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2014-2015


Book 1: The Innovative University

The Innovative University:Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring

The Innovative University illustrates how higher education can respond to the forces of disruptive innovation , and offers a nuanced and hopeful analysis of where the traditional university and its traditions have come from and how it needs to change for the future. Through an examination of Harvard and BYU-Idaho as well as other stories of innovation in higher education, Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring decipher how universities can find innovative, less costly ways of performing their uniquely valuable functions.

  • Reading Dates: September 1st to October 1st
  • Discussion Dates: October 1st to October 15th

Book 2: How College Works

How College Works by Daniel F. Chambliss and Christopher G. Takacs

Constrained by shrinking budgets, can colleges do more to improve the quality of education? And can students get more out of college without paying higher tuition? Daniel Chambliss and Christopher Takacs conclude that the limited resources of colleges and students need not diminish the undergraduate experience. How College Works reveals the surprisingly decisive role that personal relationships play in determining a student’s collegiate success, and puts forward a set of small, inexpensive interventions that yield substantial improvements in educational outcomes.

At a liberal arts college in New York, the authors followed a cluster of nearly one hundred students over a span of eight years. The curricular and technological innovations beloved by administrators mattered much less than the professors and peers whom students met, especially early on. At every turning point in students’ undergraduate lives, it was the people, not the programs, that proved critical. Great teachers were more important than the topics studied, and even a small number of good friendships—two or three—made a significant difference academically as well as socially.

For most students, college works best when it provides the daily motivation to learn, not just access to information. Improving higher education means focusing on the quality of a student’s relationships with mentors and classmates, for when students form the right bonds, they make the most of their education.

  • Reading Dates: October 15th to November 15th
  • Discussion Dates: November 15th to November 30th

Book 3: Cheating Lessons

Nearly three-quarters of college students cheat during their undergraduate careers, a startling number attributed variously to the laziness of today’s students, their lack of a moral compass, or the demands of a hypercompetitive society. For James Lang, cultural or sociological explanations like these are red herrings. His provocative new research indicates that students often cheat because their learning environments give them ample incentives to try—and that strategies which make cheating less worthwhile also improve student learning. Cheating Lessons is a practical guide to tackling academic dishonesty at its roots.

Drawing on an array of findings from cognitive theory, Lang analyzes the specific, often hidden features of course design and daily classroom practice that create opportunities for cheating. Courses that set the stakes of performance very high, that rely on single assessment mechanisms like multiple-choice tests, that have arbitrary grading criteria: these are the kinds of conditions that breed cheating. Lang seeks to empower teachers to create more effective learning environments that foster intrinsic motivation, promote mastery, and instill the sense of self-efficacy that students need for deep learning.

Although cheating is a persistent problem, the prognosis is not dire. The good news is that strategies which reduce cheating also improve student performance overall. Instructors who learn to curb academic dishonesty will have done more than solve a course management problem—they will have become better educators all around.

  • Reading Dates: January 8th to February 8th
  • Discussion Dates: February 10th to February 21st

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