Show simple item record McCormick, A. C. McClenney, K. 2019-09-18T20:23:35Z 2019-09-18T20:23:35Z 2011-11-30
dc.description.abstract There is broad consensus that U.S. higher education needs to do better. Researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have called attention to a range of challenges: too many students enter college unprepared for college-level work, yet many developmental programs are little more than revolving doors; too many students who begin college never graduate, often accumulating considerable debt; the most rapid enrollment growth is among the groups that higher education has historically served least well- so institutions have to do more to ensure their students' success; students' development of generalized critical-thinking and problem-solving skills falls short of what we want and need; we are not producing enough graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math; cost escalation is unsustainable, with most of the growth occurring outside of core educational functions; and the United States is losing ground to other countries with regard to postsecondary degree attainment. And as we confront these challenges, the national understanding of college quality is dominated by beauty contests that privilege reputation and resources over teaching and learning. The higher education research community has the capacity to contribute to our understanding of and response to these challenges. Indeed, scholars have engaged with many of them. Any could justifiably serve as the organizing theme for a special issue of one of the field's leading scholarly journals. Given the range of important topics where systematic, focused scholarly treatment could advance both research and practice, we find it curious that student engagement trumps these subjects as meriting a special issue of the Association for the Study of Higher Education's signature scholarly journal. We might be flattered that our work is seen as deserving such attention, but we are instead dismayed that the "special issue on student engagement" was in fact devoted to critiques focused exclusively on the two university-based research and service projects that we direct; that it included no contributions from scholars with a record of inquiry on student engagement; and that we had no opportunity to respond to the critique in the special issue itself so as to better advance scholarly discourse and professional practice. While our projects have always welcomed reasoned critique (continuous improvement based on feedback is a hallmark of both projects), we find these precedents worrisome. We are nevertheless grateful for the opportunity to submit this response after the fact. In the following pages, we situate our response relative to the long-decried disconnect between higher education research and practice, a gap that our respective projects attempt to bridge. We offer brief comments about the Olivas preface, mostly to correct factual errors and omissions, and then provide more detailed responses to the substantive critiques in the articles by Porter; Dowd, Sawatzky, and Korn; Campbell and Cabrera; and Nora, Crisp, and Matthews (all 2011).
dc.publisher The Review of Higher Education
dc.title Will these trees ever bear fruit? A response to the special issue on student engagement
dc.type Article

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