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' research focuses on extracurricular participation, positive youth development, school engagement, youth sports, and motivation. 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 has been involved in three larger scale longitudinal survey studies of child and adolescent development, in a large-scale study of children's engagement and achievement in urban high poverty neighborhoods, and in an interview study of youth attending six local school-based Boys and Girls Clubs. She has received grants from the American Educational Research Association and the Institute for Educational Studies to support this work.

Fredricks recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation for a study on math and science engagement and is looking for Connecticut College students interested in joining her research team.

Her first book, titled "Eight Myths of Student Disengagement: Creating Classrooms of Deep Learning," was published by Corwin Press in February, 2014. In the 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. As Professor Fredricks states, "Disengagement is one of the biggest problems teachers report facing in their classrooms. Data from national studies suggest that 40-60% of students are showing signs of disengagement. Increasing engagement is the key to addressing problems of low achievement, high levels of student boredom and alienation, and high dropout rates. A growing body of research shows that it is possible to increase engagement in schools by making changes to the social and instructional environment. Many states have adopted the Common Core and the Next Generation Science standards, which are designed to help students develop the knowledge and higher-order thinking skills that are necessary to be successful in college and high-skilled careers. This book will help K-12 teachers create the kind of environments of deep learning and engagement that are necessary to meet the Common Core and Next Generation standards."

Fredricks was a recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral fellowship for a research project on the academic and psychological consequences of extracurricular participation. She was also a postdoctoral fellow with the MacArthur Network for Successful Pathways through Middle Childhood, an interdisciplinary group of the leading researchers who study this age range. She serves as a consultant on school engagement for several grants and for the Southeastern Regional Educational Laboratory. She is also involved in policy efforts to increase athletic opportunities in both school and out of school time for girls and low-income youth.

Fredricks received the 2011 Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Research Award, presented annually to a faculty member selected on the basis of outstanding scholarly or artistic accomplishments.

Fredricks has published more than 25 journal articles and book chapters in the leading adolescent and educational journals including Developmental Psychology, Review of Educational Research, 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, Gifted Child Quarterly and High Potential. She has presented her research at national and international conferences including the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, Society for Research in Child Development, Society for Research in Adolescence, and the British Psychological Society.

Fredricks serves on the editorial board of two journals, Journal of Research in Adolescence and Journal of Youth and 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