In the Bok view, American colleges and universities are victims of their own success: they answer to so many constituencies and are expected to serve so many ends that no one can agree on even a few common goals, and in the meantime they have grown complacent.
(Charles McGrath The New York Times
Derek Bok paints a picture of colleges that, if not dysfunctional, are operating far below capacity. He questions the coherence and purpose of departmental majors, describes programs of study abroad as little more than recreational excursions, criticizes lecturers for their indifference to whether students learn anything, and, in general, hold faculty accountable for ignoring research about which teaching methods are most effective.
(Andrew Delbanco New York Review of Books
Derek Bok makes a unique contribution by skillfully weaving his critique of campus and curriculum with an extensive review of the literature on student in a number of key areas, including writing instruction, critical thinking instruction, civic education, and diversity education. Rather than identify a narrowly defined culprit in the supposed decline of higher education, such as political correctness or neglect of the literary canon, Bok writes persuasively about the multiple aims of higher education and retains focus throughout on the question of how attention to each of these aims contributes to measurable increases in student learning. . . . This thoughtful critique of higher education will be accessible to a wide audience.
In Our Underachieving Colleges
, Derek Bok argues forcefully that those of us within the academy can do a much better job of educating our undergraduates, widening their vistas, and preparing them to succeed in life.
(Charles M. Vest Boston Globe
Bok in this book criticizes the state of undergraduate education. . . . His research suggests that common problems in education extend beyond K-12.
Derek Bok . . . points out in his recent book . . . that civic responsibility must be learned, that it is neither natural nor effortless.
(Michael M. Spear Editor & Publisher
It's hard to think of anything more central to a university than teaching. . . . The cause of improving teaching quality--and of perhaps imparting practical knowledge to students--now has a well-placed champion: Derek Bok. . . . As the highest profile academic in the world, he'll have a chance to change the way academics think about the interaction between the professor and the student. But as Bok may know better than anyone else, he has his work cut out for him.
(James Beale Washington Monthly
Derek Bok's most recent book, Our Underachieving Colleges
, is worth scrutinizing. . . . Bok is . . . on solid ground in pointing out that our colleges underachieve in preparing students for citizenship.
(George Leef The American Enterprise Online
In Our Underachieving Colleges
, [Derek] Bok acts as both diagnostician and healer, wielding social-science statistics and professional studies to trace the etiology of today's illnesses and to recommend palliative treatments for what he has discovered.
(Donald Kagan Commentary
Derek Bok makes a unique contribution by skillfully weaving his critique of campus and curriculum with an extensive review of the literature on student learning in a number of key areas. . . . Rather than identify a narrowly defined culprit in the supposed decline of higher education, Bok writes persuasively about the multiple aims of higher education and retains focus throughout on the question of how attention to each of these aims contributes to measurable increases in student learning. . . . This thoughtful critique of higher education will be accessible to a wide audience.
(Scott Walter Library Journal
Bok focuses not on curriculum change but on pedagogy. He asks why college teachers have not taken more advantage of the extensive research that has been done on the conditions that allow students to learn most effectively.
(Ken Gewertz Harvard University Gazette
What distinguishes Our Underachieving Colleges
from other books in the genre is the author's focus on what research has to say about what students are and are not learning, along with his insistence that institutions should put their money where their mouths are and invest in the teachers, teaching, and educational experiences that are likely to help them achieve their own chosen goals.
(Mary Taylor Huber Change
In his book, Our Underachieving Colleges
, Derek Bok, past-president of Harvard University, challenges postsecondary institutions to live up to their educational mandate. . . . [H]is stature in American higher education adds credibility and weight to his challenge. Also, the book is well researched and well argued. As such, it has the potential to motivate change. . . . If you are a senior administrator or board member, please read this book. If you are not, consider making a gift of it to someone else.
(Gary Poole University Affairs
This book is a clarion call. Attention should be paid.
(Peter Lamal Journal of Higher Education