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


 Dean’s List: Ten Strategies for College Success
John Bader (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017, Second Edition)

In this book, John Bader, a former dean of academic advising and undergraduate academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University, shares his observations and the collected wisdom of dozens of deans (mostly from highly selective private research universities) to help first-year students succeed in college. Instead of providing a basic laundry list of tips on adjusting to campus life, the book pushes students to be strategic in their thinking and to reevaluate why they are going to college. The author’s ten strategies encourage students to focus on learning, not on grades; to build a new relationship with their parents; to explore academic choices; to learn from diversity at home and abroad; to cope with failure; and to plan for life after college. The first edition of this book was published in 2011 as Dean’s List: Eleven Habits of Highly Successful College Students. This second edition explores how to manage workloads and develop relationships with faculty as well as provides new material for first-generation and international students.

 The Elements of Teaching
James M. Banner, Jr. and Harold C. Cannon (Yale University Press, 2017, Second Edition)

The 20th-anniversary edition of The Elements of Teaching explores the qualities of mind and spirit that teachers should possess to help students gain knowledge and understanding. The book analyzes the specific qualities of successful teachers: learning, authority, ethics, order, imagination, tenacity, compassion, patience, character, and pleasure. The authors—James M. Banner, Jr., an independent historian, writer, and teacher, and the late Harold C. Cannon, a classicist and former division director at the National Endowment for the Humanities—argue that the classic characteristics of good teaching remain the same from one generation to the next. This second edition, therefore, incorporates minor changes over the first and includes a new chapter on tenacity. In his foreword Andrew Delbanco, Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University, writes, “…the single most important actor in every student’s experience will continue to be the quality and commitment of his or her teacher. This book is a testament to that truth.”

 Breakaway Learners: Strategies for Post-Secondary Success with At-Risk Students
Karen Gross (Teachers College Press, 2017)

How can colleges and universities successfully serve “breakaway” students—first-generation, low-income students who are trying to break away from their past to create a more secure future? Karen Gross, a Washington, DC-based education advisor and past president of Southern Vermont College, observes that a gap between low- and high-socioeconomic status students remains and honest efforts to close it have been met with less than great success. In turn, she offers a new approach to addressing inequities by focusing on students who have succeeded despite struggling with the impacts of poverty and trauma. She draws on her experience as a college president to outline practical steps that postsecondary institutions can take to create structures of support and opportunity that build reciprocal trust. Gross emphasizes that students must trust their institutions and professors, professors must trust their students, and ultimately students must learn to trust themselves.

 What Are the Arts and Sciences? A Guide for the Curious
Dan Rockmore, editor (Dartmouth College Press, 2017)

Dan Rockmore, a professor of computer science and mathematics at Dartmouth College, asked himself and 26 other faculty members, “What are the arts and sciences?” and encouraged them to explain their fields and work. Each answer was developed into a book chapter, resulting in an accessible and helpful survey of the ideas and subjects that lie at the heart of a liberal education. Covering fields such as African American studies, anthropology, art history, classics, economics, English, geography, mathematics, political science, religion, and women’s studies, the book offers a doorway to the arts and sciences for students, parents, and anyone curious about the vast world of ideas. The book also includes suggestions for additional reading and viewing materials.

 American Higher Education: Issues and Institutions
John R. Thelin (Routledge, 2017)

American Higher Education is the latest book in Routledge’s Core Concepts in Higher Education textbook series, designed to educate new professionals and cover the core areas of study in the field of higher education and student affairs. The book covers a wide range of topics, including governance, organization, teaching and learning, student life, faculty, finances, college sports, public policy, fundraising, and innovations in higher education. Written by John R. Thelin, professor of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky, each chapter bridges theory, research, and practice and discusses a range of institutions—including community colleges and minority-serving institutions. A blend of stories and analysis, the book challenges present and future higher education practitioners to be informed, capable, and active participants in the transformation of their institutions.


 2016 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO, May 2017)

NACUBO’s latest tuition discounting study indicates that private colleges and universities are discounting their tuition revenues at the highest rates to date. By offering grants, scholarships, and fellowships, the 411 private nonprofit institutions studied averaged an estimated 49 percent institutional tuition discount rate for first-time, full-time students in 2016–2017. Among all undergraduates, the estimated institutional tuition discount rate also was record-setting at 44 percent. The report also shows that, while many private nonprofit colleges and universities use academic merit and other “non-need” criteria to award some scholarships and grants, the vast majority—more than three-quarters—of institutional grant dollars awarded in 2015–2016 were used to meet students’ demonstrated financial need. According to the report, the portion of dollars awarded specifically based on need varied by type of institutions—and 78.5 percent of aid at private colleges was used to meet need (see Figure below). The report is available for purchase on the NACUBO website.

Average percentage of total undergraduate institutional grant dollars awarded in fall 2015, by aid category  

 The 20% Solution: Selective Colleges Can Afford to Admit More Pell Grant Recipients
Anthony P. Carnevale and Martin Van Der Werf (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 2017)

What would be the potential impact on colleges of requiring that at least 20 percent of their enrollments be Pell Grant recipients, as U.S. policy makers proposed in 2016? This threshold is already met by most of the 5,500 postsecondary institutions in the United States; specifically only at 346 institutions (6 percent of all the institutions) do less than 20 percent of students receive a Pell Grant. More than half of the shortfall of Pell Grant recipients is at the 500 most-selective institutions—while they enroll about 25 percent of all undergraduates. The authors emphasize that being low-income does not mean a student will not succeed in college, and that many Pell Grant recipients score above the median on standardized tests for students at selective colleges. The authors also note that many of the selective colleges that enroll less than 20 percent Pell Grant recipients run budget surpluses from year to year. Download the report.

Infographic: The 20% Solution - Who receives a pell grant? 

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The 20% Solution: Selective Colleges Can Afford to Admit More Pell Grant Recipients. 2017.

 On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions
Gallup, Inc. and Strada Education Network (June 2017)

The first in a series of reports that will examine individuals’ perceptions of their education paths, this report explores the extent to which education consumers in the U.S. are pursuing and completing postsecondary education programs that advance their chosen career and life goals. Based on interviews with nearly 90,000 U.S. adults who had previously enrolled in or completed postsecondary education or training, the study focuses on three key questions: If you had to do it all over again, would you still pursue the same level of education, pursue the same area of study, and attend the same institution? According to the report, more than half of Americans (51 percent) would change at least one of their education decisions: 36 percent would choose a different major; 28 percent would choose a different institution; and 12 percent would pursue a different degree. For the report, visit the Gallup website.

 Shared Leadership in Higher Education: Important Lessons from Research and Practice
Adrianna J. Kezar and Elizabeth M. Holcombe (American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy)

This report emphasizes that today’s higher education leadership challenges necessitate new forms of leadership—and collaborative or shared leadership has consistently emerged as a key positive factor for campuses that were best able to learn, innovate, perform, and adapt to external changes. The report defines shared leadership as “moving away from the leader/follower binary and capitalizing on the importance of leaders throughout the organization, not just those in positions of authority.” The authors argue that in order to reap the benefits of shared leadership, organizations must ensure that such leadership structures and processes are authentic and thoughtfully designed. Conditions that promote and sustain shared leadership include team empowerment, supportive leaders, autonomy, shared goals, external coaching, accountability structures, interdependence, fairness of rewards, and shared cognition. For the report, visit the ACE website.