BkRev# 1811. Improving Teaching, Learning, Equity, and Success in Gateway Courses. (2017). Andrew Koch (Ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 109 pp. $25. ISBN: 978-1-119-46843-1.

Review by S. Nicole Jones

Office of First-Year Studies

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

[email protected]


Could the transformation of gateway courses be the key to increasing student success across our college campuses? The journal New Directions for Higher Education’s Winter 2017 issue, “Improving Teaching, Learning, Equity, and Success in Gateway Courses” argues that gateway courses are essential when evaluating student success, but have mostly been ignored in on-going discussions surrounding the topic. The volume, edited by Andrew Koch, posits that an increased focus on gateway courses is necessary when evaluating student success on college campuses. In fact, Koch stated, “…what matters most in the student success movement is our ability to develop and maintain a focus on gateway courses” (p. 11).

While many of us working in higher education may balk at the idea that gateway courses are what matters most in terms of student success, this book, well organized into four parts, makes the case for why gateway courses are a crucial piece to the student success puzzle. Part I defines gateway courses and describes why these courses should be a part of the student success movement and it details what is at stake if gateway course issues remain ignored.  Part II of the book focuses more on data-based decisions and actions, and provides some concrete examples on how learning analytics can improve gateway courses. With learning analytics being a hot-topic in predicting student success, assessment professionals and those in leadership positions may benefit the most from this portion of the book. Part III, which is the bulk of the book, discusses the important role of academic stakeholders. Stakeholders of interest include peer learning support programs, faculty, chief academic officers, and academic discipline associations. The book ends with specific examples of how institutions can combine student success strategies with their gateway-course improvement strategies in an effort to increase student success in more populations of students.

Noticeably absent from this book was the notion of academic advising, so it is safe to say that academic advisors will not find this book applicable to their daily practice. Unless academic advisors also teach gateway courses or are involved in a campus-wide committee focused on increasing student success, I would not recommend this book. However, if one would like more insight into how gateway courses affect student success, this volume provides a solid overview. The organization of this book allows the reader to skip around and read what may be of more interest or relevance, which is key for those of us with busy schedules. As academic advisors, we tend to focus on the things we personally can do to help students be successful; it is important to remember that academic advising is also just one piece of the student success puzzle.

Posted in: 2017 Book Reviews
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