A Compendium of Recent Research and Books of Interest to Higher Education Professionals

BOOKS

 
Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education
William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson (Princeton University Press, 2016)
 
The most pressing problems facing higher education today are not the ones most frequently cited by the general public, argue William G. Bowen, president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Michael S. McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation. Rather than student debt and administrative bloat, the real crises concern graduation rates, accessibility, and outcomes for minorities. The authors demonstrate the seriousness of the challenges facing colleges and universities as well as the nation and then discuss “an agenda for change” to ameliorate key concerns. Their recommendations include retargeting federal and state funding, restructuring merit and financial aid, moving away from tenure, and improving the quality of introductory courses.
 
Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders
Paula Vene Smith (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015)
 
Paula Vene Smith, director of the Purposeful Risk Engagement Project, English professor, and former vice president for academic affairs at Grinnell College (IA), has written a primer on risk management for faculty members, executive administrators, and trustees at small to mid-sized liberal arts colleges. Smith draws on the principles of enterprise risk management, originally developed for corporations, and adapts them for use on campuses. The guide provides a road map to identify, evaluate, and manage risks by creating an action plan, engaging faculty members, strengthening communication, and embedding risk-management practices into shared governance.
 
Feedback Is Teaching
Alverno College Faculty (Alverno College Institute, 2015)
 
This monograph aims to help faculty members, faculty mentors, and administrators understand how to communicate better with students about their progress toward learning outcomes. The book describes the feedback process approach, provides examples of successful responses to student work, examines the relationship between criteria and feedback, and considers the role of feedback in an outcomes-based curriculum as well as peer review. Five professors at Alverno College (WI) contributed essays, drawing on research, teaching theory, personal experience, and four student focus groups.
 
MOOCs, High Technology, and Higher Learning
Robert A. Rhoads (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015)
 
Although MOOCs in their present and past forms have limitations, they have propelled advancements in knowledge and practices of digital learning and have a place in the future of higher education, argues Robert A. Rhoads, professor of higher education and organizational change at UCLA. Rhoads explains how MOOCs have developed within the larger OpenCourseWare movement, which seeks to make college course materials widely available online, in tandem with recent political, economic, and cultural forces. He distinguishes between MOOCs that draw on connectivist learning theory and are more self-guided and MOOCs that are structured around well-defined course objectives. Rhoads examines problems that MOOCs raise regarding epistemology, pedagogy, hegemony, diversity, and faculty labor and discusses implications of the rise of MOOCs for faculty members and policy makers.
 
The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and Other Behavioral Strategies Can Improve Education
Benjamin L. Castleman (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015)
 
Benjamin L. Castleman, assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia, draws on research in behavioral economics to explain why disadvantaged students sometimes struggle when applying to and attending college and to propose strategies that will close the achievement gap. He suggests how educators and administrators can simplify the information about postsecondary education that prospective students receive and provide more structured and personalized prompting, such as through text messaging. The number of choices students are offered, the vehicle through which information is presented, and students’ awareness of behavioral norms can profoundly influence student behavior, Castleman argues.
 
Breakpoint: The Changing Marketplace for Higher Education
Jon McGee (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015)
 
Vice president for planning and public affairs at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University (MN), Jon McGee asserts that “colleges and universities today must be understood for what they are: large-scale business enterprises.” He addresses recent demographic, economic, and cultural disruptions and offers a number of strategies for communicating with prospective students; developing pedagogy, curriculum, and instruction methods; and improving management structures on college campuses. McGee argues that colleges must differentiate themselves to remain competitive but there will not be a significant increase in college closures in the near future.
 
The Fundraiser’s Measuring Stick: Sizing Up the Attributes Board Members, Volunteers, and Staff Must Cultivate to Secure Major Gifts
Jerold Panas (Emerson & Church Publishers, 2016)
 
Legendary fundraiser Jerold Panas, executive partner and CEO of Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners and a member of the CIC Board of Directors, describes and illustrates 29 attributes, talents, and skills, such as ambition, courage, optimism, and tenacity that help fundraisers achieve their goals and develop their potential. He discusses different fundraising styles and offers many real-life examples, both from his own experience and those of other leading fundraisers. The book is one of the publisher’s “1-Hour” books for nonprofit boards.
 
Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace
Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick (Wiley, 2016)
 
According to Wilson College (PA) President Barbara Mistick and SuccessFactors Workplace Futurist Karie Willyerd, “The number one concern of employees around the world is their position changing or their skills becoming obsolete.” Mistick and Willyerd provide practical advice for employees to remain relevant and advance their careers in today’s economy. They identify and describe five practices that will help individuals at any stage of their career stretch and reach their potential: learn on the fly, be open, build a diverse network, be greedy about gaining experiences, and bounce forward. In writing the book, the authors conducted research with Oxford Economics, a global financial advisory firm, and SAP, an enterprise customer and business relationship management software company. Mistick is a member of the CIC Board of Directors.
 
Conversations: Leading United Methodist-Related Schools, Colleges, and Universities
M. Kathryn Armistead and Melanie B. Overton, editors (National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church [NASCUMC], 2015)
 
The seven essays in this volume written by six college, university, and seminary presidents as well as an administrator of education policy within the United Methodist Church examine how different institutions of higher education integrate Methodist principles into their curriculum and co-curriculum. Contributors explore how leadership differs in the context of their social location and discuss the spiritual nature of leadership as well as the courage and faith necessary to lead. The book was produced following NASCUMC’s 75th annual meeting, which brought together 40 leading educators. The book is available as a free PDF at www.gbhem.org/sites/default/files/NASCUMC-Conversations.pdf.
 
Teacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood in the Academy
Anna M. Young, editor (Rowman & Littlefield 2015)
 
An associate professor at Pacific Lutheran University (WA), Anna M. Young has edited a collection of essays by female faculty members that reflect on their relationship to motherhood using the disciplinary methods of their scholarship. The essays, written by scholars in the arts, humanities, and sciences, explore identity, policy, progress, and institutional memory of motherhood in the academy. The book combines approaches of earlier books on the subject that are either autobiographical or longitudinal and offers both practical and theoretical insights to scholars who are mothers, scholars who work on motherhood and related issues, and college and university administrators.
 


REPORTS

 
The 2016 Survey of College and University Presidents
Inside Higher Ed and Gallup (March 2016)
 
College and university presidents are feeling more confident about the sustainability of their institution’s business models; 59 percent believe that their institutions are sustainable through the next five years, up from 56 percent in 2015. Sixty-two percent of the 727 college chief executives surveyed agree that increased financial concerns at a college warrant more emphasis on hiring a president with business and managerial skills. Eighty-four percent of college and university presidents believe that race relations on their campus are excellent or good, a slight increase from last year. Only 24 percent, however, thought race relations were good on college campuses nationwide. To download the report, visit www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/race-campus-nontraditional-leaders-risingconfidence-survey-presidents.
 
The 2016 Survey of CAOs
Inside Higher Ed and Gallup (January 2016)
 
Although two-thirds of the chief academic officers surveyed by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed said they “strongly agree” that liberal arts education is central to the mission of undergraduate education, more than half expect the number of liberal arts colleges to “decline significantly over the next five years.” Sixty-one percent of CAOs surveyed said they would prefer a hiring system based on long-term contracts over the current tenure system, and 79 percent said they planned to expand online learning programs in the next year. The survey also reported on trends in competency-based education, MOOCs, trigger warnings, fraud in athletic programs, institutional finances, and overall institutional effectiveness. To download the report, visit www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/2016-inside-higher-ed-surveychief-academic-officers.
 
The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2015
Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA (February 2016)
 
Civic engagement among first-year college students is the highest it has been in the past 50 years, according to this annual study. Nearly 40 percent of first-year students said that becoming a community leader was “very important” to them, which was another 50-year high. Nine percent of respondents said they had “a very good chance” of participating in a protest while in college, which is a nearly 3 percentage point increase from last year. The study also reported student opinions on intercultural and racial understanding, experiences in summer bridge programs and special tutoring, financial aid, motivations for attending college, religious affiliations, mental health, and sexual orientation. To download the report, visit www.heri.ucla.edu/monographs/TheAmericanFreshman2015.pdf.


FIGURES 1 and 2: High School Students Prefer Face-to-Face Classes
Most high school students surveyed who plan to enroll in a four-year college say they prefer face-to-face classes over online education and believe the former offers a higher quality experience than the latter.




Source: “Prospective Students Lack Interest in Online Learning” (2016). ACT and Art & Science Group, LLC. Figures recreated by the Council of Independent Colleges.


FIGURE 3: As Education Levels Rise, Underemployment Levels Fall
The more education adult workers have, the less likely they are to be underemployed. Underemployed workers include
both adults who are unemployed and adults who are working part-time jobs but are seeking full-time employment.
 

 
Source: “Sharp Declines in Underemployment for College Graduates” (2015). Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2007–2015. Figure recreated by the Council of Independent Colleges.
 

FIGURE 4: Employers Search for Leaders Who Are Team Players
Leadership tops the list of skills that employers value on resumes of recent college graduates. Liberal arts skills such as communication and problem-solving also are in the top five. Technical skills came in tenth.
 

 
Source: “Job Outlook 2016” (2015) National Association of Colleges and Employers. Figure recreated by the Council of Independent Colleges. 


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