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by Rebecca D. Cox

They’re not the students strolling across the bucolic liberal arts campuses where their grandfathers played football. They are first-generation college students—children of immigrants and blue-collar workers—who know that their hopes for success hinge on a degree.

But college is expensive, unfamiliar, and intimidating. Inexperienced students expect tough classes and demanding, remote faculty. They may not know what an assignment means, what a score indicates, or that a single grade is not a definitive measure of ability. And they certainly don’t feel entitled to be there. They do not presume success, and if they have a problem, they don’t expect to receive help or even a second chance.

Rebecca D. Cox draws on five years of interviews and observations at community colleges. She shows how students and their instructors misunderstand and ultimately fail one another, despite good intentions. Most memorably, she describes how easily students can feel defeated—by their real-world responsibilities and by the demands of college—and come to conclude that they just don’t belong there after all.

Eye-opening even for experienced faculty and administrators, The College Fear Factor reveals how the traditional college culture can actually pose obstacles to students’ success, and suggests strategies for effectively explaining academic expectations.

Download The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand One Another epub
ISBN: 0674035488
ISBN13: 978-0674035485
Category: Education
Subcategory: Schools & Teaching
Author: Rebecca D. Cox
Language: English
Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 30, 2009)
Pages: 216 pages
ePUB size: 1284 kb
FB2 size: 1681 kb
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 824
Other Formats: lit txt docx mbr

This book addresses a big gap in our understanding of effective college teaching by examining how students approach teaching. Using qualitative data from four studies, Cox shows how students' expectations, their fears, the way they interpret instruction, their external commitments and their learning strategies all play a major role in the success of teaching. We teachers focus so much on pedagogical approaches, but they way the students interpret and respond to the pedagogy can undermine any pedagogical approach. The result can be disappointment for both teachers and students. The teacher then blames the pedagogy, the students, or high schools for not preparing students adequately. The student blames the teacher or the subject. In the book, Cox describes a case that I found particularly instuctive where both teacher and student were well intentioned and trying hard, but due to how the students misconstrued the teacher's pedagogy, the class failed. Cox's emphasis is on community college students, but there is plenty that applies to all college teaching.

The book reminded me of Bain's "What the College Teachers Do" because clearly an effective teacher must know how to communicate the goals of a class and correct student misconceptions about both the content and the pedagogy. It also reminded me of Light's "Making the Most of College: Students Speak their Minds" because it examines the student perspective, but this goes much more into depth about teaching. Although the book examines the student perspective on teaching, it really isn't a book for college students to read who want to overcome their fears and anxieties. There are better books for that.

The book doesn't offer easy answers, but it does raise many important questions relevant to teaching. I recommend this book to teachers and administrators who care about effective teaching and student retention.
This book is based on a limited sample of schools and students. It is highly anecdotal. It's unclear how much of the "fear factor" is legitimate and how much is the author imposing her perceptions. Also, all the students she discusses seem to have the fear factor; there is no talk of students who don't have it, possibly mischaracterizing the problem.
Rocky Basilisk
This book is an interesting read based on four separate research studies on college education. Although the book focuses on community college students, the issues discussed are applicable to all types of college students.

Much of what is discussed in the book has likely been on the minds of those who teach; however Profesor Cox supports these thoughts with concrete evidence and clear examples. She also demonstrates how professors can help students to overcome the fear factor that they often experience.

The book is aptly timed, given the recent coverage community colleges have had in the news, i.e., the focus given by President Obama and others on the importance of community colleges.

A must read for every college professor that wants to ensure that students are successful.
How can community colleges avoid "cooling out the mark" for the millions of students who attend and, far too often, quit? Rebecca Cox has written an effective sequel to Mike Rose's Lives on the Boundary, explaining what terrifies and discourages students at two-year colleges, students who desperately need to succeed. Working from observations and interviews at a number of community colleges, Cox argues that successful community-college faculty need both to project professional expertise and make encouraging, trusting bonds with students. She also argues that to break the cycle where students buy into education as transmission of facts and undermine their own college experience, colleges must change their orientation.
Bought this book for an assignment for English ReAding 310. Wish I would've bought and read it in high school. It would've helped me a lot by telling me it's okay to feel overwhelmed by college, etc. Great book for book reports
Sadaron above the Gods
Ill advise anyone to read to this book for those who are in high school and new in college taking general education courses. This is a book to helps us all understand the struggles of graduating out of high school and being new in college and have busy working lives and so on.
amazing book! I watched Rebecca Cox at a conference and thought her ideas were critical for college teachers. Reading the book reaffirmed my initial impressions. It has changed the way I talk to my students (community college), and the way I approach problems in the classroom. Almost without fail, when I mention students feeling like they don't belong in college, a few heads will gently nod - they hear someone speaking what they feel. We've also used it our college as part of our Growth Mindset (Dweck) programs because it helps teachers address student fear of risk.
I'll go beyond the other reviewer and say this book offers great insights not just for community college instructors, but for anyone teaching in higher education.
This book is written in a bit of an academic tone but still doesn't feel like a chore to read. Tons of good quotes from students and insights that you might not have thought of. For example, you might think students would love pass/fail assignments, but for some, it tends to motivate them less because they aren't going for "A" work, they're just doing enough to get a "pass."