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Putting Students First: How Colleges Develop Students Purposefully (JB - Anker Series) [Hardcover]

by Larry A. Braskamp, Lois Calian Trautvetter, Kelly Ward
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 15, 2005 1882982940 978-1882982943 1
In Putting Students First, the authors argue that colleges can and should invest in holistic student development by recognizing and building on the students’ search for purpose in life, intellectually, spiritually, and morally. Based on a study conducted at ten religiously-affiliated schools, the book urges all colleges to rethink their approach to teaching and advising the increasingly diverse students of today; their critical mission should be to prepare students to become ethically responsible and active contributors to society, as well as critical thinkers and skilled professionals.

Putting Students First offers perspectives and recommendations in areas of holistic student development such as

  • Understanding millennial college students
  • The role of faculty in defining culture
  • The design and implementation of curriculum
  • The impact of cocurricular involvement
  • Fostering relationships with on-campus and off-campus communities

By organizing the campus environment into “4Cs”—culture, curriculum, cocurriculum, and community—the authors create a conceptual framework for faculty, student affairs staff, and administrators to discuss, plan, and create college environments that effectively support the learning and development of students. Each chapter includes an introduction, evidence and analysis, a summary, and questions to help readers consider how to develop students holistically on their own campuses.

Frequently Bought Together

Putting Students First: How Colleges Develop Students Purposefully (JB - Anker Series) + Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students' Inner Lives + The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal
Price for all three: $86.13

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Editorial Reviews


"Putting Students First documents the tensions and triumphs of Christian higher education, reinforcing the argument that it provides a valuable contribution to society." (Teaching Theology and Religion, September 2008)

In recent years, universities have faced the criticism that higher education has deviated too far from its original mission to educate the student. In this book, the authors bring the spotlight back on the students by conducting in-depth studies of ten universities that exemplify the ideal of helping students find purpose; they then extract and present the main characteristics that make these institutions successful in holistic development of students. Their study, entitled “Fostering Student Development through Faculty Development” and funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation, selected ten colleges for case-studies out of 500 originally surveyed. The ten, all colleges associated with one of ten church denominations, varied in region, church denomination, size, affinity with the church, mission, adherence to religious perspective, selection process, and/or being a good place to work. All the schools had three common qualities: putting students first in their mission, committing to educate students holistically, and having desire to assist students in faith development.
The focus on holistic student development that the authors emphasize is rooted in the Personal Investment Theory. This theory looks at the relationship between the students’ patterns of behavior, sociocultural environment, and sense of self. The theory posits that students are personally invested when they use their time, money, and energy in curricular and extracurricular activities. Thus it links students’ engagement on campus to their personal sense of meaning and purpose. The book attempts to define, illustrate, and give integrated examples of holistic student development, as well as suggestions and courses of action for promoting and implementing it.
From their studies of the ten colleges, the authors recognize four key elements central to fostering holistic student development: culture, curriculum, cocurriculum, and community. In each of the colleges, these four components were shaped to primarily serve the student. Culture includes the mission and identity of the school and often embodies supporting and challenging the students. Curriculum must revolve around faculty creating safe classrooms in order to nurture student learning and development. The importance of relationships to facilitate student development manifests itself in the cocurricular realm. Finally, students need to feel like they are part of the community in order to learn and develop. These ‘4Cs’, as the authors term them, constitute the basis for holistic student development and must be looked at carefully at each institution to determine how to shape them to best fit the students. Additionally, throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance of integrating the administration and the faculty: each should both support and challenge students to spur them to find purpose.
Putting Students First has done exactly that: it has demonstrated the essence of holistic student development and exemplified how to successfully implement it on the college campus. Each section of the book considers the specific roles of faculty, staff, administration, and ministry, but also underlines the importance of all working toward the common goal of developing the student purposefully. Questions at the end of each chapter serve to stimulate discussion among campus leaders on how to incorporate holistic student learning on their own campuses. Additionally, chapters describing the 4Cs include profiles of the colleges to provide insight into specific actions or programs that support a holistic approach to student development.
By selecting and scrutinizing these ten colleges, Braskamp, Trautvetter, and Ward demonstrate that higher education is indeed addressing the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of students. They illustrate the way these schools have been effective and provide a basis for further discussion and action. However, their study is limited to small, Christian, liberal arts colleges where teaching and students have traditionally been held in high regard. We have yet to see if these values are being or can be translated into a larger, more diverse higher education setting. (Searle Center for Teaching Excellence Newsletter, Nortwestern University, June 2006)


"One can read this book from the perspective of a public research or comprehensive university or community college and come away with ideas for creating environments that honor both skepticism and meaning-making, exploration and wholeness."
Jon F. Wergin, Professor, Ph.D. Program in Leadership and Change, Antioch University

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (December 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882982940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882982943
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book provides meaningful insights into how colleges and universities have been able to meet students needs in and beyond the classroom.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for anyone concerned about student success March 14, 2006
There's valuable insight in the authors' "4Cs" model -- culture, curriculum, co-curriculum, community -- for the creation of campuses that support holistic development in college students. This book joins Kuh et al's Student Success in College as among the best resources for both faculty and student affairs professionals at any college or university who are interested in addressing all of the issues facing students today. This book has changed for the better the way I approach my teaching and advising work with undergrduates.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A holistic view of student life January 14, 2007
This text asks the reader to consider the range of factors that impact on a student's university life. It asks all involved - administrative, student services and academic staff, and students themselves - the pertinent questions that focus attention on the critical factors that can make for a successful experience. The questions cannot be sidestepped and a genuine conversation involving all the participants can lead to a valuable educative time for the students.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, insightful, and a pleasure to read March 2, 2006
Putting Students First has informed my work in student development. Although this research focuses on religious affiliated colleges, the principles and practices outlined in this text is applicable to my own work at a large research public university. This book breathes fresh life into the notion of holistic student development and provides suggestions by which faculty and administrators can address the many facets of today's student. The research is easy to read and I found it hard to put down. If you are a student or professional in higher education, you need to read this book. Great read and a definite recommend for all those who work with college students on public or private campuses!!
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