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The blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it has overturned the order of the soul. -Leonard Cohen I still remember vividly the fear and frenzy swirling around my graduate school the days and weeks after September 11, 2001. As the blizzard of physical and spiritual violence and their inevitable ...
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
This sprawling volume, which incorporates co-written essays alongside those written by the main author, focuses on several themes in global higher education in the last half century, including massification, systemic inequalities, and the hegemonic role of English. Key areas where higher education has changed significantly include Asia, India, and Latin America; Africa still lags behind in many ways. The book is organized in five major sections: “The Global Context”; “The Implications of Globalization”; “Centers and Peripheries”; “Comparative Perspectives”; and “Teachers and Students.” This review will focus mostly on the final section as most relevant to the readership of this online publication.
The authors aim high in their goal of surveying the landscape of rapidly globalizing higher education over fifty or so years. The first few chapters provide a modicum of historical perspective on higher education and go on to examine the most recent “revolution” in higher education through four interrelated forces: “mass higher education, globalization, the advent of the knowledge society and the importance of research universities in it, and information technology” (16). The author(s) note that these forces have fed the growth of privatization, international rankings, and burdensome systems of assessment, among other developments. The essays in the following sections focus in different and sometimes overlapping ways on those themes, noting that the recent internationalization of universities is a necessary response to increased globalization. Anyone who works in higher education would come away with a better general understanding, if not an in-depth knowledge, of trends in higher education after reading these chapters. Depending on the topic, Altbach and his occasional co-authors provide few citations for their claims; for instance, the chapter on “The Globalization of Rankings” includes just one reference, to an essay by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. Consequently, this volume will be of limited use for those wishing to pursue their own research in these areas.
The final section (Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen) is titled “Teachers and Students,” but it is more accurately about the ways academic work is contracted for and compensated as well as reasons for student political activism. Both topics yield slippery data, so both chapters seem more tentative than definitive. It is clear from the data that they do use that disparities in remuneration and opportunity are widespread across academia worldwide. It is also clear that nobody truly understands the driving forces behind student activism except in certain local cases. Neither chapter addresses issues related to curriculum or pedagogy as they focus more on broader institutional and bureaucratic issues. This is perhaps necessary given the broad sweep of this book overall, but it also means that this book will be of less use to readers of this journal than one more focused on actual classrooms and pedagogical continuities and changes around the world. Despite this, readers looking for an overview of the ways globalization has driven the internationalization of higher education will appreciate the broad sweep of this volume.
Date Reviewed: November 30, -0001
If you ask faculty members across various institutions of higher education what common topics of discussion with other faculty are, one recurring response will inevitably pertain to difficult students. These students regularly display behaviors that resist classroom teaching and learning strategies. Tolman and Kremling argue that the recurrence of this particular topic points to the critical need for institutions to understand and grapple with the complexity and interaction of factors that cause such behaviors. These behaviors, which they identify as student resistance, can be reduced when institutions develop strategies that benefit both students and instructors through defining and addressing the underlying causes.
To this end, they propose an integrated model of student resistance (IMSR). IMSR utilizes Dewey’s three modes of inquiry (self-action, interaction, and transaction) as a framework and synthesizes research from diverse disciplines to comprehensively analyze the factors for student resistance. Five interactive elements are present in IMSR - namely environmental forces, institutional culture, negative classroom experiences, cognitive development, and metacognition. While these elements can be grouped into external and internal forces, Tolman and Kremling assert that they are transactional and work together as a system to either increase or reduce student resistance.
Between Chapters 2 and 9, Tolman and Kremling unpack these elements – analyzing the salient characteristics, highlighting the impact of student resistance (such as personal, social, and national costs), and providing suggestions to reduce resistance. These chapters also incorporate the personal experiences of students. Tolman and Kremling’s inclusion of these experiences provides a glimpse into the daily realities experienced by students and hopefully generates compassion and understanding among faculty. In the concluding sections, they recommend specific strategies and provide a variety of instruments institutions can use to implement the IMSR.
This text can serve as an invaluable tool to identify and overcome student resistance in the following ways. First, it encourages institutions to review their strategies to reduce student resistance in totality – for example, going beyond “single-field explanations” (211). Everyone matters – leadership, faculty, staff, and students – and must collaborate such that the decisions on institutional learning systems and practices meet students’ needs and address their challenges. Second, it is replete with engaging examples (drawn from research and student voices), approaches, and instruments that give institutions fresh perspectives and practical resources to move forward in strengthening motivation and reducing resistance. Furthermore, by welcoming institutions to field-test IMSR, Tolman and Kremling provide an impetus for institutions to improve their current practices in addressing student resistance.
Its limitation is the absence of examples and voices drawn from institutions that may have been successful in reducing student resistance. What strategies did they employ? How do these strategies corroborate with and shed further insights into IMSR? While the voices of the students who learnt from their resistance are important, the learning of institutions that have reduced student resistance needs to be incorporated into this evolving model.
Nevertheless, IMSR is of value for institutions that desire to address the myriad factors contributing to student resistance. It can serve as the focus of institutional and faculty conversations, such that these revolve around possibilities of transformation instead of endless complaints.
Date Reviewed: February 19, 2015
This book explores the role of authenticity in higher education. Kreber’s work contributes to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, which includes post-secondary educators from a variety of disciplines who emphasize teaching as a scholarly discipline in its own right (Huber and Morreale, Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Exploring Common Ground [Washington, D.C.: AAHE] 2002). Kreber criticizes the movement, however, for being insufficiently attentive to issues of power and social justice, and she posits her research as a corrective (5). Authenticity, Kreber argues, involves not only reflective awareness of one’s own inner motives and dispositions, but also critical consciousness of the power relations that determine one’s place in the social order (26-27, 38-39). Authenticity inteaching promotes awareness of one’s positionality as a teacher (50-52, 133-140, 171), and it leads one to serve the best interests of one’s students. Authenticity through teaching, meanwhile, defines, and ultimately attains, the students’ ultimate interest: coming into their own authenticity. Higher education thus comes to promote a more just and sustainable world (44-49).
Authenticity In and Through Teaching unfolds in eight chapters, plus a conclusion. Chapter 1 engages philosophical and pedagogical literature to interrogate the concept of authenticity. Chapter 2 contains Kreber’s core argument, summarized above. In Chapter 3, Kreber explores the implications for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, arguing that it is distinguished from pedagogical theory by its reflective stance: it involves the application of research to one’s own teaching practice (75). For these reasons, in Chapter 7 she challenges the notion of the scholarship of teaching as an evidence-based practice. In Chapter 4, she draws on Alasdair MacIntyre’s unique connection between practice and virtue to argue for a moral imperative in teaching practice (MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory [Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press] 2007). Chapters 5 and 6 invoke the critical self-reflection inherent to authenticity as a means to counteract the distorting effects of power in the university classroom. Chapter 8, finally, argues that authentic scholarship of teaching and learning demands public engagement.
Operating within the framework of engaged pedagogy, Authenticity In and Through Teaching provides a useful, coherent, and comprehensible framework for conceptualizing the practice of teaching. It also serves as a point of entry to contemporary scholarly literature in several disciplines, including pedagogical theory, moral and existential philosophy, and critical social theory. Finally, the moral imperative that Kreber derives from her understanding of authenticity, rooted as it is in virtue theory, would be particularly applicable in liberal arts and seminary contexts (where the moral shaping of the student is part of the educational process). I recommend this book for scholar-teachers who want to expand their awareness of theoretical literature on pedagogy and bring it to bear on their teaching practice.