Name: Kristin Hultgren ‘23

Pronouns: she/her

ACE courses taken: EDUC.234 Educational Psychology, PSYC 260 Health Psychology, PHYS.152 Environmental Physics

Major(s): Psychology major, Neuroscience minor

Description (EDUC.234): Students volunteer a few hours a week tutoring in local elementary, middle, and high schools and reflect on their experiences as a class through blog posts.

Why did you decide to take this course?

Kristin: Educational Psychology was one of the courses that [when deciding to go to Carleton] I thought, Oh, I need to take this in my Carleton time. I was interested in educational studies and I almost did the minor and then I ended up running out of time for it. But I have a lot of teachers in my family, so it’s something that I value. I wanted to take education classes and I’m a Psychology major, so everything fell into place. I also took Intro with Deborah (the ACE course professor) and really enjoyed that class.

Is there anything from your background that you think informs why or how you do community-engaged work through this class or otherwise? 

Kristin: Yeah. There are a lot of teachers in my family and my abuela has been a Spanish and French teacher for many, many years, probably upwards of 50 at this point. I have some aunts and uncles who are also in the field. I just think it’s cool. I’m going to go into physical therapy so while it’s not necessarily education related, it’s going to be educating people on exercises, their body, all of that. Some of the theories and everything that we’re learning are applicable no matter what I do in life.

Is there anything you learned from this course that will inform how you do community-engaged work in the future?

Kristin: Well, obviously physical therapy, learning how to interact with different types of people, all of that. What I like about the community engagement section of the class is tutoring assignments, where we were placed in a school. We’re in the classroom 3 hours every week. I’m at the high school personally, but the majority are in primary schools.

Is there anything else you want to say about the community engagement portion of the course in your experience?

Kristin: There are people in elementary, middle and high schools and at Prairie Creek, where it’s supposed to be a more open learning style. At the high school, some of the students in the Carleton class are working with AP and honors students, others are working with grade level, or personally I’m in an English class where a lot of people have failed English in prior years, or had trouble, or it’s their second language. So we all have these different assignments, and we come back and do a tutoring blog each week so we can read about each other’s experiences. Across the grade levels, across the different schools, you can see all the commonalities in education where we’re doing really great things for students in the community and then how education is also failing other students that we might not have seen in our own educational experiences.

 So do you think that this common reflection is valuable?

Kristin: I think definitely and Deborah [the professor] would as well. We’re encouraged to cite our classmates’ blogs in our essays when we’re speaking about and synthesizing the different developmental and educational theories that we’re learning about. I think that a lot of us are really privileged to be at Carleton. We looked at tracking, like all these things that have led us where we are today. Just by being in a classroom and observing or helping the teachers out, we’re able to see a different side of education that we wouldn’t really be able to see otherwise. And then also, a lot of the teachers have expressed that we really are making a difference to these kids in these classrooms. So they think that it’s very valuable to have the students in the classroom as well doing this.

What’s been a highlight from the course?

Kristin: The tutoring experiences and also the vast differences between individuals’ tutoring experiences. Some are obviously more negative and some are positive, but you hear about people who went to go tutoring and then they had a bunch of first graders hanging onto their arms that were so excited to see them. And then you hear about disappointing conversations that people have had in the classroom or kids getting left behind and the teacher not noticing or moving on. So I think that being able to get all these different perspectives that you don’t see in your own education is super beneficial. It’s applicable in everything that we’re doing, we’re bringing it into the classroom, we’re talking about it in our essays, our blogs, we’re responding to our classmates’ blogs, it’s a very big part of the classroom.

Is there anything that’s surprised you about the class? 

Kristin: Surprised me…. The tutoring experience. Honestly, when I signed up for the class, I knew it was extra time required, but I didn’t know the tutoring was outside of those original hours. I go into the classroom on Mondays and Wednesdays and it’s 3 hours a week, but it’s probably three and a half, four, with driving. The first week I was worried about if I was going to have time for this. Now it’s a big part of my schedule, but it is so beneficial. It’s not draining to do this. This is work that actually feels like you’re kind of making a difference in the community and it’s beneficial. It’s not just like, Oh, I have to go do this and I’m getting nothing out of it.

 Is there any advice that you would give to Carleton students about taking Academic Civic Engagement courses?

Kristin: Definitely take them. Honestly, there are so many courses that you don’t even know have these aspects. Interacting with the Carleton community and the Northfield community is so beneficial because Carleton really is this bubble. When you’re actually working with these communities, you get to see the different perspectives that you didn’t see. It’s very beneficial. 

Sophie: The last question is kind of a gear shift, and you can also pass. But, what does your vision for a more just world like?

Kristin: That’s a big question. With the educational system, we’ve been talking a lot about which students are getting left behind and whether this is happening at the very beginning, like primary school, or middle school, high school. And we’ve seen a lot of patterns. So I think that within education, there’s so much potential to use all these developmental theories, use these educational theories and bring people up. We talk a lot about setting high expectations for students and making them meet them. And I think that that’s something that can make a difference in the classroom and also changes lives from there.