31

Field, S., & Parker, D. R. (Eds.). (2016). Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture. Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Review by Jennifer Scott, University of Tennessee, jscott95@utk.edu

Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture provides detailed descriptions of the current challenges facing today’s students and takes a solution-focused approach with describing useful techniques and ideas to guide students toward determining personally fulfilling goals, learning how to become autonomous thinkers, and developing decision-making skills (Field & Parker, 2016). “When colleges and universities design their programs to encourage self-determination, not only do they help students more fully benefit from the wealth of resources provided to them during their college experience; they help them further develop knowledge, skills, and beliefs that will support their success throughout their lives” (Field & Parker, 2016, p. 6). The chapters expand on the application and utilization of techniques and concepts such as growth mindset, effective communication skills, academic coaching, appreciative advising, universal design practices for inclusive instruction, mindfulness, resiliency, and grit to assist students through their journeys toward becoming more self-determined (Field & Parker, 2016). The strategies discussed in each of these chapters connect to the NACADA Core Values of caring, empowerment, respect, and inclusivity (NACADA, 2017b).

Supporting Self-Determination

The first chapter explains “When students work toward achieving goals, obstacles and disappointments are inevitable” (Field, 2016, p. 39). Advisors play a vital role in guiding students through the process of trying new experiences and understanding the challenges they will face on their journey of self-discovery and learning areas of strength. The following chapters, compiled from various authors as noted below, expand on meaningful techniques for advisors to engage in these conversations.

Appreciative Advising

Appreciative Advising directly connects to the Conceptual and Relational components of the NACADA Core Competencies (NACADA, 2017a). The chapter begins with an overview of theory connected to the development of Appreciative Advising practice and expands on ideas and strategies to help students move toward self-determination (Bloom, He, & Hudson, 2016). As explained, “Advisors guide students to engage in critical reflections on their capabilities and to develop their confidence in reaching their goals to meet their needs for competence” (Bloom, He, & Hudson, 2016, p. 46).

Academic Coaching

Utilizing concepts taken from academic coaching, advisors can help students reflect on their areas of strength and assist them with understanding how they have used these strengths in the past to overcome challenges (Sleeper-Triplett & Fabrey, 2016). Advisors can then direct the conversation to apply the student’s previous actions toward the current situation to create an action plan and empower students to view themselves as the expert of their lives. This chapter also provides specific examples of open-ended, non-judgmental, curious questions to guide students in raising their self-confidence and creating their own solutions.

Contemplative Practices

This chapter explains the benefits of teaching contemplative practices such as mindfulness to help students engage in self-reflection and move toward a deeper understanding of self (Field, 2016). Advisors serve an important role in encouraging students to seek out these types of opportunities on campus as a method of discovering their interests and abilities. Additional benefits include increasing students’ abilities to remain focused and attentive, developing stress management techniques, and increasing their willingness to be open to new ideas.

Family Involvement

This chapter discusses the advantages of taking a collaborative viewpoint when considering the involvement of students’ families (Maitland, 2016). Today’s students report increased amounts of communication with their parents compared to previous generations, but parents’ overinvolvement can lead to a lack of the development of essential skills such as decision-making and self-advocacy. This chapter explains multiple methods to encourage a collaborative relationship in which parents can help facilitate the development of the student’s self-determination. The author discusses the use, interpretation, and application of FERPA, which relates to the Informational component of the NACADA Core Competencies (NACADA, 2017a). This chapter provides numerous examples, case studies, and resources that advisors could adapt to fit the needs of their own institutions while developing programs to serve parents with the ultimate goal of supporting student development and success.

Resilience and Grit

The authors move beyond examples and definitions to provide specific ideas for programs and initiatives to help students understand how to process and reframe failure as a component of the journey to achieve success (Parker, Nelson, & Merrill, 2016). The chapter provides links for assessment tools to measure students’ levels of resiliency and grit. The authors also discuss ideas for developing resiliency and grit projects and strategies to normalize failure and facilitate students’ development of problem-solving skills when faced with obstacles and challenges.

Conclusion

The topics in this book connect to all of the NACADA Core Competencies (NACADA, 2017a). Multiple chapters discuss theory, approaches, and inclusive practices, which relate to the Conceptual component. The Universal Design chapter provides ideas and suggestions for innovations with curriculum and pedagogy, which relates to the Informational component. Additionally, several chapters discuss institutional policies, procedures, links to institutional resources, and the specific needs and characteristics of the current generation of students, which also relates to the Informational component. Each chapter provides ideas and strategies connected to the Relational component, such as inclusive communication practices, building rapport with students and their parents, and guiding students in the development of setting purposeful goals and learning skills for problem solving and decision making.

This book provides practical insights, techniques, and solutions for anyone working with students in a higher education setting. The book also provides an appendix of extremely useful resources to utilize while working with students (Field & Parker, 2016). I highly recommend this book as a valuable tool to understand effective strategies for supporting and empowering students toward achievement of their clearly defined goals.  

References:

Bloom, J.L., He, H., & Hutson, B.L. (2016). Appreciative advising: A theory-to-practice framework for putting self-determination theory into action. In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 43-58). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Field, S. (2016). Developing thoughtful learners: Supporting self-determination in postsecondary education. In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 9-42). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Field, S. (2016). Increasing awareness and decreasing stress: Embracing contemplative practices to support self-determination. In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 115-141). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Field, S., & Parker, D. R. (Eds.). (2016). Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture. Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Maitland, T.L. (2016). Involving families in promoting self-determination: Doesn’t FERPA forbid family involvement? In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 143-183). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017a). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017b). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx

Parker, D.R., Nelson, N., & Merrill, A. (2016). Promoting students’ resilience and grit: Cultural challenges and campus opportunities. In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 185-216). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Sleeper-Triplett, J. & Fabrey, C. (2016). Academic coaching: Using a coach approach to build student self-determination. In S. Field & D. R. Parker (Eds.), Becoming self-determined: Creating thoughtful learners in a standards-driven, admissions-frenzied culture (pp. 87-113). Huntersville, NC: AHEAD Association on Higher Education and Disability

Posted in: Book Review
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |