Student Emotions and Engagement: Enacting Humanizing Pedagogy in Higher Education

Hyunjin Jinna Kim, Stony Brook University, USA
Yiren Kong, Stony Brook University, USA
Carol Hernandez, Stony Brook University, USA
Muhammad Soban, Stony Brook University, USA

Citation: Kim, H. J., Kong, Y., Hernandez, C., & Soban, M. (2023). Student Emotions and Engagement: Enacting Humanizing Pedagogy in Higher Education. IAFOR Journal of Education11(3).


Student engagement in higher education has been a topic of discussion for decades, as student engagement directly indexes student retention, achievement, and career development. While previous research emphasizes the importance of effective teaching practices to increase student engagement in higher education, faculty and staff report institutional and professional challenges to increase interactions with students. This study highlights cases of successful teacher-student relationships that engendered positive student emotions and advanced student engagement in higher education settings. Using the thank-you note messages provided by students in a Thank-a-Teacher initiative, data were analyzed qualitatively through the theoretical principles of humanizing pedagogy (del Carmen Salazar, 2013). The findings indicate that the enactment of humanizing pedagogy through conveying emotions and forming positive teacher-student relationships made a meaningful impact on student motivation, engagement, and growth. Implications for the transformation and liberation of higher education through affect-driven pedagogy are discussed.


gratitude, higher education, humanizing pedagogy, student engagement, teacher-student relationship