Editor’s Note

Mirror, Mirror
Frank Shushok, Jr.

“I spent the fall semester on the campus of Wake Forest University… I learned that when you only look in the mirror, what you see doesn’t change that much. I think higher education too often relies on learning from “like” institutions—we basically look at ourselves, thinking it will help us see something new. It’s a strange habit we have of benchmarking and consulting with institutions mostly similar to our own. Wake Forest and all its uniqueness taught me invaluable lessons precisely because of its differences. I’m done looking only in the mirror. How invigorating it will be to look as far outward as the higher education horizon spans—to learn from colleagues at diverse institutions who will stretch my thinking because of their different missions, ideas, programs, demographics, and market segments.

Featured Articles

Wake Forest University’s Rogan Kersh Talks with Executive Editor Frank Shushok, Jr. about How Students Are His Best Guides as Teacher and Provost

Frank Shushok, Jr., and Rogan Kersh

In this interview, Rogan Kersh describes his evolution from a lecturer behind a podium to a facilitator of hands-on exercises and role playing. Instead of resisting generational change, Kersh has embraced the charge to evolve to meet current students’ needs by asking his students how they experience his classes, and really listening to their answers. Now, his students explore case studies and do real work in the civic community. He has also developed a practical attitude toward institutional change – that small, pragmatic moves are more effective than attempts at major shifts. He notes that our graduates are entering a world that is more polarized, global, and diverse than ever before. And when you consider the virtual connections between people, he is particularly concerned about the changing nature of community.

Learning about Learning

Rishi Sriram

Rishi Sriram defines intelligence as the ability to learn and critiques our society’s focus on intelligence as nature (a fixed trait) rather than nurture (amenable to intervention). The problem with this perspective for higher education, according to Sriram, is that we spend our time and energy to identify students who already meet our definition of intelligence instead of focusing our efforts on teaching students how to learn. Using our emerging understanding of the brain, Sriram believes that we will come to understand that intelligence in 100% nurture. He shares 10 important concepts for understanding how the brain learns: Generation, Habit, Organization, Spacing, Testing, Retrieval, Interleaving, Variation, Elaboration, Reflection, which gives us his acronym: GHOST RIVER.

Adventures in Two-Year/Four-Year College Border Crossings

Case Willoughby

When Case Willoughby took his first community college job, he started by applying student development and student engagement theory to advising. He refocused advising to support students in exploring academic and career goals and teach them the intellectual and practical skills they need to learn. This experience led Willoughby to notice that two-year colleges did not often use research to support student success. To change this, he calls on researchers and conferences to break out of the idea of the traditional college student and include two-year college students in their research. He shares the “Guided Pathways” concept as an example of bringing together academic and student affairs in a way that would benefit all types of students, especially community college students.

Bottom Line

When Ignoring Difference Fails

Natasha N. Croom and Carrie A. Kortegast

In this Bottom Line, Natasha N. Croom and Carrie A. Kortegast highlight difference-neutral practices that, at best, maintain currents inequalities and, at worst, exacerbate them. They share examples of color-blind (and other difference-blind) experiences that have left them and their students disheartened and angry. To combat this destructive perspective, they suggest higher education professionals apply critical professional praxis to question the ways that power and privilege affect student access and learning on an individual and institutional level. They provide reflective questions to support readers in becoming aware of and combating difference-neutral inequalities.

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