Book Reviews

Book By: Pascarella, Ernest T. and Patrick T. Terenzini.
Review By: Karen G. Spangler
Academic Advising
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

Do not read this book – if you are looking for some light, leisure, reading entertainment!

Do have a copy of this edition on your shelf if you are involved with assisting any and all students in their often daunting pursuit of higher education! Use Pascarella and Terenzini’s newest edition of, “How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of Research (Volume 2)” as a reference, an encyclopedia, and a catalogue when you are shopping for detailed information related to, dare I say, any measurable variable that can be associated with student behaviors, attitudes, and changes experienced throughout active and post-college affiliations.

Pascarella and Terenzini revisit their previous edition of this text in order to “rewrite [the] ground rules” (1) on which earlier research and conclusions were based in order to reflect the changing dynamics of the college/university student body. In addition, not only have the dynamics of the student body changed, but changes are also continually taking place in trends that influence academic support systems - one of the main motivators for issuing a revised volume.

One reason to update from Volume 1 to Volume 2, for owners of Pascarella and Terenzini’s first volume, is that the authors were able to expand on research findings presented in their first volume. Some of the differences from their earlier literature reflect the results of having access to “nationally representative databases,” (p. 626) changes in pedagogy, changes in “public policy issues, especially affirmative action,” which have broadened the scope of research, and improvements in the quality of research methodology.

For those building or adding to book collections, one reason to invest in Volume 2 of “How College Affects Students,” is to have a source of information that can satisfy immediate needs for answers to questions and serve as a resource that can provide direction for more in-depth, detailed research. For example, in under five minutes (yes, I timed myself) I was able to locate a specific topic, “the first generation college student,” in the subject index, read entries from the authors in six separate locations throughout the volume, and identify at least eleven references to research data and projects in the reference index that can now guide me to other research sources.

Pascarella and Terenzini’s second volume of “How College Affects Students” provides a satisfying research experience. To use the book otherwise, as in attempting to read it cover to cover, one would quickly realize that the task could become quite a tedious exercise as the chapters are generally organized in a predictable, prescriptive manner loaded with research data and “cautious conclusions” (p. 503) based on findings.

It is, however, exactly this prescriptive organization of the chapters – topic and introduction, changes during college, net effects, etc., - and the detailed content which make the text easy and worthwhile to reference. In this respect, Pascarella and Terenzini provide us with a usable tool to include in our book collections.


How College Affects Students: A Third Decade of Research (Volume 2). (2005).
Book by Pascarella, Ernest T. and Patrick T. Terenzini. Review by Karen G. Spangler.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 848 pp. $52.00 ISBN # 0-7879-1044-9.


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