Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Checklist for Change-Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise

Checklist for Change-Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise by Robert Zemsky moves into the coming changes in higher education and why these are needed. The decline of higher education is seen as a growing problem within the country with national interests. His book moves through a perspective of educational reform and some of the reasons why these reforms are needed.

Faculty often resist change. They are traditional in their approach and often actively engaged in their unions. Their perspectives are based on hundreds of years of tradition and their role as researchers. Online education is changing some of these assumptions and faculty can view their role not only as a teacher but also as a researcher whose knowledge makes its way into new and updated courses.

The Federalized market has damaged innovation and development in higher education. As most land-grant universities rely heavily on government support and regulation their incentives to change are little. This highly regulated market has gagged some new approaches and lowered the total growth and change of the entire educational institution.

Divisive voices impact the change. The politics involved in higher education are astounding. Instead of an open discussion the higher education system has been used for political purposes and this is lowering its ability to develop and change. When something new occurs there is no end to voices that shout down the proposal. Policy makers will need to encourage experimentation, development, and change.

Curriculum will lead the way. As liberal arts colleges either die off or grow up to be universities the nature of education will change. Curriculum, the success of the learning experience, and the competencies gained will be important. Schools will be held to a higher standard of educating students to be successful in life and employment.

Faculty are part of the solution. Faculty are closely tied to the students and likely the industries in which they work. It is important for faculty and administrators to find an equitable way to work together. In many universities faculty and administrators are in constant battles over influence. Drawing them in to help in problem-solving will be important to keep the peace and encouraging change.

Zemsky, R. (2013) Checklist for Change-Making American Higher Education a Sustainable Enterprise. N.J.: Rutgers University Press

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