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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, by George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, Elizabeth J. Whitt, et al.. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005. ISBN 0787982202.

Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matterby George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, Elizabeth J. Whitt, and associates addresses the long-standing issue of the utility of theory and research to professional practice. They address this important issue by asking what properties and conditions are common to those colleges and universities that achieve higher than predicted levels of student engagement and graduation. Put differently, the documentation of effective educational practice constituted the aim of their research project. Accordingly, they named this Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practices). Through the pursuit of this question and the effective educational practices it richly documents, this book makes an important contribution to practice and clearly demonstrates the usefulness of research to practice. For the community of scholars organized around the study of higher education, the contribution of this volume lies in its heuristic value to theory development and further research.

This volume consists of four parts and 14 chapters. Part 1 includes an introductory chapter that describes the methodology used to identify a set of higher [End Page 237]performing baccalaureate-granting institutions. From this set of collegiate institutions, the Project DEEP team selected a diverse set of 20 colleges and universities: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and residential and commuter institutions. Kuh and his colleagues assert 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, during which they reviewed documents, visited classrooms and laboratories, observed faculty and staff meetings, and talked with more than 2,700 people. Appendix A of the volume 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 colleges and universities. Part 2 of this volume includes six chapters (chapters 2 through 7), each of which is devoted to one of the six attributes that foster student success. These six chapters extensively describe the focal properties and conditions used by DEEP colleges and universities. Such extensive descriptions facilitate their application by other colleges and universities. The following titles of these six properties and conditions give a general sense of their essence: "Living Mission and 'Lived' Educational Philosophy," "An Unshakable Focus on Student Learning," "Environments Adapted for Educational Enrichment," "Clear Pathways to Student Success," "An Improvement-Oriented Ethos," and "Shared Responsibility for Educational Quality and Student Success." Higher education practitioners will find the contents of these six chapters immensely valuable to practice.

Part 3 of this volume consists of five chapters, a chapter devoted to each of the five clusters of effective educational practices that the DEEP team used to identify the 20 overperforming colleges and universities: academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environments. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) encompasses each of these five clusters. These five chapters describe the policies and practices of the DEEP colleges and universities reflective of the focal cluster of educational practice. Higher education practitioners will also find the polices 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 4 of this book, which consists of chapters 13 and 14. 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 through 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-known policies, practices, and institutional conditions. "Sleepers" are those policies and practices that have been proposed in the literature but that have not been the object of empirical investigation. The category of "fresh ideas...


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