Instructing and Mentoring the African American College Student: Strategies for Success in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Instructing and Mentoring the African American College Student: Strategies for Success in Higher Education, edited by Louis B. Gallien, Jr. & Marshalita Sims Peterson. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, 2005, 196 pp., $36.99, paperback.

Reviewed by Roger D. Wessel, Ball State University and Serilda J. Summers, Reed College

Faculty and staff in colleges and universities must be keenly tuned to the needs of students in higher education, open to, and understanding of, people from diverse backgrounds and aware of student needs so that they can be successful in their pursuit of higher education. Instructing and Mentoring the African American College Student: Strategies for Success in Higher Education, is a valuable tool to help individuals working in colleges and universities better relate to and help African American college students achieve their goals. While the focus of this book is on working with African American college students, many of the suggestions provided are applicable to all college students regardless of ethnicity.

Gallien and Peterson make the case for culturally responsive college classrooms and climates using examples of successful strategies in higher education. The authors essentially provide a primer for faculty and staff who have had little contact with African American students by suggesting strategies for interacting with this unique group of students. "This book focuses on the types of academic environments that are conducive to positive scholastic results for African American college students. . . this work assists administrators, professors, and graduate students who daily interact with Black students in higher education with successful strategies to further their academic progress" (p. xi). What sets this work apart from other resources is that it initiates a conversation on college pedagogy including optimal conditions and environments for the success of African American college students.

Instructing and Mentoring the African American College Student is organized into two sections. Part one, providing programmatic and institutional strategies, begins with an overview of the historical and cultural context for educating African American college students as presented by Gallien. Following this introduction are detailed strategies for retaining, mentoring, communicating with, and assessing African American students and institutions. Zenobia Hikes discusses how to maximize student success, current factors and initiatives that impact retention, and cultural affiliation of Black students on predominately White campuses. Successful mentoring strategies within HBCUs, including faculty/student scholarly engagement and peer mentorship, are provided by Cynthia Neal Spence. Marshalita Sims Peterson offers strategies for effective communication including nonverbal communication patterns. The roles of faculty, students, and the institution in developing assessment strategies of student learning at HBCUs are provided by Joya Anastasia Carter and Louis Castenell.

Part two of the book presents voices from the field, practical and contemporary approaches for challenging and motivating Black students in the classroom. …


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