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Reviewed by:
  • Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student: A Handbook for Improving the First Year of College
  • Joan B. Hirt
Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student: A Handbook for Improving the First Year of College M. Lee Upcraft, John N. Gardner, and Betsy O. Barefoot (Eds.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005, 640 pages, $55 (hardcover)

In 1989, Upcraft, Gardner, and Associates published a compendium on what was then referred to as "the freshman year" experience. In the ensuing 16 years, the explosive growth in programs for, and research on, this population of students engendered a pressing need for current information on first-year students and the programs designed to promote their success. Challenging and Supporting the First-Year Student: A Handbook for Improving the First Year of College, edited by Upcraft, Gardner, and Barefoot, meets that need. It is a textbook for those charged with developing and managing services for matriculating students.

The introductory chapter by Upcraft, Gardner, and Barefoot provides a forum to update readers on the developments that have emerged in services for new students over the past 20 years. The editors employ Sanford's (1962) notion of challenge and support as the theoretical framework for the book. This is a unifying mechanism and links the six parts (and their respective 29 chapters) in the lengthy tome.

Part I summarizes current literature. The [End Page 561] chapter by Ishler addresses research on first-year students while Ishler and Upcraft cover the literature on persistence among this group of students in their chapter. Institutional efforts related to first-year students are addressed by Barefoot. Collectively, these chapters provide the history and theoretical background and lay the context for the remainder of the volume.

The second part focuses on enrolling and challenging first-year students. Hossler and Anderson describe various enrollment management (EM) organizational models and discuss current issues and future directions for EM. The ways in which first-year students spend their time and how campuses can challenge such students to increase their engagement with the institutions are the focus of the chapter by Kuh. In an interesting shift in perspective, Schilling and Schilling argue that while most research examines faculty and staff expectations of first-year students, it is equally important to explore first-year students' expectations of college. This is the approach they adopt in their chapter on expectations and performance among this group.

Part III looks at how institutions can create cultures that promote student success. Each chapter in this section reflects the perspective of a different stakeholder group. Hrabowski (a campus president) addresses the needs of underrepresented minorities while Jones (a vice provost) describes how the desegregation that took place in higher education in the 1970s and 1980s has led to re-segregation at the start of the 21st century. Public, urban institutions are attracting increasing numbers of first-year students and Natalicio (a president) and Smith (an academic dean) offer a case study of how one such institution designed a comprehensive program to promote success among this population. Yet another presidential perspective is offered in Siegel's chapter on how institutional leadership can invite others to succeed. Chaskes and Anttonen provide a faculty perspective in their chapter on the commonalities among those who advocate for first-year students. Schroeder, who has both administrative and faculty experience, uses that expertise in his chapter on collaborative efforts between academic and student affairs professionals. Finally, the role technology plays in the lives of first-year students, and what institutions can do to ensure that students use technology in positive ways are addressed in Junco's (a faculty member) contribution to the book.

Life in the classroom serves as the framework for the next section of the volume. There are a couple chapters that address broad issues, such as the one by Erickson and Strommer on creating classrooms that are conducive to learning, and another by Evenbeck and Jackson on preparing faculty to teach first-year students. For the most part, however, the chapters in this part of the book provide in-depth discussions of various forms that programs for first-year students can take, including: first-year seminars (Hunter & Linder); developmental education (Higbee); supplemental instruction...


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