Book by Richard P. Keeling, M.D
Review by BJ Hausman
Dean of Student Success
Florida Community College (Jacksonville, FL)
It is rare indeed that a book read for professional purposes is described as a “page turner” but that is exactly how I would describe Learning Reconsidered 2. Although a sequel to Learning Reconsidered (2004), this is not a tense cliffhanger nor is it steeped in suspense; instead this book is full of exciting concepts that can be used to help an entire campus embrace a single-focused collaborative effort to engage students in learning. Simply put, this book moves student affairs professionals into the learning arena; it merges the two traditional silos into one energetic and dynamic circle of learning. Learning Reconsidered 2 is the road map that paves the way for implementation of the concepts and dialogue proposed in Learning Reconsidered; it provides examples and models for moving conversation to action.
But why reconsider learning? Simply put, our traditional models of teaching and learning are out of date. They are often one dimensional. In the first book, Learning Reconsidered (2004), learning is defined as “a complex, holistic, multicentric activity that occurs through and across the college experience” (p.5). This definition clearly calls for the engagement of everyone involved in the life of a student. We must focus on all of the ways in which we interact with students because students learn from everything they do. This is especially important for student affairs personnel as we consider traditional services in a new light. No longer is good customer service enough. We must carefully consider everything we do as a learning experience. Orientation should be described in terms of student learning outcomes and how we measure and evaluate those outcomes. This same process must be applied to student interactions with financial aid or academic advising. However, Learning Reconsidered 2 goes further and joins faculty and student affairs professionals in efforts to create co-curricular experiences in which learning moves outside the confines of the classroom. All of this is designed to place the student at the center of the learning experience.
Learning Reconsidered 2 addresses the use of the strategic planning process to bring all parties together in a dialogue to create a platform for examining assumptions and current practices. Authors consider the place of professional development in the equation and, most importantly, give advice for beginning the process which includes starting small. The final chapter of the book provides examples of successful programs from various institutions; as we all know, imitation is the highest form of flattery and the authors provide several examples that can be replicated on other campuses. The “Last Lecture” is the first I will adopt. I can easily envision a committee of faculty, students and staff planning this event and carrying it out in such a way as to honor an esteemed faculty member who is nominated by student and celebrated by his/her peers.
For me, Learning Reconsidered 2 was one of the most energizing books I have read in a long time. It is a call to student affairs personnel to jump up and become engaged in campus life in a very new way; a way that places us clearly in a dialogue with academic colleagues to jointly affect learning. It is a breath of fresh air; it has renewed excitement in me.
Keeling, Richard P. (Ed). (2004). Learning Reconsidered: A Campus-wide Focus on Student Experience. Washington, D.C.: American College Personnel Association and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Learning Reconsidered 2: Implementing a Campus-Wide Focus On the Student Experience. (2006). Book by Richard P. Keeling, M.D. (Ed.). Review by BJ Hausman. Washington D.C.: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and allied associations. 88 pp. $14.95 ISBN # 0-931654-41-6