- Achieving Success through Academic Assertiveness: Real Life Strategies for Today’s Higher Education Students
Jennifer Moon, senior lecturer (research) at Bournemouth University in the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, has written a very useful book for today’s higher education student on the topic of academic assertiveness. This text has, as its primary goal, being a useful guide for students who seek academic success, both socially and in the classroom, through using techniques presented in the book on academic assertiveness.
Moon’s approach is practical. She provides realistic examples, exercises, questions to raise self-awareness, and “real life” scenarios—all focused on providing advice and strategies for students when it comes to being assertive in both academic and social aspects of the college experience.
Moon’s book is arranged in three parts: “About Using This Book,” “Learning How to Live More Assertively: Academic Assertiveness for Students,” and “Leading Courses in Academic Assertiveness.” The book, written specifically for students, sometimes uses an informal tone that students might relate to more easily. It explains in depth what academic assertiveness means and how it is linked to student development, critical thinking, and achievement in college, both academically and socially. The book also includes a chapter for professionals who may be exploring options for facilitating academic assertiveness programs/courses on their own campuses.
In Part 1, Moon explains the organization of the book and suggestions for use, particularly how examples and self-reflective activities illustrate the importance of academic assertiveness. This section also introduces the author’s use of fictitious student journals by “Tom” and “Christina,” who [End Page 607] are students taking an assertiveness course. These journal entries appear as examples at the end of each chapter to illustrate the concepts explored in the chapter and what a student might reflect on if he or she was involved in an academic assertiveness course.
Part 2 begins with a general introduction of academic assertiveness, or “the capacity to cope better with challenges that are associated with the learning in, and experiences of, advanced education. Academic assertiveness is a mix of self-awareness, the development of capacities, some new ideas and specific techniques, and a willingness to apply this to yourself, to learn from it and change” (p. 11). Moon explains that the term “academic assertiveness” is closely related to “assertiveness trainings” that emerged as part of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s in the United States. Moon adds that, in the past two decades, it has been recognized that both men and women need to develop assertiveness skills but that they may involve different gender issues (p. 10).
Part 2 has several chapters that further explain the concept of academic assertiveness for the higher education student. The significant concepts covered in this section include comparing assertiveness to other behaviors that are not considered assertiveness, ways in which assertiveness can be misunderstood, how people display assertiveness both verbally and non-verbally, the development of assertiveness skills, how the current environment can affect assertiveness, a student’s rights and responsibilities and their relation to assertiveness, tools and techniques for being more assertive, dealing with difficult situations, managing emotions, building self confidence, and dealing with the fear of failure/disappointment.
Each chapter includes activities and self-reflection points for students, suggestions for journal exercises, and encouragement for students to keep their own journals as they read the book. At several points, Moon includes boxed sidebars that provide a self-reflective activity for the reader.
Part 3 is written for the higher education professional who might lead an academic assertiveness course. Chapters include suggestions on the type of environment in which to teach the course, role-playing, how different types of students may benefit, sample learning outcomes, the use of journals, and assessment of the course. Moon also provides a synopsis for the course and brief summaries of the book’s chapters.
Moon thoroughly explains the nature of academic assertiveness and is keenly aware of the students’ need to have direct...