Book Reviews

Book Reviews

The Wabash Center Journal On Teaching is not accepting book reviews until 2021.

The Wabash Center Journal on Teaching publishes short (500 word) reviews of books and resources about teaching and learning.

Book Review Editor
Mary T. Stimming, PhD
Associate Director
stimminm@wabash.edu
800-655-7117 

Latest Book Reviews

Reviewed by: Sunder John Boopalan, Episcopal Divinity School
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Drawing on the lived experiences of Black students in adult degree completion programs at predominantly White, Christian institutions in the southern United States, this book presents a model for reimagining adult higher education. Westbrook explores the reasons students enrolled in degree programs, how they experience their predominantly white institutions, and how their experiences affect their lives. Employing Critical Race Theory and Christian theology as frameworks for evaluating the students’ experiences, ...

Drawing on the lived experiences of Black students in adult degree completion programs at predominantly White, Christian institutions in the southern United States, this book presents a model for reimagining adult higher education. Westbrook explores the reasons students enrolled in degree programs, how they experience their predominantly white institutions, and how their experiences affect their lives. Employing Critical Race Theory and Christian theology as frameworks for evaluating the students’ experiences, the author sheds light on the ways African American experiences to inform, critique, and shape Christian adult learning in higher education. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Allison Norton
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Online Teaching at Its Best: A Merger of Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research is the scholarly resource for online learning that faculty, instructional designers, and administrators have long been awaiting. Over 70 percent of degree-granting institutions offer online classes, and while technical resources abound, the courses often fall short of integrating the best practices in online pedagogy, even if they comply with online course design standards. Typically these standards ...

Online Teaching at Its Best: A Merger of Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research is the scholarly resource for online learning that faculty, instructional designers, and administrators have long been awaiting. Over 70 percent of degree-granting institutions offer online classes, and while technical resources abound, the courses often fall short of integrating the best practices in online pedagogy, even if they comply with online course design standards. Typically these standards omit the best practices in teaching and learning and the principles from cognitive science, leaving students struggling to keep the pace, understand the material, and fulfill their true potential as learners. This book fills the gap, providing evidence-based practices for online teaching, online course design, and online student motivation integrated with pedagogical and cognitive science to help you build the distance learning courses and programs your students deserve.

As more and more students opt for distance learning, it\'s up to designers and instructors to rethink traditional methods and learn to work more effectively within the online learning environment, and up to administrators to provide the needed leadership. Online Teaching at Its Best provides practical, real-world advice grounded in educational science to help online instructors, instructional designers, and administrators deliver an exceptional learning experience. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Rashid Hussein
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia, and the Internet provides clear, feasible suggestions and theoretical tools to address the challenges teachers of Islamic Studies face. (From the Publisher)

Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia, and the Internet provides clear, feasible suggestions and theoretical tools to address the challenges teachers of Islamic Studies face. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Katherine Daley-Bailey, University of Georgia
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Across the world, higher education is witnessing exponential growth in both student participation and types of educational providers. One key phenomenon of this growth is an increase in student diversity: governments are widening access to higher education for students from traditionally underrepresented groups. However, this raises questions about whether this rapid growth may in face compromise academic quality. This book presents case studies of how higher education institutions in diverse ...

Across the world, higher education is witnessing exponential growth in both student participation and types of educational providers. One key phenomenon of this growth is an increase in student diversity: governments are widening access to higher education for students from traditionally underrepresented groups. However, this raises questions about whether this rapid growth may in face compromise academic quality. This book presents case studies of how higher education institutions in diverse countries are maintaining academic excellence while increasing the access and participation of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Including case studies spanning four continents, the authors and editors examine whether increasing widening participation positively impacts upon academic quality. This volume will be of interest and value to students and scholars of global higher education, representation and participation in education, and quality in higher education. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Melinda Krokus, Marywood University
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
This edited volume draws together educators and scholars to engage with the difficulties and benefits of teaching place-based education in a distinctive culture-laden area in North America: the United States South. Despite problematic past visions of cultural homogeneity, the South has always been a culturally diverse region with many historical layers of inhabitation and migration, each with their own set of religious and secular relationships to the land. Through site-specific ...

This edited volume draws together educators and scholars to engage with the difficulties and benefits of teaching place-based education in a distinctive culture-laden area in North America: the United States South. Despite problematic past visions of cultural homogeneity, the South has always been a culturally diverse region with many historical layers of inhabitation and migration, each with their own set of religious and secular relationships to the land. Through site-specific narratives, this volume offers a blueprint for new approaches to place-based pedagogy, with an emphasis on the intersection between religion and the environment. By offering broadly applicable examples of pedagogical methods and practices, this book confronts the need to develop more sustainable local communities to address globally significant challenges.  (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Carolyn Browning Helsel, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Geneva Gay is renowned for her contributions to multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, professional learning, and classroom instruction. Gay has made many important revisions to keep her foundational, award-winning text relevant for today’s diverse student population, including: new research on culturally responsive teaching, a focus on a broader range of racial and ethnic groups, and consideration of additional issues related to early childhood education. Combining ...

Geneva Gay is renowned for her contributions to multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, professional learning, and classroom instruction. Gay has made many important revisions to keep her foundational, award-winning text relevant for today’s diverse student population, including: new research on culturally responsive teaching, a focus on a broader range of racial and ethnic groups, and consideration of additional issues related to early childhood education. Combining insights from multicultural education theory with real-life classroom stories, this book demonstrates that all students will perform better on multiple measures of achievement when teaching is filtered through students’ own cultural experiences. This perennial bestseller continues to be the go-to resource for teacher professional learning and preservice courses.

While retaining its basic organization and structure, the Third Edition features:

-New research that validates the positive effects of culturally responsive teaching.
-Examples that broaden the racial and ethnic groups that can benefit from culturally responsive teaching.
-More information on the needs and benefits of culturally responsive teaching with young children.
-More attention to the quality of life for students of color in colleges and universities.
-The addition of Practice Possibilities at the end of chapters that describe how culturally responsive teaching can be implemented. (From the Publisher)

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Promoting Ethnic Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education

Blummer, Barbara; Kenton, Jeffrey M.; Wiatrowski, Michael
IGI Global, 2018

Book Review

Tags: diversity inclusion   |   multiculturalism
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Reviewed by: Sin Guanci, The Ohio State University
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
As the world becomes more navigable, opportunities arise for people to live in different countries and for students to study internationally. Such capabilities require universities and other institutions of higher learning to accommodate cultural diversity.

Promoting Ethnic Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education is an essential scholarly publication that examines the interaction between culture and learning in academic environments and the efforts to mediate it through various educational ...

As the world becomes more navigable, opportunities arise for people to live in different countries and for students to study internationally. Such capabilities require universities and other institutions of higher learning to accommodate cultural diversity.

Promoting Ethnic Diversity and Multiculturalism in Higher Education is an essential scholarly publication that examines the interaction between culture and learning in academic environments and the efforts to mediate it through various educational venues. Featuring coverage on a wide range of topics including intercultural competence, microaggressions, and student diversity, this book is geared towards educators, professionals, school administrators, researchers, and practitioners in the field of education. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Roxanne Russell, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Higher education programs are continuously expanding globally and now, students who are enrolled in online courses can reside anywhere in the world. Due to this phenomenon, institutions are forced to adapt to serve their remote students.

Cultivating Diverse Online Classrooms Through Effective Instructional Design provides emerging information on designing online courses recognizing cultural differences, building effective learning environments and forums, and integrating classroom aesthetics. While highlighting the challenges ...

Higher education programs are continuously expanding globally and now, students who are enrolled in online courses can reside anywhere in the world. Due to this phenomenon, institutions are forced to adapt to serve their remote students.

Cultivating Diverse Online Classrooms Through Effective Instructional Design provides emerging information on designing online courses recognizing cultural differences, building effective learning environments and forums, and integrating classroom aesthetics. While highlighting the challenges of online education and intercultural learning, readers will learn valuable ways to maximize student communication, learning, and other culturally diverse classroom tools. This publication is an important resource for instructional designers, graduate students, academics, and other higher education professionals seeking current research on the best ways to globally expand online higher education. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Jaime Clark-Soles, Perkins School of Theology SMU
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Rape Culture on Campus explores how existing responses to sexual violence on college and university campuses fail to address religious and cultural dynamics that make rape appear normal, dynamics imbedded in social expectations around race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability. Rather than dealing with these complex dynamics, responses to sexual violence on college campuses focus on implementing changes in one-time workshops. As an alternative to quick solutions, this book argues ...

Rape Culture on Campus explores how existing responses to sexual violence on college and university campuses fail to address religious and cultural dynamics that make rape appear normal, dynamics imbedded in social expectations around race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability. Rather than dealing with these complex dynamics, responses to sexual violence on college campuses focus on implementing changes in one-time workshops. As an alternative to quick solutions, this book argues that long-term classroom interventions are necessary in order to understand religious and cultural complexities and effectively respond to this crisis. Written for educators, administrators, activists, and students, Rape Culture on Campus provides an accessible cultural studies approach to rape culture that complements existing social science approaches, an intersectional and interdisciplinary analysis of rape culture, and offers practical, classroom-based interventions. (From the Publisher)

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Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach

Evans, Nancy J.; Broido, Ellen M.; Brown, Kirsten R.; Wilke, Autumn K.
Wiley, 2017

Book Review

Tags: disability education
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Reviewed by: David A. Schones
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach examines how disability is conceptualized in higher education and ways in which students, faculty, and staff with disabilities are viewed and served on college campuses. Drawing on multiple theoretical frameworks, research, and experience creating inclusive campuses, this text offers a new framework for understanding disability using a social justice lens. Many institutions focus solely on legal access and accommodation, enabling a system ...

Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach examines how disability is conceptualized in higher education and ways in which students, faculty, and staff with disabilities are viewed and served on college campuses. Drawing on multiple theoretical frameworks, research, and experience creating inclusive campuses, this text offers a new framework for understanding disability using a social justice lens. Many institutions focus solely on legal access and accommodation, enabling a system of exclusion and oppression. However, using principles of universal design, social justice, and other inclusive practices, campus environments can be transformed into more inclusive and equitable settings for all constituents.

The authors consider the experiences of students, faculty, and staff with disabilities and offer strategies for addressing ableism within a variety of settings, including classrooms, residence halls, admissions and orientation, student organizations, career development, and counseling. They also expand traditional student affairs understandings of disability issues by including chapters on technology, law, theory, and disability services. Using social justice principles, the discussion spans the entire college experience of individuals with disabilities, and avoids any single-issue focus such as physical accessibility or classroom accommodations. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Joshua Canzona, Wake Forest University
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
On April 10-11, 2015 the University of San Francisco hosted the national conference, “Islam at U.S. Jesuit Colleges and Universities.” The overall aim of the conference was to examine the evolution of the mission, objectives, and identity of Catholic Jesuit colleges and universities in light of the expansion of the study of Islam and the growing presence of Muslim faculty, staff, and students on our campuses. (From the Publisher)

On April 10-11, 2015 the University of San Francisco hosted the national conference, “Islam at U.S. Jesuit Colleges and Universities.” The overall aim of the conference was to examine the evolution of the mission, objectives, and identity of Catholic Jesuit colleges and universities in light of the expansion of the study of Islam and the growing presence of Muslim faculty, staff, and students on our campuses. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Barbara Thiede, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements stages a critical engagement between religious texts and the problem of sexual violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are widespread on college and university campuses; they also occur in sacred texts and religious traditions. The volume addresses these difficult intersections as they play out in texts, traditions, and university contexts. The volume gathers contributions from religious studies scholars to ...

Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements stages a critical engagement between religious texts and the problem of sexual violence. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are widespread on college and university campuses; they also occur in sacred texts and religious traditions. The volume addresses these difficult intersections as they play out in texts, traditions, and university contexts. The volume gathers contributions from religious studies scholars to engage these questions from a variety of institutional contexts and to offer a constructive assessment of religious texts and traditions. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Angela Cowser, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
This book is not a list or an overview of various theories of ethics. Nor is it a didactic manual for specific teaching units on moral education aimed at some group based on age or a particular theme (although some educational frameworks will be proposed). As the title suggests, the book intends to seek the starting points or foundations without which no moral education would be possible. The goal is ...

This book is not a list or an overview of various theories of ethics. Nor is it a didactic manual for specific teaching units on moral education aimed at some group based on age or a particular theme (although some educational frameworks will be proposed). As the title suggests, the book intends to seek the starting points or foundations without which no moral education would be possible. The goal is to formulate and tackle the key questions that precede all moral education. What makes “good vs. evil” language possible and meaningful? Can virtue be taught and learned? What makes our actions good? What is the condition of human nature? Are we naturally good, or evil? What constitutes an educator’s right to morally influence anyone else (not just a child)? What is the goal of moral education? What does a morally educated person look like? And how can we ensure the coveted moral result? Or—in the words of Jan Amos Comenius, the “teacher of nations”—how to educate a person to not only know what is good, but also to want what is good, and to do what is good “even when no one is looking?” (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Liora Gubkin, California State University - Bakersfield
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
This book arises out of a recognition that student affairs professionals have little preparation or guidance in dealing with matters of spirituality, religion, secularity, and interfaith work at a time of greater diversity in students’ beliefs and, from a broad recognition that there is a need to engage with this aspect of student life. For those who don’t know how to begin and may be nervous about tackling a ...

This book arises out of a recognition that student affairs professionals have little preparation or guidance in dealing with matters of spirituality, religion, secularity, and interfaith work at a time of greater diversity in students’ beliefs and, from a broad recognition that there is a need to engage with this aspect of student life. For those who don’t know how to begin and may be nervous about tackling a topic that has the potential to lead to heated disagreements, this book provides the resources and practical guidance to undertake this work.

With the aim of providing student affairs practitioners and faculty with the tools they need to increase their comfort level and enable their ability to engage in discussions about belief both in and out of the classroom, the contributors provide foundational knowledge, concrete teaching ideas, sample activities, and case studies that can be used in a variety of settings.

This book serves multiple audiences in student affairs by providing teaching ideas for practitioners who want to include a session or two about interfaith in their programs as well as ideas for student affairs faculty who may be teaching one session on this topic or a whole course.

The book is divided into four sections. The first offers context, provides the findings of research, and asks readers to reflect on the framework they use to embark on this work, whether a social justice framework that aims to highlight issues of power and privilege or an interfaith cooperation framework that aims to create religious pluralism.

Part Two provides concrete ideas for creating courses, activities, events, and programs focused on spirituality, religion, secularity, and interfaith engagement, as well as ideas for incorporating these topics into courses typically offered in student affairs preparation programs. Part Three presents case studies to engage students, practitioners, and faculty in thinking about campus situations related to religious diversity. Part Four provides some basic information about a variety of religions and worldviews held by college students. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Courtney Pace
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
Over the last generation, the womanist idea—and the tradition blooming around it—has emerged as an important response to separatism, domination, and oppression. Gary L. Lemons gathers a diverse group of writers to discuss their scholarly and personal experiences with the womanist spirit of women of color feminisms.

Feminist and womanist-identified educators, students, performers, and poets model the powerful ways that crossing borders of race, gender, class, ...

Over the last generation, the womanist idea—and the tradition blooming around it—has emerged as an important response to separatism, domination, and oppression. Gary L. Lemons gathers a diverse group of writers to discuss their scholarly and personal experiences with the womanist spirit of women of color feminisms.

Feminist and womanist-identified educators, students, performers, and poets model the powerful ways that crossing borders of race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation-state affiliation(s) expands one\'s existence. At the same time, they bear witness to how the self-liberating theory and practice of women of color feminism changes one\'s life. Throughout, the essayists come together to promote an unwavering vein of activist comradeship capable of building political alliances dedicated to liberty and social justice. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Karla L. McGehee, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
In order to fulfill their missions, institutions sometimes have to change. Leaders guiding communities through such moments or eras need instructional resources, and we do them a disservice when we oversimplify the work of change leadership. “Ten Easy Solutions” do not exist, and suggesting they do causes leaders to feel discouraged, like there must be something wrong with them when they fear, falter, or fail. Change leadership is hard, sometimes ...

In order to fulfill their missions, institutions sometimes have to change. Leaders guiding communities through such moments or eras need instructional resources, and we do them a disservice when we oversimplify the work of change leadership. “Ten Easy Solutions” do not exist, and suggesting they do causes leaders to feel discouraged, like there must be something wrong with them when they fear, falter, or fail. Change leadership is hard, sometimes even painful, but it is not impossible when approached with appreciation for complexity and a broad repertoire. Dynamic Discernment: Reason, Emotion, and Power in Change Leadership chops through the thicket of change dynamics, opening up three different pathways:
• Reason, where change leaders educate their communities and plot out concrete actions;
• Emotion, where leaders manage the reactivity that change can incite in a separate-yet-connected style of engagement; and
• Power, where leaders take seriously the ways in which grass-roots and top-down forms of authority can find common ground.
Sarah Drummond has experienced change leadership firsthand in numerous contexts, and this book uses abundant illustrations and examples, but Dynamic Discernment is best understood as a new and multidisciplinary theory of change. Although aimed at religious leaders, any who serve a mission-driven institution will find resonance. The book provides guidance for (1) recognizing the dominant dynamic at work in a community experiencing change and (2) choosing leadership practices accordingly. (From the Publisher)

Reviewed by: Jonathan C. Roach, Stratham Community Church, United Church of Christ
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2020
The insights in these 90+ essays are nothing short of inspiring! Their tips on best practices for social engagement, time management, social media as a resource for scholarship or creativity, technology and pedagogy, etc. will help readers tremendously.

The contributors are diverse. They include....
- Public theologians like Ben Corey, Brian McLaren, and Richard Rohr
- Younger scholars like Tripp Fuller, Jory Micah, and Alexis Waggoner
...

The insights in these 90+ essays are nothing short of inspiring! Their tips on best practices for social engagement, time management, social media as a resource for scholarship or creativity, technology and pedagogy, etc. will help readers tremendously.

The contributors are diverse. They include....
- Public theologians like Ben Corey, Brian McLaren, and Richard Rohr
- Younger scholars like Tripp Fuller, Jory Micah, and Alexis Waggoner
- Biblical scholars like Michael Gorman, Joel Green, and Daniel Kirk
- Philosophers like Helen De Cruz, Aaron Simmons, and Kevin Timpe
- Establish scholars like James Crossley, Kwok Pui-lan, and Amos Yong
- Scholars outside North America like Deane Galbraith, RT Mullins, Hanna Reichel, and Atle Sovik
- Pastoral theologians like Patricia Farmer, Len Sweet, and Kurt Willems
- Historical theologians like Kim Alexander and Christine Helmer
- Science and religion scholars like Ron Cole-Turner, Karl Giberson, Lea Schweitz, and Jim Stump
- Constructive theologians like Oliver Crisp, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and Jason Lepojärvi
- Ethicists like Miguel De La Torre, David Gushee, and Michael Hardin
...and the list goes on!

Whether the reader is an armchair theologian, a professional scholar, a graduate student, or simply interested in how social media is changing religious and philosophical studies, that reader will find Theologians and Philosophers Using Social Media of great help.

Reviewed by: Darwin Glassford
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Graduate theological education is experiencing a variety of upheavals, including learning how to navigate the digital technologies transforming the teaching-learning process. Navigating these changes necessitates that graduate theological schools and seminaries adopt the mindset of an educational technology company. Editors Sampson, Ifenthaler, Spector, and Isaías have assembled a collection of international research articles in Digital Technologies: Sustainable Innovations for Improving Teaching and Learning. The articles are organized around four ...

Graduate theological education is experiencing a variety of upheavals, including learning how to navigate the digital technologies transforming the teaching-learning process. Navigating these changes necessitates that graduate theological schools and seminaries adopt the mindset of an educational technology company.

Editors Sampson, Ifenthaler, Spector, and Isaías have assembled a collection of international research articles in Digital Technologies: Sustainable Innovations for Improving Teaching and Learning. The articles are organized around four themes: “Transforming the Learning Environment,” “Enriching Student Learning Experiences,” “Measuring and Assessing Teaching and Learning with Educational Data Analysis,” and "Cultivating Student Competencies or the Digital Smart Society.” The rich data found in each of the articles will assist institutions in asking good questions as they seek to discern the instructional tools they will employ to enhance learning.

The essays address the use of digital technologies principally in either a K-12 environment or college-level STEM programs. Despite their focus on different educational contexts, the essays are helpful in explaining the role digital technologies are playing in the educational environment and challenging one to think imaginatively about the implications for graduate theological education.

Wrestling with the articles was enjoyable but imagining how they apply to theological education was enlightening and frustrating at the same time. The articles lack a shared definition of “learning,” this combined with the ends/outcomes of education being implied made assessing the educational value for theological education difficult. In the end, imagining the implications of these articles for theological education was more like making conjectures or discussion starters rather than the bases for working hypotheses.

Digital Technologies will serve as a helpful resource when evaluating digital technologies for inclusion in an institution’s educational strategy. The international character and depth of the articles help one ask good educational questions when evaluating digital learning tools. Asking good technological questions consistent with one’s theological heritage is consistent with being an educational technology company, especially as theological institutions seek to be more nimble in identifying, assessing, evaluating, and implementing sustainable digital technology to enhance learning.

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Innovations in Open and Flexible Education

Li, Kam Cheong; Yuen, Kin Sun; Wong, Billy Tak Ming (Eds.)
Springer-Verlag New York, 2018

Book Review

Tags: flexible curriculum   |   flexible learning   |   innovation   |   open curriculum
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Reviewed by: Elizabeth Yomantas, Pepperdine University
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Innovations in Open and Flexible Education is a timely collection of research which examines various aspects of open and flexible education in the global community’s changing landscape of teaching and learning. The book is written for professors, academics, researchers, students, educational practitioners, and administrators to learn the latest empirical research in regard to open and flexible education. The book is organized thematically with a focus on four major themes: ...

Innovations in Open and Flexible Education is a timely collection of research which examines various aspects of open and flexible education in the global community’s changing landscape of teaching and learning. The book is written for professors, academics, researchers, students, educational practitioners, and administrators to learn the latest empirical research in regard to open and flexible education. The book is organized thematically with a focus on four major themes: open/flexible curriculum and pedagogy, mobile and ubiquitous learning, digitized media and open educational resources, and tracking and analysis of student learning. The book includes qualitative and quantitative research studies, empirical and case studies, statistical analyses, descriptive surveys, and interviews.

Part I flows seamlessly as the contributing authors discuss historical perspectives, student perspectives, budget planning, needs assessment, models of the flipped classroom, cross-country analysis, and massive online open courses. Part II focuses on the use of mobile devices, specifically in vocational education and training, preferences and readiness for usage, the use and design of specific apps for learning, and learning management systems. Part III of the book examines digitalized media and open educational resources including game-based learning, flipped massive online open courses, open educational resources, videos in blended learning, and media literacy. The final section of the book, Part IV, analyzes student learning including the use of big data in teaching and learning, instant messaging, application programming interfaces to track learning, reinforcement learning, and the design of data-logging devices.

The findings of this book are exciting. According to Lee, the purpose of flexible learning is to “achieve equity, efficiency, and effectiveness” (31) in education. As the editors note in the introduction to the book, there is a global trend of knowledge becoming more publicly accessible and less reserved for the privileged. As education is becoming more open and consequently more flexible, education at large is more available to all people. This book highlights the latest research on this topic, which may lead to educational stakeholders creating more open and flexible landscapes in their educational communities. As Christian scholars, this must be one of our aims—to make education more inclusive and flexible to welcome and benefit all learners.

The organization and structure of the book is not only informative but is enjoyable to read. The editors selected topics that are connected but remain distinctly different, which creates an interesting and diverse reading experience. Furthermore, the content in this book leads to much introspection on the part of the reader; the reader is challenged to consider what open and flexible pedagogies they have adopted in order to benefit all students. The research provides a fertile ground for discussions of education theory, pedagogy, and praxis. The book is comprised of twenty-three chapters that are written with experiences and perspectives from Asian countries (including Australia) and is a part of a research book series titled Education Innovation. For further work on this topic, it would be valuable for the editors to develop a book series that focuses on research from different continents on open and flexible education. The contents of this book demonstrate the diversity and richness of this topic, so perhaps this text could be expanded into a series.

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Handbook of Research on Student-Centered Strategies in Online Adult Learning Environments

Fitzgerald, Carlton J.; Laurian-Fitzgerald, Simona; Popa, Carmen
IGI Global, 2018

Book Review

Tags: adult learning   |   online learning   |   online teaching   |   student learning
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Reviewed by: Khalaf Mohamed Abdellatif, Cairo University
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Adult learners are different than younger learners. These groups do, however, share some interests and learning similarities; for instance, both are motivated to use technology in learning. Yet adult learners often have additional challenges using technology because of their late involvement with the digital world. Older adult learners’ participation in online learning and continuing education pose institutional, situational, and dispositional challenges. Online learning provides particular possibilities for adult learners, thereby ...

Adult learners are different than younger learners. These groups do, however, share some interests and learning similarities; for instance, both are motivated to use technology in learning. Yet adult learners often have additional challenges using technology because of their late involvement with the digital world. Older adult learners’ participation in online learning and continuing education pose institutional, situational, and dispositional challenges.

Online learning provides particular possibilities for adult learners, thereby allowing them to cope with specific adult learning demands. It helps adult students to maintain some sustainability while navigating new technological terrains. Adult learners may have particular learning issues and challenges arise from time to time.

The Handbook of Research on Student-Centered Strategies in Online Adult Learning Environments was developed for educators who work with adult learners in online programs. It is a book primarily focused on helping teachers by offering specific ideas for working with students in online environments and serving as a guide for structuring learning experiences for people at different stages of development.

The book comprises 22 chapters organized in four sections. Section 1, “Integrating Educational Practices into Online Learning,” provides insights into how educators can link natural learning tendencies in teaching to students’ learning. Furthermore, it highlights competency-based education and the position of student-centered online learning. Section 2, “Adult Learners and Learning,” discusses andragogy in relation to the transitions in knowledge acquisition, focusing on concepts of digital natives and digital immigrants. Discourse on preparing the efficient teacher in the age of information and communication technology is foregrounded in Section 3, “Professional Learning.” For instance, Chapter 14, “A Guide to Professional Learning for Secondary Mathematics Teachers,” explores the impact of a professional learning program on mathematics teachers’ self-efficacy. Section 4, “Student-Centeredness and Collaboration,” provides an overview of collaborative learning as well as student-centered online learning.

This handbook also provides arguments on converting theoretical frameworks into practical work in an online classroom or any other digital context. The chapters are organized subsequently in a rational order, yet the reader can start with any chapter of potential interest. However, the discourse on neoliberalism, along with austerity, and their impact—on online education generally, and online adult education particularly—is absent. Furthermore, the counter-argument which debates that online learning should be accepted with much caution receives only 15 pages. Moreover, while Dan Patroc argues that insufficient non-verbal communication is a major drawback in online learning, non-verbal communication receives only one paragraph. Overall, the editors and authors provide a remarkable contribution to the literature on online adult education. Handbook of Research on Student-Centered Strategies in Online Adult Learning Environments is highly recommended for adult educators, online trainers, researchers, and policymakers.

Reviewed by: Mary Ann Zimmer, Marywood University
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
The editors of this volume address a gap in scholarship by bringing Problem-based Learning (PBL) into fruitful dialogue with the separately developed Threshold Concepts Framework (TCF). The goal of the volume is to show how TCF enhances the understanding and practice of PBL. None of the authors addresses the teaching of theology or religion; nonetheless, each chapter offers some insight that could readily lend itself to a better understanding of ...

The editors of this volume address a gap in scholarship by bringing Problem-based Learning (PBL) into fruitful dialogue with the separately developed Threshold Concepts Framework (TCF). The goal of the volume is to show how TCF enhances the understanding and practice of PBL. None of the authors addresses the teaching of theology or religion; nonetheless, each chapter offers some insight that could readily lend itself to a better understanding of the process of learning in the theology or religious studies classroom. The collection begins with four strong introductory chapters addressing the basics of these two pedagogical approaches and their relationship to each other. The next three chapters lay out how these theories can be found across such different disciplines as engineering education, chemical engineering design, and professional development for university teachers. The final three chapters report on research projects that point out new TCs in additional disciplines.

PBL is an educational practice that presents students with real world problems that are not neatly defined and do not have an obvious solution. Students work in groups to decide what further knowledge they need, how to obtain it, and how to represent it. The TCF works with the points at which students cross in a significant way from familiar ways of framing knowledge to a point of disorientation and then to incorporating new knowledge. Savin-Baden and Tombs describe TCs and PBL as independently developed pedagogies but natural partners nonetheless. This is true in two ways. PBL has long described itself as deliberately constructing a path for students toward and through “troublesome” knowledge. Suitable problems for PBL are those that lead students to a point of being stymied in their existing level of knowledge as they address wicked problems that are not easily classified and solved. Often the PBL method is itself troublesome to students as they wrestle with an educational process that shifts responsibility from teacher to student and from individual to group.

Operating separately, TCs identify and work with concepts either particular to a discipline or more generally, that require a student to leave the space of prior knowledge and self-understanding and enter into a liminal state in which prior knowledge is no longer viable but new concepts or self-understandings are not yet grasped or stabilized. TCs give attention to the type and amount of scaffolding that is necessary to prepare students and help to direct them through these impasses. Although the TCF was originally developed through consideration of threshold concepts in particular disciplines, the editors go beyond those boundaries to consider transdisciplinary concepts including critical thinking.

Even though the chapters devoted to particular disciplines are not all obviously applicable to teaching theology and religion, their authors succeed in making the target ideas more understandable. The chapter most valuable for teachers of theology and religion is the contribution of Jayne Lewis, “Empathy and Problem-based Learning.”

People unfamiliar with these two areas will find enough guidance to read the discussion fruitfully; that being said, this collection is not an entry-level introduction but an opportunity for deeper development for those already familiar with one or both of these approaches. There are more proofreading issues in this book than one would expect. Skipped words and puzzling phrases slow readers down while they grapple with making sense of the text.

Reviewed by: Maureen Day
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Based primarily on case studies, Identity and Internationalization in Catholic Universities brings readers a global perspective on the ways in which Catholic universities are grappling with questions of identity and internationalization. Although many books are limited to a single country or region, this edited collection includes contributions from Latin America, the United States, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. The result is an informed and global account of institutional and socio-political experiences that ...

Based primarily on case studies, Identity and Internationalization in Catholic Universities brings readers a global perspective on the ways in which Catholic universities are grappling with questions of identity and internationalization. Although many books are limited to a single country or region, this edited collection includes contributions from Latin America, the United States, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. The result is an informed and global account of institutional and socio-political experiences that are shaping and being responded to by Catholic universities today.

This book would be helpful for several audiences. Most obviously, this book would benefit administrators in Catholic higher education who regularly face questions not only of identity and internationalization, but also questions of academic rigor, institutional relevance, and others that the various contributions explore in different ways; this book will put these administrators’ institutional commitments into conversation with other similar institutions. Also, because identity and internationalization are not unique to Catholicism, many universities of secular or other religious heritage would find these contributions insightful for their own institutional contexts. Additionally, Catholic centers that seek to advance issues related to multiculturalism, globalization, international collaboration, issues of common concern (such as climate change or peace studies), or Catholic identity would likewise benefit from learning the ways that these are being discussed among other Catholic institutions in a variety of cultural contexts. Finally, this book would help instructors of practical theology or religion and society courses to have a more global perspective on the ways identity and internationalization affect Catholic organizations. Equipped with this book, faculty could better explain the ways a shifting Catholic identity and a changing society affect Catholic schools, hospitals, nonprofits, and others.

Perhaps a more universal and unique contribution of this book is the frame that the introductory chapter provides for the forthcoming chapters. In walking readers though the impact of identity and internationalization within Catholic universities and providing insights for crafting a strategic plan to more intentionally address these, all of the above audiences are provided with practical ways to navigate the challenges they are facing. Likewise, the chapters that follow each illuminate the ways mission and vision are enabled or constrained by identity, internationalization, and the strategic plan of the university.

The editors could have expanded the reach of their book by providing more theory and analysis, the dearth of which is demonstrated in the lack of scholarly resources in many of the chapters. A more extensive theoretical base would have embedded the valuable empirical findings in a stronger theoretical frame, making the insights more portable to readers.

Still, my desire for a stronger theoretical underpinning to this collection does not take away from the fact that this book makes a valuable contribution to the conversations surrounding identity and internationalization in higher education. Identity and Internationalization in Catholic Universities is indispensable not only for those in leadership in Catholic higher education, but also for those leading Catholic schools, hospitals, nonprofits, networks, Bishops conferences, and other organizations that seek to make a distinctly Catholic impact in an increasingly global and pluralist world.

Reviewed by: Ryan Roberts
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Demographic and societal shifts in religion—to say nothing of higher education challenges—gnaw at North American theological education. The turbulence around the religious and educational environment is constant, and the essays in this volume acknowledge these challenges while exploring methods to move forward. The essays were written by seminary presidents and university leaders of various traditions to honor Daniel Aleshire, longtime executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (...

Demographic and societal shifts in religion—to say nothing of higher education challenges—gnaw at North American theological education. The turbulence around the religious and educational environment is constant, and the essays in this volume acknowledge these challenges while exploring methods to move forward. The essays were written by seminary presidents and university leaders of various traditions to honor Daniel Aleshire, longtime executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The first four essays address the challenges faced by theological schools while the final two essays examine the rise of non-Christian traditions in North America. Outside of the six essays, a helpful introduction provides coherence to the book, while the honoree of the volume supplies an afterword.

The first two essays by David Tiede and Martha Horne soberly name the disruptions around theological education. Tiede raises four pressing challenges and how Lutherans (ELCA) are addressing them: the digitization and marketing of everything; the cost/debt spiral; the need for leadership change; and the focus on educational results. Horne provides a call for change through the story of Desmond Tutu’s awakening to how theology is shaped by different historical, sociological, and cultural contexts. This should drive an ability for Anglican comprehensiveness, anchored in communion, worship, and mission, that allows for theological inquiry and debate.

Donald Senior focuses on the type of Roman Catholic seminary candidate needed for the emerging needs of this world. Priestly formation from the work of Pope John Paul II roots this vision and is then joined with values from Pope Francis’s vision of the joy of the gospel, care for creation, and mercy. While other essays focus on curriculum or mission, Senior calls for a counter-cultural vision for theological education embodied through its people.

Evangelical pragmatism and its aversion to seminary training is the focus of Richard Mouw’s essay. Mouw encourages theological schools to listen to concerns and questions of those in ministry. Theological educators must make the case for theological education, but must do so with an empathetic spirit throughout the conversation.

The final two essays by Douglas McConnell and Judith Berling examine multifaith engagement and its implications for pedagogical concerns. McConnell grapples with how to engage a multifaith context from an evangelical framework. He calls for convicted civility rooted in hospitality and illustrates this through an institutional case study. Berling traces the history of multifaith theological education in mainline seminaries and explores ongoing opportunities and challenges. She raises the many ways that tradition can be both understood and shaped; this flexibility in tradition should aid in classroom pedagogy and interreligious learning.

The volume as a whole encourages faculty, administators, stakeholders, and institutions to discern their core identity and mission. This, in turn, should drive what doctrines/affirmations and practices of life are central to a school’s tradition. While not prescriptive in methodology, the essays provide a quick read for busy stakeholders that can foster reflective dialogue on mission, tradition, and vision.

Reviewed by: Bernadette McNary-Zak, Rhodes College
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
As faculty seek more effective learning and teaching practices, several disciplines have taken a “turn to reflective pedagogy” in recent years. Learning from Each Other: Refining the Practice of Teaching in Higher Education makes a substantive contribution to pedagogical practice in the discipline of sociology; this book is the result of workshops sponsored by the international honor society for the discipline. Contributors reflect a wide range of institutional types, teaching ...

As faculty seek more effective learning and teaching practices, several disciplines have taken a “turn to reflective pedagogy” in recent years. Learning from Each Other: Refining the Practice of Teaching in Higher Education makes a substantive contribution to pedagogical practice in the discipline of sociology; this book is the result of workshops sponsored by the international honor society for the discipline. Contributors reflect a wide range of institutional types, teaching contexts, and research areas.

Following a brief introduction by the editors, the book is divided neatly into four parts: curricular innovations, classroom techniques, out-of-class situations, and assessment. Each chapter treats theory and strategy; this combination assures that topics are discussed with sufficient depth and adequate breadth of coverage across the discipline. References are included at the end of each chapter and the book closes with a useful index. Four of the twenty-one chapters in this book will be given attention here.

“Courting Controversy and Allowing for Awkward: Strategies for Teaching Difficult Topics,” by Mari Plikuhn, offers sound guidance applicable to any number of classroom discussions and contexts. The chapter addresses controversial content as well as classroom space; it includes helpful strategies for class structure and management. In “Becoming a Culturally Inclusive Educator,” Dena R. Samuels provides a guided sequence of practical steps for faculty engagement in this “transformative process” (203). The reader is encouraged to consider carefully the question of preparedness before working through the eight steps in this process. “The Value of Games and Simulations in the Social Sciences,” by Amanda M. Rosen, assesses the use of this active-learning strategy in a clear way. Rosen weighs barriers and incentives before addressing best practices. Finally, “Putting the Student at the Center: Contemplative Practices as Classroom Pedagogy,” by Tracey Wenger Sadd, supplies a succinct discussion of goals, outcomes, practices, and assessment of contemplative pedagogy. The chapter concludes with considerations and questions for determining the application of this pedagogy.

Instructors in Religious Studies and Theology are fortunate that these disciplines are strong in SOTL (scholarship of teaching and learning). These disciplines have a robust infrastructure for engaging in workshops, colloquies, and grant work to strengthen critical reflection on pedagogy. It is telling that instructors in these disciplines continue to produce and contribute highly impactful work on pedagogical research and practice that informs the national discourse. For this reason, there is much to be gained from this book. Discrete chapters may arouse interest in current trends, common questions, and shared efforts. Furthermore, attention to alternative perspectives on recurrent challenges and concerns distinct to a discipline can raise awareness. Finally, the recognition that higher education is growing ever more interdisciplinary makes this an opportune time to reflect on learning and teaching as a collaborative enterprise.

Reviewed by: Matthew Campbell
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
As higher education continues to grapple with expanding online coursework in meaningful ways, faculty must confront a perennial question: how can online coursework mirror the rigor of in-person classes while preserving the flexibility that makes online learning attractive to students? In Extending the Principles of Flipped Learning to Achieve Measurable Results: Emerging Research and Opportunities, William Swart argues that flipped learning has the potential to balance these demands by winnowing ...

As higher education continues to grapple with expanding online coursework in meaningful ways, faculty must confront a perennial question: how can online coursework mirror the rigor of in-person classes while preserving the flexibility that makes online learning attractive to students? In Extending the Principles of Flipped Learning to Achieve Measurable Results: Emerging Research and Opportunities, William Swart argues that flipped learning has the potential to balance these demands by winnowing the transactional distance, a barrier to student engagement, that is common in traditional coursework.

In traditional learning, a lecture typically occurs in class and homework extends beyond the classroom; conversely, flipped learning requires students to study course material at home, including recorded lectures, before engaging in collaborative, problem-solving activities in class. By flipping the traditional model of higher education, flipped learning allows students to invest more deeply in their coursework while simultaneously receiving feedback and peer support in class.

While flipped learning may be alluring, enacting such a dramatic reordering requires resources, knowledge, and tools that most faculty do not possess. Written in a straightforward, practical style, Swart’s text provides a viable throughway for faculty members hoping to enact a flipped classroom.

Swart begins his exploration of the concept by reviewing the proliferation of online coursework and noting the near-universal agreement among university faculty regarding the disparity of quality in online learning versus face-to-face learning. As an antidote to this pattern, Swart touts the considerable benefits that flipped learning affords students, instructors, and college administrators. Following this introductory material, the text grounds the Plan-Do-Study-Act (P-D-S-A) cycle as the primary vehicle for introducing, executing, and maintaining a flipped classroom. This cycle, originating from business and management, ensures that meaningful learning occurs throughout a new intervention, rather than relying solely on outcome data to judge the effectiveness of an intervention.

The heart of the text unpacks each step of the PDSA cycle and its use in a flipped classroom, offering practical advice and data to support those wishing to use the flipped model. This occurs through direct discussion of the model and an embedded case study that illustrates core concepts. Before closing with an exploration of possible future research, Swart also includes candid discussion of the challenges—both anticipated and unanticipated—that flipped learning often produces. As Swart notes, while there is positive evidence regarding student preferences, achievement, and satisfaction concerning flipped learning, there is a paucity of research documenting its role in promoting other desirable values in students.

This text adds to a growing body of research explicating the promise of flipped learning within K-12 and higher education. Particularly for faculty members in theological education or religious studies in a liberal arts setting, this text provides short-term and lasting benefits. Swart’s thorough unpacking of flipped learning delivers a robust catalog of research-based, practical advice for enacting this model. Perhaps most valuable for these faculty is the opportunity for students to engage with weighty ideas in a collaborative manner after having initial, independent preparation.

Reviewed by: Karla McGehee
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Emerging Self-Directed Learning Strategies in the Digital Age (2018) edited by Frank Giuseffi is one of the volumes among the Advances in Educational Technologies and Instructional Design Book Series. In the preface, Giuseffi acknowledges that self-directed learning (SDL) is not a new concept. Yet, twenty-first century technology continues to transform the platforms of SDL. His desire is to highlight the importance of self-directed learning in today’s teaching-learning environment. With each ...

Emerging Self-Directed Learning Strategies in the Digital Age (2018) edited by Frank Giuseffi is one of the volumes among the Advances in Educational Technologies and Instructional Design Book Series. In the preface, Giuseffi acknowledges that self-directed learning (SDL) is not a new concept. Yet, twenty-first century technology continues to transform the platforms of SDL. His desire is to highlight the importance of self-directed learning in today’s teaching-learning environment. With each chapter written by a different scholar (or group of scholars), the reader is exposed to a number of strategies useful among multiple teaching-learning platforms to foster self-directed learning with the desired outcome of promoting student success and greater teacher–student engagement.

The text is organized into eight chapters, with each chapter addressing a specific SDL platform or process. Included among the topics: online learning, an android-based mobile application for students to monitor their performance via grade point average, Massive Open Online Courses and their applicability to technical and vocational education and training in developing countries, non-mandatory employee training, the necessity of self-motivation among doctoral students to complete their dissertation (built upon Malcolm Knowles’s andragogical assumptions), cultural influences on self-directed language learning, the relationship between metacognition and knowledge transfer along with critical thinking and SDL, and teachers’ use of digitally based SDL strategies to employ essential questions to nurture the students’ critical thinking skills. While the editor’s goal may have been to provide a wide range of scenarios for the engagement of self-directed learning, chapter 4, addressing employee training and the organization’s responsibility for offering the training, seemed out of place. Job training is not germane to the discussion of SDL in the academic setting or specific teaching-learning platform or process.

All eight chapters in the text are well researched, referencing pertinent studies and pedagogical principles. Two of the chapters share specific research conducted on the phenomenon addressed. Chapter 5 (“The Intersection of Andragogy and Dissertation Writing”) outlines the mixed methods study conducted by a doctoral student exploring the dissertation completion process. Dissertation chairs and doctoral students in the dissertation-writing phase will find this chapter insightful. Chapter 8 (“Transformational Shifts of Pedagogy Through Professional Development, Essential Questions, and Self-Directed Learning”) describes a year-long case study of professional development among teachers and their use of digital technology in designing essential questions targeting critical thinking among students. Though the emphasis of the research was on the subjects of math and reading, the reader will gain information on how to use questions to help develop critical thinking skills among students.

The layout of the book lends itself to use as a reference guide. Each chapter begins with an abstract succinctly stating the purpose of the chapter and relevance to SDL. The chapters end with a concluding paragraph reiterating the thesis and main tenets shared. Finally, you will find a list of pertinent references for further study. Our goal as educators is to help our students become self-directed learners. This text will broaden your understanding of how to use today’s technology to help in this quest.

Reviewed by: Daniel Álvarez
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Building the Field of Higher Education Engagement: Foundational Ideas and Future Directions presents twelve landmark articles from 1996-2012 that contributed significantly to the emergence of the field of engagement. Along with the articles, the book presents updated commentaries and responses by the original authors or noted scholars to the questions they proposed. The format of this publication is thoughtful as each chapter presents conversation-provoking questions about engagement across academic disciplines. ...

Building the Field of Higher Education Engagement: Foundational Ideas and Future Directions presents twelve landmark articles from 1996-2012 that contributed significantly to the emergence of the field of engagement. Along with the articles, the book presents updated commentaries and responses by the original authors or noted scholars to the questions they proposed. The format of this publication is thoughtful as each chapter presents conversation-provoking questions about engagement across academic disciplines. In addition, Chapter 13 is a prospective look into the future. Nine authors provide their insights to what engagement may look like in the next two decades.

This book is valuable to those in the specific field of religious education as it strives to rethink the work of the academy. Lorilee Sandmann states that colleges and universities remain one of the greatest hopes for intellectual and civic progress because they search for answers in light of pressing problems (xiii). Furthermore, higher education in its highest ideals is committed to the scholarship of engagement. She defines engaged scholarship as a mutual relationship between academia and the community that leaves a positive legacy for all partners (xiv, 196). These concepts challenge established notions about higher education.

First, this book examines the most foundational values of education. Engagement should be built from these values and not the expectation to do research and achieve tenure. As a result this creates ripples in the culture and expectations of the academy so that a new or revised model for higher education may emerge.

Second, this book challenges the way educators see themselves and how they are to engage the community. The community has come to view them as ivory tower elites. Conversely, this volume challenges institutions and educators to participate in outreach to the community at large. The text provides several interdisciplinary examples of outreach. It is important because it generates conversations about the role of faculty and their role in outreach. This is a valuable contribution as the book also gives suggestions on how engagement and outreach can be measured so as to be included in the tenure process.

Another valuable idea is the notion that knowledge is now non-linear. It was expected that the academy would study, research, and provide solutions for the world. The consequence is that the academy does not answer the questions the community is asking. In a non-linear world, the community has knowledge. The academy must necessarily be more engaged in the world that surrounds it. Through interdisciplinary dialogue, the text provides valuable insight into these conversations.

For theological educators this is an important book because it provides language to understand the complex relationships between the community and the academy; as well as that between faculty and administration. It causes the reader to reimagine the requirements of tenure and the meaning of higher education in a fast-changing cultural milieu. This book conceptualizes the changes in the work of the academy so that one is better prepared to engage an institution’s culture and values so that it may be more true to education’s highest ideals and values.

Reviewed by: Beverley McGuire, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Contemplative pedagogy has become quite popular over the past decade (Jacoby, 2019). This book builds on previous contemplative pedagogical scholarship (Barbezat and Bush, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, Jossey-Bass, 2014; Simmer-Brown & Grace, Meditation and the Classroom, SUNY Press, 2011), especially a prior volume by the same editors—Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines (Gunnlaugson et al., 2014). This book focuses on second-person perspectives or intersubjectivity, which the editors note can be represented spatially ...

Contemplative pedagogy has become quite popular over the past decade (Jacoby, 2019). This book builds on previous contemplative pedagogical scholarship (Barbezat and Bush, Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, Jossey-Bass, 2014; Simmer-Brown & Grace, Meditation and the Classroom, SUNY Press, 2011), especially a prior volume by the same editors—Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines (Gunnlaugson et al., 2014). This book focuses on second-person perspectives or intersubjectivity, which the editors note can be represented spatially as between people, rather than subjectively inside or objectively outside them. It seeks to redress the tendency in contemplative studies to focus on first-person, personal experiences or third-person, objective study and observation of individuals engaged in contemplation.

The Intersubjective Turn would interest contemplative studies scholars as well as instructors with a previous background in contemplative pedagogy. Those unfamiliar with contemplative approaches to higher education would benefit from first consulting the work of Barbezat and Bush (Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, Jossey-Bass, 2014) or the previous volume (Gunnlaugson et al., Contemplative Learning and Inquiry across Disciplines, 2014), especially Arthur Zajonc’s overview of contemplative pedagogy in higher education and Harold Roth’s proposed pedagogy for contemplative studies. Although instructors who teach in public universities and colleges may find it challenging to adapt some of the contemplative approaches to their institutional context, those at private institutions and seminaries may encounter less difficulty in applying the contemplative pedagogies discussed.

Each article emphasizes the value of incorporating intersubjectivity into one’s contemplative pedagogy and focuses on particular classroom activities that promote such intersubjectivity. Mirabai Bush discusses her “Just Like Me” exercise developed for Google’s Search Inside Yourself program, where participants first engage in self-compassion and then become aware of what they share with others, and her “Mindful Emailing” activity where participants write a response to an email, but before sending it, lean back, take three deep breaths, re-read their response and imagine how it might be received by the other person. David Lee Keiser describes a pedagogical practice that addresses students’ discomfort at being stared at: a “stage exercise” where students mindfully walk to the front of the auditorium, pause and take a breath, make eye contact at least once with everyone in the room, then mindfully walk off stage, taking another breath and then returning to their seat.

Lyn Hartley advocates deep dialogue in which students explore uncertainties and questions that no one has answers to, which allows for transformative learning. Judith Simmer-Brown draws on Gregory Kramer’s method of “insight dialogue” to have students sit in dyads, reflecting on challenging aspects of their spiritual or personal journeys as they speak for three minutes and then return to silence and deep listening.

David Forbes uses mindfulness as a way for students to reflect on unexamined assumptions and conditioned patterns of thought in order to move towards a postconventional, self-authorized consciousness that tolerates ambiguity and agile thinking. Joanne Gozawa emphasizes the value of students not only doing contemplative practices, but “not doing” them by listening to silence and embodying a posture of receptivity. Other chapters discuss theological and theoretical reasons for engaging in intersubjective contemplative practices, advocating contemplative inquiry as a means of promoting empathetic connection.

Reviewed by: Jonghyun Kim, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
Can we escape political injustice when we learn a language? Most people would say that language and justice issues are separate, but according to this book’s authors, Joan Clifford and Deborah Reisinger, learning another language cannot be completed by simply gaining a linguistic skill in a classroom. They reason that language learners cannot overlook the diverse cultural and social factors of those who live in their own language community. ...

Can we escape political injustice when we learn a language? Most people would say that language and justice issues are separate, but according to this book’s authors, Joan Clifford and Deborah Reisinger, learning another language cannot be completed by simply gaining a linguistic skill in a classroom. They reason that language learners cannot overlook the diverse cultural and social factors of those who live in their own language community. Therefore, the book introduces the importance of local community-based learning for second-language learners (CBLL, as the authors abbreviate) to build a better educational framework.

Specifically, Clifford and Reisinger, US-based language professors, pay attention to the unique experiences of second-language student learners with relation to their local communities in America. As described in Chapter Four, speaking the dominant language in a society gives one access to the society’s dominant culture. For example, in the United States, English holds such a power. The problem is that “not all ways of speaking English are created equal in certain social spaces” (101). On the surface, second-language English speakers seem unimpeded in their access to America’s educational and health services, but actually their different accents and cultures are often undervalued “in the school system which prizes and reproduces dominant (white, English-speaking) culture” (101). That is, for second-language learners, where their living language communities are located, economically, socially, and politically, matters when they try to access America’s dominant cultural group.

Although Clifford and Reisinger focus on the American learning situation and social injustice issues, their audience is not limited to American educators. Rather, by providing a better local community-based learning model, the authors hope that students will critically reflect and challenge problems which are imbued in their social structures. Regarding this, the book is not only useful for learning foreign language but also for other areas such as the missionary context where theological subjects are taught in English or in other languages.

Further, within this emphasis on local communities as a learning partner, for both students and teachers, learning another language allows students to encounter something more than language. That is, it can be a place for the students to experience a “dissonance” between their previous beliefs about their own community’s problems, and those that appear through CBLL conversation. For the teachers as well, this conversation offers a chance to reconsider their cultural privilege and power, and how this might affect their students who come from diverse communities.

Finally, the book means to create “brave spaces” for “genuine dialogue” between learners, educators, and communities by coping with their conflicts or tensions to deeply understand and challenge social injustice issues (140). To do this, the book structures each chapter with reflections for instructors and activities for students to provide a practical framework of CBLL. This book would be valuable for both educators and their students who are considering their communities as important learning partners with relation to their own ecclesial, social, and cultural context.

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High-Impact Practices in Online Education: Research and Best Practices

Linder, Kathryn E.; Mattison Hayes, Chrysanthemum, eds.
Stylus Publishing, Llc., 2018

Book Review

Tags: online learning   |   online teaching   |   teaching
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Reviewed by: Gary Eller, University of Nebraska - Omaha
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2020
What are the potential benefits of high-impact practices (HIPs) for online education? That is the key question addressed in this well-researched collection of essays. Whether the reader is new to innovative theory and techniques in online education or an experienced distance educator, they will find a valuable resource here. Each contributor provides a helpful short list of key takeaways and a solid bibliography at the end of their chapter. The ...

What are the potential benefits of high-impact practices (HIPs) for online education? That is the key question addressed in this well-researched collection of essays. Whether the reader is new to innovative theory and techniques in online education or an experienced distance educator, they will find a valuable resource here. Each contributor provides a helpful short list of key takeaways and a solid bibliography at the end of their chapter. The introduction and conclusion by the editors, Linder and Hayes, set the framework for the discussion and aptly describe possible future directions for teaching online, blended, or face-to-face courses.

High-Impact Practices in Online Education reads like a dynamic conversation on research with practical recommendations for how to strengthen a variety of teaching contexts. Each topic selected for inclusion covers a specific high-impact educational practice. That list was largely identified in 2008 by George D. Kuh as ten critical components of undergraduate education. First-year seminars, learning communities (LCs), writing-intensive courses, and internships were among those featured components. These practices are still considered high-impact, but newer practices, such as ePortfolios, have been added in subsequent years. All have become part of developing educational strategies to impact student retention and graduation rates.

So, where will readers find what they most need in this collection? For some, a particular topic will draw their attention. My suggestion is to resist that impulse. Try, instead, reading the introduction and conclusion before sampling individual chapters. Understanding the context for the conversation about HIPs matters. The research and literature in this emerging field has been somewhat scattered, but a representative sample is nicely gathered and incorporated into this single volume.

There are no chapters specifically on theological education or religious studies. That said, there is much of worth to educators in those disciplines. For example, June Griffin’s “Writing-Intensive Classes” or Pamela D. Pike’s “Internships” speak directly to theological and religious educators. The same can be said about Stefanie Buck’s “High Impact Practices and Library and Information Resources.” No doubt other readers will discover other favorites as well. Remember that any one of these chapters could make a dramatic difference in most teaching and student learning.

Is there one overarching idea offered as a takeaway? Yes, and it is that best practice principles are, in the end, more important than modalities. That is a valuable point to have in mind as exciting new technologies continue to emerge.

 

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