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Learning with Others

Collaboration as a Pathway to College Student Success

How can colleges and universities engage students in ways that prepare them to solve problems in our rapidly changing world?

Most American colleges and universities assimilate students into highly competitive undergraduate experiences. By placing achievement for personal and material gain as the bedrock of a college education, these institutions fail to educate students to become collaborative learners: people who are committed and prepared to join with others in developing promising solutions to problems that they share with others.

Drawing on a three-year study of student persistence and learning at Minority-Serving Institutions, Clifton Conrad and Todd Lundberg argue that student success in college should be redefined by focusing on the importance of collaborative learning over individual achievement. Engaging students in shared, real-world problem-solving, Conrad and Lundberg assert, will encourage them to embrace interdependence and to value and draw on diverse perspectives. Learning with Others presents a set of core practices to empower students to enter, nourish, and sustain collaborative learning and outlines how to blend the roles and responsibilities of faculty, staff, and students; how to adopt best practices for receiving and giving feedback on problem-solving; and how to anchor a curriculum in shared problem-solving.

Bringing together lessons learned from more than 300 interviews, along with notes from 14 campus visits, 3 national convenings, and examples from across our nation's colleges and universities, Conrad and Lundberg explore ways in which successful antiracist networks of problem-solvers are learning to contribute to the flourishing of their communities on campus and far beyond. Outlining strategies for identifying and dismantling barriers to participation, Learning with Others will pique interest among faculty, students, and administrators in higher education and a wide range of external stakeholders—from families and communities to policymakers and funders.Clifton Conrad and Todd Lundberg

About the Authors

Clifton Conrad is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and a professor of higher education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the coauthor of Cultivating Inquiry-Driven Learners. Todd Lundberg, formerly Dean for Student Learning at Cascadia College, is an associate director within the Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Endorsements

"This ambitious, bold, and potentially controversial book argues for reframing undergraduate education as a collective enterprise, one that not only emphasizes principles of collaborative learning and collaboration generally, but also asks us to shift our ideas about the purpose of a college education from one that prepares individuals to succeed to one that emphasizes communal learning that leads to societal change. Learning with Others should find a ready audience in practitioners and for use in courses on student development, curriculum, teaching and learning, and student affairs."

- Laurie A. Pohl, Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development

"A bold and visionary call for a paradigmatic shift in how higher education is conceptualized in America. Conrad and Lundberg convincingly advance that this model does not serve all populations well or equally, especially in a rapidly changing world rife with 'wicked problems' that will require a coalition-of-all to solve. In a country that seems to be ridden with what-about-me-ism, a turn to collaborative problem-solving as the heart of what undergraduate education should be is refreshing."

- Brandon O. Hensley, Wayne State University, coeditor of Critical Storytelling in 2020: Issues, Elections, and Beyond

"Not surprisingly, Clif Conrad and Todd Lundberg have produced a seminal book on the intersection of collaborative learning and its efficacy at Minority-Serving Institutions. It is a genuinely major contribution to our understanding of college student success, particularly for a too frequently neglected demographic of institutions and students."

- Ernest Pascarella, University of Iowa, coauthor of How College Affects Students: 21st Century Evidence that Higher Education Works

"Learning with Others provides a fresh look at collaborative learning, which has been part of educational reform initiatives for the last four decades. The authors question the individualistic orientation of American higher education and its roots in colonialism and racism and suggest that we would be much better served, particularly in contributing to the public good, by moving toward more a collectivist orientation. They engage a critical perspective to collaborative learning engaging conflict and confrontation to ensure that this approach does not reinforce whiteness. And the authors underscore how racialized minority students benefit from the move to classrooms and a curriculum based around shared problem-solving, deeper connections to the local community, and active engagement as co-constructors of learning."

- Adrianna Kezar, University of Southern California, coauthor of The Gig Academy: Mapping Labor in the Neoliberal University

"Learning from Others is the book that is needed now. Now more than ever, in our society, we need students to work together, to learn from each other, and to respect and build on each other's knowledge in order to make the strongest contributions to society. Conrad and Lundburg make an important and beautifully written contribution to the literature on student success and hopefully to our practice in classrooms and in colleges and universities overall."

- Marybeth Gasman, Rutgers University, coauthor of Educating a Diverse Nation: Lessons from Minority-Serving Institutions
Johns Hopkins University Press
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