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Reviewed by:
  • Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter
  • John M. Braxton
Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, Elizabeth J. Whitt, and Associates San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005, 400 pages $38.00

The usefulness of theory and research to professional practice in higher education constitutes a long-standing issue. Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter by George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, Elizabeth J. Whitt, and associates addresses this issue by asking the intriguing and important question: What properties and conditions are common to those colleges and universities that achieve higher than predicted levels of student engagement and graduation? They titled this project DEEP which stands for Documenting Effective Educational Practice. Through the pursuit of this question and the richly documented effective educational practices, this book makes an important contribution to practice and clearly demonstrates the usefulness of connecting research to practice. Presidents, chief academic affairs officers, academic deans, chief student affairs officers, student affairs professionals, staff members, faculty leaders, and individual faculty members will find this volume enormously valuable to their professional practice.

This volume consists of four parts and 14 chapters. Part One includes an introductory chapter. This introductory chapter describes the methodology used to identify a set of higher performing baccalaureate-granting institutions. From this set of collegiate institutions, they selected a diverse set of 20 colleges and universities: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and residential campuses, and commuter institutions. The idea here is that effective educational practices can be found at a wide variety of colleges and universities. The DEEP research team conducted two visits to the campuses of the 20 selected colleges and universities. They reviewed documents, visited classrooms and laboratories, observed faculty and staff meetings, and talked with more than 2700 people in total. The methodologies used are described in non-technical terms, though Appendix A describes in greater detail the research methods used.

Through the campus visits and review of pertinent documents, the DEEP research team identified six properties and conditions common at each of the 20 DEEP colleges and universities. Part Two of this volume includes a chapter devoted to each of the six attributes that foster student success. In each of these six chapters, practices used by DEEP colleges and universities are extensively described to permit their use in other colleges and universities. The [End Page 614] following titles of these six properties and conditions give a general sense of their essence: (a) Living Mission and "Lived" Educational Philosophy, (b) An Unshakable Focus on Student Learning, (c) Environments Adapted for Educational Enrichment, (d) Clear Pathways to Student Success, (e) An Improvement-Oriented Ethos, and (f) Shared Responsibility for Educational Quality and Student Success. Higher education practitioners will find the contents of these six chapters immensely valuable to practice as Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, Whitt, and associates have greatly succeeded in their efforts to document effective educational practices.

Part Three of this volume devotes a chapter to each of the five clusters of effective educational practices that the DEEP team used to identify the 20 over-performing colleges and universities. Each of these five clusters is included in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). These five chapters describe the policies and practices of the DEEP colleges and universities emblematic of the focal cluster of educational practice. Academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environments constitute these five clusters of effective educational practices. Higher education practitioners will also find the policies and practices described in each of these five chapters useful and worthy of possible implementation by their college or university.

Summary and Recommendations comprise Part Four of this book. Chapter 13 presents some organizing principles to foster student success for use by four-year colleges and universities. These principles emerge from the six conditions and five clusters of effective practices previously described in chapters 2 to 12. These principles are arrayed into three categories: tried and true, sleepers, and fresh ideas. The category of tried and true consists of empirically grounded, well-know policies, practices, and institutional conditions. Sleepers are those policies and practices that have been proposed in...


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