Student success in college is undoubtedly contingent on students effectively enacting their college student role, making it important for faculty to understand how students construct this role. This study explored the dialectical tensions that students grapple with as they construct and enact the roles of good and bad students. Three tensions emerged from students’ focus group discussions of construction and enactment of their student identities: (a) structure and agency, (b) individuation and solidarity, and (c) good-bad student and good-bad person. These tensions move beyond identifying successful good student strategies and focus on the contradictions negotiated by students as they (re)produce and share behaviors associated with good and bad student identities.
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