Book by Jennifer Keup (Ed.)
Review by Jason P. Barkemeyer
Academic Advising Coordinator
David Eccles School of Business
University of Utah

Peer Leadership in Higher Education provides a strong, quick resource for anyone looking to develop, establish or improve peer leadership at their institution or in their department. Through a collection of diverse perspectives, the book covers a wide array of peer leadership opportunities and offers insight into how those opportunities are instrumental to the engagement, retention and success of students.

Peer Leadership goes beyond application for just peer advising programs in academic advising units, detailing many areas within student affairs while only briefly touching specifically on academic advising (36-37).  The early focus on student affairs areas forces the advising minded reader to consider ideas and reasoning tangentially connected to academic advising. Even though the authors present the processes and uses of peer leadership in a broad manner, these ideas can be easily applied to academic advising.

The development and need of peer advising programs is on the rise in order to meet student demands and needs in a time of limited resources and budgets. Beyond the ability to supplement, not replace, existing advising resources, peer programs “can have significant positive effects on student learners” (31). Peer leadership programs can also be developed and tailored to a variety of institutional types and sizes.

Ranging from the use of peer leadership roles in student groups, to the use of emerging technologies to connect to students, and to peer groups among doctoral students, Peer Leadership provides a solid overview of the existing research surrounding peer leadership. Additionally, more than a literature review is presented; further information provides a basis for starting a peer program, suggestions on program design, potential problems and downfalls, and how to assess the peer program once it is up and running.

While peer programs can be an effective tool to assist students, they also serve as a development tool for student leaders on campus. Students who enter a peer leader role often continue to grow as leaders. They are able to lend their experiences and expertise to fellow students who might otherwise feel mismatched or distant when working with an older faculty or staff member. This model fosters growth in both peer leaders and their fellow students while also keeping the student at the center of the academic mission.

Development of various outlets for peers to harness their potential as leaders are needed and necessary in order to provide services at a level from which students will greatly benefit. Student peers in leadership roles will only continue to increase across higher education as time progresses, and Peer Leadership is a reliable resource available to practitioners and administrators who could use a helping hand along the way.

Peer Leadership in Higher Education: New Directions in Higher Education, Number 157, Spring 2012. (2012). Book by Jennifer Keup (Ed.). Review by Jason P. Barkemeyer. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 106 pp. (paperback). ISBN # 978-1-4039-3467-3
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