Navigating the field of learning assistance: an essay book review of Access at the crossroads.
Article Type:
Essay
Subject:
Educational programs (Management)
Education, Higher (Methods)
Learning strategies
Author:
Bell, Diana Calhoun
Pub Date:
09/22/2012
Publication:
Name: Journal of College Reading and Learning Publisher: College Reading and Learning Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 College Reading and Learning Association ISSN: 1079-0195
Issue:
Date: Fall, 2012 Source Volume: 43 Source Issue: 1
Topic:
NamedWork: Access at the Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Education (Nonfiction work) Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
308129370
Full Text:
Arendale, D. R. (2010). Access at the crossroads: Learning assistance in higher education. In ASHE Higher Education Report Number 35(6). San Francisco; Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 978-0-470-64424-9.

Te burgeoning field of learning assistance is emerging as a significant feature of postsecondary education, with practitioners, teachers, stakeholders, and administrators increasingly needing clear signposts to inform and guide them as they navigate the ever-changing landscape of the discipline. David Arendale's recent monograph, Access at the Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Education succinctly yet thoroughly discusses the various facets of learning assistance. His prominent metaphor of intersections garners appeal as he examines and emphasizes significant connections and tensions among institutional entities such as enrollment services, academic affairs, and student affairs. Simultaneously, he also introduces readers to the notion that learning assistance has the potential to be the means through which these historic institutional silos can be reconsidered, if not even dismantled. Moreover, Arendale cleverly embeds this metaphor of intersection in his metanarrative, which emphasizes an important relationship between theory and practice. He skillfully avoids situating this particular text as one or the other, theory or practice, but instead provides ample opportunity for readers to explore both.

Arendale's treatment of the origins of the discipline traces important pedagogical and pragmatic movements as well as intersects with theoretical models that have informed the practice of learning assistance across time. Crossroads provides a thorough historical overview that challenges the notion of learning assistance being a fairly recent concept by positioning it deeply within the structures and history of higher education.

The monograph also provides an inclusive overview of consumers of learning assistance services and redefines the population usually aligned with learning assistance programs by moving away from the deficit model wherein learning assistance serves only underprepared students. Arendale presents a consumer model that is increasingly complex and comprehensive by introducing academic needs as a continuum through which students progress as they become participants in learning assistance services. However, a weakness of Crossroads is that Arendale presents an uneven discussion of this inclusive model. At times, he uses more comprehensive language when speaking of the students who utilize services offered through learning assistance. Learning assistance can and should exist for all students, and, at times, this assertion becomes clear. Conversely, at other times, he portrays consumers of learning assistance more traditionally, as novices, underprepared, or positioned on the lower end of the knowledge continuum.

Even so, Crossroads provides insight into an ever-changing field that intersects with vital institutional constituents. Those new to the field will find that this text offers a comprehensive overview that helpfully defines the discipline. Experienced professionals will find the monograph useful in helping them reconsider important issues in the field.

Current Challenges and Controversies for Learning Assistance

When considering challenges and controversies in learning assistance, Arendale introduces three categories to consider: historical, perceptive, and fiscal. He argues that each of these three classifications creates difficulties for learning assistance programs, practitioners, and participants.

The first challenge Arendale discusses is what he calls "historical amnesia," a position wherein professionals, historians, and stakeholders buy into the "myth of transience" (Rose, 1985). This myth critiques a perceived yet fictional "crisis" in education that insists the need for learning assistance is a recent one because of an educational aberration caused by the collapse of academic values, usually blamed on societal downfall such as television, video games, overcrowded schools, or the break-up of the traditional family. Although Arendale doesn't explicitly employ the myth of transience, important connections between Arendale and Rose should be noted.

One of the root causes of historical amnesia, Arendale argues, is that professional literature either ignores or downplays the importance of learning assistance in higher education, especially as it relates to the numbers of students who have participated in such programs. Arendale stresses that the way in which students who participate in learning assistance have been identified is flawed because students are often simultaneously prepared and unprepared. Thus, he argues, "academic preparedness is not a characteristic of the student; rather, it is a condition relative to a particular academic course" (p. 8). He continues by asserting that, "it is inaccurate to designate students as 'remedial' or 'developmental' for they may be competent or expert in one academic content area and needing learning assistance" (p. 8) in another. While Arendale points to the important fact that students are more complex than their labels might indicate, he still implies that learning assistance is designed for students who may be underprepared in a particular academic discipline rather than acknowledging that even "competent" or "expert" students can and do participate in learning assistance programs. For example, many schools require all first-year students to enroll in a First-Year Experience course. In this case, learning assistance crosses all boundaries, including academic and socioeconomic. As such, the field of learning assistance expands beyond a simplistic and narrow view of students as underprepared, a view that Arendale would not dispute.

The second, and most developed, challenge that Arendale discusses in this chapter includes various ways in which the perceptions and values of learning assistance shift linguistically, conceptually, and legally. Interestingly, Arendale investigates perceptions of learning assistance from two important perspectives--that of the stakeholder and that of the student. He discusses the way in which the field has attempted to identify itself over time and emphasizes how shifts in the way we talk about ourselves have contributed to a murky understanding of what it is that learning assistance actually does. The politicization of terminology such as "remedial" or "compensatory," and more currently "developmental"--which is rapidly becoming maligned--contributes to linguistic maneuverings within the field. Arendale explains that his "careful review of the history of learning assistance reveals that terms used to describe it fifty years ago are now increasingly viewed negatively" (p. 11). As a result, Arendale encourages the use of the term "learning assistance" because of its inclusivity, explaining that the term is "not limited to particular student population groups based on their level of academic preparation" (p. 12). He emphasizes that "learning assistance centers support success in rigorous classes as well as supplemental learning venues for any learner to deepen knowledge of academic content" (p. 12). His inclusive language gives a nod toward the new paradigm of learning assistance, one that views learning assistance as a cache of programs that embrace all learners.

Finally, in this chapter, Arendale presents the financial challenges inherent in learning assistance when he critiques the concept of "mission differentiation" (p. 18), which is a process whereby an institution modifies its core mission and then expands or eliminates programs and strategies based on their ability to assist or harm the institution in achieving that core mission. This latest buzzword is often recognized in the learning assistance community as a way to eliminate programs and services by assessing their objectives as distracting from rather than contributing to the institution's core values. Arendale explains that "mission differentiation assumes incorrectly that college aspirants are more academically prepared" and, as a result, that "learning assistance activities are not needed" (p. 19).

Often stakeholders are swayed by arguments that taxpayers should not have to pay twice for students to learn the same educational content, once in secondary schools and again in postsecondary institutions. Arendale counters by arguing first that student preparation is varied and second that atrophy of skills occurs, all good points. However, Arendale fails to assert that this politically charged argument is based on faulty reasoning, reasoning that declares that learning assistance equates to learning deficits. Certainly, if we take the narrow view that learning assistance and developmental education courses are one in the same, then the argument of paying twice might have more traction. But developmental education courses are only part of the larger concept of learning assistance. Additionally, although Arendale acknowledges the College Board and their powerful influence in education in the U.S., he does not mention that standardized testing has proven to be an invalid means of assessing academic preparedness, despite the fact that the majority of colleges and universities use this mass testing as a way to sort and label students (Cronbach, 1989; White, 2007; Williamson, 2003).

History of Learning Assistance in U.S. Postsecondary Education

Arendale's interesting and thorough discussion of the history of learning assistance embeds the discipline in the fabric of postsecondary education. He demarcates the lineage of learning assistance into six discrete phases. Each phase has distinct characteristics shaped by the needs of society as well as the needs of the institution in regards to teaching and learning; the field "grows in complexity over time" (p. 23).

The first phase that Arendale discusses encompasses the implementation of U.S. colleges in the 1600s through the 1800s, a time during which learning assistance was an important yet often dismissed aspect of student learning. He explains that the perception during this time was that almost all incoming students were considered "deficient" (p. 23). In order to gain acceptance, students utilized private tutors and often continued receiving tutoring after college acceptance. Harvard led the way for learning assistance by being the first postsecondary institution to require "remedial" studies where students within a cohort met weekly for recitation sessions linked to particular courses, institutionalizing the practice of tutoring.

Arendale's second phase, from 1830 to 1860, highlights the expansion of postsecondary education. He explains that this growth "was essential to support development of the economic middle class of merchants, tradesmen, engineers, agriculturalists, and scientists needed to meet the needs of the growing nation and to support its economic development" (p. 27). The insufficiency of secondary and primary education created the need for programs to help prepare students for the rigors of higher education. Tutoring would no longer suffice. As a result, two important alternatives emerged. First, preparatory academies, both external and college sponsored, appeared, serving as the first bridge programs. Arendale explains that the "University of Wisconsin established the first modern learning assistance program" (p. 29) by creating an academic department to house preparatory courses. Rather than depending on tutorial assistance like that introduced at Harvard, these preparatory programs provided systematic instruction in basic academic skills and also addressed the larger issue of study skills.

During the late 1800s until World War II in the 1940s, Arendale's third phase, the student population shifted with the establishment of The Morrill Act (1862), which established land-grant institutions. As a result, the federal government became involved in postsecondary education in a meaningful way. In addition to expanding tutoring and preparatory departments, this phase in the history of learning assistance established the beginning of remedial education, a term that has since come to be stigmatized. However, Arendale asserts that, at the time, "remedial education targeted specific skill deficits and employed new educational approaches" (p. 32). These courses were often institutional prerequisites, but unlike the preparatory courses, did sometimes offer course credits. Harvard, again, led the movement when it became the first postsecondary institution to offer a remedial English course for first-year students-learning assistance in the form of formal coursework within the curriculum became possible.

The fourth phase of learning assistance history, according to Arendale, spans from the mid 1940s to the 1970s when learning assistance in higher education dramatically expanded along with student enrollment as a result of the G.I. bill and other social factors such as civil rights. It was also during this phase that learning assistance began being thought of as an educational concept with theoretical underpinnings and systemic implications rather than simply a practice imposed upon underprepared students. Arendale explains that this paradigm shift brought with it a number of significant changes, among them open enrollment and increased federal involvement. These changes had positive implications, including increased available funding for learning assistance programming. This funding helped change the landscape of higher education by requiring schools to radically rethink campus culture and educational programming. However, in the U.S. these funds were narrowly applied to historically excluded students through assistance such as TRIO and other Equal Opportunity programs rather than being made available to more broadly-based learning assistance programs, creating a tier system that reinforced stigmatism for participating students.

This myopic view of learning assistance unintentionally resulted in heightened stigma for learning assistance participants "because of increased stratification of academic preparation among entering students" (p. 34). Learning assistance, regrettably, demarcated participating students as Other, as different from, in a way that made teachers, administrators, stakeholders, and other students devalue their cognitive abilities, setting the stage for increased stigmatization within the institution. While conceptually progressive for learning assistance, these detached programs inappropriately marginalized students and created an underclass within the institution.

Arendale's fifth phase, from the 1970s to mid 1990s, established a shift from isolated learning assistance programs to comprehensive programs that more inclusively served a wider range of students. However, the damage had been done; students themselves often failed to take advantage of learning assistance because of the fear of being stigmatized. Nonetheless, new forms of learning assistance emerged, inviting all students, not just those experiencing academic difficulty, to participate.

During this time, learning assistance as an academic discipline began to form. Theoretical models borrowed from "human development, psychology of learning, educational technology, and corporate management" (p. 43) created a disciplinary foothold recognized within educational circles. Not surprisingly, along with these theoretical models, professional organizations emerged, providing community among practitioners and a way to share research and best practices. Organizations such as the College Reading and Learning Association, the National Association for Developmental Education, and the National College Learning Center Association, along with their affiliated scholarly journals became part of the learning assistance landscape. Other professional organizations such as the National Tutoring Association, the Association for the Tutoring Profession, the National Reading Conference, and the Council for Learning Assistance and Developmental Education also emerged. Additionally, universities began offering advanced degrees in the field; leading the way were Appalachian State University, Grambling State University, National Louis University, Texas State University, and the University of Minnesota TWin Cities. This professionalization of the field ensured that institutions could recruit informed practitioners and professionals who would better serve a wide variety of students.

The final phase of learning assistance history, according to Arendale, is from the 1990s to the present. He describes the current state of affairs as "turbulent," because, he explains, "although the need for learning assistance has expanded, its resources have become scarcer" (p. 51). The fiscal health of universities has suffered, and, as a result, programs across campuses compete for scarce funds. To compound the problem, the stigma of learning assistance continues; stakeholders are less willing to pay for programs that they believe are the responsibility of secondary schools and community colleges. Arendale explains that the change "is concurrent with increased diversity of the student population, increased college enrollments, increased competition for institutional funds, and decreased percentage of operating funds from state governments for public institutions" (p. 51).

Arendale's thoughtful and thorough discussion of learning assistance history succinctly highlights the important movements in the field and discusses the complex social and institutional concerns that impact programming decisions. He recognizes the field's movement in helping students understand that learning assistance is advantageous and does not impose labels that impede student progress through the institution. He also emphasizes that this history demonstrates the important crossroads that have helped shape the field of learning assistance.

The Current Nature and Scope of Learning Assistance

Arendale's goal in this chapter is to discuss the scope of student involvement in learning assistance programming and survey various contemporary approaches to learning center pedagogy and practice. He concedes that "it is difficult to estimate the total number of college students who use learning assistance annually" (p. 55), perhaps because every institution defines and supports learning assistance according to its own context, dependent on its specific students' needs. Arendale's emphasis on "students who are academically underprepared" (p. 55) continues to be restrictive, although he does implicitly discuss learning assistance approaches that impact all students.

When describing students who participate in learning assistance, Arendale emphasizes an important theoretical concept: "The use of learning assistance is based on the need presented by the academic course and not necessarily an attribute of overall academic weakness by the individual student" (p. 56). This idea could be extended to encompass not just individual courses, but also the overarching academic needs of the student. In other words, it is important to note that individual students have multiple strengths and weaknesses, and, as such, learning assistance is not a panacea for individual cognitive deficits. The student's motivation for seeking learning assistance could be learning strategy centered rather than concentrated strictly on individual course content. For example, academic coaching, an approach to learning assistance that Arendale overlooks, can provide support for study, organization, and note taking skills, none of which indicate an overall academic weakness but instead nudge students toward a meta-awareness of learning strategies that are not course specific.

Arendale divides his discussion of "Approaches to and Systems of Learning Assistance" (p. 62) into three categories: approaches that "operate as a prerequisite learning experience before the student enrolls in college-level courses" (p. 63), "approaches that operate through concurrent learning experiences" (p. 70), in which the student simultaneously participates in learning assistance while taking college-level courses, and approaches that outsource learning assistance to profit-generating corporations. While these categories are useful topoi through which readers can understand various methodologies and models, Arendale provides a visual for the prerequisite approaches only. Because his visual is so useful in helping readers understand his perspective, it would have been beneficial for him to provide a parallel chart for the other categories.

The prerequisite learning experiences discussed in this section include academic preparatory academies (such as bridge programs), remedial classes, and developmental classes. However, Arendale's discussion of remedial and developmental classes is problematic because his explanation of the core differences between the two is cloudy at best. The variances seem to be semantic rather than substantive. The only difference, it seems, is that remedial classes assume student academic deficits while developmental classes assume that students possess academic strengths on which to build. Arendale explains, "remedial courses look to the past and focus on acquiring the skills and knowledge that should have been obtained while in high school; developmental courses look to the future and the skills needed for success in college" (p. 67). He does not provide evidence of curricular differences, only institutional assumptions, and he does not make clear the difference between what skills should have been learned in high school and what skills are necessary for college. Readers would find useful an explanation that details how those skill sets are substantially dissimilar.

The second set of learning center approaches Arendale discusses are those categorized as "concurrent acquisition" (p. 70) models. These approaches occur when students "simultaneously enroll in a college-level class, whether or not they have been identified as academically underprepared, and use learning assistance services to support their learning in class" (p. 72). A key component to these approaches is that students of all levels of skill and preparation can participate, which is an important distinction and one that could be more fully embedded in discussions of learning assistance throughout Crossroads. Within this category, Arendale locates supplemental learning experiences, coordinated assistance within a "target" or historically difficult class, and assistance that is embedded within targeted classes. Supplemental experiences include such models as "learning assistance centers, peer cooperative learning groups, and tutoring" (p. 71). According to Arendale, these programs rely on self-motivation and self-selection because they are voluntary. Although he does note that students who participate are, more than likely, highly motivated, Arendale fails to mention an important obstacle to voluntary programs, which is the lingering stigma associated with learning assistance.

Programs coordinated with and embedded in target classes are typically rooted in course pedagogy. In terms of coordinated classes, Arendale provides the example of learning community courses, linked courses scheduled and attended by a group of students with similar interests, majors, etc. Although not discussed in this section, another example could be required studio classes in which students enrolled in a particular class are subsequently required to participate in small group "studios" to reinforce course material. An example of embedded learning assistance is one in which learning assistance is seamlessly integrated in the course curriculum. Examples--though these are not noted by Arendale--could include flipped and hybrid classes, in which students obtain their content outside of class through delivery systems such as podcasts and audio casts and use class time to work on implementing material through activities and projects.

Arendale's thorough list of learning assistance programs and models offers readers insight into the tremendous variety of opportunities for learning assistance. However, understandably, Arendale's list omits important current examples of learning assistance, from first- and second-year experience programs, to academic coaching, to early alert programs. Despite these oversights, Arendale presents a wide range of variety in his discussion of learning assistance and provides readers with ample opportunity to consider what might work best at their campuses.

Best Practices and Models in Learning Assistance

Educational theory underpins best practices in learning centers and provides a lens through which to view learning assessment pedagogy, practice, policy, standards, and assessment. In this chapter, Arendale offers an overview of evidence-based theory and practice grounded in what should be familiar territory for educators. He asserts that "traditional and emerging education theories" (p. 87) guide practice and favor evidence-based practices that help identify best practices. Employing research by Chickering and Gamson (1987) Arendale lists seven principles on which best practices in higher education should be based: frequent student-teacher contact, cooperative learning, active learning, prompt feedback, increased time on task, high expectations, and recognition of diversity. Ten years afterward, Blimling and Whitt (1999) supplemented Chickering and Gamson's list by reinforcing three of the original principles: active learning, high expectations, and building supportive and inclusive communities. They also cited an additional four principles: developing standards, creating systematic inquiry, using resources effectively, and forging educational partnerships. These principles help generate and identify appropriate education theory that leads to "exemplary best practices" (p. 88).

Out of these principles emerge theoretical concepts that ground best practices. Arendale divides these theoretical movements into those that guide student behaviors and those that guide teacher behaviors. In terms of student-focused systems, he discusses only one, "situated cognition" (p. 89), which he explains as metacognitive theories, or those that ground "new abstract ideas and skills in concrete use" and "empower students to self-monitor" (p. 89). Arendale explains that these situated cognitive theories emphasize concurrently applied models, which students find "personally meaningful" (p. 89) and which reject the prerequisite model of student learning. The focus on learning rather than teaching is what identifies these as student-centered--they theorize the ways in which students learn and apply cognitive and metacognitive processes to their individual learning preferences. However, Arendale's truncated discussion is a missed opportunity. One of the most appealing attributes of learning assistance is the inclination and capability to apply a multitude of student learning theories in meaningful and creative ways.

Likewise, Arendale's presentation of theories that guide instructor behavior limits the discussion to only two theoretical models: Universal Instructional Design, which integrates learning assistance into the instructional environment for all students while also focusing on students' strengths rather than deficits, and multiculturalism, which calls for a "radical redesign" (p. 90) of learning environments. Multiculturalism respects "different cultures and preferred ways of interacting in a classroom setting" (p. 91) and extends the concept of culture "beyond ethnicity through the expression of the multiple identities" (p. 91) each student possesses. Both of these theoretical perspectives, while valuable and progressive ways to think about the art of teaching, fail to present a comprehensive view of models that inform the field.

However, Arendale's treatment of evidence-based best practices meticulously outlines the key facets of teaching, learning, and administrating within a learning center environment. Arendale divides his discussion of best practice into the following: organizational and administrative best practices; essential program components; critical instructional practices; important personal practices; rigorous evaluation procedures; and institutional practices, policies, and learning environment. Each category allows readers to view best practice from competing angles and implicitly connects seemingly disparate perspectives while high-lighting overlapping responsibilities. For example, in his section on organizational and administrative best practices, Arendale emphasizes the benefits of collaboration among various campus entities that provide learning assistance, ultimately arguing that program consolidation "offers efficiencies and reduces duplication of services" (p. 95). Throughout this chapter, he reinforces this assertion by stressing that collaboration and/or consolidation creates campus allies, more effectively assimilates learning assistance into the overall campus learning environment, and fosters campus-wide support for learning assistance.

Worth mentioning are two crucial points Arendale details in this chapter. First is his discussion of personnel practices within learning assistance. He unequivocally states that "the most essential resources for learning assistance are the quality and competence of people providing services and teaching courses. Best practices are insufficient unless the institution selects, retains, and supports key staff and faculty members" (p. 99). Too often universities over-rely on an unqualified workforce--adjunct faculty and part-time employees--to provide learning assistance to the very students who most need qualified, skilled, and competent staff. It is not being argued that these employees lack value, but, in many cases, they are overworked and underpaid and simply do not have the time and training necessary to devote to learning assistance programs. Secondly, Arendale emphasizes the importance of rigorous, "sustained and comprehensive" (p. 101) program assessment that evaluates "the efficacy of current learning assistance services and spurs revision as needed to meet its mission and goals" (p. 101). Employing both qualitative and quantitative research to provide an outcomes-driven assessment of learning assistance programming provides practitioners with tools to improve and expand program offerings as well as disseminate critical information to stakeholders and policy makers. Assessment can highlight the ways in which learning assistance contributes to the overall mission of the institution and creates alliances with units across campus.

Crossroads' chapter on best practices and models of learning assistance is, perhaps, most important for its careful and methodical discussion of programming and the contexts in which that programming takes place. Within this chapter, readers can begin to grasp the myriad of ways that learning assistance impacts the college as a whole and the methods through which campus alliances can be forged and sustained to better serve the campus as a whole.

The Future of the Field

Arendale divides his discussion of the future of the field of learning assistance into two sections. First, the section on recommendations for future research advocates increased evidence-based publication agendas and posits the importance of a means to seamlessly distribute valuable research. Second, the section on recommendations for change promotes a shift in both conceptual and practical representations of learning assistance.

Learning assistance research, according to Arendale, has been "slow in assessing practices and generating sufficient scholarly studies" (p. 106). Perhaps, Arendale suggests, one reason is that learning assistance professionals often work outside of the faculty and academic trajectory, serving instead as 12-month staff employees with no expectations for research or publication. The current political trend that promotes shifting the bulk of organized learning assistance to the two-year college system, where faculty and staff have little incentive for research, will only exacerbate the problem. However, increased degree and certification programs, like those offered at Texas State University, Grambling State University, and National Louis University, might offset the lack of current and prospective research by providing qualified professionals who will produce evidence-based research. Gaps in crucial inquiries of great consequence to the field include important areas such as program redesign, learning assistance implementation, learning theory, mainstreaming, Universal Instruction Design, and effects of the implementation of national standards. Distributing this research remains another important challenge in the learning assistance community. Arendale asserts that "no central location exists where one can find a wide collection of carefully researched, evaluated, and validated learning assistance practices" (p. 109), although disciplinary standards such as those published by the Council for the Advancement of Standards and the National Association for Developmental Education establish a constructive beginning.

Underpinning Arendale's recommendation for change is the basic, overarching concept that "learning assistance is most effective when it is a campus wide responsibility" (p. 110). He asserts that learning assistance professionals should complete degree or certification programs; join professional organizations; participate in conferences and short-term institutes; read professional literature; peruse institutional, accrediting, regional, national reports and publications; and share expertise. Learning assistance centers and departments should expand services, team with core faculty to more fully integrate learning assistance into the curriculum, seek program certification, and reframe themselves as centers "for campus wide enrichment" while positioning themselves as "strategic and essential member[s] of the campus community" (p. 112). Upper-level campus administrators should provide support and guidance, allocate resources, appoint learning assistance personnel to key campus committees, hire credentialed professionals, and support ongoing professional development. National professional organizations should avoid duplicating services, increase coordination among existing associations, and support collaborative projects. More controversially, Arendale argues for the creation of a new professional association with "an expanded vision and mission and more inclusive language" (p. 116). He does not clarify whether or not his vision for a new organization would mean replacing those associations already serving the field, but that endorsement is implicit in his recommendation. As part of the working group who published the article "Creating a New Professional Organization" (CRLA/NADE, 2009), Arendale and others concluded that "the change would be difficult and significant" (p. 79) even though, they argue, "creating a new organization does not mean that the history and traditions of the previous ones will be discarded and ignored" (p. 79). Finally, Arendale states that federal policymakers should promote "a national center for access and success for postsecondary students funded by the U.S. Department of Education" that could foster research, validate best practices, provide grants, and disseminate information. While federal support could provide vital support and lend authority and credibility to the field of learning assistance, it could be argued that engaging the federal government might also have the unintended consequence of erroneous and overbearing oversight, like that which has devastated primary and secondary education as a result of programs such as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Crossing Over

Access at the Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Education presents a broad portrait of learning assistance. Vulnerabilities in the text include an unspoken tension in defining the multifarious student population participating in learning assistance and omission of a number of types and examples of learning assistance. In Arendale's defense, however, both weaknesses result from the complex and ever-changing landscape of learning assistance. Crossroads' strengths certainly out-weigh any shortcomings. Arendale skillfully provides a comprehensive view of the field, both currently and historically. His commitment to contextualize the theory and practice of learning assistance certainly creates an opportunity for readers to grasp the discipline's strengths and weaknesses fully. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Arendale clarifies, without over simplification, the intricacies, controversies, and complexities inherent in learning assistance.

References

Arendale, D. R. (2010). Access at the crossroads: Learning assistance in higher education. In ASHE Higher Education Report Number 35(6). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Blimling, G. S., & Whitt, E. J. (1999). Good practices in student affairs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. E (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.

College Reading and Learning Association/National Association for Developmental Education Working Group (2009). Creating a new professional association. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 40(1), 77-90.

Cronbach, L. J. (1989). Validity after thirty years. In R. Linn (Ed.), Intelligence: Measurement theory and public policy (pp. 147-171). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Rose, M. (1985) The language of exclusion: Writing instruction at the university. College English, 47(4), 341-59.

Williamson, M. W. (2003). Validity of automated scoring: Prologue for a continuing discussion of machine scoring student writing. Journal of Writing Assessment, 1(2), 85-104.

White, E. M. (2007). Assigning, responding, evaluating. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.
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