Fast Times in Higher Education

 

Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century: Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model edited by Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey
Reviewed by Marc Thomas, COLORADO MOUNTAIN COLLEGE
No. 8, January 2018, Global Studies Literature Review

Higher education’s century-old tenure-track model emphasizing teaching, research, and service is ingrained in the hearts and minds of the American academy. However, relatively recent developments—from the mass infusion of adjunct faculty to the proliferation of for-profit teaching institutions—are disrupting this traditional model.

Envisioning the Faculty for the 21st Century: Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model (2016), edited by education professor Adrianna Kezar and policy scholar Daniel Maxey, chronicles the most common elements of the new higher education landscape, bridging recent research and current realities to inspire more effective teaching and learning. This new reality that the authors describe centers on the struggle to engage students in purposeful learning activities, as accreditors, political leaders, employers, and students increasingly demand accountability and change.

The book includes a chapter on internationalization that focuses on the effects of globalization on academic issues including faculty recruitment in a global job market, tenure, and academic freedom amid internationalization. Interestingly, it is not this chapter that is likely to promise the most benefit for readers of the Global Studies Literature Review, but rather the chapters that focus our attention on the fast-changing academic environment of higher education institutions.

For practitioners who are particularly open to self-reflection, the chapter titled “Students Speak About Faculty,” by Arleen Arnsparger and Joanna Drivalas, will likely inspire transformation. The essence of this chapter, and the book’s global exploration of a new teaching and learning model, is captured in this passage: “Learning, persistence, and college completion are consistently associated with students’ active engagement with faculty, staff, other students, and their subject matter” (Kezar and Maxey 2016, 102). The authors point to research supporting the notion that when faculty go beyond simply transferring knowledge to students and instead engage them in learning that helps them apply this new knowledge to the world around them, then the students’ success multiplies.

Arnsparger and Drivalas offer a vision for all faculty to adopt a role beyond that of simply content conveyer. In this new vision, faculty play a central role in the engagement of students in their transition from college students to competent citizens. This includes faculty supporting students through maintaining high expectations, supporting students who struggle, and demonstrating “the concrete ways in which the material is valuable and necessary to given courses of study and future careers” (Kezar and Maxey 2016, 114).

Readers will appreciate the balanced approach most of the authors take in their chapters, including describing which emerging trends have a strong consensus among education stakeholders and when these trends are validated by student experience and research. A cited example of an issue with “near universal” consensus is the notion that faculty should engage first-generation and low-income students in success activities. Other the other hand, modification of the tenure model is an example of an issue without reported consensus among faculty and administrators.

Questions, constructed by this reviewer, about how our undertakings in international education might intersect with this compendium, follow:

  • Is faculty work on global initiatives counted toward tenure or promotions?
  • Does shared governance include faculty expertise on international programming?
  • Is faculty participation in research abroad considered when global education partnership agreements are crafted?
  • To what extent do international education leaders incorporate the emerging trends in higher education—including the immersion of adjuncts into the teaching model and the growing importance placed on employer-desired competencies—into the crafting of global learning initiatives?
  • Are international education leaders taking thoughtful steps to apply recent research in the field (e.g., the importance of faculty-led reflection on the education abroad experience) to the broader objective to improve student competencies in skills such as communication and teamwork?
  • Are international education leaders staying ahead of the curve and effectively articulating how the field is contributing to broader efforts to improve student learning and success?

These questions could provide a framework for reading this volume with an eye toward global education. International education efforts often exist independently from college academic operations; however, reflection on how the lessons of this work can intersect with global programming can advance our efforts as the administration of teaching and learning changes around us.


Kezar, Adrianna, and Daniel Maxey, eds. 2016. Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century: Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model. The American Campus. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.