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Reviewed by:
  • Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community
  • Laura W. Perna
Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community, by G. L. Kramer & Associates.San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2007. 460 pp. Cloth, $48.00, ISBN: 1-933371-24-2.

Fostering student success in the campus community, edited by Gary Kramer, a professor of counseling psychology and special education at Brigham Young University, provides an impressive collection of insights for campus administrators who are seeking to promote the success of undergraduate students. Reflecting their varied professional positions (e.g., faculty, administrators, college presidents) and institutional affiliations (e.g., liberal arts institutions, research universities, community colleges, research institutes, and policy and technology organizations), the 37 contributors to the book's 20 chapters together offer a comprehensive set of recommendations for improving student success.

The book is organized into four parts with five chapters each. The first part, communicating expectations, includes attention to ways to create a student-centered culture, align students' expectations with institutional characteristics, use data to improve student services and outcomes, and build support for institutional changes that actually, rather than only verbally, "put students first." Part two, connecting services, offers strategies for putting students, rather than institutions, "first" in college admissions practices, using technology to offer a "one-stop" approach to deliver student services and enhance student learning, and designing academic and career advising processes that recognize student development and advising needs. Part three, fostering student development, argues that institutions may encourage student development by promoting learning partnerships between students and student affairs administrators, institutional communities that support students' "search for meaning and purpose," creating organizational structures and leadership processes that promote student success by using out-of-class experiences to promote student development and learning, and encouraging faculty to use advising to engage students outside the classroom. Part four, achieving success, begins by describing institutional strategies for promoting student retention and degree completion, the success of first-year students, and the success of community college students and then offers two concluding and synthesizing chapters.

As might be expected given its length and number of chapters, the volume includes several cross-cutting themes. With the exception of the final two chapters, both by Gary L. Kramer, few chapter authors acknowledge these connections. Nonetheless, the final chapter not only identifies ten themes that cut [End Page 238]across the 20 chapters but also (drawing on earlier chapters) lists specific educational practices that promote student success and provides ten categories of "next steps" for promoting student success.

Student affairs administrators are likely to find this book to be especially useful given the many specific examples and practical recommendations that the authors provide. Most of the chapters include attention to underlying theoretical frameworks guiding their perspectives, reference available research to support their claims and recommendations, and provide examples of how particular institutions have implemented specific strategies to promote student success. Some of the authors provide institutional examples that are based on research, while others draw on their personal experiences. Regardless, the consistent inclusion of institutional exemplars provides a very useful balance to the volume's goal of providing general insights for encouraging success at all types of colleges and universities.

One key feature of the volume is its approach to defining "student success." As stated in the preface, "The book makes no attempt to define what student success is or should be for all institutions" (p. xxxiii). Thus, the 20 chapters separately and together offer various definitions of success. Some chapter authors seem to equate "success" with retention. Others argue that retention should be one, but not the only, measure of success. Still others believe that student success should be considered in terms of student development and/or learning. This intentional lack of an overarching definition seems consistent with the volume's goal of having "each campus community … define student success" (p. 434). Nonetheless, the absence of an overarching definition of student success may represent a lost opportunity to inform the national dialogue about student success (e.g., building on the papers commissioned as part of the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative's 2006 National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success, Given current and...


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