- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (February 17, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674049020
- ISBN-13: 978-0674049024
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How College Works 1st Edition
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How College Works is a wonderful book--both rigorous and a pleasure to read. A core insight shines through--the reminder that even with the proliferation of technology, human interactions remain central to most students' college experience. (Richard Light, author of Making the Most of College)
The book shares the narrative of the student experience, what happens to students as they move through their educations, all the way from arrival to graduation. This is an important distinction. [Chambliss and Takacs] do not try to measure what students have learned, but what it is like to live through college, and what those experiences mean both during the time at school, as well as going forward. (John Warner Inside Higher Ed 2014-02-03)
There is a lot to like about How College Works. (Mary Taylor Huber Change 2014-09-01)
About the Author
Daniel F. Chambliss is Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hamilton College.
Christopher G. Takacs is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Chicago.
Top customer reviews
As the authors proceed, they challenge a few assumptions in higher education. Small classes are not necessarily better overall. Old-fashioned dormitories are preferable to "apartment-style" housing. Just one intimate faculty mentor can make a huge difference for a student. Data show even just being invited to dinner with a faculty member can have a huge impact on the student's experience.
As a professor in a similar setting, the author's analysis certainly resonates with my own experience. The book itself is a quick read. There is a fair amount of repetition of ideas, which some might find a bit too much. The authors do make sure to note that their work does not address issues like minority or international students and may well be limited to the liberal arts setting, per se. They make no claim that their work is necessarily directly applicable to the experience at a large state school. Those looking for a critique of student behavior or moral claims should look elsewhere. Stylistically, the writing is crisp and clear. I found at least one place where a sense of humor sneaked in. When they finally address what to do with "bad professors" their answer is to assign them classes at 8AM and hope no one shows up!
If you work in a liberal arts setting, have a child considering a liberal arts college, or are starting your own experience as a student at a liberal arts college, you will find this a quick, revealing read.
The authors elaborate the following basic ideas in remarkably lucid prose:
1. crucial student decisions are often “shaped by minor contingencies of scheduling, availability, and happenstance.” (156)
2. early college experiences are often the most decisive.
3. students need to find friends among their peers quickly, and old-fashioned, long-halled dormitories are one way to encourage them to do just that.
4. students need to encounter good teachers early in their college career.
5. most students need to find a faculty mentor—not to be confused with their academic advisor, who is often just a cipher.
6. small gestures on the part of faculty (even simply learning student names) can have a profound impact on student development.
7. a few professors often have a vastly disproportionate influence over a large numbers of students.
8. the benefits of a residential college include learning how to engage in appropriate social relationships and how to develop sound habits of work and thought.
9. because education demands personal relationships, people themselves are more important than strategic planning, student learning assessments, or technological innovation.
One anecdote: a decade ago I interviewed many older alumni of my school for the college archives. When I asked what aspect of the institution they thought had changed for the worse since their attendance, many mentioned the elimination of family style meals at which attendance had been required and seating had been assigned and then rotated. What seemed curious to me at the time now makes perfect sense. By assigning and rotating dining common seats, the college had limited the influence of cliques, indefinitely prolonged what today is a comparatively limited window of opportunity to make new friends, and better encouraged the identification of individuals with the entire college community.
Most recent customer reviews
I have no idea what my fellow readers read between the lines of this book that I missed.Read more