Book Reviews

Book By: Stewart, Thomas and Hartmann, Kathleen
Review By: Beth Yarbrough
Academic Advisor, College of Sciences and Mathematics
Auburn University

Stewart and Hartmann have written an accessible, creative text designed for student success courses. Here they emphasize the investment of time, money and energy that students make daily in college. The investment theme is used as a metaphor throughout the text and helps to emphasize students’ roles and responsibilities in their own success. Text authors strive to help students invest their resources wisely in order to glean the greatest return.

Academic aspects of student success are addressed: motivation, note-taking, test-taking, reading strategies, writing, written and oral presentations, along with major and career decisions. Important personal and social issues are included, such as financial management and health and wellness. The text also includes a strong chapter on critical thinking skills.

The text’s greatest strength is its emphasis on academic disciplines, i.e., psychology, education, business, math, etc. Each chapter contains a reprinted chapter from a common freshman text along with readings about careers and current issues in the highlighted field.

Prior to each reprinted chapter, the authors provide specific advice for reading and studying based on the expectations and characteristics of the field. Students are instructed to use the reprinted chapter to observe differences and practice suggested strategies.

Readings in careers and current issues are strengths of this text. Career readings are used to expand student understanding of the opportunities afforded within a field. Current issues selections encourage students to make creative connections from the classroom to the “real world.” Discussion questions offer students a chance to work in groups and practice collegiate level discourse. Topics are often mildly controversial allowing students to practice respectful disagreement while they learn from each other.

A Website is provided with extensive tools for students but it is arranged primarily as an advertising site for the publisher. Resources are difficult to locate. I was frustrated quickly by the amount of digging required to find relevant content; students will likely quit looking without finding the information they need.

A few words of warning about the text are needed. First, the text teaches students how to figure their GPA and discusses how repeat courses are handled yet academic policies such as these vary by institution. Thus, the methods illustrated may or may not reflect the way a particular institution handles repeated courses and grades. The section on sexual health is frank. Although handled sensitively, religiously based schools may want to review this section to be sure it fits their perspective.

In summary, the text is a good choice for use in student success courses or by those wanting to learn more about basic student success. Although most likely used with freshmen in first year experience courses, this text is equally appropriate for adult and transfer students. This text would work best in a classroom setting with ample time for group discussions and exploration.

Investing in Your College Education: Learning Strategies with Readings. (2006). Book by Stewart, Thomas and Hartmann, Kathleen. Review by Beth Yarbrough. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 320 pp. Price $42.76. ISBN 0-6183-8223-2.

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