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We're Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0230339828
ISBN-10: 0230339824
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Editorial Reviews


"We're Losing Our Minds adeptly describes the systemic nature of limited learning in higher education. As the authors convincingly argue, the task is not to change a few practices or chastise a few institutions, but to alter the core of higher education in America. Their proposal for change is at once simple and radical - higher education institutions need to develop a serious culture of teaching and learning. This is a straightforward proposition, but one that will require a fundamental transformation in the attitudes, priorities, and cultures of colleges and universities. Based on years of experience and research, Keeling and Hersh are aware of the challenges ahead yet bold enough to outline strategies for success. Only one question remains: Will higher education leadership have the courage to heed their call for transformation?" - Josipa Roksa, University of Virginia; co-author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

"Keeling and Hersh clearly state why we're 'losing our minds' and what needs to be done to turn things around. Anyone who has a stake in higher education - that is, most of us - would do well to read their work and join in the discussion." - Terry Christner, Library Journal

"This text is more than a call to action. It is a steppingstone in the conversations that need to be occurring on the national and local levels." - Stephanie Bibbo, NACADA JOURNAL

"Throughout this book the authors cut to the chase, offering a candid and sometimes painful assessment of the state of higher education in the United States. However, their work is not limited to a litany of what is wrong with colleges and universities today. . . The authors provide concrete suggestions for improving the college experience for students and are optimistic and confident about these possibilities." - Research and Practice in Assessment

About the Author

Richard P. Keeling leads Keeling & Associates, LLC, a comprehensive higher education consulting practice based in New York City. Dr. Keeling serves on the Board of Directors of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) and has been president of four professional organizations in higher education. Before creating Keeling & Associates, Dr. Keeling was both a tenured faculty member and a senior student affairs administrator at the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Richard H. Hersh has served as President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Trinity College (Hartford), and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of New Hampshire and Drake University. He also served as Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Oregon and was Director of the Center for Moral Education at Harvard University. In his early career he was a high school teacher, professor and dean of teacher education.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1 edition (December 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230339824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230339828
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,277,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Richard B. Schwartz TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I support the spirit in which this book was written and I believe that the core thesis is spot-on correct. Thus, the book's very existence may help draw attention to the issues on which it is focused. At the same time, I regret that its further usefulness may be limited.

The thesis is that the vast majority of commentary on American higher education has missed the mark. The true problems have little to do with issues of efficiency and cost. The key problem is value. While commentators continue to talk about the need to run universities like businesses, reduce costs, streamline programs, enhance access, and so on, they miss the central point: students are simply not learning. Undergraduate learning per se is not even a priority in most institutions and many of the steps that have been taken to enhance efficiency have, in fact, further reduced the possibility for higher learning.

Those who have read my recent eBook on higher education will know that I support this argument and have made it myself. Keeling and Hersh's desire to press this issue and bring more attention to it should be applauded. The point was already hammered home by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa's Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, but others have also addressed the issue and additional voices are always welcome.

Keeling and Hersh's solutions to the problem are, unfortunately, not likely to bear a great deal of fruit. They argue, in very general terms, for learning experiences that are more intense, more coordinated, more developmental, more vertically and horizontally integrated, and so on. In other words, approximately half of the book consists of counsels of perfection of the sort that one is likely to hear at an academic conference or in a foundation report.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Art Vandaly on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Reading this book was like therapy to me, but I did have the same realization as one of the previous reviewers that the missing piece of the puzzle is the ineptitude of the millennial generation. The entitled, "everyone deserves a blue ribbon" generation is becoming the biggest obstacle in higher education. Still, I think we need to keep the bar set high and not give into the pressures to dumb down standards. I really enjoyed the book and the emphasis on formative education and formative assessment. The millennial generation seems to respond positivity to the formative type of assessment that is based on continuous assessment, frequent feedback, clearly identified learning goals and earned praise. I'm sure there are books on the market that delve into the psyche of this new generation that are increasingly becoming more of a puzzle those of us who teach in colleges. This book focused on the higher education system, how it is flawed and how to fix the current state so that the new generation will adapt and hopefully embrace the changes.

I also enjoyed the author's honesty regarding the current state of the tenure system and how it distracts from the culture of teaching and learning. A system designed to keep senior faculty out of entry-level courses, and out of the classroom in general, will never produce the graduates we need for the future - graduates who have truly experienced higher learning and real transformation.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. E on April 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After hearing an interview with the author, I looked for more specfic direction from the text; nonetheless the impetus is accurate. However, I'm not at all sure the author really undestands the complexity of the solution. And he doesn't totally comprehend the role of inept, uncaring, and unprepared students. They are certainly not mere bystanders but an expression of the entire culture. How do we turn around the "party central" aspect of college he describes? Professors alone can't change that direction. They need to stay employed in an academic atmosphere charged with "retention" at all costs. It is everyone's problem at all educational levels, a cultural issue. Solutions are beginning to emerge, but changing things won't happen easily. Writing from 30,000 feet is not the same as working for intelligent change from within. And although assessment of student learning is certainly the answer, evolving the modes of identifying actual success is a huge problem. The human mind and what the author calls "development" of each of those student minds is far more difficult than putting man on Mars! And I do applaud his awareness of how challening, creative, and difficult great teaching really is . . . and its correlation as the key to all great work. I am terribly interested in his call for apprenticeship and a return to lust for things acaemic and appreciation for the life of the mind. There is much sound reasoning here. But perhaps it remains for others to work out the itinerary for actually getting there.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
America is being held back by the quality and quantity of college learning. Too many graduates cannot think critically, write effectively, solve problems, understand complex issues, and meet employers' expectations. We are losing our minds, and endangering our social, economic, and scientific leadership.

The authors (Keeling and Hersh) contend we've allowed higher education to stress everything (facilities, experiences, and athletics) but what it was intended for - providing student learning and improved reasoning. In 1961, students spent an average of 24 hours/week studying; today's spend little more than half that time. Administrators focus on 'throughput' - recruiting, admitting, enrolling, retaining, and graduating students; similarly, the Obama administration the Gates foundation, and other advocacy groups. What is instead needed is for students to spend more time studying/learning and faced with higher expectations. This requires a coherent and integrated focus on learning, not simply improving efficiency and lowering costs. Research, scholarship, and publication to achieve tenure have become 'counter-incentives.'

The 'good news,' per the authors, is that honors programs in most colleges/universities do a good job of teaching/boosting learning.

'Academically Adrift' provided the foundation for Keeling and Hersh's concerns. Nearly half of students show no significant gain in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills during their first two years in college. Compounding the problem - many come to college inadequately prepared. Across-the-board first-year seminars, comprehensive exams, capstone courses, and especially a clarification of expectations entering and leaving will be required.
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