Book by: Harriet L. Schwartz
Review by: Melissa Moravec
Cabrini College, Radnor, PA
Office of Cooperative Education & Career Services

The balancing act of professional life and personal life, of emotional needs and of classroom expectations, of creating and changing boundaries, is the foundation of Harriet Schwartz’s Interpersonal Boundaries in Teaching and Learning. The focus is on boundaries: when to create them, why to create them, and most challenging, how to define them. It is suggested throughout the book that boundaries have the opportunity to contribute to student success (pg. 46), to develop faculty worldviews (pg.67), and to create community (pg. 89).

Each chapter spotlights a specific interpersonal boundary. While there is some content overlap, the authors tend to defer to other chapters of this book for the readers’ reference, instead of providing repetitive information. For example, the social media boundary is frequently identified in this book; however chapter two is designed specifically to address this boundary. Organizing the book in this way is one of its strengths: it makes it easy for readers to track the boundaries Schwartz determined as appropriate subject matter. The spectrum of topics included in this book is a second strength. Schwartz was able to include topics from international student boundaries to adult learners to dissertation committees. Additionally, the number of resources her authors refer to make this book a valuable starting place for those professionals looking to further research interpersonal boundaries.

The methods of writing varied: some chapters were based on research studies while others were based on practice. While this variation made for interesting and captivating reading, some chapters deprived the reader of accountable information. Some of the chapters seemed to be written simply on emotional, personal experience, tainting the book with blanket phrases that overgeneralized the topic at hand. These uncorroborated phrases seemed to undermine the professional message Schwartz intended to present to the reader.

This book appears to be aimed as a guide chiefly for faculty members. The topics covered, however, are applicable and helpful to higher education staff members as well, particularly those staff members who teach introductory college success courses. Most notably missing from this book is the interpersonal relationships –and boundaries- between faculty and staff. This topic presumably could contribute to the overall theme of how interpersonal boundaries affect comprehensive student success.

I can recommend this book to higher education professionals looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of boundaries. It is an easy read with an array of author experience to learn from. While this book is a good starting point, it does not provide individualized “how-to” guides for creating or maintaining these boundaries. Therefore, it is imperative to read the final chapter carefully and to engage not only in the reflection, but the intention necessary to define and effectively enact your own successful boundaries.

Interpersonal Boundaries in Teaching and Learning (2012) Book by: Harriet L. Schwartz. Review by: Melissa Moravec. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 128 pp. $29.00. ISBN # 978-1-1184-4159-6

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