagement, discusses implications for classroom practice and provides extensive opportunities for educators to apply practical strategies that are supported by current research. She is also co-author of a Monograph of the Society for Research in Child Development entitled, “Parent beliefs to youth choices in academics and leisure: Mapping the sequence of predictors from childhood to adolescence.”

Fredricks was appointed Director of the College's Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy in 2011.

Fredricks teaches the following courses: Introduction to Human Development, Adolescent Development, Child and Family Policy, Children's Rights and Public Policy and Social Policy Analysis in Urban America. In her teaching, she focuses on how to use knowledge of human development to create environments that support the needs of children and families in a diverse society. She encourages students to apply developmental theory and research to real-world problems.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two boys, Jacob and Dylan, running marathons and swimming with a local masters swim team.

Visit the human development department website.

Reinventing our public schools could provide an exciting opportunity to use our power to create imaginary worlds, share theories, and act out possibilities. This time not just on the playground but in all the varied public arenas in which we meet with our fellow citizens. Schools embody the dreams we have for our children. All of them. These dreams must remain public property.

Deborah Meier, The Power of Their Ideas

Contact Jennifer Fredricks

Mailing Address

Jennifer Fredricks
Connecticut College
Box #5223
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


121 Bolles House