Book Reviews

Book By: George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, and Elizabeth J. Whitt
Review By: Brandi Timmerman
Coordinator of Academic Advising
University Valparaiso

George Kuh and associates’ provide a useful tool for conducting an assessment of student engagement and success. This book provides a framework for assessing the on-campus conditions associated with student success. It also shows the reader how to energize institutional improvement efforts, inform self-studies for accreditation and program reviews, and obtain information pertinent to student learning outcomes. The authors’ companion book, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2005) is a recommended read before conducting the Inventory for Student Engagement and Success outlined in this book.

This text focuses on student engagement and its two key components: the amount of time and effort students put into studies and the ways an institution allocates its resources and organizes learning opportunities. It important to note that readers must determine if they are ready for the Inventory for Student Engagement and Success (ISES) before attempting to complete the assessment.  The ISES is “a guide for colleges who wish to examine their educational effectiveness and a comprehensive, responsive template for scrutinizing an institution’s policies, programs, and practices (9).”

There are eight guiding principles for using the ISES. These include: context is everything, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, evidence is essential: the more the better, test prevailing assumptions, cast a wide net, use outsiders to ask hard questions, focus on what matters to student success, and stay the course. While these principles are discussed referred to at length, the reader must reference the authors’ original book for in-depth explanation. It is important that those using the ISES  “reinterpret and adapt the conditions and practices from Student Success in College to your setting (17).” It is also important to use the best evidence available and keep the goal in sight.

There are two halves to the actual assessment. The first half of the inventory is comprised of diagnostic queries. The second half of the inventory is benchmarks. These two sections are the most useful part of the book because they provide vignettes and actual applications toward completing the assessment. When it comes to the inventory “ultimately, it’s about the culture (39).” Culture is the tie that binds a university together. The culture must be integrated into the inventory in order to make it successful.

The final part of the book discusses logical issues for using the ISES and ways it can be used to support institutional improvement efforts. The authors provide examples and applications used to support research. The ISES should be used as a framework for “probing, self-regarding queries (79).” Each institution will use the information presented in different ways and the examples in the book should be used as a jumping off point.

Overall Assessing Conditions to Enhance Educational Effectiveness: The Inventory for Student Engagement and Success is helpful for institutions seeking to assess student engagement and success. The book’s biggest weakness is that readers must be familiar with the authors’ previous book (Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter) if they are to really understand and complete the inventory. However, the examples provided make the book worthwhile if one is willing to read the previous book. 


Reference

Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter. (2005). George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, Elizabeth J. Whitt, and Associates. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Assessing Conditions to Enhance Educational Effectiveness: The Inventory for Student Engagement and Success.  (2005). Book by George D. Kuh, Jillian Kinzie, John H. Schuh, and Elizabeth J. Whitt. Review By Brandi Timmerman. San Franscio: Jossey-Bass. 112 pp., $27.00. ISBN 0-7879-8220-2 


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