Book by J.K. Allen, D.R. Dean, and S.J. Bracken
Review by: Monica Parikh
Director, Learning Resources and Advising Outreach
Santa Clara University, California
This book is an array of current scholarship on women’s experiences on college campuses and provides us with works dedicated to enhancing their learning environments. Each chapter differs greatly in purpose and point, but this collection of research suggests students seek an integration of their personal and academic lives: learning in- and out-of-class. The volume encourages administrators to integrate academic and student affairs to optimize women’s higher education through awareness, advocacy, and action.
Here we are given useful evidence that integrated learning will enhance women’s education and success. One chapter finds females most frequent worry is whether they will be well-prepared for “real life” (work, finances, time management, planning their futures). Another chapter shows that females flourish under the Learning Partnership Model (LPM) in administration, faculty, and curriculum design/development. LPM supports student identity development and engages them as partners in their own educations. A third chapter applauds administrators who value integrative education and connecting the classroom to experiential learning.
Allen, Dean, and Bracken assembled deep works from diverse fields: the neurophysiology of developmental growth, women in technology careers, online learning, race and gender, and adult learning. While this book is no “prerequisite” for advisors supporting female students, its slightly disjointed material is a veritable treasure trove. Readers learn that when women recapture and review experiences (journaling, counseling, debriefing), they often make new meaning of them, and think differently about the present and future (p. 61). Academic advisors could encourage women to journal about their experiences, or morph advising appointments into conversations to this end. Readers also find a list of prerequisites for female students’ learning including: acceptance, comfort, confidence, and perceived value of the task. Faculty and administrators (particularly academic advisors) are fully capable of providing this to each student, female or male.
The thesis is a common one: we must design new systems that integrate in- and out-of-class learning and unite student- and academic-affairs professionals. Not a how-to guide by any means, the editors use this text to prescribe steps for advisors, advising administrators, and curriculum design committees interested in building more integrative coursework and academic support. Meanwhile, this volume’s rich value comes from exposing readers to the research, practice, and praxis in the education of women. An academic advisor would benefit from fluency with this text’s language (disciplinary and interdisciplinary, in and out of feminist studies), its perspectives, trends over time, and recommendations for future practice, since most college students are women.
Most College Students are Women: Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Policy. (2008). Book by J.K. Allen, D.R. Dean, and S.J. Bracken (Eds.). Review by Monica Parikh. Herndon, VA: Stylus Publishing. 193 pp. $29.95. ISBN 1-57922-191-2