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Learning Goal

Ignite Your Thinking


Chapter Preview

Learning Goal

Ignite Your Thinking

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Brief Contents

the PoWer of coLLege And the first-yeAr
exPerience xx

Chapter 1
touching ALL the BAses 1

Chapter 2
LiBerAL Arts And generAL educAtion 27

Chapter 3
goAL setting And MotivAtion 55

Chapter 4
tiMe MAnAgeMent 69

Chapter 5
deeP LeArning 87

Chapter 6
test-tAking skiLLs And strAtegies 121

Chapter 7
three key AcAdeMic success
And LifeLong LeArning skiLLs 141

Chapter 8
higher-LeveL thinking 165

Chapter 9
sociAL And eMotionAL inteLLigence 187

Chapter 10
diversity 209

Chapter 11
finAnciAL LiterAcy 241

Chapter 12
PhysicALWeLLness 263

Chapter 13
PsychoLogicAL WeLLness 287

Chapter 14
educAtionAL PLAnning And
decision-MAking 307

Chapter 15
cAreer exPLorAtion, PrePArAtion,
And deveLoPMent 337



Preface ix
Acknowledgments xvii
About the Authors xviii
Introduction xx

Chapter 1: Touching All the Bases
using PoWerfuL PrinciPLes of student
success And key cAMPus resources 1
Powerful Principles of College Success 1
Principle 1. Active Involvement (Engagement) 2

Time Spent in Class 2
Time Spent on Coursework Outside of Class 3
Active Involvement in the Learning Process 4
Active Classroom Listening and Note-Taking 4
Active Class Participation 6
Active Reading 6

Principle 2. Capitalizing on Campus Resources
(Resourcefulness) 8
Writing Support 9
Campus Library 9
Disability Services Support 9
Financial Aid Office 9
Academic Advising 10
Career Development Support 10

Principle 3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration
(Social Integration) 12
Student–Faculty Interaction 13
Interacting with Academic Advisors 16
Interacting with a Mentor 17
Interaction with Peers (Student–Student Interaction) 17

Principle 4. Reflection and Self-Awareness (Mindfulness) 19
Self-Awareness 20

Summary and Conclusion 21
Internet-Based Resources 22
Chapter 1 Exercises 23

Chapter 2: Liberal Arts and General Education
WhAt it MeAns to Be A WeLL-educAted
Person in the 21st century 27
The Meaning and Purpose of the Liberal Arts 27
The Liberal Arts Curriculum 29
Major Bodies of Knowledge in the General Education

Curriculum 29
Humanities 30
Fine Arts 30
Mathematics 30
Natural Sciences 31
Social and Behavioral Sciences 31
Physical Health and Wellness 32

The Liberal Arts Liberate You from Narrowness
and Broaden Your Perspectives 33

The Social–Spatial Perspective: Moving Beyond the
Self to the Wider World 34
The Perspective of Family 34
The Perspective of Community 34
The Perspective of Society 34
The National Perspective 35
The International Perspective 36
The Global Perspective 36
The Perspective of the Universe (Cosmos) 37

The Chronological Perspective:
Embracing the Past, Present, and Future 37
Historical Perspective 38
Contemporary Perspective 38
Futuristic Perspective 38

The Synoptic Perspective: Integrating Multiple
Perspectives into a Coherent Whole 39

The Liberal Arts Develop Transferable Skills that Can be
Applied across Different Contexts and Situations 40

The Liberal Arts Develop the Whole Person 41
The Co-Curriculum: Using Your Whole Campus

to Develop Yourself as a Whole Person 43
The Liberal Arts Develop Skills for Success in

Your College Major 45
The Liberal Arts Enhance Career Preparation and Career

Success 46
The Liberal Arts Prepare You for Lifelong Learning 47

vi Contents

Internet-Based Resources 48
Chapter 2 Exercises 49

Chapter 3: Goal Setting and Motivation
Moving froM intention to Action 55
The Relationship between Goal Setting and Success 55
Characteristics of a Well-Designed Goal 56
Strategies for Maintaining Motivation and

Making Progress Toward Goals 58
Characteristics of Successful People 61
Self-Efficacy 61
Growth Mindset 62
Grit 64
Internet-Based Resources 66
Chapter 3 Exercises 67

Chapter 4: Time Management
Prioritizing tAsks, Preventing ProcrAstinAtion,
And ProMoting Productivity 69
The Relationship between Goal Setting, Managing

Time, and Managing Tasks 69
The Importance of Time Management for College

Students 70
Strategies for Managing Time and Tasks 71
Developing a Time-Management Plan 73
Key Elements of an Effective Time-Management Plan 74
Making Productive Use of “Free Time” Outside

the Classroom 75
Combating Procrastination 77
Myths That Promote Procrastination 77
Strategies for Preventing and Overcoming

Procrastination 78
Psychological Causes of Procrastination 81
Internet-Based Resources 82
Chapter 4 Exercises 83

Chapter 5: Deep Learning
strAtegic note-tAking, reAding,
And studying 87
What is Deep Learning and Why is it Important? 87
Stages in the Learning and Memory Process 88
Effective Lecture-Listening and Note-Taking Strategies 89

Pre-Lecture Strategies: What to Do Before Class 90
Listening and Note-Taking Strategies: What to

Do During Class 92
Post-Lecture Strategies: What to Do After Class 95

Strategic Reading 97
Pre-Reading Strategies: What to Do Before Reading 98
Strategies to Use During the Reading Process 98
Post-Reading Strategies: What to Do After Reading 101

Strategic Studying: Learning Deeply and
Remembering Longer 103
Give Studying Undivided Attention 103
Make Meaningful Associations 104
Integrate Information from Lectures and Readings 106
Distribute Study Time across Separate Study Sessions 107
Use the “Part-to-Whole” Study Method 107
Capitalize on the Power of Visual Learning 108
Build Variety into the Study Process 110
Learn with Emotion 112
Learn Collaboratively 112

Self-Monitoring: Self-Assessment for Deep Learning 115
Internet-Based Resources 117
Chapter 5 Exercises 118

Chapter 6: Test-Taking Skills and Strategies
WhAt to do Before, during,
And After exAMs 121
Pre-Test Strategies: What to Do in Advance of Exams 121

Recitation 122
Creating Retrieval Cues 123

Strategies to Use Immediately Before a Test 124
Strategies to Use During Exams 126
Strategies for Answering Multiple-Choice Test

Questions 127
Strategies for Answering Essay Questions 129
Post-Test Strategies: What to Do After Receiving

Test Results 132
Test Anxiety: Recognizing and Reducing It 134
Internet-Based Resources 136
Chapter 6 Exercises 137

Chapter 7: Three Key Academic Success
and Lifelong Learning Skills

inforMAtion LiterAcy, Writing,
And sPeAking 141
The Importance of Research and Communication Skills 141
Information Literacy: Research Strategies for

Locating and Evaluating Information 142
Organizing a Research Report 142

Writing Skills and Strategies 148
Writing to Learn 148
Writing to Listen 149
Writing to Read 149
Writing to Remember 149
Writing to Organize 149
Writing to Study 149
Writing to Understand 149
Writing to Create 150
Writing to Discuss 150
Writing for Problem Solving 150

Writing Papers and Reports 150
Public Speaking: Making Oral Presentations

and Delivering Speeches 157

Contents vii

The Importance of Oral Communication 157
Strategies for Making Effective Oral Presentations 157
Managing Speech Anxiety 160

Internet-Based Resources 162
Chapter 7 Exercises 163

Chapter 8: Higher-Level Thinking
Moving Beyond BAsic knoWLedge to
criticAL And creAtive thinking 165
What Is Higher-Level Thinking? 165
Benefits of Higher-Level Thinking 166

Defining and Describing the Major Forms of
Higher-Level Thinking 168

Analysis (Analytical Thinking) 168
Synthesis (Integrative Thinking) 169
Application (Applied Thinking) 169
Multidimensional Thinking 169
Balanced Thinking 171
Critical Thinking (Evaluation) 172
Creative Thinking 176

Using Higher-Level Thinking Skills to Improve
Academic Performance in College 180

Internet-Based Resources 182
Chapter 8 Exercises 183

Chapter 9: Social and Emotional Intelligence
reLAting to others And reguLAting
eMotions 187
The Importance of Social and Emotional Intelligence 187
Listening: A Key Element of Social Intelligence 188
Active Listening Strategies 188
Speaking and Conversational Skills 190
Interpersonal Relationship Skills (a.k.a. Human

Relations Skills) 191
Dating and Romantic Relationships 193
Forms and Stages of Love 194

Managing Interpersonal Conflict 196
Strategies for Resolving Conflicts Assertively 197
Civility 200

Emotional Intelligence 201
Becoming a Leader 202

Internet-Based Resources 206
Chapter 9 Exercises 207

Chapter 10: Diversity
LeArning ABout And froM huMAn
differences 209
What is Diversity? 209
Diversity and Humanity 211
Diversity and Individuality 213
Forms and Varieties of Diversity 214

Cultural Diversity 214
Ethnic Diversity 216

Racial Diversity 216
The Growing Ethnic and Racial Diversity in America 219
Socioeconomic Diversity 219

International Diversity 220
Gender Diversity 221
Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Diversity 221
Generational Diversity 223
The Benefits of Experiencing Diversity 224

Diversity Increases Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge 224
Diversity Deepens Learning 225
Diversity Promotes Higher-Level Thinking 225
Diversity Stimulates Creative Thinking 225
Diversity Enhances Career Preparation and

Career Success 226
Stereotyping: A Barrier to Diversity 227
Prejudice 229
Discrimination 229

Strategies for Overcoming Stereotypes, Prejudice,
and Discrimination 232

Strategies for Increasing Personal Contact and
Interpersonal Interaction with Members of Diverse
Groups 233

Internet-Based Resources 236
Chapter 10 Exercises 237

Chapter 11: Financial Literacy
MAnAging Money And MiniMizing deBt 241
Sources of Income for Financing a College Education 242

Student Loans 242
Scholarships 243
Grants 244
Veterans Benefits 244
Salary Earnings 244
Developing Financial Self-Awareness 245
Tracking Cash Flow 245

Developing a Plan for Managing Money and
Minimizing Debt 250
Long-Range Fiscal Planning: Financing Your

College Education 254
Internet-Based Resources 258
Chapter 11 Exercises 259

Chapter 12: Physical Wellness
MAintAining BodiLy heALth And AttAining
PeAk PerforMAnce 263
What is Wellness? 263
Physical Wellness 264
Nutrition Management Strategies 265
Exercise and Fitness 271

Physical Benefits of Exercise 271
Strategies for Maximizing the Physical Benefits of

Exercise 273
Rest and Sleep 274

The Value and Purposes of Sleep 275

viii Contents

Strategies for Improving Sleep Quality 276
Adjusting Academic Work Tasks to Your

Biological Rhythms 278
Alcohol Use among College Students 279

Alcohol Abuse 280
Use and Abuse of Illegal Drugs 281

Motives (Reasons) for Drug Use 282
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) 283

Campus Safety 284
Internet-Based Resources 284
Chapter 12 Exercises 285

Chapter 13: Psychological Wellness
Preserving And ProMoting MentAL heALth 287
Mental Health and Self-Esteem 287
Strategies for Improving and Preserving Self-Esteem 287
Emotional Disorders 289
Stress and Anxiety 289

Symptoms (Signs) of Anxiety 291
Stress-Management Strategies 292

Depression 293
Symptoms (Signs) of Major Depression 294
Bipolar Disorder (a.k.a. Manic Depression) 295
Strategies for Coping with Milder Forms of Depression 296

Unhealthy Relationships 298
Abusive Relationships 298
Signs of an Abusive Relationship 298
Strategies for Avoiding or Escaping Abusive Relationships 299
Sexual Assault a.k.a. Sexual Violence 299
Suggested Strategies for Preventing Rape 299
Assumptions that Should not be Made 299
Sexual Harassment 300
Recommendations for Dealing with Sexual Harassment 300

Eating Disorders 301
Substance Abuse and Chemical Dependency 302

Internet-Based Resources 303
Chapter 13 Exercises 304

Chapter 14: Educational Planning and
MAking Wise choices ABout your coLLege
courses, coLLege MAjor, And AcAdeMic
PAthWAy 307
To Be or Not to Be Decided: What Research Shows

about Students’ Choice of a College Major 307
The Importance of Long-Range Educational

Planning: Paving Your Academic Pathway 310
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Major 311

Learning Talents: Multiple Intelligences 311
Learning Values 313
Learning Interests 313
Strategies for Learning about Different Majors 318

Myths about the Relationship between Majors and
Careers 323
Myth 1. When you choose your major, you’re

choosing your career 323
Myth 2. If you decide to continue your education

beyond college graduation, you have to continue
in the same field as your college major 324

Myth 3. Because most college graduates are employed
in business organizations or corporations, it’s
best to major in business 325

Myth 4. If you major in a liberal arts field, the only
career available to you is teaching 326

Internet-Based Resources 327
Chapter 14 Exercises 328

Chapter 15: Career Exploration, Preparation,
and Development
finding A PAth to your future Profession 337
The Importance of Career Planning 337
Strategies for Career Exploration and Preparation 338

Step 1. Awareness of Self 339
Step 2. Awareness of Career Options 342
Strategies for Gaining Awareness of Your Career

Options 343
Step 3. Awareness of Career Options that Provide

the Best “Fit” for You 350
Step 4. Awareness of the Major Steps Needed to

Reach Your Career Goal 351
Career Readiness 353
Networking 360
Personal Interview 360

Internet-Based Resources 361
Chapter 15 Exercises 362

Glossary and Dictionary of College Vocabulary 367

Index 375


Chapter Preview


Plan and Purpose of This Book
This book is designed to help you make a smooth transition to college and equip
you with strategies for success that can be used throughout your college experience
and in life beyond college. Its goal is to promote the academic excellence and per-
sonal development of all students—whether they be students (a) transitioning to
college directly from high school or from full-time employment, (b) living on or off
campus, or (c) attending college on a full- or part-time basis. Whatever your previ-
ous level of academic performance may have been, or how many AP and dual-credit
courses you have already taken, college is a new ball game played on a different field
with new rules and expectations. If you have been an academically strong student
prior to college, this book will make you an even stronger student in college. If you
have not been a particularly successful student in the past, this book will help you
become a successful student in the future.

One of the book’s major goals is to equip you with one of the most powerful
principles of human learning and personal success: self-awareness. Self-awareness is
the critical first step toward personal growth and development in any endeavor.
College students who are self-aware learners, aware of how they are learning and if
they are learning strategically and deeply, rather than mindlessly and superficially.
If you maintain self-awareness about whether you’re “doing college” effectively
(e.g., by using the research-based strategies identified in this book), you will have
taken a huge step toward college success. ”

“Important achievements
require a clear focus, all-out-
effort, and a bottomless trunk
full of strategies.
—Carol Dweck, Stanford professor, and
author of Mindset: The New Psychology
of SuccessPractical, action-oriented strategies make up the heart of this book. Rather than

trying to figure out how to do college on your own through random trial-and-error,
this book provides you with a game plan for doing it right from the start, equipping
you with a comprehensive set of strategies for doing college well. These strategies
are not presented as a laundry list of things you should do (and should not do) dis-
pensed arbitrarily and pontifically by authority figures who think they know what’s
best for you. Instead, the book’s recommendations are accompanied by research-
based reasons why they are effective and worthy of your consideration. If you have a
deep understanding of the underlying principle that makes a strategy effective,
you’re more likely to put that strategy into practice. Furthermore, when you under-
stand the principle behind the practice, it empowers you to create specific strategies
of your own that are built on the same principle.

”“The man who also knows why will be his own boss. As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man
who grasps principles can
successfully select his own
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th-century
author, poet, and philosopher

x Preface

Specific and complete references for the research findings and action strategies cited in this
book are included in the full-length version of the text, titled Thriving in College & Beyond:
Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development (2020).

Preview of Content
The Power of College and the First-Year Experience
In the introduction to this book, you will learn why college has the power to change
your life and benefit you throughout life. The first year of college, in particular, is a
crucial transitional stage characterized by significant change, challenge, and
growth. It is the year of college during which students typically experience the most
academic difficulties and highest risk of dropping out; however, it is also the year
when college students report experiencing the most learning and greatest personal
growth. Students who take a first-year experience or college success course (like the
one you’re likely enrolled in now) are more likely to make a smooth transition to
college, experience a successful first year, and make the most of their college

“Being in this class has helped me a lot. What I learned I will apply to all my other classes.”“I could really relate to
everything we talked about.
It is a great class because you
can use it in your other

“Everything we learned we
will apply in our lives.”
—Comments made by students
enrolled in a college success course

Chapter 1
Touching All the Bases
Using Powerful Principles of Student Success and Key Campus Resources
Like any journey, the journey through college begins with knowing what to bring
with you and what resources to rely on along the way. This chapter supplies you
with (a) an overview and preview of four powerful student-success principles that
you can use throughout your college experience, (b) key campus resources to capi-
talize on, and (c) snapshot summaries of important things to do during the first
weeks of college to get off to a smooth and successful start.

Chapter 2
Liberal Arts and General Education
What it Means to be a Well-Educated Person in the 21st Century
The liberal arts and general education are often misunderstood and underestimated
components of a college education and career preparation. In this chapter, you will
gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the meaning, purpose, and benefits
of the liberal arts and general education. You will learn how the liberal arts curricu-
lum and general education courses equip you with a broad base of knowledge and a
set of versatile skills that can be used to promote success in all college majors, careers,
and life roles.

Chapter 3
Goal Setting and Motivation
Moving from Intention to Action
Achieving your goals is one definition of success. Studies show that people are
more likely to be successful when they set specific goals for themselves and identify
the means (succession of steps) needed to reach those goals. This chapter supplies

Preface xi

you with practical strategies for setting specific, realistic goals and for maintaining
motivation until you reach your goals.

Chapter 4
Time Management
Prioritizing Tasks, Preventing Procrastination, and Promoting Productivity
Setting goals is an important first step toward achieving success, but managing time
and completing the tasks needed to reach those goals is a critical second step. Time is
a valuable personal resource—when we gain greater control of it, we gain greater
control of our lives. This chapter supplies a comprehensive set of strategies for man-
aging time, establishing priorities, combating procrastination, and completing tasks.

”“In high school, a lot of the work was done while in school, but in college all of your work is done on your time. You really have to organize yourself in
order to get everything done.
—First-year student’s response to a
question about what was most
surprising about college lifeChapter 5

Deep Learning
Strategic Note-Taking, Reading, and Studying
The key academic tasks you’re expected to perform in college include: taking lec-
ture notes, completing reading assignments, studying, and test-taking. This chapter
provides specific research-based and brain-based strategies for tackling these tasks.
Implementing these strategies will enable you to learn at a much deeper level than
rote memorization across all your college courses and throughout life.

Chapter 6
Test-Taking Skills and Strategies
What to do Before, During, and After Exams
Effective test-taking is both an art and a science. This chapter supplies you with a
systematic set of strategies for improving your performance on both multiple-
choice and essay exams. It identifies strategies that can be used before, during, and
after exams, as well as practical tips for becoming more “test wise” and less “test

Chapter 7
Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills
Information Literacy, Writing, and Speaking
Researching, writing, and speaking effectively are flexible skills that can be trans-
ferred and applied to all majors and careers. In this chapter, you will acquire strate-
gies to locate and evaluate information, write papers and reports, and use writing as
a tool to learn deeply and think critically. The chapter also includes specific, practi-
cal tips for making effective oral presentations, overcoming speech anxiety, and be-
coming a more self-confident public speaker.

Chapter 8
Higher-Level Thinking
Moving Beyond Basic Knowledge to Critical and Creative Thinking
National surveys of college professors consistently show that their number one ed-
ucational goal is developing students’ critical thinking skills. In this chapter you will

xii Preface

learn what critical thinking actually is, how it relates to creative thinking and other
forms of higher-level thinking, and how to demonstrate different forms of higher-
level thinking on your college exams and assignments. You will also learn how to
use higher-level thinking skills to draw valid conclusions and to make sound judg-
ments and personal decisions.

Chapter 9
Social and Emotional Intelligence
Relating to Others and Regulating Emotions
Communicating and interacting effectively with others are important life skills and
essential elements of “social intelligence.” Similarly, being aware of, and being able
to manage, one’s own emotions and the emotions of others are critical components
of “emotional intelligence.” This chapter identifies specific ways in which social
and emotional intelligence can be developed and demonstrated; it also supplies in-
terpersonal communication and human relations strategies that promote positive
interactions with others and enhance your leadership potential.

Chapter 10
Learning about and from Human Differences
Today’s college students will experience more diversity on campus than at any other
time in American history. This chapter defines “diversity”, delineates its major
forms, and documents how experiencing diversity deepens learning, enhances criti-
cal and creative thinking, and contributes to career success. The chapter also in-
cludes specific strategies for breaking down barriers and biases that often block hu-
mans from experiencing the full benefits of diversity, and supplies specific strategies
for initiating and sustaining rewarding relationships with members of diverse

Chapter 11
Financial Literacy
Managing Money and Minimizing Debt
Research shows that students who accumulate high amounts of debt in college are
more likely to experience higher levels of stress, lower levels of academic perfor-
mance, and higher risk of withdrawing from college. However, research also shows
that students who use effective money-borrowing and money-management strate-
gies are able to minimize debt, save money while in college, and increase the
likelihood they will complete college and enter a productive career. This chapter
identifies research-based strategies for making wise decisions about student loans
and managing debt, tracking personal income and expenses, and striking a healthy
balance between working for grades and working for pay.

Chapter 12
Physical Wellness
Maintaining Bodily Health and Attaining Peak Performance
Peak levels of performance, including academic performance, cannot be attained
until physical wellness is maintained. Physical wellness involves being mindful of

Preface xiii

what we put into our body (healthy food), what we keep out of it (unhealthy sub-
stances), how we move it (regular exercise), and how well we restore and rejuvenate
it (quality sleep). This chapter identifies strategies for attaining optimal physical
wellness by (a) maintaining a balanced, performance-enhancing diet, (b) getting
high-quality sleep, (c) exercising for total fitness, and (d) avoiding risky behaviors
that undermine personal health, threaten physical safety, and impair human

Chapter 13
Psychological Wellness
Preserving and Promoting Mental Health
Physical and mental health represent the “twin towers” of personal wellness;
this chapter focuses on the latter tower—psychological well-being. Academic
achievement in college and the ability to persist to college completion depend on
students’ ability to maintain their mental health and cope effectively with psycho-
logical stressors, particularly anxiety, depression, unhealthy relationships, and sub-
stance abuse. This chapter supplies specific strategies for preserving self-esteem,
coping with college stressors, maintaining mental health, and attaining optimal psy-
chological wellness.

Chapter 14
Educational Planning and Decision-Making
Making Wise Choices about Your College Courses, College Major, and Ac-
ademic Pathway
Achieving your educational goals requires making strategic choices about your col-
lege courses and your college major. Having an educational plan in mind (and in
hand) early in your college experience will enable you to explore your academic op-
tions and make well-informed decisions about your college major. Your major field
of study should reflect who you are—your personal strengths, talents, interests and
values. This chapter will supply you with strategies for deepening awareness of your
personal attributes and connect them with your educational options and goals, and
will help you design a strategic plan for reaching your chosen educational goal.

Chapter 15
Career Exploration, Preparation, and Development
Finding a Path to Your Future Profession
It may be surprising to find a chapter on career development in a book written for
first-term college students. Certainly, entering college and entering a career are
events taking place at different points in time and represent different life transi-
tions. However, the process of exploring career options and developing career-en-
try skills should begin in the first year of college. Early career planning gives begin-
ning college students a practical, long-term goal to strive for and gets them
thinking about how the skills they are developing in college will contribute to their
success beyond college. Thus, career planning is a form of life planning; the sooner
you start the process, the sooner you start gaining control of your future and start
steering it in the direction you want it to go.

xiv Preface

Chapter Sequence
The chapters in this book are ordered in a way that positions you to ask and answer
the following sequence of questions:

1. Why am I here?
2. Where do I want to go?
3. What must I do to get there?
4. How do I know when I’ve arrived?

“It is hard to know how any student could truly under-stand whom [he or she] wants to be without thinking
carefully about what career
to pursue.”

—Derek Bok, president emeritus,
Harvard University

Early chapters in the book are designed to orient you to the college environment,
excite you about the college experience, and help you see where college can take you.
Once you having a clear sense of why college is worth it, and how it can help you
achieve your goals and brighten your future, you are then positioned (and motivated) to
act on the strategies suggested throughout the remainder of the book. The middle
chapters provide you with strategies for handling the day-to-day academic challenges,
practical tasks, and interpersonal interactions that characterize the college experience.
The book’s final chapters help you make connections between your current first-year
experience, your remaining years in college, and your future career and life goals.

Process and Style of Presentation
The impact of a book depends not only on the information it contains (its content);
it also depends on how its information is delivered (the process). This book’s infor-
mation is delivered with learning and motivational features built into the delivery
process that are designed to: (a) stimulate your motivation to learn, (b) deepen your
understanding of what you are learning, and (c) strengthen your retention (mem-
ory) for what you have learned. These features are described below.

Chapter Purpose and Preview
At the very start of each chapter, a short summary of the chapter’s primary purpose
and key content is provided to supply you with an overview and sneak preview of
what you are about to read. This feature highlights the chapter’s relevance, giving
you a reason (and motivation) to read it. Educational research indicates that when
students see the reason or relevance of what they are about to learn, the more moti-
vated they are about learning it and they learn it more deeply.

At the beginning of each chapter, a question is posed to activate your thoughts and feel-
ings about the chapter topic. This pre-reading exercise is designed to “warm up” or
“tune up” your brain, preparing it to connect the ideas you will encounter in the chap-
ter with the ideas about the topic that you already have in your head. This mental
warm-up feature implements one of the most powerful principles of learning: Humans
learn more deeply when they activate their prior knowledge and connect it to what
they’re about to learn.

Reflections are also included throughout the chapter to give you time to think
about the material you’re reading. These timely pauses keep you mentally active
throughout the reading process, break up reading time with thinking time, and break
down “attention drift” that typically takes place when the brain continues to engage
in the same mental task for an extended period of time—such as continuous reading.

Another way in which these reflections strengthen your understanding of the
material is by asking you to respond in writing to what you’re reading. Unlike the
simple and passive process of highlighting what you’re reading, writing in reaction

Preface xv

to what you read promotes active involvement, deepens learning, and stimulates
higher-level thinking. Because writing supports learning, we recommend keeping a
record of your written responses to the textbook’s reflection questions in a learning

Multiple Modes of Information Input
The information contained in this book is delivered through a variety of formats,
including visual images (diagrams, pictures, cartoons), sidebar quotes, and personal
stories drawn from the authors’ experiences. These different forms of informational
input infuse variety and change of pace into the learning process, which improves
concentration and motivation by combating “habituation”—the tendency for hu-
mans to lose interest in (and attention to) information that’s delivered to them re-
peatedly through the same perceptual modality.

Concept Maps
Most chapters include concept maps that organize and depict ideas in visual formats
(diagrams and figures). When ideas are organized and represented in a visual-spa-
tial format, they’re more likely to be retained because two different memory traces
(tracks) are recorded in the brain: a verbal memory trace and a visual memory trace.
(This memory improvement principle is known as “dual coding.”)

Summary Boxes
Boxes containing summaries of key concepts and strategies appear regularly
throughout the text. These boxed summaries are designed to pull together major
strategies relating to the same concept and get them organized in the same place.
When related ideas are connected in the same place on a page, they’re more likely
to get connected in the same place in your brain and are better retained.

Highlighted Passages
Within each chapter of the book, certain passages are highlighted to emphasize that
the ideas contained in these highlighted passages contain high-impact, high-
priority points. Research on human memory indicates that information that stands
out in some distinctive way is more likely to be attended to and remembered. (This
memory principle is known as the “Von Restorff effect.”)

Sidebar Quotes
In the side margins, quotes from successful and influential people appear that relate
to and reinforce ideas just discussed in the body of the chapter. The words of these
people can serve as sources of inspiration and resources for learning. You will find
quotes from successful and influential people living in different historical periods
and representing a wide variety of fields, such as politics, philosophy, religion, sci-
ence, business, music, art, and athletics. The wide range of timeframes, cultures,
and occupations of the notable people quoted throughout the book suggests that
their words of wisdom are timeless and universal.

You can also learn a lot from the first-hand experiences of current students and
recent college graduates. Throughout the book, you will find comments and advice
from students at different stages of the college experience, and from college alumni.
Studies show that students can learn a great deal from other students—especially
from more experienced students who’ve “been there, done that.” By reading about
their success stories and stumbling blocks, you can learn from their college experi-
ences to enhance your own college experience.

xvi Preface

Authors’ Experiences
Relevant personal stories drawn from the authors’ experiences appear throughout the
book. Studies show that when students hear personal stories shared by others, their
understanding of and memory for key ideas contained in those stories is deepened
and strengthened. We share our stories for the purpose of personalizing the book and
with the hope that you will learn from our experiences—including our mistakes!

Cartoons: Visual-Emotional Aids
You will find cartoons sprinkled throughout the text to add some levity to your reading
and provide an occasional change of pace. More importantly, the content of these car-
toons relate to concepts covered in the text. Viewing the cartoons should strengthen
your retention of the concepts you’re reading about by reinforcing them with a visual
image (drawing) and an emotional experience (humor). Studies show that learning and
memory of a concept improves when the concept is delivered with humor.

Internet Resources
At the conclusion of each chapter, websites are recommended where you can find
additional information relating to the chapter’s major ideas. If the chapter ignites
your interest in the topic that it has covered, you can use these online resources to
learn more about it.

At the end of each chapter are exercises designed to help you think more deeply
about the material and apply it to your college experience. Acquiring knowledge is
just the first step to effective performance. Knowledge acquisition needs to be fol-
lowed by knowledge application—taking the knowledge acquired and putting it into
practice. When you move beyond simply acquiring knowledge to applying your
knowledge for positive and productive purposes, you exhibit wisdom.

Online Self-Assessments
In some chapters, you are directed to electronic self-assessment instruments that
accompany the book. After completing these instruments, a set of personalized
strategies are recommended for you. These self-assessments will help you deepen
your self-awareness and supply you with personalized strategies for implementing
key concepts covered in the chapter.

We sincerely hope and strongly believe that the ideas contained in this book, and
the manner in which they are delivered, will do more than help you adjust to and
survive in college; they will enable you to thrive in college and beyond. The skills
and strategies you will read about are relevant to both success in college and success
in life. Self-awareness, planning and decision-making, learning deeply and remem-
bering longer, thinking critically and creatively, speaking and writing persuasively,
managing time and money effectively, communicating and relating effectively with
others, and maintaining health and wellness are more than just college success
skills—they are life success skills.

“I’ve gotten a better sense of how to manage my life.”“I know that I have a lot to learn, but this class has given
me the stepping stones to
help me become the person
that I want to be.”

—Comments made by first-year
students in a course that used this

Learning doesn’t stop after college; it’s a lifelong process. If you strive to apply the ideas in this
book, you will thrive in college and beyond.

Enjoy the journey!
Joe Cuseo, Aaron Thompson, Michele Campagna, and Viki Sox Fecas



I’d like to take this opportunity to thank several people who have played an impor-
tant role in my life and whose positive influence made this book possible. My par-
ents, Mildred (nee Carmela) and Blase (nee Biaggio) Cuseo, for the many sacrifices
they made to support my education. My wife, Mary, for her patience, love, and me-
ticulous editorial feedback. My uncle, Jim Vigilis, for being a second father and life
coach to me during my formative years. Jim Cooper, my best friend, for being a
mentor to me in graduate school. My students, who taught me a lot and permitted
me to share their insightful perspectives, poignant poems, and illustrations in this
book. Finally, thanks to all the author-centered professionals at Kendall Hunt who
gave me the freedom to write a book that reflects who I am and what I believe.

—Joe Cuseo

I would first of all thank those in my family and communities that had and still have
faith in me being more than what society stereotyped me to be. I want to thank my
children for making me more humble than I want to be. Thanks to the wonderful
employees at Eastern Kentucky University and the KY Council on Postsecondary
that have nourished me. Special thanks go out to colleagues and mentors such as
Dr. Reid Luhman, Dr. Russ Enzie, Dr. Steve Savage, and Mr. Bob King for having
my back. Thanks to all the students that have passed through my doors and those
yet to come that have helped me to understand the value of learning versus the
value of teaching. Last but not least, thanks to my Kendall Hunt friends especially
Paul Carty and my co-authors Joe Cuseo, Michele Campagna, and Viki Fecas. I am
truly blessed having you as friends and colleagues.

—Aaron Thompson

My thanks to my husband Dominic, and my children Nicolas and Brianna, for their
continuous support and love. I would also like to express my gratitude to my par-
ents, Sal and Yolanda, who despite their very limited education taught me the im-
portance of educación y ganas (education and desire/drive). These values have stayed
with me over the years, shaping my work and inspiring my contributions to this
book. I also thank the many colleagues and students who have motivated me and
have supported my efforts. I am especially grateful to my coauthors, Aaron and Joe,
and to Paul at Kendall Hunt for their sharing and collaboration.

—Michele Campagna

If not for the love and support of my parents, Wyman and Fae Sox, and son, Matt
Fecas, my involvement in this project would never have happened. Thanks also to
Kendall Hunt’s Paul Carty’s wisdom in assembling the writing team and assigning a
crackerjack editorial team. I also tremendously value my colleagues for their en-
couragement and feedback through the writing and review process.

—Viki Sox Fecas


About the Authors

Joe Cuseo holds a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology and Assessment
from the University of Iowa and is Professor Emeritus of Psychology. For more
than 25 years, he directed the first-year seminar—a core college success course re-
quired of all new students.

He’s a 14-time recipient of the “faculty member of the year award” on his home
campus—a student-driven award based on effective teaching and academic advis-
ing; a recipient of the “Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award” from the
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transi-
tion; and a recipient of the “Diamond Honoree Award” from the American College
Personnel Association (ACPA) for contributions made to student development and
the Student Affairs profession.

Currently, Joe serves as an educational advisor and consultant for AVID—a
nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the college access and success
of underserved student populations. He has delivered hundreds of campus work-
shops and conference presentations across North America, as well as Europe, Asia,
Australia, and the Middle East.

© The Kentucky Council on
Postsecondary Education

Aaron Thompson is a nationally recognized leader in higher education with a
focus on policy, student success and organizational leadership and design. He cur-
rently serves as the President of the Council on Postsecondary Education in Ken-
tucky. He has served in many faculty and higher education administrative capacities
such as Interim President of Kentucky State University, Executive Vice-President
and Chief Academic Officer, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Associate VP for
University Programs, Associate VP for Enrollment Management, and Executive
Director of the Student Success Institute to mention a few. Many of these roles
were served at Eastern Kentucky University where he also held the positioned as a
tenured full professor.

His leadership experience spans 27 years across higher education, business, and
numerous non-profit boards. Thompson has researched, taught and consulted in
areas of diversity, leadership, ethics, multicultural families, race and ethnic rela-
tions, student success, first-year students, retention, cultural competence, and orga-
nizational design throughout his career.

As a highly sought after national speaker, Thompson has presented more than
800 workshops, seminars, and invited lectures in areas of race and gender diversity,
living an unbiased life, overcoming obstacles to gain success, creating a school envi-
ronment for academic success, cultural competence, workplace interaction, leader-
ship, organizational goal setting, building relationships, the first-year seminar, and
a variety of other topics. He continues to serve as a consultant to educational insti-

About the Authors xix

tutions (elementary, secondary, and postsecondary), corporations, non-profit orga-
nizations, police departments, and other governmental agencies. Thompson has
published more than 30 publications and numerous research and peer reviewed
presentations. He has authored or co-authored the following books: The Sociological
Outlook, Infusing Diversity and Cultural Competence into Teacher Education, and Peer to
Peer Leadership: Changing Student Culture from the Ground Up. He also co-authored
Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success, Thriving
in the Community College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success
and Personal Development, Diversity and the College Experience, Focus on Success and
Black Men and Divorce.

Michele Campagna, Ed.D., is the Assistant Dean of Student Success/Title V Co-
ordinator at Westchester Community College. Dr. Campagna has nearly 30 years
experience teaching and designing first-year seminar courses and leading programs
and services to promote student learning and success at 2-and 4-year institutions.

Dr. Campagna holds an Ed.D. in higher education and is a recipient of the
“Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award” from the National Resource
Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. She is the author
of “New Student Experience: A Holistic and Collaborative Approach to First-Year
Retention” in Exploring the Evidence: Campus-Wide Initiatives in the First College Year,
published by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Stu-
dents in Transition. Dr. Campagna has facilitated numerous faculty development
workshops, served as consultant to several college campuses, and has presented at
many statewide and national conferences on designing and implementing student
engagement and retention initiatives, academic advising, strategic planning, assess-
ment, and diversity.

Viki Sox Fecas has a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of
South Carolina (USC). In her role as program manager for freshman and pre-
freshman programs, she coordinated the career component for all 150+ sections of
the number one-ranked University 101 program in the country. She served as a ca-
reer resource for international scholars visiting the National Resource Center

Viki has served as an adjunct professor in the Higher Education and Student
Affairs graduate program at USC. She was recognized as the Outstanding Freshman
Advocate in 1996. She took University 101 as a freshman at USC, and has been
teaching for over 20 years, including sections dedicated to transfer students. Her
research interests center around the transition of college students, with a special in-
terest in transfer students. She has written career chapters for the U101 Transitions
book and Your College Experience. She has been a regular presenter at both national
First-Year Experience and Students in Transition Conferences.



The Power of College and the First-Year Experience
Congratulations on your decision to continue your education! Prior to college, ed-
ucation was required of you, but your enrollment in college is a choice made by
you. You’re about to begin an exciting and challenging journey that will transform
your life. Compared with your previous school experiences, the college experience
will provide you with a broader range of courses and learning opportunities, more
resources to capitalize on, and more educational choices. This wider range of op-
tions and opportunities means that your college experience can be different than
that of any other college student. You have the freedom to actively shape and create
it in a way that’s uniquely your own.

“Ready for takeoff, On my adventure today, As I take a seat in my chair And clear the way.
Eager people around, With

destinations to go, As a
woman at the front says,
“Please find a seat in any row.”

Some people are anxious,
Waiting to take flight, To
soar above the rest, With
aspirations in sight

Our first day of college, A
chance to start anew, To find
out who we are, And learn
what is true.

—”Waiting to Take Flight”, a poem
by Kimberly Castaneda, first-year

Reflection I.1

Why have you decided to attend college?

What are you most looking forward to most about college?

It’s probably safe to say that after college you will never again be part of any
other organization or community with so many resources and opportunities avail-
able to you that have been intentionally designed to promote your personal devel-
opment and future success. If you capitalize on your campus resources and utilize
effective college-going strategies—such as those suggested in this book—your col-
lege experience should be a life-changing experience that will enrich the quality of
your life for the rest of your life. Box I.1 contains a summary of the multiple, life-
long benefits of a college education and college degree.


Box I.1
Why College Is Worth It: The Economic and
Personal Benefits of a College Education
Despite the belief that earning a college degree is as
common as earning a high school diploma, only 31% of
Americans have a four-year college diploma. Comparing
college graduates compared to others with similar social
and economic backgrounds who did not continue their
education beyond high school, research shows that a
college degree is well worth the time and effort invested
to achieve it. Summarized below are positive outcomes
associated with a college education and a college degree.
As you can see from the length of this list, the college
experience benefits graduates in multiple ways at multi-
ple stages of life.

1. Economic and Career Benefits
• Job Security and Job Stability—college graduates have

higher rates of employment and are less likely to be
laid off work.

• Higher Income—the gap between the earnings of high
school and college graduates is large and growing.
Individuals holding a bachelor’s degree earn an average
weekly salary that’s approximately $18,900 higher than
high school graduates. When these differences are
calculated over 40 years of work, the average income of
college graduates is about 65% higher than high school
graduates, which adds up to more than a million dollars
over the course of their lifetime. (See Figures I.1 and I.2)


©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

“The benefit of attending college in material terms remains at historically high levels.”—Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education

Bachelor’s DegreeAssociate DegreeHigh School Diploma






18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60 64









©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

xxii Introduction

“ It’s an irrefutable fact that college gives you a significant and persistent advantage decade after decade.”—Mary C. Daly, Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
• More likely to live in their own apartment or home

(rather than with their parents)
• Career Versatility and Mobility—greater ability to move

from one position and to another. (College graduates
have more job options.)

• Career Advancement—greater opportunity to move up
to higher-level positions. (College graduates have more
opportunities for job promotions.)

• Career Satisfaction—college graduates are more likely
to find themselves in careers that interest them and in
positions they find stimulating, challenging, and
personally fulfilling

• Career Autonomy—college graduates have more
opportunities to work independently (without supervi-
sion) and make their own on-the-job decisions

• Career Prestige—college graduates are more likely to
hold higher-status jobs (positions considered to be
highly desirable and highly regarded by society)

• Better retirement and pension benefits

The bachelor’s degree recipient doesn’t just have a

bachelor’s degree. He [or she] has the option of
entering a variety of professions that require this
credential and continuing for a graduate degree”
—The College Board, How College Shapes Lives

2. Advanced Intellectual Skills
• Are more knowledgeable
• Have more effective problem-solving skills—better

ability to deal with complex and ambiguous problems
• Are more open to new ideas
• Have more advanced levels of moral reasoning
• Make more effective consumer choices and decisions
• Make wiser long-term investments
• Have a clearer sense of self-identity, including self-

awareness and knowledge of personal talents, inter-
ests, values, and needs

• Are more likely to continue learning throughout life

3. Physical Health Benefits
• More likely to have health insurance and better (more

comprehensive) health insurance coverage
• Have better dietary habits
• Exercise more regularly

• Have lower rates of smoking and obesity
• Live longer and healthier lives

4. Social Benefits
• More social self-confidence
• Stronger interpersonal and human relations skills
• Better leadership skills
• Greater popularity
• Higher levels of marital satisfaction

5. Emotional Benefits
• Lower levels of anxiety
• Higher levels of self-esteem
• Greater sense of self-efficacy—belief that they can

influence or control the outcomes of their life
• Higher levels of psychological well-being and mental

• Higher levels of life satisfaction and personal


6. Effective Citizenship
• More interest in national issues—both social and

• Greater knowledge of current events
• Higher voting participation rates
• Higher rates of participation in civic affairs and

community (volunteer) service
• Less likely to be incarcerated

The evidence is overwhelming that higher education

improves people’s lives, makes our economy more
efficient, and contributes to a more equitable
—The College Board

7. Higher Quality of Life for Their Children
• Less likely to smoke during pregnancy
• Provide better health care for their children
• Spend more time with their children
• More likely to involve their children in stimulating

educational activities that advance their cognitive
(mental) development

• More likely to save money for their children to go to

• Have children who are more likely to graduate from

• Have children who are more likely to attain higher-
status, higher-salary careers

Introduction xxiii

Reflection I.2

Glance back at the seven major benefits or positive outcomes of a college education
listed in Box I.1. If you were to rank them in terms of their importance to you, which
three would rank at the top your list? Why?

”“My three-month-old boy is very important to me, and it is important I graduate from college so my son, as well as I, live a better life.
—First-year student’s response to the
question: “What is most important to

The Importance of the First-Year Experience
Your transition into higher education represents a major life transition. Similar to
an immigrant transitioning to a new country, you’re an educational immigrant tran-
sitioning to a new culture with a different language, expectations, regulations, and
customs. (For definitions and “translations” of this new language spoken in college,
see the Glossary and Dictionary of College Vocabulary, pp. 367–373.) ”“For the individual, having access to and successfully graduating from an institution of higher education has proved to be the path to a better job,

to better health and to a better
—The College Board

The first year of college is likely to be the most important year of your college ex-
perience because it’s a transitional stage in your life. Research shows that college stu-
dents experience more personal change, learning, and development during their first
year than during any other year of their college experience. Other research suggests
that the academic habits students develop in their first year are likely to persist
throughout their remaining years of college. When graduating seniors look back at
their college experience, many of them say that their first year was the time of great-
est challenge and the time when they made the most significant improvements in
their approach to learning. Here’s how one senior put it during a personal interview:

Interviewer: What have you learned about your approach to learning [in

Student: I had to learn how to study. I went through high school with a
4.0 average. I didn’t have to study. It was a breeze. I got to the university
and there was no structure. No one took attendance to make sure I was
in class. No one checked my homework. No one told me I had to do
something. There were no quizzes on the readings. I did not work well
with this lack of structure. It took my first year and a half to learn to deal
with it. But I had to teach myself to manage my time. I had to teach my-
self how to study. I had to teach myself how to learn in a different

”“One of the major transitions from high school to college involves the unlearning of past attitudes, values, and behaviors and the learning of
new ones. This represents a
major social and psychological
transition and a time when
students may be more ready to
change than at any other point
in their college career.
—Ernest Pascarella & Patrick Terenzini,
How College Affects Students

In some ways, the first-year experience in college is similar to downhill skiing: It
can be filled with exciting thrills, such as the thrill of meeting new people, experienc-
ing new challenges, and making remarkable gains in learning and development; how-
ever, it’s also the year fraught with the most spills—for example, when students tend
to experience the most stress, the most academic difficulties, and the highest with-
drawal (dropout) rates. Like downhill skiing, the goal of your first-year of college
should be to experience the thrills, avoid the spills, and finish the run (year) on your
feet, feeling exhilarated and excited about making your next run (your sophomore
year). Studies show that if students complete their first-year experience in good
standing, their chances for successfully completing college increase dramatically.

As you read this book, you will find that the research it cites and the advice it
provides point to the same conclusion: Success in college depends on what you
do—the strategies you use and the resources you utilize. Take charge of your col-
lege experience—don’t let college happen to you; make it happen for you. ”

“What students do during
college counts more than who
they are or where they go to
—George Kuh, author, Student Success
in College

xxiv Introduction

After reviewing 40 years of research on how college affects students, two distin-
guished researchers reached the following conclusion:

The impact of college is largely determined by individual effort and involve-
ment in the academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular [co-curricular] offerings
on a campus. Students are not passive recipients of institutional efforts to “educate”
or “change” them, but rather bear major responsibility for any gains they derive
from their postsecondary [college] experience.

“When it comes to finding the secret to success, it’s not ‘where you go.’ It’s ‘how you do it’ that makes all the
difference in higher

—Great jobs, great lives. The 2014
Gallup-Purdue Index Report: A
study of more than 30,000 college
graduates across the U.S.

Reflection I.3

Why have you decided to attend the particular college or university you’re enrolled in

Are you happy to be here? Why?

The Benefits of a First-Year Experience Course (a.k.a. College
Success Course)
If you are reading this book, you are already beginning to take charge of your col-
lege experience because you are enrolled in a course that’s designed to promote
your college success. Research strongly indicates that new students who participate
in first-year experience courses are more likely to earn higher first-year grades, re-
turn for their sophomore year, and go on complete their college degree. These pos-
itive outcomes of first-year experience courses have been found for:

• All types of students (under-prepared and well-prepared, minority and majority,
residential and commuter, male and female),

• Students at all types of colleges and universities (two-year and four-year, public
and private),

• Students attending colleges of all sizes (small, mid-sized, and large)
• Students attending colleges in all locations (urban, suburban, and rural).

“Being in this class has helped me a lot. What I learned I will apply to all my other classes.”
“I am now one of the peer counselors on campus, and without this class my first semester, I don’t think I could

have done as well, and by
participating in this class
again (as a teaching
assistant), it reinforced this

— Comment made by a student
when evaluating his first-year
experience course

More research has been conducted on the first-year experience course and
more evidence supports its positive impact on student success than any other course
in the college curriculum. If you have had a history of academic success before col-
lege and have earned college credits while in high school, the first-year experience
course will still help you handle the variety of challenges associated with the college
experience. Remember that these challenges not only include adjusting to the aca-
demic demands of college, such as deep learning and critical thinking, but also so-
cial and emotional adjustments, and decision-making challenges related to your
future educational, career, and life plans. By giving a first-year experience course
your best effort and taking full advantage of all that it has to offer, you will be taking
an important first step toward achieving success in your first year of college and

Introduction xxv

I’ve learned a lot from my many years of teaching a first-year experience (college success)
course and from the years I’ve put into writing a book for this course. Even as a college
graduate, I didn’t have a clear understanding of the meaning, purpose, and value of a col-
lege education, or why general education was so important for achieving personal and
professional success. By preparing for and teaching this course, I developed a deeper un-
derstanding and appreciation of what the college experience is and what it did for me. I
also learned new strategies for improving my memory and my writing, as well as for
managing my time, money, and health. I continue to use these strategies in my personal
and professional life. My only regret is that I didn’t take a course like this when I bega n
college. If I had, I would have been able to get even more out of my college experience
and could have applied these life-success skills much earlier in my life.

—Joe Cuseo



Touching All the Bases

Chapter Purpose & PreviewLike any journey, the journey through college begins with knowing what to bring with you
and what resources to rely on along the way. This chapter supplies you with (a) an overview
and preview of four powerful student-success principles you can use throughout your
college experience, (b) key campus resources to capitalize on, and (c) snapshot summaries of
important things to do during the first weeks of your college journey to get off to a smooth
and successful start.

Learning GoalAcquire knowledge of powerful college-success principles and valuable campus resources,
understand why they are important, and learn how to capitalize on them.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 1.1

To excel in college, what do you think you will need to do differently than you did in
high school?

Powerful Principles of College Success
Research points to the following four factors as being key principles of college suc-
cess. These principles are covered in the opening chapter of this book because they
provide the foundational bases for all success strategies discussed throughout the
book (See Figure 1.1).

1. Active Involvement (Engagement)
2. Effective Use of Campus Resources (Resourcefulness)
3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration (Social Integration)
4. Reflection and Self-Awareness (Mindfulness)

2 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

FIGURE 1.1: The Four Bases of College Success

Capitalizing on Campus Resources

Active Involvement

Interaction and Collaboration

(Social Integration)

Reflection and Self-Awareness

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Principle 1. Active Involvement (Engagement)
Many years of research indicate that active involvement (engagement) is the most
powerful principle of human learning and college. To succeed in college, students
cannot be passive spectators; they need to be actively engaged in the game. Active
involvement has two key components:

• The amount of time devoted to the college experience—inside and outside the

• The degree of effort or energy (mental and physical) invested in the learning process.

Think of something you do with intensity, passion, and commitment. If you do
college that way, you would be faithfully implementing the principle of active in-
volvement. Here’s how you can apply both key components of active involvement—
time and energy—to the college experience.“Tell me and I’ll listen. Show me and I’ll understand. Involve me and I’ll learn.”—Teton Lakota Indian saying
Time Spent in Class
Not surprisingly, the more time students devote to the task of learning, the more
they learn and the deeper they learn. This relationship leads to a straightforward
recommendation: Get to all classes in all courses. It’s tempting for new students to
skip or cut classes because, unlike the teachers they had in high school, college pro-
fessors are less likely to call roll or monitor class attendance. Don’t let this lack of
attendance monitoring lead you to thinking that missing classes will not affect your
course grades.

Over the past 75 years, numerous studies have shown a direct relationship be-
tween class attendance and course grades—as one goes up or down, so does the
other. Figure 1.2 depicts the results of one major study that clearly shows the rela-
tionship between students’ class attendance during the first 5 weeks of the term and
their final course grades. “My biggest recommendation: GO TO CLASS. I learned this the hard way my first semester. You’ll be surprised what you pick up just by

being there. I wish someone
would have informed me of
this before I started school.”
—Advice to new students from a
college sophomore

Look at going to class like going to work. If you miss work days, it lowers your
pay; if you miss classes, it lowers your grades. Keep in mind that a full load of college
courses (15 units) only requires that a student to be in class about 13 hours per week.
If going to college full time were viewed as a full-time job, it would be a job that only
required students to show up at work about 13 hours a week. That’s a pretty sweet
deal that leaves college students with much more educational freedom than they had
in high school. For students to miss class when they’re being asked to spend such a

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 3

FIGURE 1.2: Relationship between Class Attendance Rate and Course Final Grades







©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

limited time in class is a real abuse of this freedom. It’s also an abuse of the money
that they, their family, and taxpaying citizens are paying for their college education.

College students who stop attending classes in a course are not automatically dropped from the
course—even if they stop attending during the first few weeks of the term. To withdraw from a
class, see an academic advisor.

Time Spent on Coursework Outside of Class
Less than 40% of beginning college students report that they studied at least 6
hours per week during their final year in high school and only one-third of them
expect to spend more than 20 hours per week preparing for class in college. When
they get their first schedule of classes, first-year students are often pleasantly sur-
prised by how much “free time” they have. However, college students are expected
to spend much more time outside of class on their courses than they did in high
school and this “homework” doesn’t involve simply turning in assignments on a
daily or weekly basis. Out-of-class work assigned in college may not even be col-
lected and graded. Instead, it’s expected that students do it on their own and for
their own benefit—to prepare for upcoming exams and larger assignments. Rather
than formally collecting homework, college professors expect students to do as-
signed work without close supervision or enforced accountability.

A common “rule of thumb” used by college faculty is that students are expected
to students to spend at least 2 hours on coursework outside of class for each hour
they spend in class. For example, in a three-credit course that meets 3 hours per
week, students should devote at least 6 hours of out-of-class work each week. Un-
fortunately, less than 10% of beginning college students report putting in at least 2
hours of work out of class for every hour spent in class. This must change if first-
year students are to thrive in college. Just as successful athletes put in a significant
amount of practice time to excel athletically, successful students do the same to
excel academically.

Approach college like it’s a full-time job. If you’re taking a full load of courses,
you’re in class about 13 hours per week, which means you should spend about 26
hours a week working on those courses outside of class time. This adds up to a 40-
hour work week—similar to a full-time job. In one study of more than 25,000 college
students, it was found that the percentage of students who spent 40 or more hours
per week on academic work received “A” grades at a rate that was almost three times
higher than for students who spent between 20 and 40 hours per week on academic
work. For students who spent 20 or fewer hours per week on academic work outside
of class, twice as many of them received grades of “C” or below than did students

4 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

who spent 40 or more hours on out-of-class work. (For tips on the type of course-
related work that should be done outside of class, see Chapter 4, pp. 75–76.)

If you need further motivation to put in time outside of class to earn good
grades, keep in mind that earning better grades in college translates into better ca-
reer benefits after college. Research on college graduates shows that the higher
their college grades, the higher: (a) their starting salary, (b) the status (prestige) of
their first job, and (c) their career mobility—ability to change jobs or move into dif-
ferent positions. This relationship between higher college grades and greater career
benefits exists for students at all types of colleges and universities, regardless of the
reputation or prestige of the institution attended. In other words, how well students
do in college matters more than the name of the college on their diploma.

Reflection 1.2

During your senior year in high school, about how many hours per week did you spend
on schoolwork outside of class? How many hours do you plan to spend on out-of-class
schoolwork in college?

“I thought I would get a better education if the school had a really good reputation. Now, I think one’s education
depends on how much effort
you put into it.”
—First-year college student

Active Involvement in the Learning Process
College success will require that you work harder—put in more time than high
school and work smarter—learn more strategically and deeply. Perhaps the most
powerful principle of deep learning is active involvement (engagement); there’s sim-
ply no such thing as “passive learning.” When you learn actively, you act (engage in
some action) on what you’re learning. You can be sure you’re learning actively by en-
gaging in one or more of the following actions while learning:

• Writing—write about what you’re learning (e.g., take notes on what you’re
reading rather than passively highlight sentences).

• Speaking—state aloud what you’re learning (e.g., discuss what you’re reading
with a study partner rather than just looking over the material silently).

• Organizing—connect (integrate) the ideas you’re learning onto index cards,
diagrams, or maps.

“All genuine learning is active, not passive. It is a process in which the student is the main agent, not the teacher.”
—Mortimer Adler, American
professor of philosophy and
educational theorist

Active Classroom Listening and Note-Taking
You will find that many college professors rely heavily on the lecture method—they
dispense knowledge by speaking for long stretches of time, and they expect students
to listen and take notes on the knowledge they dispense. This method of instruc-
tion places great demands on your ability to listen actively and take notes accurately
and completely. Research consistently shows that most test questions on college
exams come from professors’ lectures; students who take better lecture notes earn
better grades.

“I never had a class before where the teacher just stands up and talks to you. He says something and you’re writing it down, but then he says
something else.”
—First-year college student

The best way you can apply the principle of active involvement to a class lecture
is to actively take (write) notes on the lecture. Writing down what your instructor is
saying essentially “forces” you to pay closer attention to what is being said and rein-
forces your retention of what has been said. By taking notes, you not only hear the
information (auditory memory), you also see it on paper (visual memory) and feel it
in the muscles of your hand as you write it (motor memory).

Box 1.1 contains a summary of top strategies for active classroom listening and
note-taking that you can put into action right now.

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 5

Your role in the college classroom is not to be an absorbent sponge or passive spectator who
simply sits back and soaks up information. Instead, it should be that of a detective or investi-
gative reporter on a search-and-record mission. Actively search for knowledge, pick the
instructor’s brain, pick out the instructor’s key points, and record your “pickings” in your
notebook (or on your laptop).

Box 1.1
Top Tips for Active Listening and
Note-Taking in the College Classroom
One task that you’ll be expected to perform during the
very first week of college is taking lecture notes. Studies
show that professors’ lecture notes are the number one
source of test questions (and answers) on college exams.
You can improve the quality of your note-taking and earn
higher course grades by using the following strategies.

1. Get to every class. There is a clear connection
between class attendance and course grades; as one
goes up (or down), so does the other.

2. Get to every class on time. During the first few
minutes of a class session, instructors often share
valuable information—such as important announce-
ment, reviews, and previews.

3. Get organized. Bring the right equipment to class.
Get a separate notebook for each class, write your
name on it, date each class session, and store all class
handouts in it.

4. Get in the right position.
• The ideal place to sit is the front and center of the

room—where you’re in the best position to hear
and see what’s going on.

• The ideal posture to adopt is sitting upright and
leaning forward—because your body influences
your mind; if your body is in an alert and ready
position, your mind is likely to follow.

• The ideal social position to occupy in class is to sit
by motivated classmates who will not distract you
but motivate you to listen actively and take notes

The previous three strategies are particularly impor-
tant in large classes where you’re likely to feel more
anonymous, less accountable, and less engaged.

5. Get in the right frame of mind. Come to class with
the attitude that you’re there to pick your instructor’s
brain, pick up answers to test questions, and pick up
points to raise your course grade.

6. Get it down (in writing). Actively look, listen, and
take notes throughout the entire class period. Pay
special attention to whatever information instructors
put in writing, whether it appears on the board, on a
slide, or in a handout.

Most college professors will not write all important
information for you on the board or on Power Point
slides; instead, they expect you to listen carefully
and write it down yourself. When in doubt, write it
out (or type it out); it’s better to have it and not
need it than to need it and not have it.

7. Finish strong. During the last few minutes of class,
instructors often share valuable information, such as
timely reminders, reviews, and previews.

8. Stick around. When class ends, don’t bolt out;
instead, hang out and quickly review your notes (by
yourself or with a classmate). This quick end-of-class
review will help your brain retain the information it
just received. If you detect any gaps or confusing
points in your notes, try to clear them with the
instructor or a classmate immediately after class.

For more detailed information and strategies on active
listening and effective note-taking, see Chapter 5,
pp. 89-97.

Reflection 1.3

Do you feel confident about meeting the challenge of taking effective lecture notes in
college classes? Will you need to make adjustments or changes in your previous
classroom learning habits to meet this challenge? If yes, in what way(s)?

6 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

Finish class with a rush of attention, not a rush out the door!

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Active Class Participation
You can implement the principle of active involvement in the college classroom not
only by actively taking lecture notes, but also by being an engaged class participant
who comes to class well prepared (e.g., having done the assigned reading), who asks
relevant questions in class, and who contributes thoughtful comments during class
discussions. Being an active class participant increases your ability to stay alert and
attentive in class; it also sends a clear message to the instructor that you are a moti-
vated student who wants to learn. Furthermore, class participation is likely to ac-
count for a portion of your final grade in many courses, so your attentiveness and
involvement in class can have a direct effect on your course grades.

I worked many hours each week while in college to pay for basic needs, such as housing,
my meal plan, and my books. I was stretched so thin and was terribly exhausted every day.
These circumstances meant that not only did I have to carefully decide how I spent my
time outside of class, I also had to pay careful attention to how my time was spent in
class. I knew that class time was my opportunity to take in all the material that I could
(and to do everything possible to stay awake!) so I forced myself to sit in the front of the
room, participate in discussions, and take notes vigorously. I used highlighters to empha-
size important points that I wrote down and to remind myself of points I needed to re-
view further. These active learning strategies helped me all though my college years.

—Michele Campagna

Active Reading
Note-taking not only contributes to active listening in class, it also contributes to
active reading outside of class. Taking notes on what you read (or on information
you’ve highlighted while reading) is the best way to stay actively involved in the
reading process because it requires more mental and physical energy than simply
reading the material or passively highlighting sentences.

College professors also expect you to relate or connect what they talk about in
class to your reading assignments. Thus, it’s important to start developing good
reading habits right now. You can do so by using the top tips listed in Box 1.2.

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 7

Box 1.2

Top Tips for Strengthening Textbook Reading
Comprehension and Retention

”“I recommend that you read the first chapters right away because college professors get started promptly with assigning certain readings. Classes in college move very fast because, unlike high school, you do not attend class five times a week but two
or three times a week.
—Advice to new college students from a first-year student

1. Get the textbooks required for your courses as soon
as possible and get your reading assignments done
on time. Information from reading assignments
ranks right behind lecture notes as a source of test
questions on college exams. Many professors deliver
their lectures with the expectation that you’ve done
the assigned reading and assume that you will build
on the information you’ve read to help you under-
stand their lectures. If you haven’t done the reading,
you’re likely to have more difficulty following what
the instructor is saying in class. Thus, by not doing
the assigned reading, you pay a double penalty: you
miss information contained in the reading that’s not
covered in class (which is likely to appear on exams)
and you miss ideas presented in class that build on
the assigned reading.

2. Read with the right equipment.
• Bring a writing tool (pen, pencil, or keyboard) to

record important information and a storage space
(notebook or computer) in which you can save the
information you recorded and use it to prepare for
tests and complete assignments (e.g., use ideas
obtained from your reading by incorporating into
term papers and other out-of-class assignments).

• Have a dictionary nearby (electronic or paper) to
quickly find the meaning of unfamiliar words that
may interfere with your ability to comprehend
what you’re reading. Looking up definitions of
unfamiliar words not only helps you understand
what you’re currently reading; it also builds your
overall vocabulary. A strong vocabulary will
improve your reading comprehension in all your
courses as well as your performance on standard-
ized tests, such as those required for admission to
graduate and professional schools.

• Check the back of your textbook for a glossary
(list) of key terms included in the book. Each

college subject or academic discipline has its own
special language, and decoding that language is
often the key to understanding the concepts
covered in your courses in that subject. The
glossary at the end of your textbook is more than
an ancillary frill; it’s a valuable tool that can be
used to improve your comprehension of course
concepts. Consider making a photocopy of the
glossary at the back of your textbook and have it
next to you while reading so you don’t have to
stop reading, hold your place, and go to the back
of the text to find terms in the glossary.

3. Get in the right position. Sit upright to maximize
attention and position yourself so that light is coming
from behind you and over the side of your body that’s
opposite your writing hand. (This will minimize the
amount of glare and shadows that appear on the
pages you’re reading, which can be distracting and

4. Get a sneak preview. Start a book chapter by first
reading its boldface headings and any chapter
outline, summary, or end-of-chapter questions that
are provided. This will supply you with a mental map
of the chapter’s important ideas before you start your
trip through it. By first getting an overview of the
chapter, it’s easier to keep track of its major ideas (the
“big picture”) and it reduces your risk of getting lost
in all the smaller details that you encounter along the
way. (In other words, you’re less likely to “lose the
forest for the trees.”)

5. Finish each of your reading sessions with a short
review. Rather than using the last few minutes of a
reading session to try to cover a few more pages, end
it with a review of the information have already
highlighted or noted as important. We forget most of
the information we take in immediately after we have
stopped processing that information and start doing
something else. Thus, it’s best to use your last minutes
of reading time to “lock in” the most important
information you have just been read.

The goal of reading is not just to cover the assigned
pages, but to discover the most important ideas on
those pages, and then review (lock in) those ideas.

Note: For a more detailed discussion of reading compre-
hension-and-retention strategies, see Chapter 5 (pp.

8 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

Principle 2. Capitalizing on Campus Resources (Resourcefulness)
Successful students (and successful people) are resourceful—they seek out and use
resources to help them reach their goals. College and university campuses are
chock full of resources that have been intentionally designed to support students’
quest for educational and personal success. Studies show that students who use
campus resources report higher levels of satisfaction with college and get more out
of the college experience.

Your use of campus resources comes free of charge—the cost of these services is already covered
by your tuition. By investing time and energy in campus resources, you’re not only increasing
your prospects for college success, you’re also maximizing the return on your financial invest-
ment in college. In other words, you get a bigger bang for your buck!

The college-success principle of capitalizing on campus resources is a natural
extension of the principle of active involvement. Successful students get involved
both inside and outside the classroom, and involvement outside of class includes in-
volvement with campus resources.

The first step to effectively capitalizing on campus resources is becoming aware
of the full range of resources available to you and what they can do for you. Listed
below are key college services you’re likely to find on campus, accompanied by
their purposes and benefits. The specific names given to these resources may differ
from one college campus to another, but their purposes are the same, as are their
benefits for students who capitalize on them.

© fizkes/

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 9

Writing Support
Writing is an academic skill that you will use in virtually all your courses, freshman
through senior year. Thus, if you strengthen your writing skills, you will strengthen
your overall academic performance in college. Many college campuses offer spe-
cialized support for students seeking to improve their writing. Take advantage of
this resource to improve your writing, your overall academic performance in col-
lege, and your career performance after college.

Reflection 1.4

How much writing did you typically do in high school?

How would you rate writing skills right now?

Campus Library
Librarians are professional educators who develop students’ ability to search for,
find, and evaluate information. These are lifelong learning skills that promote suc-
cess throughout college and in life beyond college.

”“The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it.—Dr. Samuel Johnson, English literary figure and original author of the
Dictionary of the English Language
(1747)Disability Services Support

If students have a documented physical or learning disability that’s interfering with
their performance in college, or if they think they might have a disability, students
can receive assistance and support. Programs and services typically provided

• Verification of eligibility for disability support services,
• Authorization of academic accommodations for disabilities, and
• Specialized counseling, advising, and tutoring.

Financial Aid Office
If you have any concerns about your ability to pay for college, do not hesitate to
consult this office. The process of applying (and reapplying) for financial aid can be
a complicated and intimidating process. Don’t let the complexity of the process
prevent you from capitalizing on the fiscal support that you’re eligible to receive.
Professional financial aid counselors can walk you through the process and help you

• Low-interest student loans
• Grants or scholarships
• Part-time campus employment (as a work–study student).

10 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

Check your e-mail regularly for messages from the Financial Aid Office, espe-
cially messages pertaining to financial-aid application and renewal deadlines. If you
have any doubt about whether you’re using the most effective plan to finance your
college education, make an appointment to see a professional in this office. (For
more detailed information on financial aid, see Chapter 11.)

Academic Advising
Students can get help with course selection, educational planning, and how to
choose or change a major. Studies show that students who have clear educational
and career goals are more likely to persist in college and complete their degree. Re-
search also shows that most new students need assistance to help them clarify their
educational goals, decide on a college major, and identify their career options. As a
first-year student, it’s perfectly understandable and acceptable to be undecided
about a college major. However, the process of thinking about and planning for a
major should begin in the first term of college. Connect early and often with an ac-
ademic advisor to help you think through your educational options and find a col-
lege major that best matches your interests, talents, values, and goals. (For more de-
tailed information on educational planning and decision-making, see Chapter 14.)

Career Development Support
As a first-year student, a career might seem like something’s that light-years away.
However, just as educational planning should begin in the first year of college, so
should career exploration and planning. Research indicates that students are more
likely to stay in college and complete their degree when they see a connection be-
tween their current college experience and their future career goals. However, most
first-year college students are uncertain about their career goals and vocational
plans. Trident can help you can explore different career options and clarify your ca-
reer plans through such services as personal career counseling, workshops on career
exploration and development, and on-campus career fairs. (For more detailed in-
formation on career exploration and development, see Chapter 15.)

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 11

© Roman Sigaev/

12 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

Principle 3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration
(Social Integration)
Students who become socially integrated or connected with other members of the
college community are more likely to complete their first year of college and go on
to complete their college degree. Listed below are key interpersonal connections
you could and should make in college. Start making these connections in your first
year so you can begin building a social-support network that you can rely on
throughout your college experience.

• Connect with a student development professional you may have met during

• Connect with a peer leader who has been selected and trained to support first-
year students (e.g., orientation week leader or peer mentor).

• Connect with classmates by teaming up with them to take notes, complete
reading assignments, and study for exams together. (For more detailed informa-
tion on forming collaborative learning teams, see Chapter 5, pp. 112-115.)

• Connect with faculty members—particularly in a field that you’re considering
as a major. Visit with faculty during their office hours, converse briefly with
them after class, and communicate with them via e-mail.

• Connect with an academic advisor to develop an educational plan.
• Connect with a college librarian to get early assistance and a head start on any

research projects you’ve been assigned.

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 13

Research points to four particular forms of interpersonal interaction as being
especially important for promoting student learning and development in college:

1. Student–faculty interaction
2. Student–advisor interaction
3. Student–mentor interaction
4. Student–student (peer) interaction.

Student–Faculty Interaction
The frequency and quality of student–faculty interaction outside the classroom is
strongly associated with college success. Out-of-class contact with faculty has been
found to promote the following positive student outcomes:

• Improved academic performance
• Increased critical thinking skills
• Greater satisfaction with the college experience
• Increased likelihood of completing a college degree
• Stronger desire to pursue education beyond a four-year degree.

Because the positive outcomes of student-faculty contact outside the classroom
are so powerful and prevalent, try to initiate this contact as soon as possible. Here
are three ways to do so.

1. Interact with your instructors immediately after class. Interacting briefly
with instructors after class can help them get to know you as an individual and
help you gain the confidence to approach them during office hours. If some-
thing covered in class captures your interest, approach your instructor to dis-
cuss it further. You could also ask a quick question about a point made in class
that you weren’t sure you understood, or to have a short conversation about
how the material covered in class relates to something you have experienced
personally or learned in another course. ”

“[In high school] the teacher
knows your name. But in
college they don’t know your
name; they might see your
face, but it means nothing to
them unless you make yourself
—First-year college student

2. Connect with course instructors during their office hours. One of the most
important pieces of information contained in a course syllabus is your instruc-
tor’s office hours. College professors reserve times in their weekly schedule to
make themselves available to students in their offices. Make note of these times
and make an earnest attempt to capitalize on them. Don’t wait until late in the
term when major exams and assignments start piling up, which is when most
students start rushing to see their instructors for extra help. Try to schedule an
office visit with your instructors early in the term, when quality time is easier to
find. Even if your early contact with instructors is only for a few minutes, it can
be a valuable icebreaker that helps them get to know you as a person and makes
you feel more comfortable interacting with them in the future.

Another way to engage in out-of-class contact with faculty is by making office
visits with a small team of classmates to help prepare for upcoming exams and
assignments. Visiting an instructor with other students has the following

“I wish that I would have taken
advantage of professors’
open-door policies when I had
questions, because actually
understanding what I was
doing, instead of guessing,
would have saved me a lot of
stress and re-doing what I did
wrong the first time.
—College sophomore

14 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

• You’re more likely to feel comfortable about venturing onto your instructor’s
“turf” in the company of peers than flying solo. As the old expression goes,
“There’s safety in numbers.”

• When you make an office visit as a team, the information shared by the instruc-
tor is heard by more than one student, so your teammates may pick up useful
information that you may have missed (and vice versa).

• You save time for your instructors by enabling them to help more than one stu-
dent at a time. This saves your instructor from having to engage in multiple
“repeat performances” for individual students seeking help at separate times.

• By taking time—ahead of time—to connect with your peers and prepare for the
office visit, you send a clear message to the instructor that you’re a motivated
student who’s serious about the course.

“Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”
—C.S. Lewis, English novelist and

I tell first-year students to see their course instructors during their office hours at least
three times during the term. In fact, I’ve made this a requirement for students in my col-
lege success course.

At the end of the term, my students complete a course evaluation. Almost always, the
number-one positive statement they make about the course was how helpful the faculty
office visits were. They tell me that those visits not only helped them learn the course
material, but also enabled them to interact with their instructors in a different, more per-
sonal way.

—Aaron Thompson

3. Connect with your instructors via e-mail. Electronic communication is an-
other effective tool for experiencing the benefits of student–faculty interaction
outside the classroom, particularly if your professor’s office hours conflict with
your class schedule, work responsibilities, or family commitments. If you’re a

commuter student who doesn’t live on campus, or if you’re an
adult student juggling family and work commitments along with
your academic schedule, e-mail communication may be an espe-
cially effective and efficient way to interact with faculty.

E-mail is also a good way to become more comfortable about even-
tually seeking out face-to-face interaction with your instructors.
In one national survey, almost half of college students surveyed
reported that e-mail enabled them to communicate their ideas
with professors on subjects they would not have discussed in

E-mail communication is a good way to make connections with
your instructors. However, if you miss class, do not use e-mail to
ask an instructor the following questions:
• Did I miss anything important in class today?
• Could you send me your PowerPoint slides from the class I


Also, when communicating with your instructors via email, be sure
to do it sensitively and professionally by:
• Including your full name in the message.
• Mentioning the class or course in which you’re enrolled.

Probably the worst question you could
ever ask a college professor.

Did I miss
in class

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 15

• Using complete sentences, correct grammar, and “hip” but unprofessional ex-
pressions (e.g., “Yo!”, “Whatup?”).

• Spell checking and proofreading your message before sending it.
• Including your full contact information. (If you’re communicating via Face-

book, choose an appropriate screen name; for example, names like “Sexsea” or
“Studly” wouldn’t be appropriate.)

• Giving your instructor time to reply. (Don’t expect an immediate response, par-
ticularly if you send your message in the evening or on a weekend.)

In addition to using electronic technology responsibly for out-of-class commu-
nication with your instructors, use it responsibly an sensitively in class by adhering
to the guidelines provided in Box 1.3.

Box 1.3
Guidelines for Civil and Responsible Use of
Personal Technology in the College

“The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.”—William Safire, American author, journalist, and presidential speech writer
Classroom behavior that interferes with the right of others
to learn or teach is referred to as classroom incivility.
Listed below are forms of classroom incivility that involve
student use of personal technology. Be sure to avoid them.

Using Cell Phones
Keeping a cell phone on in class is a form of classroom
incivility because its ringing can interfere with the
teaching and learning process. In one study of college
students, the researchers arranged for a cell phone to be
deliberately rung during class and the students were later
tested on information presented in class at the time the
phone rang. These students scored approximately 25%
lower for this information than did students who were not
exposed to the ringing cell phone. Their drop in perfor-
mance occurred even when the material was covered by
the professor just before the cell phone rang and even
when it was projected on a slide while the phone rang. The
study also showed that students’ attention to information
presented in class is significantly reduced if a nearby
classmate searches through a handbag or pocket to find
and silence a vibrating phone. These findings clearly
show that cell phone use in class disrupts the learning
process and the civil thing for students to do is:

• Turn their cell phone off before entering class or keep it
out of the classroom altogether. (The app studiousapp.

com can be used to automatically silence a phone at
times of the day when a student is in class.) In rare
cases when students think they may need to leave class
to respond to an emergency, they should seek the
instructor’s permission in advance.

• Don’t check their cell phone during the class period by
turning it off and on.

• Don’t look at their cell phone at any time during an
exam because the instructor may think that they are
looking up answers to test questions.

Text Messaging
Although this form of electronic communication is silent,
it still can distract or disturb classmates. It’s also discour-
teous to the instructor when students turn their head
down and their attention away from the person who is
speaking to them. The bottom line: Students should
respect their instructors’ right to teach and their class-
mates’ right to learn—no texting in class!

Surfing the Web
Although this can be done without creating distracting
sounds, it still can create visual distractions. Studies show
that use of a laptop during class for reasons unrelated to the
class not only distracts the laptop user, but also classmates
seated nearby. Unless students are doing class-related work
on their laptop, they should keep it closed to avoid distract-
ing their classmates and their instructor.

Final Note: In addition to technological incivilities, other
forms of classroom incivility include personal grooming,
holding side conversations, and doing homework for other
classes. Even if a student’s attendance is perfect, “little
things” the student does in class that signal inattention or
disinterest can send a strong message to the instructor that
the student lacks motivation (and civility).

16 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

Reflection 1.5

Have you observed any recent examples of classroom incivility that you thought were
particularly distracting or discourteous? What was the uncivil behavior and what
consequences did it have on others?

Interacting with Academic Advisors
If you need assistance understanding college policies and procedures or navigating
course options and requirements, an academic advisor is the person to see. Too
often, students view academic advisors as someone to go to only for class schedul-
ing. Yes, advisors do that, but they do much more. Advisors are professionals who

• Help students choose or change majors.
• Advise students about whether to drop a class.
• Alert students to educational and career opportunities relating to their chosen

• Refer students to campus resources and off-campus opportunities.
• Help students construct an educational plan that will enable them to graduate

in a timely manner.
• Assist students with exploring educational options after college graduation (e.g.,

attending graduate or professional school).

In short, academic advisors are much more than course schedulers; they are
student-support agents, mentors, and partners with whom students can collaborate
to promote their success in college and beyond. Your academic advisor should be
someone whom you feel comfortable speaking with, who knows your name, and
who is familiar with your personal interests and goals. Give advisors the opportu-
nity to get to know you personally, and seek their advice on courses, majors, and
any academic challenges you may be experiencing. If you have been assigned a spe-
cific advisor and are not able to develop a good relationship with this person, ask
the director of advising or academic dean if you could make a change. If you’re un-
sure about who to change to, seek recommendations from a trusted peer or a peer

If your college does not assign you to a personal advisor but offers advising
services in an Advising Center on a drop-by or drop-in basis, you could end up see-
ing a different advisor each time you visit the center. If you would prefer not to work
with different advisors from one visit to the next, find one you that you relate well
to, and make that person your advisor by scheduling appointments in advance. This
will enable you to connect consistently with the same advisor and develop a close,
ongoing relationship. Unlike your course instructors—who change from term to
term—your academic advisor can be your steady “go to” professional on campus
with whom you have continuous contact throughout your college experience.

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 17

Reflection 1.6

Do you have a personally assigned advisor?

If yes, do you know who this person is and where he or she can be found?

If you don’t have a personally assigned advisor, who will you see for help with class
scheduling and educational planning?

Interacting with a Mentor
A mentor may be described as an experienced guide who takes a personal interest in
you, motivates you, and helps you reach your goals. (For example, in the movie Star
Wars, Yoda served as a mentor for Luke Skywalker.) Research demonstrates that
when first-year college students have a mentor, they feel more valued and are moti-
vated to complete their degree. A mentor can help you anticipate challenges, re-
solve problems, and serve as a sounding board—someone to bounce ideas off, and
someone with whom you can share your personal struggles and success stories.
Keep an eye out for a person on campus who can be a mentor to you. Here are
some potential candidates:

• Your instructor in a first-year experience course
• Your academic advisor
• A faculty member in your major field of interest
• A career counselor
• A financial aid counselor
• A professional working in a career you’re interested in pursuing

Interaction with Peers (Student–Student Interaction)
Your peers can be more than competitors or sources of negative peer pressure; they
can also be collaborators, provide positive social influence, and serve as resources for
college success. Peer support is important at all stages of the college experience, but
it’s especially valuable during the first term of college because it is a transitional stage

18 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

FIGURE 1.3: Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Belonging


Need to fulfill potential,
to have meaningful goals

Need for confidence, sense

of competence, self-esteem, and
esteem of others

Need to belong, to affiliate, to love

and be loved

Need for security, comfort, tranquility, freedom from fear

Need for food, water, oxygen, rest

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

of life during which students are encountering a new, more diverse social community
and are likely to have strong needs for belonging and social acceptance. It may be
useful to view the first-year college experience through the lens of psychologist Abra-
ham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (see Figure 1.3). According to Maslow, hu-
mans only reach their full potential and achieve peak performance after their more
basic social and emotional needs have been met (e.g., needs for social acceptance and
self-esteem). Making early connections with your peers helps you fulfill these basic
human needs, provides you with a base of social support to ease your integration into
the college community, and enables you to move up to higher levels of Maslow’s need
hierarchy (e.g., achieving academic excellence and reaching your educational goals).

Getting involved with campus organizations or activities is one way to connect
with other students and fulfill your social and emotional needs. Interacting with
students who have more college experience than you (e.g., sophomores, juniors,
and seniors) can supply you with valuable social support, especially those who have
been selected and trained as peer leaders and peer mentors.

Research clearly demonstrates that college students learn as much from peers as
they do from instructors and textbooks. One study of more than 25,000 college stu-
dents revealed that when peers interact with one another while learning, they
achieve higher levels of academic performance and are more likely to persist to col-
lege graduation.

Be observant—keep an eye out for peers who are successful. Ask yourself: Are
these peers going to make me a more successful student (and person)? Start build-
ing your social support network by surrounding yourself with success-seeking and
successful peers. Learn from them, emulate their productive habits and strategies,
and use them as a social resource to promote your own success.

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”—Oprah Winfrey, actress and
talk-show host

Your campus may offer opportunities for students to participate in a learning
community, in which the same group of students takes the same block of courses to-
gether during the same term. If this opportunity is available to you, take advantage

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 19

of it because research suggests that students who participate in learning communi-
ties are more likely to:

• Become actively involved in classroom learning
• Form their own learning groups outside of class
• Experience greater intellectual growth
• Continue their college education.

If a learning community program isn’t offered on your campus, consider creat-
ing informal learning communities on your own by finding other students who are
enrolling in the same courses as you (e.g., the same general education or pre-major
courses). Connect with these students prior to registration and see if you can enroll
in the same two or three courses together. This will allow you to reap the benefits
of a learning community, even though your college may not offer a formal learning
community program.

Reflection 1.7

Think about the classmates in your courses this term. Would you consider joining up
with any of them to form a learning team? Why?

Principle 4. Reflection and Self-Awareness (Mindfulness)
The final step in the learning process, whether it be learning in the classroom or
learning from experience, is to step back from it, thoughtfully review it, and con-
nect it to what you already know. Reflection is the flip side of active involvement;
these two processes complement one another and are necessary for learning to be-
come complete and deep. Active involvement ensures attention—it enables informa-
tion to enter your brain, and reflection ensures consolidation—it converts that infor-
mation into knowledge, enabling your brain to retain it by moving it from
short-term to long-term memory.

Research reveals that active involvement and reflection are two different mental
states, each of which generates a unique type of electrical activity in the brain. In
Figure 1.4, the electrical pattern on the left shows the brain waves of someone ac-
tively involved in the learning process—indicating that information is being attended
to and processed by the brain. The electrical pattern on the right shows the brain
waves of a person reflecting on information and moving it into long-term memory.
The brain wave patterns in these two different stages of the learning process


Alpha Waves: High-Frequency Brain Waves
Associated with a Mental State

of Reflective Thinking.

Beta Waves: High-Amplitude Brain Waves
Associated with a Mental State

of Active Involvement.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

20 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

suggests that deep, long-lasting learning takes place through a combination of two
mental states: (a) active involvement—characterized by high-amplitude “beta”
brain waves—and (b) thoughtful reflection—characterized by high-frequency
“alpha” brain waves (similar to someone in a meditative state).

It’s not only important to reflect on the information you’re learning, it’s also impor-
tant to reflect on yourself. Self-reflection involves gaining greater self-awareness of
who you are and what you are doing. Two forms of self-awareness are particularly
important for academic success in college: (a) self-monitoring and (b)

One characteristic of successful learners is that they self-monitor (check them-
selves) while they’re learning to remain aware of: (a) whether they’re using effective
learning strategies—for example, if they are giving their undivided attention to
what they are learning, (b) whether they’re truly comprehending what they are
learning—for example, if they’re understanding it at a deep level, not memorizing it
at a surface level, and (c) whether they need to regulate or adjust their learning
strategies to learn different subjects—for example, if they’re reading technical ma-
terial in a science textbook, they read at a slower rate and check their understanding
more frequently than when reading a novel.

You can begin to establish good self-monitoring habits by getting in the routine
of periodically pausing to reflect on how you’re learning and doing college. You can
do so by asking yourself the following questions:

• Am I listening attentively to what my instructor is saying in class?
• Am I comprehending what I’m reading outside of class?
• Am I effectively using campus resources designed to support my success?
• Am I interacting with campus professionals who can contribute to my current

success and future development?
• Am I interacting and collaborating with peers who will support (not sabotage)

my learning and development?
• Am I effectively implementing college-success strategies (such as those identi-

fied in this book)?

“We learn neither by thinking nor by doing; we learn by thinking about what we are doing.”
—George Stoddard, Professor
Emeritus, University of Iowa

Successful students and successful people are mindful—they don’t mindlessly “go through the
motions” without reflecting on what and how they’re doing; instead, they remain aware of
whether they’re doing it effectively and how they can do it better.

Another way to gain self-awareness is through self-assessment. Simply defined, self-
assessment is the process of reflecting on and evaluating your personal characteris-
tics. The following personal characteristics are especially important to self-assess
because gaining deep awareness of them is essential for making effective decisions
about your educational and career goals:

• Personal interests. What you like to do. (What you really enjoy doing.)
• Personal values. What’s important to you. (What you really care about doing.)
• Personal talents. What you do well. (Or are capable of doing well.)

Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases 21

• Personality traits. Your temperament, emotional characteristics, and social
tendencies (e.g., whether you tend to be an introvert or extrovert).

(To help you get a better understanding of your personality type and how it
connects to your learning preferences, your personality type, and your academic
and career interests, log into AchieveWORKS and complete the Personality

Reflection 1.8

Right now, how would you self-assess your confidence about succeeding in college?
(Circle one.)

very confident somewhat confident somewhat unconfident very unconfident


Summary and Conclusion
In short, research on college students indicates that successful students are:

• Involved. They get into it by investing time and effort in the college experience
• Interactive. They team up for it by interacting and collaborating with others
• Resourceful. They get help with it by capitalizing on campus resources
• Reflective. They step back from it to think about their performance and


The following self-assessment checklist summarizes the success-promoting
principles and practices discussed in this chapter. You may use this checklist as a
guide to maintain self-awareness of what you could (and should) do to thrive in

A Checklist of Success-Promoting Principles and Practices
1. Active Involvement (Engagement)

I will:
o Get to class. I’ll treat it like a job and be there on all days that I am expected.
o Get involved in class. I’ll come prepared, listen actively, take notes, and

o Read actively. I’ll take notes while I read to increase attention and retention.
o Double up. I’ll spend twice as much time on academic work outside of class

as I spend in class. If I’m a full-time student, I’ll make it a full-time job and
put in a 40-hour workweek (with occasional “overtime” as needed).

2. Capitalizing on Campus Resources (Resourcefulness)
I will take advantage of the academic and student support services available to
me, such as the:
o Writing Support
o College Library
o Academic Advising

22 Chapter 1 Touching All the Bases

o Financial Aid Office
o Career Development Support

3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration (Social Integration)
I will interact and collaborate with the following members of my college
o Peers. I’ll join student clubs and participate in campus organizations.
o Faculty members. I’ll connect with my course instructors and other fac-

ulty members after class, in their offices, and through e-mail.
o Academic advisors. I’ll see an advisor for more than course registration,

and I’ll find an advisor with whom I can relate and develop an ongoing

o Mentors. I’ll find someone on campus who can serve as an experienced
guide and role model for me.

4. Reflection and Self-Awareness (Mindfulness)
I will engage in:
o Reflective Learning. I’ll step back from what I’m learning, review it, and

connect it to what I already know.
o Self-Monitoring. I’ll maintain self-awareness of whether I’m using effec-

tive learning and college-success strategies.
o Self-Assessment. I’ll reflect on and evaluate my personal talents, interests,

and values, and be mindful of them when making educational and career

Reflection 1.9

Identify one way you will put each of the following four principles of college success
into practice during the next few weeks:

1. Active Involvement (Engagement)

2. Capitalizing on Campus Resources (Resourcefulness)

3. Interpersonal Interaction and Collaboration (Social Integration)

4. Reflection and Self-Awareness (Mindfulness)

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on concepts contained in this chapter, consult the fol-
lowing websites.


Chapter 1 Exercises
1.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to you.

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

1.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the top tips for active listening and note-taking on p. 5. Select three strategies you think are most important and
intend to put into practice right now.

1.3 Reality Bite
Alone and Disconnected: Feeling Like Calling It Quits
Josephine is a first-year student in her second week of college. She doesn’t feel like she’s fitting in with other students on
campus. She also feels a little guilty about the time she’s spending away from family and friends back home, and she fears
that her ties with them will be weakened or broken if she continues spending so much time at school and on schoolwork.
Josephine is feeling so torn between college, her family, and her hometown friends that she’s beginning to have second
thoughts about whether she should leave college at the end of this term.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. What would you say to Josephine to persuade or motivate her to stay in college?

2. What could Josephine do for herself right now to minimize the conflict she’s experiencing between her commitment to
college and her commitment to family and high school friends?

3. What could Josephine do to get more connected with her college community and feel less disconnected from her family
and hometown friends?

4. Can you relate to Josephine’s situation? If yes, in what way? If no, why not?

1.4 Birds of a Different Feather: High School vs. College
The following list identifies 12 key differences between high school and college. Rate each difference on a scale from 1 to 4
in terms of how aware you were of this difference when you began college:

1 = totally unaware

2 = not fully aware

3 = somewhat aware

4 = totally aware.

a) In high school, class schedules are typically made for students.

b) In college, students make their own class schedules—either on their own or in consultation with an academic advisor.

Awareness Rating _________

a) In high school, classes are scheduled back-to-back at the same time every day with short breaks in between.

b) In college, courses are scheduled at various times throughout the day (and night) and larger time gaps can exist between
successive classes in a student’s schedule.

Awareness Rating _________


a) In high school, class attendance is mandatory and checked regularly.

b) In college, class attendance is not always mandatory; in many classes, attendance isn’t
taken at all.

Awareness Rating ________

“In college, if you don’t go to
class, that’s up to you. Your
professor doesn’t care really if
you pass or fail.
—First-year student

a) In high school, teachers often write all the important information they cover in class on
the board or on PowerPoint slides .

b) In college, professors frequently expect students to write down important information contained in their lectures
without explicitly writing it on the board or including it on PowerPoint slides.

Awareness Rating ________

a) In high school, teachers often re-teach material in class that students were assigned to read.

b) In college, professors often do not cover the same material in class that’s covered in the assigned reading, yet
information from the assigned reading still appears on exams.

Awareness Rating ________

a) In high school, teachers often take class time to remind students of assignments and
their due dates.

b) In college, professors list their assignments and due dates on the course syllabus and
expect students to keep track of them on their own.

Awareness Rating ________

“College teachers don’t tell
you what you’re supposed to
do. They just expect you to do
it. High school teachers tell
you about five times what
you’re supposed to do.
—College sophomore

a) In high school, homework assignments (e.g., math problems) are typically turned into the
teacher who checks and grades the student’s work.

b) In college, assigned work is often not turned in to be checked or graded; students are expected to have the self-
discipline to do the work on their own.

Awareness Rating ________

a) In high school, students spend most of their learning time in class; they spend much less time studying outside of class
than they spend learning in class.

b) In college, students typically spend no more than 15 hours per week in class and are expected to spend at least twice as
much time studying out of class for every hour they spend in class.

Awareness Rating ________

a) In high school, tests are given frequently and cover limited amounts of material.

b) In college, exams are given less frequently (e.g., midterm and final) and tend to cover large amounts of material.

Awareness Rating ________

a) In high school, make-up tests and extra-credit opportunities are often available to students.

b) In college, if an exam or assignment is missed, rarely do students have a chance to
make it up or recapture lost points by doing extra-credit work.

Awareness Rating ________

a) A grade of “D” in high school is still passing.

b) In college, a grade-point average below “C” puts a student on academic probation,
and if it doesn’t improve to C or higher, the student may be academically dismissed.

Awareness Rating ________

“In high school, they’re like,
‘Okay, well, I’ll give you another
day to do it.’ In college, you have
to do it that day . . . teachers are
like, ‘If you don’t do it, that’s
your problem.
—First-year student


a) In high school, students go to campus offices only if they must, or if they’re required to (e.g., if they forgot to do
something or did something wrong).

b) In college, students go to campus offices because they want to, and they use the support services provided by these
offices to enhance their success, even if they are already doing well.

Awareness Rating ________

1.5 Syllabus Review
Review the syllabus (course outline) for all classes you’re enrolled in this term and answer the following questions.

Self-Assessment Questions
1. Is the overall workload what you expected? Are you surprised by the amount of work required in any particular


2. At this point in the term, what do you see as your most challenging or demanding course(s)? Why?

3. Do you think you can handle the total workload required by the full set of courses you’re enrolled in this term?

4. What adjustments or changes do you think you may need to make to your previous learning and study habits to handle
your course workload this term?

1.6 Creating a Master List of Resources on Your Campus
1. Construct a master list of all support services that are available to you on your campus by consulting the following

• Information published in your college catalog and student handbook
• Information posted on your college’s website
• Information obtained by visiting different offices or centers on campus

2. Your final product will be a comprehensive list that includes the following:

Campus Support Service

Type of Support Provided

Contact Person

Campus Location


• You can team up with other classmates to work collaboratively on this assignment. Different members of your team

could divide the labor by identifying different campus resources to research and then your team can come back together
to integrate their separate work.

• After completing this assignment, save your master list of support services for futur e use.

1.7 Using Campus Resources in Your First Term
Look back at the campus resources you identified in the previous exercise, or those described on pp. 8-11 of this chapter.

Which of these resources do you think would be most beneficial to you? Why?

Is there anything that would prevent you, or make you feel reluctant to, use these resources?



Liberal Arts and General Education

Chapter Purpose & PreviewThe liberal arts and general education are often misunderstood and underestimated ele-
ments of college education and career preparation. In this chapter, you will gain a deeper
understanding and appreciation of the meaning, purpose, and benefits of the liberal arts
and general education. You will learn how the liberal arts empower you with a broad base of
knowledge and a set of versatile skills that are relevant to all college majors, careers fields,
and life roles.

Learning GoalAppreciate the meaning, purpose, and value of the liberal arts and general education for
promoting personal development and professional success.

Ignite Your Thinking

Reflection 2.1

Before diving into this chapter, answer the following question:
Which one of the following statements best captures the meaning and purpose of
the term liberal arts?
1. Learning to be more artistic
2. Learning about things that are theoretical rather than practical
3. Learning to be less politically conservative
4. Learning to be a liberal spender
5. Learning skills for freedom
(The answer to this question appears on p. 28.)

The Meaning and Purpose of the Liberal Arts
Whether or not you’re enrolled at a liberal arts college, all college students take
courses in the liberal arts. If you are uncertain about what “liberal arts” means,
you’re not alone. National surveys show that the vast majority of college students do
not have a clear idea (or even the foggiest idea) about what the liberal arts stand for
and why they’re valuable. Many students think it refers to “learning for its own
sake” and has no practical application, or that it has something to do with liberal
politics—as illustrated by the following true story.

28 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

I was once advising a student (Laura)—a business major. While helping her develop a
plan for graduation, I informed her she needed to take a course in philosophy. After I
made this point, here’s how our conversation proceeded.

Laura (in a somewhat irritated tone): I’m a business major. Why do I have to take

Dr. Cuseo: Because philosophy is an important part of a liberal arts education.

Laura (in a very agitated tone): I’m not liberal and I don’t want to be liberal! I’m conser-
vative and so are my parents; we all voted Republican in the last election.

—Joe Cuseo

Laura probably would have picked option (1) as her answer to the multiple-
choice question posed to you at the start of this chapter; she would have been wrong
because the correct choice is option (5). Literally translated, the term “liberal arts”
derives from two Latin roots: liberalis—meaning to “liberate” or “free,” and artes—
meaning “skills.” Thus, the liberal arts represent and develop “skills for freedom.”

The roots of the liberal arts date back to the roots of modern civilization—to
the ancient Greek and Roman democracies—where citizens were given the freedom
to elect their own leaders, thus “liberating” them from uncritical dependence on au-
tocrats or dictators. Thus, one of the goals of a liberal arts education is to empower
students with breadth of knowledge and critical thinking skills to vote wisely and
participate effectively in a democracy.

The political ideals of the ancient Greeks and Romans were shared by the
founding fathers of the United States who believed that an educated citizenry was
essential for sustaining America’s new democracy. As Thomas Jefferson, principal
author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, put it: “If a nation expects to be ig-
norant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Thus, the liberal arts are rooted in the belief that education and freedom are in-
escapably intertwined. To this day, the liberal arts continue to be a hallmark of the
American college and university system and a feature that distinguishes it from
other systems of higher education around the world.

The original purpose of college education in America was not just career preparation; it was
preparation for citizenship and leadership in a democratic nation.

Over time, the concept of the liberal arts evolved into a broader educational
process that is designed to liberate students to become self-directed thinkers capable
of making decisions and taking actions based on well-reasoned ideas and values,
rather than blind obedience to authority or social conformity. In addition to resist-
ing manipulation by political dictators, self-directed critical thinkers are also able to
withstand manipulation by other societal forces, including:

• Peers—resisting negative forms of social conformity and peer pressure• Media—detecting and rejecting manipulative advertisements and misleading

“I want knowledge so I don’t get taken advantage of in life.”—First-year college student
“Advertisers rely on a half-educated public . . . because such people are easy to deceive with an effective

set of logical and psychologi-
cal tricks.”
—Robert Harris, On the Purposes of
a Liberal Arts Education

In short, the liberal arts empower you to become a well-informed citizen and
critical thinker who is armed and ready to ask the question: “Why?” You’re

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 29

equipped and empowered with an inquiring mind and the mental tools to think

The Liberal Arts Curriculum
Based on the educational philosophy of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the first
liberal arts curriculum (collection of courses) originated during the Middle Ages and
consisted of the following subjects: Logic, Language, Rhetoric (the art of argumen-
tation and persuasion), Music, Mathematics, and Astronomy. This curriculum was
designed to: (a) supply students with a broad base of knowledge so they would be
well-informed in a variety of subjects and (b) equip them with a flexible set of rea-
soning skills to think deeply and critically about any subject.

The liberal arts curriculum of today’s colleges and universities consists of a
wider range of courses than the original seven subjects that made up the medieval
curriculum. However, the goal of the liberal arts curriculum has withstood the test
of time: Its purpose continues to be that of supplying college students with a broad
base of knowledge and equipping them with a versatile set of thinking and commu-
nication skills that can be applied across different subjects and situations.

Today, the liberal arts curriculum is often referred to as general education be-
cause it supplies students with general knowledge and skills rather than specialized
knowledge tied narrowly to one field of study or professional occupation. General
education is what all college students experience, no matter what their college
major or career path may be.

The liberal arts are what distinguish a college education from vocational training; they define
what it means to be a well-rounded, well-educated person.

On some campuses, general education is also referred to as: (a) the core curricu-
lum—what’s central or essential for all students to learn, (b) breadth requirements—
the broad range of subject areas and skill sets that every college graduate should
possess, or (c) distribution requirements—courses that are distributed across a variety
of subjects and fields of study.

Reflection 2.2

On your campus, what term is used to refer to the fields of study that all students are
required to experience in order to graduate?

Whatever term is used to describe general education on your campus, the bot-
tom line is that it provides the foundation of a college education on which all aca-
demic specializations (majors) are built. It represents what every college graduate
should know and be able to do in order to be an effective person, citizen, and pro-
fessional—in whatever occupation he or she may choose to pursue.

Major Bodies of Knowledge in the General Education Curriculum
The divisions of knowledge that constitute the general education curriculum vary
somewhat from campus to campus, and there may be some campus-to-campus dif-
ferences in terms of the specific courses students are required to take within each of

30 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

these divisions of knowledge. What follows is a description of the typical divisions
of knowledge that comprise the general education curriculum on most campuses
today. As you read through the specific fields of study within each of these divisions
of knowledge, make note of the subjects in which you never had a course.

Courses in this division of general education focus on the human experience and
the “big questions” humans have always tried to answer, such as: “Why are we
here?” “What is the purpose of our existence?” “What does it mean to be human?”
“What constitutes a ‘good life’?” “Is there life after death?” Listed below are the
primary subjects in the Humanities, followed by the type of skills these subjects are
designed to develop.

• Literature. Critical reading, literary interpretation, and appreciation of differ-

ent literary genres—e.g., novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays.
• Philosophy. Rational thinking, acquiring wisdom (the ability to use knowledge

prudently), and living an ethical life.
• Theology. Appreciating the ways in which humans believe and express their

faith in a transcendent (supreme) being.
• English Composition. Writing clearly, thoughtfully, and convincingly.
• Speech. Communicating orally in a clear, articulate, and persuasive manner.
• Languages. Understanding and communicating in languages other than one’s

native tongue.

“Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human.”—Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist
and Holocaust survivor

“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that
connected me with all the
people who were alive, and
who have ever been alive.”
—James Baldwin, African-American
novelist, essayist, playwright, and

Fine Arts
Courses in this division of general education focus largely on the art of human ex-
pression, asking and seeking answers to such questions as: “How do humans create,
and appreciate beauty?” and “How do humans express themselves aesthetically
(through the senses), imaginatively, and stylistically?” Listed below are the primary
subdivisions of the Fine Arts and the type of skills these subjects are designed to

• Visual Arts. Expression and appreciation of creativity through visual represen-
tation (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and graphic design).

• Musical Arts. Expression and appreciation of creativity through rhythmical ar-
rangement of sounds.

• Performing Arts. Expression and appreciation of creativity through drama and

“Dancing is silent poetry.”—Simonides, ancient Greek poet

Courses in this division of general education develop skills relating to quantitative
reasoning, numerical calculations, and data analysis. Listed below are the subjects
that typically comprise the general education curriculum in mathematics, accompa-
nied by the type of skills these subjects are designed to develop.

• Algebra. Mathematical reasoning and logical thinking expressed in symbols
which represent numbers in the language of letters.

• Statistics. Summarizing quantitative data; estimating probabilities; represent-
ing and understanding numerical information in the form of graphs, charts, and
tables; drawing accurate inferences from statistical information.

“The universe is a grand book which cannot be read until one learns to comprehend the language of which it is composed. It is written in the
language of mathematics.”
—Galileo Galilei, 17th-century
Italian physicist, mathematician,
astronomer, and philosopher

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 31

• Calculus. Advanced mathematical skills used to calculate areas enclosed by
curves and the rate at which the quantity of one entity changes in relation to

Natural Sciences
Courses in this division of the liberal arts curriculum focus on systematic observa-
tion of the physical world and underlying explanations of natural phenomena, seek-
ing answers to such questions as: “What causes the physical events that take place in
the natural world?”, “How can we predict and control natural events?”, and “How
do we promote harmonious interaction between humans and the natural environ-
ment in ways that support their mutual survival and well-being?” Listed below are
the primary subject areas in the Natural Sciences and the type of skills these sub-
jects are designed to develop.

• Biology. Understanding the structures and processes of all forms of life.
• Chemistry. Understanding the composition of natural and synthetic sub-

stances, how these substances can be altered, and how new substances may be

• Physics. Understanding the properties of physical matter, their principles of
energy and motion, and how they are affected by electrical and magnetic forces.

• Geology. Examining the composition of the earth and the natural processes
that shaped its development.

• Astronomy. Exploring the makeup and motion of celestial bodies that compose
the cosmos.

”“The media through which we get our information about the world are full of charts, graphs, and statistical information. Important decisions you will
make about such matters as a
medical treatment, home
buying or voting will depend
on your math skills.”
—Robert Shoenberg, Senior Fellow,
Association of American Colleges and

”“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.—Hippocrates, ancient Greek
philosopher, physician, and the “father
of western medicine”

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Courses in this division of general education focus on the systematic observation of
human behavior, both individually and in groups, asking and seeking answers to
such questions as: “What causes humans to behave the way they do?” and “How
can we predict, control, and improve human behavior and social interaction?”
Listed below are subjects that typically comprise the Social and Behavioral Sciences
curriculum and the type of skills these courses are designed to develop.

• History. Understanding past events, their causes, and their influence on cur-
rent events.

• Political Science. Understanding how societal authority is organized and used
to govern people, make collective decisions and maintain social order.

• Psychology. Understanding the human mind, its conscious and subconscious
processes, and the underlying causes of human behavior.

• Sociology. Understanding the behavior of human groups, social organizations,
and institutions that comprise society (e.g., families, schools, hospitals, and

• Anthropology. Understanding the cultural origins, physical origins, and devel-
opment of the human species.

• Geography. Understanding how the place (physical location) where humans
live can shape, and be shaped by, their culture.

• Economics. Examining how society’s material needs are met through alloca-
tion of limited resources and how monetary wealth generated by society’s pro-
duction of goods and services are distributed, priced, and consumed.

”“Man, the molecule of society, is the subject of social science.—Henry Charles Carey, 19th-century American economist

32 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

I majored in anthropology as an undergraduate and I am very thankful to have done so.
As the daughter of immigrant parents, studying anthropology helped me better under-
stand my culture and the cultural communities that surrounded me where I grew up
(Brooklyn, New York). More importantly, studying anthropology contributed to my ap-
preciation of the rich human diversity that makes up the world in which we live.

—Michele Campagna

Physical Health and Wellness
Courses in this division of general education focus on how humans maintain opti-
mal health and attain peak levels of human performance, asking and seeking an-
swers to such questions as: “How does the body function most effectively?” and
“What can humans do to minimize illness, maximize wellness, and improve the
overall quality of their lives?” Listed below are the primary subject areas in this di-
vision of the college curriculum and the type of skills they’re designed to develop.

• Physical Education. Understanding the benefits of, and engaging in, exercise
to enhance health and human performance.

• Nutrition. Understanding what and how foods nourish the body, maintain
health, and generate energy.

• Sexuality. Understanding the biology and psychology of sexual relationships.
• Drug Education. Understanding how chemical substances alter the body and

mind, and affect physical health, mental health, and human behavior.

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”—La Rochefoucauld, 17th-century French author
Reflection 2.3

Look back at the subject areas that comprise general education. In subject areas where
you’ve never had a course, identify one subject that strikes you as particularly interest-
ing or potentially useful. Provide a brief explanation of why you chose it.

Most general education requirements are likely to be taken during your first
two years of college. Interestingly, research reveals that students make their greatest
gains in learning and thinking during their first two years of college—the time
when most general education requirements are taken. Don’t be dismayed if some of
these requirements look similar to courses you’ve had in high school. They will not
be videotape replays of your high school courses; you will dive deeper into these
subjects, learn them in greater depth and apply higher levels of thinking to the con-
cepts they cover.

General education deepens learning not only by equipping you with a broad
base of knowledge spanning multiple subjects, it also disciplines your mind to think
in multiple ways. This is why the subject areas that comprise general education are
referred to as academic disciplines—by studying them, you develop the “mental dis-
cipline” needed to do the type of thinking required by these different fields of study.
For instance, when you study history, algebra, biology, and art, you discipline your
mind to think chronologically, symbolically, scientifically, and aesthetically.

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 33

The Liberal Arts Liberate You from Narrowness and Broaden Your
The liberal arts empower you to think comprehensively. The wide range of subjects
encountered during your journey through the general education curriculum equips
you with a wide-angle lens through which to view the world from a panoramic per-
spective. The key vantage points supplied by this broader perspective are illustrated
in Figure 2.1. The center circle represents the self. Fanning out to the right of the
self are increasingly wider arches representing the progressively broader social–spa-
tial perspective developed by the liberal arts. This expanded social–spatial perspective
provides you with a “world view” that enables you to step beyond yourself to view
the world in terms of successively larger social groups and more distant places; it
moves you from the micro to the macro, from the narrowest perspective (the indi-
vidual) to the broadest perspective (the universe).

To the left of the self in Figure 2.1 are three arches that comprise the chronological
perspective developed by the liberal arts. Each of these perspectives represents a key
dimension of time: the past (historical perspective), the present (contemporary per-
spective), and the future (futuristic perspective). The liberal arts equip you with a
chronological perspective that includes hindsight to see where the world has been, in-
sight to see where the word is now, and foresight to see where the world is going. By
stretching your perspective beyond the here and now, you’re able to view the world
through the eyes of humans who have lived before you and who will live after you.

”“Truly educated persons move beyond themselves, gain social perspective, see themselves in relation to other people and times.
—Ernest Boyer and Martin Kaplan, in
“Educating for Survival: A Call for a Core

FIGURE 2.1: Broadening Perspectives Developed by the Liberal Arts







































©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

In a nutshell, the liberal arts supply you with a social–spatial perspective that
widens your frame of reference and a chronological perspective that lengthens it.
Together, these two broadening perspectives enable you to appreciate the experi-
ences of humans living long ago and far away.

34 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

The Social–Spatial Perspective: Moving Beyond the Self to the
Wider World

The Perspective of Family
One of the ways in which the liberal arts broaden your social perspective is by deep-
ening your understanding of how the family influences development of the individ-
ual. Those who raised you and with whom you were raised have shaped the person
you are today. Moreover, your family members have not only influenced you, you
have influenced them. For example, your decision to go to college may influence
your parents’ view of you and may influence whether other members of your family
decide to attend college. If you have children, your college experience will likely
impact their development because research shows that children of college graduates
experience improved intellectual development, better physical health, and greater
economic security.

“I noticed before when I wasn’t going to college, they [my family] didn’t look at me as highly as a person. But
now since I have started
college, everybody is lifting
me up and saying how proud
they [are] of me.”
—First-year student

The Perspective of Community
In addition to being nested in a family, you’re also nested in a larger social unit—your
community. A community may be defined as a group of people that share the same
environment, interests, beliefs, and values. This circle of community members in-
cludes your friends as well as people in the communities where you live, work, and go
to school. If you want to make the world a better place, the place to start is to engage
in service and leadership in the communities in which you are a member. As William
Cronon notes in his famous essay, “Only Connect:” The Goals of a Liberal Education, “In
the act of making us free, it [liberal arts education] also binds to the communities that
gave us our freedom in the first place; it makes us responsible to those communities.
It is about exercising our freedom in such a way as to make a difference in the world
and make a difference for more than just ourselves.”

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”—Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during World War II and
winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature

One way we can make a difference is to step beyond our narrow self-interests
and volunteer our time to help other members of our local community. Volunteers
measure their personal success not solely in terms of what they do to better them-
selves, but also in terms of what they do to better their community. They are
humane—demonstrate compassion for others less fortunate than themselves, and
they are humanitarian—they have passion for helping others in need—including
the sick, the poor, the weak, the handicapped, the very young and the very old. One
of the goals of the liberal arts is to promote civic engagement, and studies show that
compared with other citizens, college graduates have higher rates of engagement in
civic affairs and community service.

“Think globally, act locally.”—Patrick Geddes, Scottish urban planner and social activist
The purpose of a college education is not only to learn how to earn a better living; it’s also
about learning to be a better human being.

The Perspective of Society
In addition to being members of our local communities, we are members of soci-
ety—a larger group of people organized under the same social system. This larger
society includes social subgroups organized into different geographical regions
(e.g., north, south, east, west), different states, and different population densities
(e.g., urban, suburban, rural). Society is also stratified into groups of people with
different socioeconomic status—based on their income, education and job status,

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 35

which is accompanied by different (and unequal) social privileges and economic re-
sources. For instance, in the United States, the wealthiest 20% of Americans con-
trols approximately 85% of America’s wealth, and this wealth gap is widening.

In addition to lower income, groups with lower socioeconomic status also have
poorer educational and social-networking opportunities. For instance, young adults
from high-income families are more than seven times more likely to have earned a
college degree and hold prestigious jobs than those from low-income families.
These differences may be explained, at least in part, by the fact that young adults
raised in families with higher socioeconomic status are privileged with two forms of
capital, each of which contributes to their higher rates of college attendance and
college completion: (a) economic capital—the material resources their family pos-
sesses—such as higher income, better health benefits, discretionary income for
travel, technology, tutors, and other enriching educational experiences; and (b) so-
cial capital—who they know—such as contacts with employers, college counselors,
college admissions officials, and “power players” in the legal and political system.

The broader societal perspective developed by the liberal arts helps us under-
stand how such stratification advantages or disadvantages different groups of people
and increases our empathy for less privileged members of society.

The National Perspective
In addition to being members of a society, we are also members (citizens) of a na-
tion. The signers of the Declaration of Independence believed that the pursuit of
personal happiness was not possible without pursuit of the national good; the well-
being of the individual and the nation were inescapably interrelated. The hallmark
of a democratic nation is its citizens’ right to participate in, the national good and
contribute to through the voting process. The right to vote is both a privilege and a
responsibility of citizens in a democratic nation. In a democracy, voting is more
than a political choice; it’s a patriotic act.

When voter turnout rates are low, citizens with more moderate political views
are often the ones who fail to vote, which results in people holding more extreme
views getting a larger percentage of the total vote. Thus, low voter turnouts result
in a more polarized political system that’s less conducive to balanced, bipartisan
representation and negotiation. Also, when voter turnouts are low, political candi-
dates are more likely to use extreme media tactics—such as attack ads and smear
campaigns—to instill public fear of the opposing candidate.

Disappointingly, American citizens between the ages of 18 and 24 continue to
display the lowest voter-turnout rate of any age group that’s eligible to vote. Also
disappointing are the results of national surveys revealing that first-year college stu-
dents rank preparation for citizenship and civic engagement among the least im-
portant reasons for attending college. Hoping to combat this voter apathy among
young Americans, the “March for Our Lives” movement (organized by a high
school senior from a school that experienced a mass murder) has registered more
than 50,000 voters, most of them between the ages of 18 and 29.

Having the privilege of citizenship in a free nation brings with it the responsi-
bility of learning about political candidates and participating in the country’s
governance through the voting process. As Derek Bok, former president of Har-
vard University puts it: “Civic responsibility must be learned, for it is neither natu-
ral nor effortless. It takes work to inform oneself sufficiently to cast an intelligent
vote.” National surveys show that employers of college graduates feel the same way:
83% agree that college students should take classes that build civic knowledge and

”“Get involved. Don’t gripe about things unless you are making an effort to change them. You can make a difference if you dare.
—Richard C. Holbrooke, former director
of the Peace Corps and American
ambassador to the United Nations

36 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

Your investment in a college education is not just an investment in yourself, it’s an investment
in your country.

Reflection 2.4

Did you vote in the last presidential election? If yes, why? If no, why not?

The International Perspective
Beyond being citizens of a nation, we’re also members of a larger international
community that includes close to 200 other nations worldwide. In today’s interna-
tionally interdependent world, citizens of all nations are affected by events taking
place in other nations. Traditional boundaries between countries are blurring or
disappearing altogether due to increasing international travel, international trading,
and the growth of international corporations. The information technology explo-
sion has also brought with it the capacity for citizens of different nations to commu-
nicate more frequently and rapidly than at any time in human history. The Internet
(originally called the “worldwide web”) has truly made today’s world a “small world
after all,” and success in it requires an international perspective—one of the broad-
ening perspectives developed by the liberal arts.

“A liberal [arts] education frees a person from the prison-house of class, race, time, place, background,
family, and nation.”
—Robert Hutchins, former dean of
Yale Law School and president of
the University of Chicago

You can begin developing an international perspective by taking internation-
ally-focused courses (e.g., international relations) and partaking in international
experiential-learning opportunities (e.g., study abroad or study travel). Research on
college students who study abroad indicates that it transforms their perspective on
the world, promotes greater appreciation of international and cross-cultural differ-
ences, increases their interest in world affairs, and elevates their awareness of the
importance of international cooperation for preserving international peace. Re-
search also shows that students who study abroad experience personal benefits, such
as increased self-confidence, a stronger sense of independence, and the ability to
function effectively in complex or unfamiliar environments.

When you learn about and from people of other countries, you extend your sense of citizenship
beyond the boundaries of your own nation—you become cosmopolitan—a citizen of the world.

The Global Perspective
Even broader than an international perspective is a global perspective—it tran-
scends nations to embrace all forms of human and nonhuman life on planet earth
and examines how these diverse life forms interface with natural resources (miner-
als, air, and water). Humans share the earth with approximately 10 million animal
species and more than 300,000 forms of vegetative life, all of which have needs that
must be met and balanced to ensure the health and sustainability of our planet. Just
as individuals should avoid egocentrism—viewing the self as the center of the uni-
verse—humans should avoid anthropocentrism—viewing the human species as the
only significant life form on the planet while ignoring (or abusing) other elements
of the natural world. According to Howard Gardner, internationally acclaimed psy-

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 37

chologist, for today’s young people to thrive in the communities of the future, they
will need to demonstrate “ethical” commitment—which includes empathy for the
needs of others, the capacity to move beyond narrow self-interests, and take the ini-
tiative to become actively involved in broader societal and global issues.

A global perspective includes mindfulness of how our industrial and eco-
nomic pursuits impact the earth’s sustainability. As “global citizens” occupying
the same planet, we have the collective responsibility to protect Earth’s natural
resources and the life forms that depend on those resources for their current and
future survival. Scientists across the globe have reached strong consensus that
man-made pollution is building up levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,
causing temperatures to rise (and sometimes fall) around the world. These
changing temperatures are creating more extreme weather conditions and more
frequent natural disasters—such as droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and dust
storms. Addressing the problem of climate change requires a global perspective
and appreciation of how waste emissions generated in all countries around the
world need to be held to environmentally sustainable levels in order to preserve
the future health of the planet and the health of future generations of humans
who will depend on its resources. Developing such a global perspective is one of
the educational goals of the liberal arts.

”“[College] graduates need to develop a sense of global citizenship . . . to care about people in distant places, to understand the nature of
global economic integration, to
appreciate the interconnected-
ness and interdependence of
people, and to protect planet
—Yong Zhao, noted Chinese painter,
calligrapher, and poet

”“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.—Kenyan proverb
Reflection 2.5

Other than climate change (a.k.a. global warming), what would you say is another
worldwide issue that requires a global perspective to understand and solve?

The Perspective of the Universe (Cosmos)
Beyond the global perspective is the broadest of all perspectives—the universe.
Gaining this cosmic perspective positions us to view planet Earth as sharing a solar
system with other planets and as one celestial body sharing a galaxy with millions of
other celestial bodies including stars, moons, meteorites, and asteroids.

It is noteworthy that the original liberal arts curriculum developed during the
Middle Ages included astronomy as one of its seven essential subjects. The timeless
intrigue of the cosmos continues today in a field of study known as cosmology. Re-
flecting on the massive, mysterious nature of the universe, how it began, where it
may be going, and whether it will ever end, are considered by some to be spiritual
questions. For example, some astronauts who have travelled beyond the earth’s
force of gravity to view the universe from a cosmic perspective have referred to
their journey as a “spiritual experience.”

Whether the universe is viewed from the perspective of astronomy or spiritual-
ity, it is the broadest of all social–spatial perspectives developed by the liberal arts.

”“In astronomy, you must get used to viewing the earth as just one planet in the larger context of the universe.—Physics professor
”“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which

he lives.
—Socrates, classic Greek (Athenian)
philosopher and founding father of
Western philosophy

The Chronological Perspective:
Embracing the Past, Present, and Future
In addition to broadening your perspective of the social and physical world by
equipping you with knowledge about other people and places, the liberal arts also
stretch your perspective of time by learning about the past and its relationship to
the present and future. Thus, a chronological perspective consists of three key com-
ponents: historical, contemporary, and futuristic.

”“We all inherit the past. We all confront the challenges of the present. We all participate in the making of the future.—Ernest Boyer & Martin Kaplan, in
“Educating for Survival: A Call for a Core

38 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

Historical Perspective
The liberal arts deepen your understanding of the historical roots of the current
human condition and world situation. Humanity today is a product or byproduct of
many years of social and natural history. The earth is estimated to be more than 4.5
billion years old and our human ancestors date back more than 250,000 years.
Viewed from this historical perspective, a human lifespan represents a very small
frame of time in a very long chronological reel. Every modern convenience we now
enjoy reflects the collective knowledge and cumulative efforts humanity amassed
over thousands of years of history. For instance, we build on the knowledge and ef-
forts of the ancient Egyptian pyramid makers to build today’s skyscrapers, and we
build on our knowledge of the causes and consequences of the Holocaust to reduce
the risk that an atrocity of such magnitude ever happens again. By studying the past,
we learn from both the successes and mistakes of our ancestors.

“Those who cannot remember the past are damned to repeat it.”—George Santayana, Spanish-born
American philosopher

Reflection 2.6

What historical event or development do you think is having the most impact on
today’s world?

Contemporary Perspective
Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. A contemporary perspective gives us insight
into current issues and events that are affecting us now and will continue to affect
us in the future. Being able to take a critical perspective on current events is partic-
ularly important in today’s world because the news reporting by contemporary
media may be more politically biased than at any other time in history. Political
campaigns today employ manipulative media advertisements, rely on short one-
sided sound bites, and deploy sensational visual images designed to stoke emotions
rather than appeal to logic and reason. It could be said that the original goal of the
liberal arts—to develop a well-informed, critical-thinking citizenry—is more im-
portant than ever. Your exposure to the liberal arts will strengthen your contempo-
rary perspective by supplying you with the mental skills and wisdom to make dis-
cerning choices and decisions in today’s increasingly complex and polarized world.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”—Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
Albanian, Catholic nun and winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize

Reflection 2.7

Do you keep up with current events? If yes, what news source(s) do you rely on?

Futuristic Perspective
A futuristic perspective frees us from the here and now, allowing us to envision
what our world will be like in the years and decades ahead. This perspective allows
us to anticipate the challenges facing humankind in the future by asking and seek-
ing answers to such questions as: “Will we leave the world a better place for our
children and grandchildren?” and “How can we avoid short-term, shortsighted
thinking and adopt a long-range perspective that enables us to anticipate and con-
trol the consequences of our current actions on future generations of humans?”

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 39

The liberal arts help us remain mindful that an individual’s lifespan is incredibly
short when compared with the lifespan of humanity. Viewing the world from this
extended perspective underscores our moral responsibility to use the limited time
we have on earth to promote the quality and preserve the sustainability of life on
our planet.

”“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.—Malcolm X, African American Muslim
minister, public speaker, and human
rights activist

In summary, the chronological perspective developed by the liberal arts brings
the past, present, and future into focus on a single screen. It enables you to see how
the current world is just one link in a long chain of time that has been shaped by
past events and will be shaped by future events. When the past-present-future di-
mensions of a chronological perspective are combined with the progressively wider
dimensions of a social–spatial perspective, you’re positioned to understand how hu-
manity is interconnected and nested within multiple layers of context—as illus-
trated in Figures 2.2 and 2.3.

FIGURE 2.2: Nested Social–Spatial
Perspectives Developed by the Liberal Arts:
Interconnecting People and Places










©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

FIGURE 2.3: Nested Chronological
P erspectives Developed by the Liberal Arts:
Interconnecting Periods of Time




©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

The Synoptic Perspective: Integrating Multiple Perspectives into a
Coherent Whole
The liberal arts do not only supply you with multiple perspectives, they also posi-
tion you to integrate those perspectives into a meaningful whole. When you’re able
to see how the perspectives of time, place, and person intersect to form the “big
picture,” you’re equipped with a synoptic perspective. The word derives from a com-
bination of two roots: syn—meaning “together” (as in the word “synthesize”)—and
optic—meaning “to see.” Thus, a “synoptic” perspective literally means to “see
things together” or “see the whole.” It’s a panoramic perspective that allows us to
“connect the dots” and see how the trees form the forest.

”“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound
together. All things connect.
—Chief Seattle, prominent Native
American after whom the city of Seattle
is named

A synoptic perspective enables us to see how we, as individuals, fit into the
larger scheme of things. When we see ourselves as nested within an interconnected
web of other people, places, and times, we become aware of our shared humanity.
This connection with humankind reduces our sense of isolation and alienation; it
increases our ability to empathize and identify with people whose life experiences
differ radically from our own. In his book, The Perfect Education, Kenneth Eble elo-
quently describes the benefits of the synoptic perspective developed by a liberal arts

”“A truly great intellect is one which takes a connected view of old and new, past and present, far and near, and which has an insight into the
influence of all these on one
another, without which there is
no whole, and no center.
—John Henry Newman, in The Idea of a

40 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

“It can provide that overarching life of a people, a community, a world that was
going on before the individual came onto the scene and that will continue on after
[s]he departs. By such means we come to see the world not alone. Our joys are more
intense for being shared. Our sorrows are less destructive for our knowing universal
sorrow. Our fears of death fade before the commonness of the occurrence.”

The Liberal Arts Develop Transferable Skills that Can be Applied
across Different Contexts and Situations
In addition to providing you with a broad base of knowledge and multiple perspec-
tives for viewing yourself and the world around you, the liberal arts equip you with
a set of skills that can be adapted for use in a wide variety of settings. This is an-
other way in which the liberal arts “liberate” you—by empowering you with a set of
versatile skills that are not tied to one particular subject area or career field, but are
transferable across the curriculum and throughout life. Box 2.1 contains a sample
of these transferable skills.

Box 2.1
As you read the skills below, rate your current level of
development or proficiency on each of them, using the
following scale:

4 = very strong, 3 = strong, 2 = needs some improvement,
1 = needs much improvement

1. Critical and Creative Thinking. Ability to evaluate
the validity of ideas or arguments and think innova-
tively or imaginatively.

2. Communication. Ability to express and comprehend
ideas through various media, including:
• Written Communication. Writing in a clear,

creative, and persuasive manner
• Oral Communication. Speaking concisely,

confidently, and eloquently
• Reading. Comprehending, interpreting, and

evaluating the literal and figurative meaning of
language written in various styles and subjects

• Listening. Comprehending spoken language
actively, accurately, and empathically

• Technology. Using electronic media to effectively
acquire and present ideas

Effectively managing personal affairs, from shopping

for household products to electing health care
providers to making financial decisions, often
requires people to acquire new knowledge from a
variety of media, use different types of technologies
and process complex information.”
—The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

3. Quantitative Skills. Ability to calculate, analyze,
summarize, interpret, and evaluate quantitative
information and statistical data.

4. Information Literacy Skills. Ability to access,
retrieve, and evaluate information from various
sources, including in-print and online (technology-
based) systems.

Reflection 2.8

Reflect on the above transferable skills developed by general education (communica-
tion, information literacy, computation, and higher-level thinking). Which of these
skills do you need the most improvement? How do you plan to improve them?

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 41

The liberal arts skills listed in Box 2.1 have two powerful qualities:

1. Flexibility: they are nimble, portable skills that “travel well”—you can carry
them with you and apply them across a wide range of subject areas, work situa-
tions, and life roles.

2. Durability: they are sustainable, enduring skills with “staying power” that can be
used continually throughout life.

What the liberal arts do for the mind is comparable to what cross-training does
for the body. Cross-training engages the body in a range of different exercises that
promotes total physical fitness and develops a broad set of physical skills—strength,
endurance, flexibility, and agility—which can be applied to improve performance in
any sport or athletic endeavor. Similarly, general education engages the mind in a
wide range of mental skills that can be used to improve performance in any major
or career. As Robert Harris articulates it:

“Good learning habits can be transferred from one subject to another. When a bas-
ketball player lifts weights or plays handball in preparation for basketball, no one
asks, “What good is weightlifting or handball for a basketball player?” because it is
clear that these exercises build muscles, reflexes, and coordination that can be trans-
ferred to basketball—building them perhaps better than endless hours of basketball
practice would. The same is true of the mind. Exercise in various areas builds
brainpower for whatever endeavor you plan to pursue.”

”“You know you’ve got to exercise your brain just like your muscles.—Will Rogers, Native American humorist and actor

I must confess that I graduated from college without really understanding the true meaning
and purpose of general education. When I became a college professor, two of my
colleagues from the Office of Student Affairs asked me to help them create a first-year
experience (college success) course. I agreed and volunteered to teach the course, which in-
cluded a unit on the Meaning and Value of General Education. When I was preparing to
teach this unit, I began to realize what general education represented and what it did for me.
It became clear that the lasting power of my college education didn’t come from all the fac-
tual information I had studied (and forgotten), but the transferable skills and “habits of mind”
that I developed in college and continue to use throughout my professional and personal life.

—Joe Cuseo

Much of the specialized, factual information you learn in college may be forgotten. However,
what will be remembered are the ways of thinking, habits of mind, and communication skills
developed by general education, which will continue to be used in multiple life roles through-
out life.

The Liberal Arts Develop the Whole Person
Socrates, the ancient and influential Greek philosopher, issued the famous procla-
mation: “Know thyself.” This proclamation is a primary goal of the liberal arts. In
addition to expanding your knowledge of the world around you, the liberal arts ex-
pand your knowledge of the world within you by encouraging you to look
inward and learn about yourself. Scholars consider introspection (the ability to in-
spect oneself and gain self-awareness) to be a major form of human intelligence—
referred to as “intrapersonal intelligence.”

”“A liberal arts education can help us develop a more comprehensive understanding of the universe and ourselves.—Spencer Mc Williams, in Liberal Arts
Education: What Does it Mean? What is
it Worth?

42 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

Self-awareness (self-
knowledge) is one of
the most important
outcomes of a liberal
arts and general

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

To know thyself—to be fully self-aware—requires
knowledge of the whole self. The liberal arts liberate
you from a narrow or single-dimensional view of your-
self, helping you become aware of all the key compo-
nents that make up the “self” and make you “whole.”
National surveys reveal that the number one reason
why students go to college is to get a good job. Al-
though finding a job and earning a decent living are
certainly important, vocational development is just one
slice of a larger pie of holistic (whole person) develop-
ment. A college education should not just enrich you
economically; it should enrich you holistically, enabling
you to become a well-rounded and fully developed
human being.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”—Socrates, ancient Greek philosopher and a founding father of Western philosophy
As can be seen in Figure 2.4, the different dimen-

sions of self are interrelated. They do not operate inde-
pendently, but interdependently—they intersect and
interact with one another to affect our overall develop-
ment and total well-being. Our intellectual performance
can be influenced by our emotional state (e.g., whether
we’re enthusiastic or anxious); our emotional state can
be influenced by our social relationships (e.g., whether
we feel socially accepted or isolated); and our social relationships can be influenced
by our physical state (e.g., whether we have a positive or negative physical self-im-
age). If one link in this interconnected chain of selves is strengthened or weakened,
other links in the chain are likely to be simultaneously strengthened or weakened.
For instance, when college students make gains in intellectual development, research
shows that they also make gains in social self-confidence and self-esteem.

Holistic self-awareness and self-growth encompass the following key forms of

1. Intellectual Development: acquiring a broad base of knowledge, learning how
to learn, and developing critical thinking skills.

2. Emotional Development: understanding, managing, and expressing emotions.
3. Social Development: improving the quality and depth of interpersonal

4. Ethical Development: building moral character—making sound ethical judg-

ments, developing a clear value system for guiding personal decision-making,
and demonstrating consistency between convictions (beliefs) and commitments

5. Physical Development: acquiring knowledge about one’s body and applying
that knowledge to prevent disease, promote wellness, and achieve peak

6. Spiritual Development: pondering the “big questions”, such as the meaning
and purpose of life, the inevitability of death, and the origins of human life and
the universe.

7. Vocational Development: exploring career options and pursuing a career path
that is consistent with one’s true talents, interests, and values.

8. Personal Development: developing a sense of personal identity, a coherent and
positive self-concept, and the capacity to effectively manage personal resources
(e.g., time and money).

“Everyone is a house with four rooms: a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one
room most of the time but
unless we go into every room
every day, even if only to
keep it aired, we are not
—Native American proverb

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 43

(For a more detailed description of these eight elements of self-development,
see Exercise 2.5, pp. 49-52.)

Reflection 2.9

Which one of the eight dimensions of self listed above are you most interested in
developing or improving while you’re in college? Why?

FIGURE 2.4: Key Elements of Holistic (Whole-Person) Development













©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

”“I want to see how all the pieces of me come together to make me.—College sophomore

On my office door, I post a picture of the holistic-development wheel to remind myself
to keep my life balanced. Every Sunday night I reflect on the previous week and ask my-
self if I’ve ignored any particular component(s) of self-development. If I have, I try to
make an earnest attempt to pay more attention to that aspect of my life during the up-
coming week. For instance, if my previous week’s activities reveal that I’ve neglected to
spend enough time on my social self, I plan to spend more time the following week with
family and friends. If I’ve neglected to attend to my physical self, I plan to exercise more
consistently and eat more healthily the next week. The picture of the holistic self-devel-
opment wheel on my door supplies me with a continual visual reminder to strive for
“wholeness” and “balance” in my life.

—Joe Cuseo

The Co-Curriculum: Using Your Whole Campus
to Develop Yourself as a Whole Person
The power of the liberal arts is magnified when college students take advantage of
their total campus environment. A college education involves more than just enroll-
ing in courses and piling up credits; it also involves capitalizing on the learning
opportunities available to you outside the classroom—the co-curriculum. Co-curric-
ular experiences include educational discussions with peers and professors outside

44 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

of class, as well as participation in campus events, programs, and organizations
sponsored by the Office of Student Life or Student Development.

Learning from courses (the curriculum) is primarily vicarious—it involves
learning from or through somebody else—namely, listening to professors’ lectures
in class and by reading scholarly materials outside of class. Such academic learning is
important but needs to be complemented by experiential learning—that is, learning
that takes place directly from first-hand experiences. For example, leadership can-
not be learned solely by listening to lectures and reading books about leadership.
Developing leadership skills also requires engaging in actual leadership experi-
ences, such as holding office in student government or serving as captain of a sports

“To educate liberally, learning experiences must be offered which facilitate maturity of the whole person. These are
goals of student develop-
ment and clearly they are
consistent with the mission
and goals of liberal
—Theodore Berg, in Student
Development and Liberal Education

General education involves learning through the curriculum and co-curriculum. Together, they combine to create a college graduate who is both well-rounded and globally minded.
Listed in Box 2.3 are some of the major out-of-class, co-curricular programs and

services offered on colleges and university campuses; they are organized according to
the primary dimension of self-development they’re designed to promote.

“The comprehensiveness of general education does not relate simply to knowledge, but to the entire environ-
ment in which learning takes
place. From the beginning,
general education curricula
[the liberal arts] have been
concerned with the student’s
total learning environment;
the entire community is
considered as a resource for
general education.”
—George Miller, in The Meaning of
General Education

The power of general education is magnified when you learn from both the breadth of courses in
the liberal arts curriculum and the diversity of experiences available through the co-curriculum.
By combining the two, you use the whole college to develop yourself as a whole person.

Box 2.3
Dimensions of Holistic (Whole-Person)
Development Promoted by Out-of-Class
Experiences and Co-Curricular Programs

Intellectual Development
• Learning center
• College library
• Academic advising
• Tutoring services
• Information technology services
• Campus speakers
• Academic skills-development workshops
• Concerts, theater productions, and art shows

Ethical Development
• Judicial review board
• Student government
• Integrity committees and task forces

Physical Development
• Student health services
• Wellness programs
• Campus athletic activities and intramural sports

Spiritual Development
• Campus ministry
• Peer ministry
• Religious services

Vocational Development
• Career development services
• Internships
• Service learning experiences
• Work-study programs
• Major and career fairs

Personal Development
• Financial aid services and workshops
• Self-management workshops (e.g., managing time and

• Student development workshops and retreats

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 45

Reflection 2.10

What student club or organization on your campus most interests you?

Which element(s) of the self would this club or organization help you develop?

The Liberal Arts Develop Skills for Success in Your College Major
Despite the multiple benefits of general education, studies show that students often
view liberal arts courses as something to “get out of the way” or “get behind them”
so they can get into their major. Don’t buy into the belief that general education is
nothing more than a series of hoops and hurdles that must be surmounted or cir-
cumnavigated before you get to do what really matters. Instead of just getting these
courses “out of the way,” get “into them” and take away from them the essential
skills you need to succeed in your major and to help you choose a major that best
reflects your interests, talents, and values.

Remember the story at the very start of this chapter about Laura, the business
major, who questioned why she had to take a course in philosophy. By taking that
philosophy course, Laura didn’t just check off a general-education requirement
box, she acquired critical thinking and ethical reasoning skills that she could apply
to understand business issues more deeply and respond to them more humanely.
That general education course helped her gain greater awareness of important phil-
osophical issues related to her major, such as: (a) underlying philosophical assump-
tions and values of capitalism and how they differ from other economic systems, (b)
business ethics—philosophical principles that could serve as guidelines for ethical
hiring and advertising practices, and (c) business justice—how the philosophical
tenet of “distributive justice” ensures equitable distribution of profits among work-
ers, executives, and shareholders.

Similarly, other subjects in the liberal arts curriculum provide business majors
(and the many non-business majors who end up working in business organizations)
with logical thinking and ethical reasoning skills needed to function effectively in
the corporate world, such as:

• History and Political Science: how governmental policies impact business op-
erations and regulations.

• Psychology and Sociology: how different motivational forces affect worker
productivity and consumer purchasing habits, both individually and in groups.

• Speech, English Composition, and Literature: how to speak confidently and
persuasively at meetings, write clear and concise memos, and read business re-
ports analytically and critically.

• Mathematics: how to analyze, summarize, and interpret statistical data from
marketing surveys.

• Natural Science: how to evaluate effective and efficient ways for companies to
conserve energy and sustain natural resources.

• Fine Arts: how to create visually engaging advertisements and innovative mar-
keting designs.

”“Virtually all occupational endeavors require a working appreciation of the historical, cultural, ethical, and global environments that surround
the application of skilled
—Robert Jones, author, Liberal Education
for the Twenty-first Century: Business

46 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

The liberal arts also contribute to a successful performance in fields other than
business. For instance, historical perspectives and ethical principles learned
through the liberal arts are relevant to all majors because all of them have a history
and none of them are value-free.

The Liberal Arts Enhance Career Preparation and Career Success
The world has changed dramatically during the 21st century, and along with it, so
has the world of work. Today’s employers are seeking employees with different skill
sets than they have in the past; they are now looking for job candidates who are able
to adapt to a variety of environments, who can problem-solve and manage projects,
who have strong communication and interpersonal skills, and who can work effec-
tively in teams.

In particular, employers report that the following skills and perspectives are es-
sential for college graduates to have in order to be prepared for work in the twenty-
first century:

1. Knowledge of human cultures, the physical world, and the natural world, in-
cluding understanding of:
• Concepts and new developments in science and technology
• Global issues and developments and their implications for the future
• The role of the United States in the world
• Cultural values and traditions in America and other countries

2. Intellectual and practical skills, such as the ability to:
• Communicate orally and in writing
• Think critically and analytically
• Locate, organize, and evaluate information from multiple sources
• Innovate and think creatively
• Solve complex problems
• Work with numbers and statistics

3. Integrative learning: the ability to connect (apply) knowledge and skills to real-
world settings

4. Personal and social responsibility:
• Teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group

• A sense of integrity and ethics

“From Utah to the Ukraine and from Milwaukee to Manila, industry is demanding that our graduates have better
teamwork skills, communica-
tion abilities, and an
understanding of the
socioeconomic context in
which engineering is
—Ernest Smerdon, president of the
American Society for Engineering

Reflection 2.11

Review the above four areas of knowledge and skills emphasized by today’s employers.
Which of them were you most surprised to see? Why?

The skills and qualities now being sought by employers are best developed by a
well-rounded education that combines general education through the liberal arts
and specialized education in a specific major. Interviews with hundreds of recent
college graduates and their employers indicate that both believe the best prepara-
tion for career entry is an education which provides career-specific preparation plus
broad-based knowledge and flexible skills. In fact, 93% of employers report that a
candidate’s capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex
problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.

Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education 47

Preparing for a career involves more than just specialized education (a major); it also requires
general education (the liberal arts). Remember: general education is career preparation. ”“They asked me during my interview why I was right for the job and I told them because I can read well, write well and I can think. They really

liked that because those were
the skills they were looking for.
—English major hired by a public
relations firm

The Liberal Arts Prepare You for Lifelong Learning
The world’s economy has progressed from agrarian (farm-based) to industrial (ma-
chine-based) to technological (information-based). The current technological revo-
lution is generating information and new knowledge at a faster rate than at any other
time in human history. When new knowledge is produced and communicated at a
fast rate, existing knowledge and jobs become obsolete at a fast rate.

Studies show that today’s college graduates change jobs 12 times during their first
20 years of work following graduation, and the job-changing rate is highest for
younger workers. These findings point strongly to the conclusion that college gradu-
ates need transferable skills and a broad knowledge base so they can adapt to the
changing work positions and job responsibilities they will encounter during their
career(s). This conclusion is supported by a national survey of 1000 executives and
employers who reported that most college graduates have adequate entry-level job
skills, but do not possess skills needed for promotion and advancement in their ca-
reers. Many of the key skills they thought college graduates lacked to progress in their
careers were the very skills promoted by the liberal arts, namely: oral and written
communication skills, critical thinking and analytical reasoning, and ethical judgment
and decision-making.

To advance in their careers, workers in today’s complex, fast-changing world must
continually update their skills and learn new ones. This need for lifelong learning is
creating demand for workers who have learned how to learn and who can learn continu-
ally throughout life. This is not only a characteristic of a successful worker, it’s also a
signature feature of the liberal arts and a key attribute of a well-educated person. ”“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.—Carl Rogers, influential humanistic

psychologist and Nobel Peace Prize

College graduation is also called commencement because it’s not the end of learning for
college graduates, but the start of applying the skills they have learned to continue learning
throughout life.

One role in life that the liberal arts helped prepare me for was that of a parent. Courses I
took in psychology and sociology proved to be useful in helping me understand my son’s
development and how I could best support him at different stages of his life. There was
another course I took that I never expected would help me as a parent, but it turned out
to be critical. That course was statistics, which I took merely to complete my general ed-
ucation requirements in mathematics. It was not a particularly enjoyable course (in fact,
some of my classmates sarcastically referred to it as “sadistics”), but what I learned in that
course proved very valuable to me many years later when my 14-year-old son (Tony) de-
veloped leukemia—a cancer that attacks blood cells. Tony had a particularly perilous
form of leukemia—one that 65% died from within 7 years. This statistical average was
based on patients treated with chemotherapy, which was the type of treatment that my
son’s doctors began using when his cancer was first detected.

Another set of doctors strongly recommended that Tony’s cancer be treated with a bone
marrow transplant, which involved using radiation to destroy all his existing bone marrow
and replacing it with bone marrow from a matched donor. My wife and I got opinions from
doctors at two major cancer centers—one from a center that specialized in chemotherapy


48 Chapter 2 Liberal Arts and General Education

and one from a center specializing in bone marrow transplants. The chemotherapy doctors
felt strongly that drug treatment would be the better way to treat and cure my son; however,
the bone marrow transplant doctors felt just as strongly that his chances of survival would be
much better if he had a transplant. Thus, my wife and I had to decide between two opposing
recommendations, each made by a respected group of doctors.

To help us reach a decision, I sought out research findings on the effectiveness of chemo-
therapy and bone marrow transplants for treating my son’s particular type of cancer. While
carefully reviewing all the statistical results, I remembered from my college statistics
course that when an average is calculated for a group of people (e.g., average cure rate for
people with leukemia), individuals from different subgroups are included among the gen-
eral group studied (e.g., males and females; children, teenagers, and adults). Any differ-
ences in the results for these different subgroups are masked (hidden) in the overall
average. In other words, the overall statistical average for a large group may not accurately
reflect the averages of different subgroups embedded within it. With this in mind, I dug
deeper to see if there were any subgroup statistics contained in the reports. I found two
subgroups of patients with my son’s form of cancer that had a higher rate of cure with che-
motherapy than the general (whole-group) average of 35%. One subgroup included pa-
tients with a low number of abnormal cells at the time their cancer was first diagnosed, and
the other subgroup consisted of patients whose cancer cells dropped rapidly after their first
week of chemotherapy. My son belonged to both of these subgroups, which meant that his
chance for cure with chemotherapy was higher than the overall 35% average. Further-
more, I found that the statistics for successful bone marrow transplants were based only on
patients whose body accepted the donor’s bone marrow. The bone marrow statistics didn’t
include the subgroup of patients who died from the transplant rather than from the cancer
itself, so the success rate for bone marrow patients wasn’t as high as it appeared to be at
first glance. Based on my interpretation of these statistics, my wife and I decided to have
my son treated with chemotherapy instead of a bone marrow transplant.

It looks like we made the right decision because my son has now been cancer free for over 10
years. I never imagined, however, that a statistics course, which I took many years ago merely
to fulfill a general education requirement, would play such a critical role in helping me fulfill
my role as a parent and make a successful life-or-death decision about my only son.

—Joe Cuseo

General education is not just “learning for its own sake.” The skills developed by the liberal arts
are more than “academic” skills; they are also practical skills that can be applied to different
roles throughout life. They are a mental gift that keeps on giving.

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on liberal arts and general education, see the following
“What is a liberal arts education?”
Understanding Liberal Education:
The Value of the Liberal Arts in the Global Economy:
Skills for Success in the 21st Century: kills/


Chapter 2 Exercises
2.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

2.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the four skills and perspectives that employers report are essential for college graduates to have in order to be
prepared for work in the twenty-first century on p. 46. Select two you think are the most important and intend to develop.

2.3 Reality Bite
Dazed and Confused: General Education “versus” Career Specialization
Joe Tech was really looking forward to college because he thought he would have the freedom to select the courses he
wanted and immediately start working on the major of his choice (computer science). However, he is shocked and
disappointed with his first-term schedule of classes because it consists mostly of required general education courses that
seem totally unrelated to his major. He’s also frustrated because some of these courses are about subjects he already had in
high school (English, History, and Biology). He’s beginning to think he would be better off quitting college and going to a
technical school for a year or two so he can get right into computer science and immediately begin to acquire the skills he’ll
need to work in the field of computer technology.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. If Joe decides to get a technical certificate and not pursue a college degree, how do you see it affecting his future:

a) in the short run?

b) in the long run?

2. Do you see any way Joe might strike a balance between pursuing his career interest and obtaining a college degree so
that he could work toward achieving both goals at the same time?

3. Can you relate to Joe’s story in any way, or do you know anyone else having a similar experience?

2.4 Your AchieveWORKS Personality Assessment
The AchieveWORKS Personality assessment produced a report exclusively for you.

What do those results tell you about yourself?

Which areas of the liberal arts can bolster your strengths and which can help you uncover your blind spots?

2.5 Holistic Development: Self-Assessment
Development of the whole self is an essential goal of the liberal arts and general education. As you read through the
objectives and outcomes associated with the following dimensions of holistic (“whole person”) development, rate each one
in terms of its importance to you on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).


1. Intellectual Development: Acquiring a broad base of knowledge, learning how to learn deeply and how to think
critically and creatively.

Objectives and Outcomes:
Becoming aware of your intellectual abilities, interests, and learning strategies
Improving your focus of attention and concentration
Moving beyond memorizing to learning at a deeper level
Improving your ability to retain knowledge on a long-term basis
Acquiring effective research skills to access information from a variety of sources and systems
Learning how to view issues from multiple angles or perspectives (cultural, historical, political, economic, etc.)
Responding constructively to differing viewpoints and opposing positions
Critically evaluating the truth and value of ideas and arguments
Detecting and rejecting propaganda that appeals to emotion rather than reason
Thinking creatively and innovatively ”

“Intellectual growth should
commence at birth and cease
only at death.
—Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize-
winning physicist

2. Emotional Development: Understanding, managing, and expressing emotions.
Objectives and Outcomes:

Becoming emotionally self-aware
Maintaining a healthy balance between emotional control and emotional expression
Responding with empathy and sensitivity to emotions experienced by others
Accepting feedback from others in an open, non-defensive manner
Maintaining a sense of optimism and enthusiasm
Responding constructively to setbacks and feelings of frustration
Managing anger effectively
Overcoming fear of failure and lack of self-confidence
Using effective stress-management strategies to control anxiety and reduce tension
Coping effectively with depression

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is
our reaction to it.
—Hans Selye, Canadian
endocrinologist and author of Stress
Without Distress

3. Social Development: Improving the quality and depth of interpersonal relationships.
Objectives and Outcomes:

Increasing social self-confidence
Improving listening and conversational skills
Overcoming shyness
Relating to others in an open, non-judgmental manner
Forming meaningful and supportive friendships
Learning how to resolve interpersonal conflicts
Developing greater empathy for others
Relating effectively to people from different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles
Collaborating effectively with others while working in groups or teams
Becoming an effective leader capable of positively influencing others

“Chi rispetta sara rippetato.”
(“Respect others and you will be
—Italian proverb

4. Ethical (Character) Development: Developing a clear value system for guiding personal decisions, making sound
ethical judgments, and demonstrating consistency between convictions (beliefs) and commitments (actions).
Objectives and Outcomes:

Gaining deeper awareness of one’s most strongly held values and ethical priorities
Making personal choices and life decisions based on a meaningful value system
Developing the capacity to think and act with integrity and authenticity
Resisting social pressure to behave in ways that are inconsistent with one’s personal

Treating others in a fair and just manner
Exercising freedom responsibly without infringing on the rights of others

“If you don’t stand for
something you will fall for
—Malcolm X, African-American
Muslim minister, public speaker, and
human rights activist


Using information technology and social media in a civil and ethical manner
Becoming an engaged and responsible citizen
Increasing awareness of and commitment to human rights and social justice
Developing the courage to challenge or confront others who violate human rights and obstruct social justice

5. Physical Development: Acquiring knowledge about the human body and how to apply that knowledge to prevent
disease, preserve wellness, and promote peak performance.

Objectives and Outcomes:
Becoming more aware of one’s physical condition and state of health
Applying knowledge about exercise and fitness to maximize physical and mental

Developing sleep habits that optimize physical and mental well-being
Maintaining a healthy balance between work, recreation, and relaxation
Applying knowledge about nutrition to reduce risk of illness and achieve peak levels
of performance

Understanding the causes and cures of eating disorders
Developing a positive physical self-image
Becoming more knowledgeable about how drugs affect the body and mind
Gaining knowledge about human sexuality and sexual diversity
Understanding how biological differences between the sexes affect male–female communication and relationships

“A man too busy to take care
of his health is like a
mechanic too busy to take
care of his tools.
—Spanish proverb

6. Spiritual Development: Pondering the “big questions” about the meaning and purpose of life, the inevitability of death,
and the origins of human life and the natural world.

Objectives and Outcomes:
Developing a meaningful philosophy of life
Exploring the unknown or what cannot be completely understood scientifically
Appreciating the mysteries associated with the origin of the universe (cosmos)
Seeking meaningful connections between the self and the larger world
Searching for the mystical or supernatural—what transcends the boundaries of the
natural world

Examining questions relating to death and life after death
Exploring questions about the existence of a Supreme Being or higher power
Gaining knowledge about different approaches to spirituality and their underlying beliefs or assumptions
Understanding the relationship between faith and reason
Becoming more aware of, and accepting of, religious diversity

“We are not human beings
having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having
a human experience.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French
philosopher, geologist,
paleontologist, and Jesuit priest

7. Vocational Development: Exploring career options and pursuing a career path that’s congruent with one’s interests,
talents, and values.

Objectives and Outcomes:
Understanding the relationship between majors and careers
Using effective strategies for exploring and identifying potential career options
Discovering career options that are most compatible with one’s personal interests,
talents, needs, and values

Acquiring work experience related to one’s career interests
Building an effective resume or portfolio
Identifying personal references and securing letters of recommendation
Implementing effective job-search strategies
Writing effective letters of inquiry and letters of application for positions of employment or acceptance to graduate

Acquiring networking skills for connecting with potential employers
Developing strategies for improving performance in job interviews

“Your work is to discover your
work and then with all your
heart to give yourself to it.
—Hindu Siddhartha Prince Gautama
Siddharta, a.k.a. Buddha, founder of
the philosophy and religion of


8. Personal Development: Developing a strong sense of personal identity, a coherent self-concept, and the ability to
manage personal affairs and resources.

Objectives and Outcomes:
Developing a clear sense of personal identity(Answering the question: Who am I?)
Finding purpose and direction in life. (Answering the question: Who will I become?)
Developing self-respect and self-esteem
Increasing self-confidence
Acquiring a strong sense self-efficacy—belief that the outcomes of one’s life are
within one’s control and can be influenced by personal initiative and effort

Strengthening skills for managing personal resources (e.g., time and money)
Becoming more independent, self-directed, and self-reliant
Setting realistic goals and priorities
Developing self-motivation and self-discipline needed to reach personal goals
Developing resiliency to overcome obstacles and roadblocks, ability to bounce back from setbacks, and the
capability of converting setbacks into comebacks

“Remember, no one can make
you feel inferior without your
—Eleanor Roosevelt, former United
Nations diplomat and humanitarian

• Based on your total score in each of the eight above areas of holistic development, what aspect(s) of self-development
appear to be most and least important to you? How would you explain (or what do you think accounts for) this

• Add up your score in each of the eight areas of holistic development.
a) Do your totals in each area suggest that all aspects of self-development are equally important to you and that

you’re striving to become a well-rounded person?

b) If yes, why? If no, why not?

2.6 Identifying Courses that Broaden Your Perspectives
Using your College Catalog or University Bulletin, identify one course you could take that would develop each of the
broadening perspectives of the liberal arts listed in the grid below.

Broadening Social–Spatial Perspectives Course Developing this Perspective
See pages 34-37 for specific descriptions of these perspectives. Read the course descriptions in your Catalog or Bulletin to identify

a general education requirement that develops this perspective.









Broadening Chronological Perspectives Course Developing this Perspective
See pages 38-39 for detailed descriptions of these perspectives. Read the course descriptions in your Catalog or Bulletin to identify

a general education requirement that develops this perspective.





2.7 Identifying Co-Curricular Experiences that Develop the Whole Self
Using your Student Handbook, identify a co-curricular program or experience you could engage in that would contribute to
each of the key dimensions of holistic (whole person) development listed in the grid below.

Dimensions of Self Co-Curricular Experience Developing this Dimension of Self
See page 42 for a description of these dimensions of

Consult your Student Handbook to identify a co-curricular
experience that contributes to this dimension of self-development.











Goal Setting and Motivation

Chapter Purpose & PreviewAchieving one’s goals is one definition of success. Studies show that people are more likely
to be successful when they set specific goals for themselves and identify the means (succes-
sion of steps) needed to reach those goals. This chapter supplies you with practical strategies
for setting specific, realistic goals and for maintaining motivation until you reach those

Learning GoalAcquire knowledge on setting meaningful personal goals and apply self-motivational
strategies to persist to goal attainment.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 3.1

What does being “successful” mean to you?

”“What keeps me going is goals.—Muhammad Ali, philanthropist, social activist, and Hall of Fame boxer who was crowned “Sportsman of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated
The Relationship between Goal Setting and Success
The word “success” derives from the Latin root “successus”—meaning “to follow or
come after” (as in the word “successive”). Thus, by definition, success involves a
succession or sequence of actions that leads to a desired outcome. The process of at-
taining success starts with identifying an end (goal) then identifying the means
(sequence of steps) to reach that goal. Research shows that successful people set
goals on a regular basis and develop specific plans for reaching the goals they set. As
Angela Duckworth notes in her study of individuals who overcame setbacks and
went on to achieve success: “They not only had determination, they had direction.”
Effective goal setting provides direction through a process known as means-end anal-
ysis, which involves working backward from a long-range goal (the end) and identi-
fying mid-range and short-range subgoals (the means) that must be reached to even-
tually achieve that long-range goal. Engaging in this means-end analysis doesn’t
mean you’re locking yourself into a premature plan that will restrict your flexibility
or options. It’s just a process that gets you to: (a) think about where you want to go,
(b) provides some sense of direction about how to get there, and (c) starts moving
you in the right direction.

”“Stopping a long pattern of bad decision-making and setting positive, productive priorities and goals.—College sophomore’s answer to the
question: “What does being successful
mean to you?”

”“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.—Benjamin Mays, minister, scholar,
activist, and former president of
Morehouse College

56 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

Characteristics of a Well-Designed Goal
Studies show that people who set specific, well-designed goals are more likely to
achieve them than those who simply tell themselves they’re going to try hard and do
their best. The acronym “SMART” is a well-known mnemonic device (memory
strategy) for recalling all the key components of a well-designed goal. Box 3.1 de-
scribes the key components of a SMART goal. You can use this goal-setting strategy
to help you define and design goals that are both meaningful and achievable.

“Dreams can be fulfilled only when they’ve been defined.”—Ernest Boyer, former United States Commissioner of Education
Box 3.1
The SMART Method of Goal Setting
A SMART goal is one that is:

• Specific—it defines precisely what the goal is, targets
exactly what needs to be done to achieve it, and
provides a clear picture of what successfully reaching
the goal looks like.
Example: By spending 25 hours per week on my
coursework outside of class and by using effective
learning strategies (such as those recommended in
chapter 5), I will achieve at least a 3.0 grade-point
average this term. (Note how this goal is much more
specific than saying, “I’m really going to work hard
this term.”)

• Meaningful (and Measurable)—the goal I’m pursuing is
personally important to me (meaningful) and I can
clearly measure the progress I’m making to achieve it.
Example: Achieving at least a 3.0 grade-point average
this term is important to me because it will enable me
to get into the field I’d like to major in, and I’ll
measure my progress toward this goal by calculating
the grade I’m earning in each of my courses at regular
intervals throughout the term. (Note: At www., you can set up a program to send
yourself e-mails that remind you to check your
progress on the goals you’ve set for yourself.)

• Actionable (i.e., Action-Oriented)—the actions or
behaviors to be taken to reach my goal are concrete
and specific.
Example: I will achieve at least a 3.0 grade-point average
this term by (a) attending all classes in all my courses,(b)
taking detailed notes in all my classes, (c) completing all
my reading assignments by their due dates, and (d)
studying in advance (rather than cramming) for my

• Realistic—the time, effort, and skills needed to reach
my goal are reasonable and manageable, so the goal is
within my reach.
Example: Achieving a 3.0 grade-point average this
term is a realistic goal because (a) I have a reasonable

course load, (b) I will work no more than 15 hours per
week at my part-time job, and (c) I will be able to get
help from campus support services if I run into
academic difficulty.

• Time-framed—the goal has a definite deadline and a
clear timetable that includes a short-range (daily),
mid-range (weekly), and long-range (monthly)
Example: To achieve at least a 3.0 grade-point average
this term, I’ll first acquire all the information I need to
learn by taking complete lecture notes in my classes
and completing all my reading assignments (short-
range step). Second, I’ll learn the information I’ve
acquired from my lecture notes and readings by
breaking it into manageable parts and studying these
parts in separate sessions in advance of major exams
(mid-range step). Third, the day before exams I’ll
review all information I previously studied in parts, get
a good night’s sleep, and be well rested on exam days
(long-range step).

This SMART goal-setting process can be used to set goals
in any area of your life and for any aspect of personal
development, such as:

• self-management (e.g., setting goals for managing time
and money)

• physical development (e.g., setting health and fitness

• social development (e.g., setting relationship goals)
• emotional development (e.g., setting goals for manag-

ing stress or frustration)
• intellectual development (e.g., setting goals for

learning and academic achievement)

The SMART process may also be used to set career-
development goals relating to the three key skills that
today’s employers are seeking in college graduates:
professional skills, problem-solving skills, and people
skills. (For more specific details about these skills, see
Chapter 15, pp. ___.)

Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation 57

Goal setting is a strategic and systematic process that could (and should) be applied to achieve
any goal you set for yourself at any stage of your life.

Reflection 3.2

If you were to set a goal for yourself right now, what would you choose and why
would you choose it?

In addition to setting well-designed goals that are consistent with the SMART
method, research reveals that the following practices and attributes characterize
people who successfully set and achieve goals. Be mindful of these qualities and
practices when you set and pursue your own goals.

Rather than setting perfection (be-good) goals, successful goal setters set
self-improvement (get-better) goals that focus on personal progress and
growth. Studies show that when people set get-better goals, they pursue them with
greater interest, intensity, and joy. This is probably because get-better goals give us
a sense of progress by focusing on how far we’ve come. In contrast, perfection (be-
good) goals focus on how far we still have to go.

Successful goal setters focus on outcomes they can influence or control. For in-
stance, for an aspiring actress, a controllable goal would be to increase her acting
skills and professional acting opportunities, not to become a famous movie star—a
desirable outcome but not something that’s totally within her control.

Successful goal setters set goals that are challenging and effortful. Goals worth
achieving make us stretch and break a sweat; they call for endurance, persistence,
and resiliency. Studies of successful people in all occupations indicate that if they set
goals that are attainable but also challenging, they pursue those goals more strategi-
cally, with more intensity, and with greater commitment. There’s an additional ad-
vantage of setting a challenging goal: When it’s achieved, the person achieving it
experiences a strong sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment, and a boost
in self-esteem.

”“Accomplishing something hard to do.—First-year student’s response to the question: “What does being successful mean to you?”
”“Nothing ever comes that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.—Booker T. Washington, born-in-slavery Black educator, author, and advisor to

Republican presidents

Successful goal setters anticipate obstacles they may encounter along the path
to their goals and have a plan for dealing with these potential obstacles. One
characteristic of successful people is that they imagine what their life would be like
if they didn’t reach their goals. Imagining this scenario drives them to prepare for
events or circumstances that might interfere with their aspirations and plans. They
remain optimistic about succeeding, but they’re not blind optimists; they realize
that the road may be tough so they have a plan in place to deal with rough spots and
roadblocks they anticipate experiencing along the way. Thus, effective goal-setters
have both a plan for reaching their goal and a plan for surmounting potential obsta-
cles or impediments.

58 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

Reflection 3.3

Think about possible obstacles you may encounter along the path to completing
What resources could you use (on or off campus) to help you overcome these

Research indicates that success in college involves a combination of what stu-
dents do for themselves (personal responsibility) and how well students capitalize on
available resources designed to promote their success.

Successful people are resourceful—they’re aware of, and take advantage of, resources to help
them reach their goals.

Remember that peers are a social resource for achieving goals. The motiva-
tional power of social-support groups is well documented by research conducted in
multiple fields of study. You can harness the power of social support by surrounding
yourself with peers who are committed to achieving their educational goals and dis-
tancing yourself from “toxic” people who can poison your plans and dampen your

“Develop an inner circle of close associations in which the mutual attraction is not sharing problems or needs.
The mutual attraction should
be values and goals.”
—Denis Waitley, former mental
trainer for U.S. Olympic athletes and
author of Seeds of Greatness

Find motivated peers and make mutual-support “pacts” with them to reach
your respective goals. These peer-support pacts may be viewed as “social contracts”
signed by “co-witnesses” who hold each other accountable for fulfilling their goal
commitments. Studies show that when people commit to a goal in the presence of
others, their goal commitment is strengthened because it makes it both a personal
commitment and an interpersonal commitment.

Strategies for Maintaining Motivation and Making Progress
Toward Goals
The word “motivation” derives from the Latin root “movere,” meaning “to move.”
As its root meaning implies, motivation involves overcoming inertia. Motivated
people get off their butts and get moving, and once they get moving, they maintain
momentum and keep moving until their goals are reached. Studies show that goal
setting is just the first step in a success-seeking process; it must be followed by a
strong, effortful commitment to that goal until it is reached. Goal setting estab-
lishes the intention to act, but motivation transforms that intention into action.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”—Author unknown
Thus, challenging goals requires maintaining motivation and sustaining effort

over an extended period of time. Listed below are strategies you can use to stay mo-
tivated and continue progressing toward your goals.

Put your goals in writing and keep them visible. A written goal can operate like
a written contract—a formal statement that holds us accountable for following
through on our commitment. Placing a written goal in a place where we cannot
help but see it on a daily basis (e.g., on our laptop cover, refrigerator door, or bath-
room mirror) ensures that we don’t “lose sight” of it and are continually reminded
to pursue it. Said in another way: what stays in our sight, stays on our mind.

Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation 59

The next best thing to actually doing something is to write down our intention to do it, which
keeps our intention visible (and memorable).

Visualize reaching your long-range goals. To maintain motivation over time, we
need to keep the “big picture” in mind and keep our “eye on the prize.” One way to
do so is by creating vivid mental images or pictures of reaching our goal and experi-
encing its positive consequences. As a beginning college student, your long-rage
goal is graduating from college, so you could visualize a crowd of cheering family,
friends, and faculty at your graduation ceremony. (You could even add musical ac-
companiment to your visualization by playing a motivational song in your head—
e.g., “We are the Champions” by Queen).

My father, who spent 50 years working in the coal mines of eastern Kentucky, always had
a simple, motivating statement to encourage me to gain more education than he had. He
would always say, “Son, I did not have the chance to go to school, so I have to write my
name with an X and work in the coal mines. You have the opportunity to get an educa-
tion and not break your back in those mines.” What my father was telling me was that
education would give me options in life that he did not have and that I should take advan-
tage of those options by going to college. My dad’s lack of education supplied me with
the drive and dedication to pursue education. My experience suggests that when you are
setting your goals and motivating yourself to achieve them, it may be as important to vi-
sualize what you don’t want your future to be as it is to visualize what you want it to be.

—Aaron Thompson

Visualize completing all the key steps leading up to your goal. For visualiza-
tion to be an effective motivator, it’s important not only to visualize the success
itself (the end goal), but also the successive steps you’ll be taking along the way. As
motivational researcher and author, Heidi Grant Halvorson, puts it: “Just picturing
yourself crossing the finish line doesn’t actually help you get there—but visualizing
how you run the race (the strategies you will use, the choices you will make, the ob-
stacles you will face) not only will give you greater confidence, but also leave you
better prepared for the task ahead.”

Yes, reaching a long-term goal requires focusing on the prize—the dream and
why fulfilling the dream is important. Such “big picture” thinking serves to inspire
us. However, we also need to focus on the little things that need to be done to get
there—the to-do lists, the day-to-day tasks, the due dates, etc. (For specific strate-
gies on managing time, combating procrastination and completing tasks, see
chapter 4.) This is the nitty-gritty stuff—the effortful perspiration that converts in-
spiration into action, and enables us to plug away and persist until our goals (and
dreams) and are realized.

It could be said that successfully achieving a long-term goal requires that we use
two lenses, each with a different focus point. We need a wide-angle lens that gives
us a big-picture view of the future far ahead of us (our ultimate goal) and a narrow-
angle lens that zooms in and focuses on the here and now—the steps that lie imme-
diately ahead of us. As a first-year college student, alternating between these two
perspectives allows you to view your smaller, short-term chores and challenges
(e.g., completing an assignment that’s due next week) in light of the larger, long-
range picture (e.g., college graduation and a successful future).

”“You’ve got to think about ‘big things’ while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.
—Alvin Toffler, American futurologist
and author who predicted the future
effects of technology on our society

60 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

I once coached a youth soccer team (5- to 6-year-old boys) and noticed that many of the
less successful players tended to make either of two mistakes when trying to advance the
ball down the field.

Some of them spent too much time looking down, focusing on the ball at their feet and
trying to make sure they didn’t lose control of it. By not occasionally lifting their heads
up and looking ahead, these players often missed open territory, open teammates, or an
open goal.

Other unsuccessful players made the opposite mistake: They spent too much time with
their heads up, trying to see where they were headed. By not periodically glancing down
to see the ball right in front of them, these players often lost control of it, moved ahead
without it, or sometimes stumbled over it and fell flat on their face. In contrast, the more
successful players had developed the habit of shifting their focus between looking down
to maintain control of the ball in front of them and lifting their eyes to see where they
were headed.

The more I thought about how the successful soccer players alternated between these
two perspectives, it struck me that this was a metaphor for success in life. Successful peo-
ple alternate between long- and short-range perspectives; they remain mindful of both
the long-term goal far ahead of them and the short-term tasks right in front of them.

—Joe Cuseo

We need to keep our future dreams and current tasks in dual focus. Integrating these two
perspectives provides us with both the inspiration to set goals and the determination to reach

Keep a record of your personal progress. Highly effective people reflect regu-
larly on their daily progress to ensure they’re on track and making progress toward
their goals. Research indicates that even the simple act of monitoring and recording
progress toward our goals increases our motivation to continue pursuing them.
Keeping a regular record of our personal progress increases our motivation because
it supplies us with frequent feedback about whether we’re on track and provides us
with positive reinforcement for staying on track.

You can keep a record of your short- and mid-range goal achievements in a cal-
endar or journal. These recordings can serve as benchmarks that provide you with
visible markers (and reminders) of your progress. You could also mark your prog-
ress on a chart or graph, or list them as achievements in a personal portfolio. By
placing these progress markers where they can be seen on a daily basis, you will
have a visible record of your short-term accomplishments that can motivate you to
continue striving toward your long-term goal.

Reward yourself for completing the stepping-stones along the road to your
long-range goal. Not only should we document our progress, we should celebrate
our success. Reaching a long-range goal is clearly cause for celebration because it
marks the end of the trip and the thrill of reaching our desired destination. Reach-
ing short- and mid-range goals, however, are not as obviously rewarding because
they’re merely steps along the way. If we reward ourselves for making these steps,
we’re more likely to continue climbing these stepping stones until we reach our
long-range goal. This is a simple yet powerful self-motivational strategy for main-
taining momentum over an extended period of time, which is exactly what’s needed
to achieve a long-term goal.

Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation 61

Reflection 3.4

To reach your ultimate goal of becoming a college graduate, what key stepping-stones
or sub-goals would you need to complete along the way? How would you reward
yourself for completing them?

Characteristics of Successful People
Achieving success involves effective use of goal-setting and motivational strategies,
but it takes something more. Ultimately, success emerges from the inside out—it
flows from personal qualities and attributes found within a person. Studies of suc-
cessful people who achieve their goals reveal that they typically possess the per-
sonal characteristics discussed below. Keep these characteristics in mind and do
your very best to exhibit them.

”“If you do not find it within yourself, where will you go to get it?—Zen saying (Zen is a branch of Buddhism that emphasizes seeing
deeply into the nature of things and
ongoing self-awareness.)

(Take a look at the results of your AchieveWORKS Personality report. What
does it say about your strengths and challenges when it comes to goal setting and
motivation? Any surprises? Any areas you’ve identified for self-improvement?)

Self-efficacy is the belief that you can positively influence the outcomes of your life. Peo-
ple with self-efficacy have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”—they
believe that the locus (location or source) of control for events in their life is
primarily internal—“inside” them and within their control, rather than external—
outside them and beyond their control. They believe that success is influenced more
by attitude, effort, and commitment than by luck, chance, or fate. In contrast, people
with low self-efficacy tend to feel helpless and powerless; they think (and allow) things
to happen to them rather than taking charge and making things happen for them.

”“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.—Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Co. and one of the wealthiest men of his generation.
College students with a strong sense of self-efficacy believe they’re in control of

their educational success and can shape their future—regardless of what their past
experience or current circumstances happen to be. Research on students with a
strong sense of academic self-efficacy shows that these students:

1. Put considerable effort into their studies
2. Use active-learning strategies
3. Capitalize on campus resources
4. Persist in the face of obstacles.

”“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.—Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States
Students with a strong sense of self-efficacy also possess a strong sense of per-

sonal responsibility. As the breakdown of the word “responsible” suggests, they be-
lieve they are “response-able”—able to respond effectively to personal and educa-
tional challenges.

Reflection 3.5

In what area of your life do you think you have the strongest sense of self-efficacy? Is
there anything you can take from the strong self-efficacy you have in this area and
apply it to help you succeed in college?

62 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

Growth Mindset
A mindset is a strong belief. People with a “growth mindset” believe that intelligence
and other positive qualities can be grown or developed. In contrast, people with a
“fixed mindset” believe that intelligence and other abilities are permanent, inborn
traits that cannot be modified or acquired. The power of a growth mindset is sup-
ported by studies indicating that a person’s IQ score is not fixed but can change sig-
nificantly over time. Research also shows that the human brain isn’t immutable; it
changes with experience and parts of the brain responsible for learning a particular
skill (e.g., math) grow and develop when those skills are practiced and developed.

Listed below are opposing pairs of traits—one representing a fixed mindset
(FM) and the other a growth mindset (GM). As you read through these pairings,
honestly assess yourself in terms of whether you lean more toward a fixed or growth
mindset by circling either the FM or GM option.

* I try to get better at what I do. (GM)
* I try to show others (including myself) how good I am. (FM)

* I try to validate myself by proving how smart or talented I am. (FM)
* I validate myself by trying to become smarter and more talented than I am
now. (GM)

* If I cannot learn something easily or quickly, I think that means I’m not smart
or good at it. (FM)
* I believe I can get good at something even if it doesn’t come easily to me at
first. (GM)

* I evaluate my performance by comparing it to my past performances. (GM)
* I evaluate my performance by comparing it to the performance of others.


* I believe the amount of intelligence people start with doesn’t predict the
amount they’ll end up with. (GM)

* I believe people are born with a certain amount of intelligence and not much
can be done to change it. (FM)

* I think success is a matter of having ability. (FM)
* I think success is a matter of getting ability. (GM)

* I focus on demonstrating my skills to others. (FM)
* I focus on developing my skills for myself. (GM)

* I like to improve myself (by getting better). (GM)
* I like to prove myself (as being good or smart). (FM)

* I feel smart when I complete tasks quickly and without mistakes. (FM)
* I feel smart when I struggle with tasks at first, but then succeed at them

eventually. (GM)

* I seek out feedback from others to improve myself. (GM)
* I avoid seeking feedback from others for fear it will expose my weaknesses.


“No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”
—Carol Dweck, Stanford
psychologist and author of Mindset:
The New Psychology of Success

Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation 63

* I tend to show progressive improvement in my performance over time. (GM)
* I tend to peak early and don’t progress to higher levels of performance. (FM)

* I think success should be effortless. (FM)
* I think success should be effortful. (GM)

* I view challenges as opportunities to develop new skills. (GM)
* I view challenges as threatening because they may prove I’m not smart. (FM)

* I believe effort creates talent. (GM)
* I believe effort is for those who can’t make it on talent. (FM)

* I focus on self-improvement—about becoming the best I can be. (GM)
* I focus on self-validation—about proving I’m already good. (FM)

* I look at grades as labels that judge or measure my intelligence. (FM)
* I look at grades as feedback that I can use to improve my skills. (GM)

Reflection 3.6

Look back at the previous pairs of statements and compare the total number of fixed
mindset (FM) and growth mindset (GM) statements you circled.

a) Do your totals suggest that, in general, you lean more toward a growth or fixed

b) Do you see any patterns in your responses that suggest you’re more likely to have
a growth mindset for certain characteristics or situations and a fixed mindset for

c) How do you think your responses would compare with other students?

Numerous studies show that a growth mindset is strongly associated with goal
achievement and academic success. For example, when growth-mindset students do
poorly on a test, they improve on the next one. In contrast, fixed-mindset students’
show no pattern of improvement (or show decline) over time, particularly if their
first exam score is low. It’s also been found that students can have different mindsets
for different subjects and situations. Some students may have a fixed mindset for
math, but a growth mindset for English.

The most important thing to remember about mindset is that although it plays
a powerful role in motivation and success, it’s just a belief and it can be changed
from “fixed” to “growth” for any academic subject or personal challenge. If your
belief about what makes someone intelligent or talented suggests a fixed mindset,
you may need to change that mindset to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself and
realize your full potential. Even if you lack self-confidence, you can still develop a
growth mindset. As growth-mindset guru, Carol Dweck, notes: “A remarkable
thing I’ve learned from my research is that even when you think you’re not good at

64 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to it. Actually,
sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it.”

You can develop a growth mindset by controlling the language or self-talk you
use in reaction to your successes and setbacks. Listed below are examples of how
self-talk that associated with a fixed mindset (FM) can be changed into language
that promotes a growth mindset (GM).

1. After unsuccessful performance:

“Well, at least I tried.” (FM) g “I know that wasn’t the outcome I was
hoping for. What went wrong and how
might it be corrected?” (GM)

“That was hard. I shouldn’t feel bad about
not being able to do it.” (FM)


“That was hard. I shouldn’t feel
bad about not being able to do
it yet.” (GM)

2. After successful performance:

“I’m so talented!” (FM) g “I learn so well!” (GM)

“Great job! (FM) g “Great job! If I were to do it over again, is there any-
thing I could have done even better?” (GM)

Self-talk that focuses on talent and intelligence focuses on traits that are fixed or
unalterable. In contrast, self-talk that focuses on the effort you expend and the
strategies you use, focuses on behavior you can change and continually improve.

“Our words have a far greater motivational impact than most of us realize, and that’s a responsibility that should
be taken seriously.”
—Heidi Grant Halvorson, social
psychologist, and author of
Succeed: How We Can Reach Your

When a person sustains significant effort, energy, and perseverance over an ex-
tended period to achieve a goal, that person is demonstrating grit. People with grit
have been found to possess the following qualities.

Passion. Many people associate passion with intensity, infatuation, or obsession.
However, for high achievers, when asked about what it takes to be successful, they
refer to passion as consistency over time. It’s more about stamina than intensity. As grit
guru, Angela Duckworth puts it: “Grit is about working on something you care
about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it. It’s doing what you love, but
not just falling in love—staying in love.”

Perseverance. Gritty people pursue goals with relentless determination. If they
encounter something along the way that’s hard to do, they work harder to do it.
Studies of highly successful people—whether they be scientists, musicians, writers,
chess masters, or basketball stars—consistently show that achieving excellence re-
quires repeated effort and dedicated practice. This is even true for famous people
that are often viewed as being naturally talented, brilliant, or gifted. For example,
before they burst into musical stardom, the Beatles performed live an estimated
1,200 times over a 4-year period, and many of these performances lasted five hours
or more per night. They performed (practiced) for more hours during their first
four years together than most bands perform during their entire career. Similarly,
before Bill Gates became a computer software giant and creator of Microsoft, he

Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation 65

logged almost 1,600 hours of computer time during one seven-month period alone,
averaging eight hours a day, seven days a week.

These extraordinary success stories point strongly to the conclusion that reach-
ing goals and achieving success takes dedication, determination, and perseverance.
Being successful is not just an inborn gift; it takes a lot of grit.

Reflection 3.7

Think about something you achieved in your life that involved considerable dedica-
tion, determination, and perseverance. Do you see ways in which you could apply the
same qualities to achieve success in college?

Resilience. Grit involves hanging in there, sustaining effort until a goal is reached,
and displaying the fortitude to push forward in the face of frustration or adversity.
It takes courage not to get discouraged. A gritty person bounces back from setbacks
and turns them into comebacks.

”“How smart you are will influence the extent to which you experience something as difficult (for example, how hard a math problem is), but it
says nothing about how you
will deal with difficulty when it
happens. It says nothing about
whether you will be persistent
and determined or feel
overwhelmed and helpless.
—Heidi Grant Halvorson, social
psychologist, and author of Succeed:
How We Can Reach Your Goals

How we initially react (mentally and emotionally) to a setback can determine
the action we take in response to it. For instance, if you react to a poor test grade by
knocking yourself down with self-putdowns (“I’m a loser” or “I screw up every-
thing”), you’re likely to become discouraged and give up. Notice that these reac-
tions have two resilience-destroying characteristics: they’re permanent—a “loser” is
always a loser and pervasive—screwing up “everything” means not screwing up one
thing, but all things. A permanent and pervasive explanation for a setback turns a
molehill into a mountain. Be mindful about how you react to setbacks. If you catch
yourself engaging in negative self-talk, put an immediate stop to it. Replace it with
positive self-talk that reacts to the setback as temporary (not permanent) and specific
(not pervasive). For instance, respond to a setback by saying: “I’m going to let this
one disappointment define who I am; I’ll learn from it and use it as motivation to
get it right next time.”

Research shows that when people think they can learn from mistakes, their
brain reacts to mistakes by responding with two consecutive electrical responses—
the first one indicating that they’re paying attention to the mistake, followed imme-
diately by a second electrical response indicating that they’re consciously figuring
out how to correct it. ”

“What happens is not as
important as how you react to
what happens.
—Thaddeus Goals, Lazy Man’s Guide to

Interestingly, the root of the word failure is “faller”—to “trip” or “fall.” Thus,
failing doesn’t mean we’ve been defeated; it just means we’ve stumbled and taken a
temporary spill. Similarly, the word “problem” derives from the Greek root
“proballein”—“to throw forward”—suggesting that a problem is an opportunity to
move ahead. You can take this positive approach to a problem or setback by re-
wording it in terms of a positive goal statement. (For example, “I’m flunking math”
can be reworded as: “My goal is to get a grade of C or better on the next exam to
pull my overall course grade into passing territory.”) Another way to respond posi-
tively to a current setback is to think about previous setbacks from which you
bounced back. Ask yourself what you did to bounce back from that setback and how
you might use similar strategies or resources to deal with your current setback.

”“The harder you fall, the higheryou bounce.—Chinese proverb
Remember that the root of the word success is “successus”—meaning “to follow or

come after.” This suggests that success can still be achieved after a fall—if we don’t
give up but get up and continue taking steps toward our goal. In the movies, a clip-
board is used to signal the next “take” (shooting) if the previous take was unsuccess-

66 Chapter 3 Goal Setting and Motivation

ful. You can use this as a metaphor to remind yourself that if I make early
mistakes in college, it’s my “first take”; I can learn from it, improve my per-
formance on the next take, and achieve success on my final take.

Try to view any poor academic performances or other setbacks (partic-
ularly those occurring early in their college experience) not as failures but
as opportunities for learning and growth; and when you overcome set-
backs, be sure to recognize and reinforce your resilient behavior with self-
affirmations, such as: “I demonstrated a lot of grit when I overcame . . .” and
“I showed a lot of perseverance by sticking with . . .”

Reflection 3.8

What is the most significant setback or obstacle you’ve encountered in college thus

How did you overcome it? (What actions did you take to get past it or prevent it from
holding you back?)

What did you learn from this experience that you might use again to help you handle
future obstacles or challenges?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on goal setting and motivation, consult the following

Goal Setting

5 Examples of SMART Goals for College Students

Self-Motivational Strategies


Grit and Resilience

Growth Mindset

5 Examples of SMART Goals for College Students


Chapter 3 Exercises
3.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to you.

For each quote, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

3.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies for maintaining motivation and progress toward your goals on pp. 58-60. Select three strategies you
think are most important and intend to put into practice right now.

3.3 Clarifying My Goals
Take a moment to answer the following questions honestly.

• What are my highest priorities?
• What competing needs and priorities do I need to keep in check?
• How will I maintain balance across different aspects of my life?
• What am I willing or able to give up to achieve success?
• How will I maintain motivation on a day-to-day basis?
• Who can I collaborate with to reach my goals?

3.4 Reducing the Gap between Your Ideal Future and Current Reality
Think of an aspect of your life where there’s a significant gap between what you would like it to be (the ideal) and what it is
(the reality).

Create a goal statement for reducing this gap that includes:

• The specific actions to be taken.
• When the actions will be taken.
• Anticipated obstacles or roadblocks.
• Resources that could be used to overcome anticipated obstacles or roadblocks.
• How you will measure your progress.
• How you will know when you reached or achieved your goal.

3.5 Converting Setbacks into Comebacks
In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote: “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” His point was that experiences have
the potential to be positive or negative, depending on how people interpret them and react to them. Listed below is a list of
negative reaction statements that people often make in response to personal setbacks. For each of these self-defeating
statements, reword or rephrase it to make a more positive, self-motivating statement. (For examples, see the section on
resilience, pp. 65-66.)

a) “I’m just not good at this.”
b) “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
c) “Nothing is going to change.”
d) “This always happens to me.”
e) “Everybody is going to think I’m a loser.”


3.6 Self-Assessment of Hope
Studies of people who have changed their lives in positive and productive ways indicate they exhibit “high hope” behaviors
that enable them to find the will and the way to reach their personal goals. A sample of hopeful behaviors is listed below.
Assess yourself on these behaviors, using the following scale:

1 = Never

2 = Rarely

3 = Frequently

4 = Almost Always

Behavior Exhibited by People Possessing High Levels of Hope

____ When I think of goals, I think of challenges, rather than setbacks and failures.

____ I seek out stories about how other people have succeeded to inspire me and give me new ideas on how to be successful.

____ I find role models I can emulate and who can advise, guide, or mentor me.

____ I tell my friends about my goals and seek their support to help me reach my goals.

____ I use positive self-talk to help me succeed.

____ I think that mistakes I make along the way to my goals are usually the result of using a wrong strategy or making a poor
decision, rather than lack of talent or ability on my part.

____ When I struggle, I remember past successes and things I did that worked.

____ I reward myself when reaching smaller, short-term goals I accomplish along the way to larger, long-term goals.

Self-Assessment Reflections

For any item you rated “1” or “2,” explain:

a) Why you “rarely” or “never” engage in the practice.

b) If you intend to engage in the practice more frequently in the future.

c) How likely is it that you will engage in the practice more frequently in the future.

d) When you plan to begin engaging in the practice.

Adapted from: Snyder, C. R. 1995. Conceptualizing, measuring, and nurturing hope. Journal of Counseling and Development,
73(January/February), 355–360.



Time Management

Chapter Purpose & PreviewSetting goals is an important first step toward achieving success, but managing time and
completing the tasks needed to reach those goals is a critical second step. Time is a valuable
personal resource—when we gain greater control of it, we gain greater control of our lives.
This chapter supplies a comprehensive set of strategies for managing time, establishing
priorities, combating procrastination, and completing tasks.

Learning GoalDevelop an effective set of strategies for setting priorities, planning time, combating
procrastination, and completing tasks in a timely and effective manner.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 4.1

Complete the following sentence with the first thought that comes to your mind:

For me, time is . . .

The Relationship between Goal Setting, Managing Time, and
Managing Tasks
To have a realistic chance of achieving our goals, we need a plan for spending our
time in a way that aligns with our goals and enables us to progress toward them.
Thus, setting goals, managing time and completing tasks are interrelated skills.
They involve asking and answering the following questions: How should my big
goals be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps? What specific tasks
need to be completed at each of these steps? How do I ensure that I have enough
time to complete all the tasks associated with each step? ”“Ultimately, a student (and all of us) should craft a ‘dream’ but the dream must be broken down into bite-size pieces.—Brad Johnson & Charles Ridley, The

Elements of Mentoring

Reaching goals involves step-by-step accomplishments made on a day-by-day
basis. Each day, whether we plan to or not, we make decisions about how our time
will be spent. To reach our goals, we need to remain mindful of whether the things
we’re spending time on are moving us in the direction of our goals. This practice of
ongoing (daily) assessment of how our time is being spent is a simple yet important
form of self-reflection. Research on highly effective people reveals that they plan

70 Chapter 4 Time Management

their time and tasks and reflect regularly on their daily progress to be sure they’re
on track and making steady progress toward their goals. For instance, in a study of
150 highly creative and productive people in the arts and sciences, it was found that
one thing these innovative artists and scientists had in common was daily rituals—
they developed day-by-day work routines and habits.

I started the process of earning my doctorate a little later in life than other graduate stu-
dents. I was a married father with a preschool daughter (Sara). Since my wife left for
work early in the morning, it was always my duty to get up and get Sara’s day going in the
right direction. In addition, I had to do the same for myself. Three days of my week were
spent on campus, either in class or in the library. (We didn’t have quick access to research
on home computers back then as you do now.) The other two days of the workweek and
the weekend were spent on household chores, family time, and studying.

I knew that to have any chance of finishing my Ph.D. in a reasonable amount of time, I
had to adopt an effective schedule for managing my time. Each day of the week, I held to
a strict routine. I got up in the morning, ate breakfast while reading the paper, got Sara
ready for school and got her to school. Once I returned home, I put a load of laundry in
the washer, studied, wrote, and spent time concentrating on what I needed to do to be
successful from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. every day. At lunch, I had a pastrami and cheese
sandwich and a soft drink while rewarding myself by watching Perry Mason reruns until
1:00 p.m. I then continued to study until it was time to pick up Sara from school. Each
night I spent some time with my wife and daughter and then prepared for the next day. I
lived a life that had a preset schedule. By following that schedule, I was able to success-
fully complete my doctorate in a reasonable amount of time while giving my family the
time they needed. (By the way, I still watch Perry Mason reruns.)

—Aaron Thompson

The Importance of Time Management for College Students
Research indicates that managing time is a significant challenge for college stu-
dents. National surveys reveal that almost 50% of first-year college students report
difficulty managing their time effectively. Time management is particularly chal-
lenging for students transitioning directly from the lockstep schedule of high
school to the less tightly controlled schedule of college—where they spend less
“seat time” in class per week, leaving them with much more “free time” to manage
outside of class.

“The major difference [between high school and college] is time. You have so much free time on your
hands that you don’t know
what to do with most of your
—First-year college student, quoted
in Erickson & Strommer, Teaching
College Freshmen

Simply stated, students who have difficulty managing their time in college have
difficulty succeeding in college. Studies show that first-year students who manage
their time well earn higher grades. In a national study of college sophomores who
were interviewed about their first-year experience, one key difference was found
between students who had an outstanding first year (both academically and person-
ally) and those who struggled during their first year: The successful students fre-
quently brought up the topic of time management during the interviews. They said
they had to think carefully about how to spend time and intentionally budgeted
their time. In contrast, sophomores who had had trouble during their first year of
college hardly talked about the topic of time at all during their interviews, even
when they were specifically asked about it.

People of all stages of life report that managing time is a critical aspect of their
life and setting priorities and balancing work with other responsibilities (e.g., work
and family) is often a stressful juggling act. In fact, national surveys of employers re-

Chapter 4 Time Management 71

veal that the ability to manage time and work productively is one of the top-ranked
professional skills they seek in college graduates. These findings suggest that time
management is more than just a college-success skill; it’s also a life-management
and career-success skill. When people improve their ability to manage time, other
aspects of their life also improve, including their level of stress. Studies show that
people who have good time-management skills report higher levels of life satisfac-
tion and personal happiness.

”“Time = Life. Therefore waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.—Alan Lakein, international expert on
time management and author of the
best-selling book How to Get Control of
Your Time and Your Life

Reflection 4.2

What do you think will be the biggest time-management challenge you will face in

You can be more successful in college (and life) by remaining mindful of the im-
portance of how you’re spending your time and by consistently employing effective
time- and task-management strategies, such as those discussed in this chapter.
These strategies may seem obvious and simple, but it’s probably because they look
so simple, they’re often simply overlooked.

Strategies for Managing Time and Tasks
Effective time- and task-management involves three key steps:

1. Analysis—breaking down time to see where it’s going
2. Itemization—listing what tasks need to be done and when they need to

get done
3. Prioritization—ordering tasks in terms of their importance or urgency and

tackling them in that order.

The following strategies can be used to execute these three steps.

Analysis: breaking down time into smaller units to gain greater awareness of
how it’s being spent. How often have you heard someone say, “Where did all the
time go?” or “I just can’t seem to find the time!” One way to determine where time
goes and discover more time for getting things done is by doing a time analysis— a
detailed examination of how much total time we have and what we’re spending it
on, including patches of wasted time when little gets done or nothing gets accom-
plished. A time analysis only needs to be done for a week or two to give us a pretty
good idea of where our time is going and help us find ways to use our time more

”“Doesn’t thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.—Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century inventor, newspaper writer, and
cosigner of the Declaration of

What we spend our time on is often a true test of who we are and what we value. Taking time to
reflect on how we’re spending our time is more than a clerical activity; it’s a tool for promoting
self-awareness and gaining deeper insight into our priorities and values.

Itemization: listing what tasks are to be done and when they are to get done.
Just as we make lists to remember items to buy at a grocery store or people to
invite to a party, we can make lists of tasks to complete. One characteristic of highly

72 Chapter 4 Time Management

successful people is that they are list makers; they create daily lists for things they
want to accomplish each day.

Whenever you find yourself saying, “I gotta do this” or “I need to do this,” get it on a to-do list
and just do it!

Reflection 4.3

Do you make daily to-do lists of things you need to get done? If not, why?

The following time-planning and task-management tools can be used to help man-
age your time and tasks.
• Small, portable planner. This can be used to list all course assignments and

exams, along with their due dates. (It can also be used in sync with the same cal-
endar programs available on your desktop or laptop.) Pulling together all work
tasks required in each of your courses and getting them in the same place makes
it much easier to keep track of what needs to be done and when it needs to get

• Large, stable calendar. In the calendar’s date boxes, record major assignments
that need to be completed throughout the term. Post the calendar in a place
where you can’t help but see it every day (e.g., bedroom or refrigerator door).
By repeatedly seeing the things you must do, you’re less likely to overlook
them, forget about them, or subconsciously repress them because you’d rather
not do them.

• Smartphone. This device can be used for purposes other than checking social
networking sites and sending or receiving text messages. It can be used as a cal-
endar tool to record due dates and set up alert functions to remind you of dead-
lines. Many smartphones also allow you to set up task or “to-do” lists and set
priorities for each item entered. A variety of apps are also available for planning
tasks and tracking the amount of time you spend on them (for example, see:

Take advantage of these cutting-edge, high-tech tools, but at the same time, re-
member that planners don’t plan time, people do. Ultimately, the effectiveness of
any time-management strategy depends on making a strong personal commit-
ment to our goals and to completing the tasks required to reach our goals.

When I entered college in the mid-1970s, I was a first-generation student from an ex-
tremely impoverished background. Not only did I have to work to support my education,
I also needed to assist my family financially. I stocked grocery store shelves at night dur-
ing the week and waited tables at a local country club on the weekends. Managing my
time, school, work, and life required a lot of self-discipline. However, I always under-
stood that my goal was to graduate from college and all of my other commitments sup-
ported that goal. One of my greatest achievements in life was to keep my mind focused
on the ultimate goal of earning a college degree. That achievement has paid off for me
many times over the course of my life.

—Aaron Thompson

Chapter 4 Time Management 73

Time management is rooted in goal commitment. When the roots of goal commitment are strong,
they provide fertile soil for time-management skills to grow into productive lifelong habits.

Reflection 4.4

a) Do you use a paper calendar or an electronic calendar tool on your cell phone?

b) If you don’t use either of these tools, why not?

c) How do you think most students would answer the above two questions?

Prioritization: ordering tasks in terms of their importance and tackling them
in that order. After itemizing tasks we need to get done, the next step is prioritizing
them—determining the order or sequence in which they will get done. Prioritizing is
basically a process of ranking tasks in terms of their importance and
tackling high-priority tasks first. Here are two key criteria (standards of judgment)
you can use to determine high-priority tasks:

“First things first. ”—An old proverb
• Urgency. Unfinished tasks that are close to their deadline or due date should

receive high priority. Starting an assignment that’s due next week takes prece-
dence over starting an assignment that’s due next month (even if the latter as-
signment may be more interesting or stimulating).

• Gravity. Tasks that carry greater weight (count more) should receive higher
priority. If an assignment worth 100 points and an assignment worth 10 points
are due at the same time, the 100-point task should receive higher priority.
Simply stated, tasks that matter more should receive higher priority. Similar to
investing money, time should be invested on tasks that yield the greatest

”“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, dramatist, and author of the epic

A simple and effective strategy for prioritizing tasks is to divide them into “A,”
“B,” and “C” lists. The “A” list is for essential (non-negotiable) tasks that must be
done now. List “B” is for important tasks that should be done soon. List “C” is for op-
tional tasks that could be done if there’s time remaining after the more important
tasks on lists A and B have been completed. Organizing tasks into these three lists
can help us make rational decisions about how to divide our labor and tackle our
tasks. We shouldn’t be wasting time on less important things and convince our-
selves that we’re “getting stuff done”—when, in reality, all we’re doing is “keeping
busy” and distracting ourselves (and subtracting time) from the more important
things we should be doing.

”“When I have lots of home-work to do, I suddenly go through this urge to clean up and organize the house. I’m thinking, ‘I’m not wasting my
time. I’m cleaning up the house
and that’s something I have to
do.’ But all I’m really doing is
avoiding schoolwork.
—College sophomore

Developing a Time-Management Plan
Don’t buy into the myth that planning time is wasting time that could be spent get-
ting started and getting things done. Like successful chess players, successful time
managers plan and anticipate their next moves.

You’ve probably heard of the old proverb: “A stitch in time saves nine.” Plan-
ning time represents a “stitch” (one unit of time) that saves “nine” (additional units
of time). Actually, time-management experts estimate that taking time to plan our
work reduces our total work time by a factor of three; in other words, for every one
unit of time we spend planning, we save ourselves three times as much work time. ”“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.—Benjamin Franklin

74 Chapter 4 Time Management

Thus, 5 minutes of planning time saves us about 15 minutes of total work time, and
10 minutes of planning time saves us 30 minutes of work time.

Taking time to plan our work saves work time in the long run because it gives us
a map of where we’re going, reducing the risk of our veering off track or getting
sidetracked. Developing a plan of attack also reduces the likelihood of “false
starts”—starting our work and discovering later that we didn’t start off on the right
track, forcing us to backtrack and start all over again.

Key Elements of an Effective Time-Management Plan
Once we let go of the belief that taking time to plan is a waste of time and realize
that it will save us time in the long run, we can take some time to develop a time-
management plan. Listed below are components of a well-designed plan for man-
aging time and tasks.

An effective time-management plan transforms goal-setting into action-
taking. The first step is to plan the work; second step is to work the plan. Studies
show that setting goals and getting motivated are important, but completing the
tasks needed to achieve those goals requires more than motivation; it requires an
action plan.

You can transform a plan on paper (or on a computer screen) into an action plan
by: (a) previewing what you intend to do, (b) reviewing whether you actually did
what you intended to do, and (c) closing any gaps between your intentions and ac-
tions. This process includes having a daily to-do list at the start of the day, carrying it
with you throughout the day, and checking off (not putting off) items you intend to
accomplish during the day. At the end of the day, review the list and determine what
you did and didn’t get done. Things that didn’t get done become high-priority tasks
for the next day’s to-do list.

If you frequently find lots of unchecked (uncompleted) items on your to-do list
at the end of the day, this probably means you’re spreading yourself too thin and
trying to accomplish too much too soon. You may need to be more conservative
about what you can get done in a single day and reduce the number of items on
your daily to-do list.

Having difficulty completing all tasks on our daily to-do lists may also mean
that we need to adjust our overall time-management plan by substituting work time
for time spent on other activities (e.g., Facebook, text messaging, or phone calls). If
we consistently fail to complete our daily tasks, we may have to ask ourselves if
we’re truly committed to investing the time and effort needed to reach our goals.

An effective time-management plan reserves time for the unexpected. We
should plan for the best, but also prepare for the worst. A good plan includes a buf-
fer zone or safety net of extra (unscheduled) time to accommodate unforeseen de-
velopments and unexpected emergencies. Just as we should have extra funds in our
savings account to accommodate unexpected expenses (e.g., car repairs or medical
care), we should reserve extra time in our schedule to accommodate tasks that end
up taking more time than we budgeted for, and for tasks that may unexpectedly
crop up (e.g., a family emergency).

“Murphy’s Laws:1. Nothing is as simple as it looks. 2. Everything takes longer
than it should.

3. If anything can go wrong,
it will.

—Murphy’s Laws (named after
Captain Edward Murphy, a naval
engineer) An effective time-management plan should include scheduling time for both

work and play. A time-management plan should not turn us into robotic worka-
holics. It shouldn’t be just a dry and daunting list of work tasks we must do; it
should also include things that we want to do, creating a balanced blend of work

Chapter 4 Time Management 75

tasks and fun activities that allow us to relax, recreate, refuel, and recharge. This
balance may be created by following a daily “8- 8-8 rule”: 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours
for school work, and 8 hours for other activities. We are more likely to faithfully ex-
ecute a time-management plan that includes play time along with work time, and if
we schedule play time as a reward for putting in our work time.

If a time-management plan includes things we like to do, we’re more likely to do the things we
have to do.

Reflection 4.5

What relaxing and recreational activities do you engage in to maintain work-play
balance in your life? Do you develop an intentional plan for engaging in these activi-
ties on a regular basis? (If not, why?)

An effective time-management plan should have some flexibility. The plan
shouldn’t be so rigid that it enslaves you; it should be flexible enough to allow you
the freedom to modify it if necessary. Just as work commitments and family
responsibilities can pop up unexpectedly, so, too, can fun activities. A good time-
management plan should allow you some freedom and spontaneity to take advan-
tage of enjoyable opportunities that may emerge unexpectedly. You should be able
to bend your plan, as long as you don’t break it. If you substitute play time for work
time, the work time needs to be rescheduled for another time. In other words, you
shouldn’t steal work time from your plan, but you can borrow it and pay it back

Making Productive Use of “Free Time” Outside the Classroom
Compared with high school, college students are expected to put in much more in-
dependent work outside of class. Thus, using out-of-class time strategically and
productively is critical to college success. Listed below are strategies for working on
your own outside the classroom to prepare (in advance) for exams and assignments.
Building time for each of these activities into your time-management plan will en-
able you to make more productive use of your time outside the classroom, reduce
your level of stress, and strengthen your overall academic performance.

• Review lecture notes from the last class before the next class. After taking
notes in class students often don’t look at those notes again until they study
them just before test time. Don’t fall into this habit; instead, review your notes
regularly between class sessions, rewrite any notes that may have been sloppily
written the first time, and reorganize your notes to get different pieces of infor-
mation relating to the same point in the same place. If you find any information
gaps or confusing points in your notes, seek out the course instructor or a
trusted classmate to clear them up before the next class session. If you take
some time to review and refine your course notes between class sessions, you
can build mental bridges between successive lectures and connect information
to be learned in the upcoming class with information you learned in the previ-
ous class.

76 Chapter 4 Time Management

• Complete reading assignments pertaining to an upcoming lecture topic
before that topic is discussed in class. This will make lectures easier to under-
stand and enable you to participate more effectively in class by asking meaning-
ful questions and making well-informed contributions to class discussions.

• Review and take notes on information highlighted in assigned readings.
Students often do not review reading material they have highlighted until they’re
about to be tested on it. Avoid this habit by reviewing and taking notes on your
reading highlights in advance of exams. This will reduce the need to engage in
last-minute cramming and give you ample time before exams to clear up confus-
ing information found in the reading with a fellow classmate or the course

• Integrate class notes and reading notes relating to the same point or con-
cept. Connect information in your lecture notes with information in your read-
ing notes that pertain to the same idea and get them in the same place (e.g., on
the same index card).

• Use a “part-to-whole” study method. Study in advance of (not just the night
before) exams by breaking the material you need to know into small parts
(pieces) and study these parts in short, separate study sessions. This strategy will
enable you to avoid last-minute cramming and enable them to use your last
study session right before the exam to review the “whole”—all the parts you
previously studied. (For more details about the part-to-whole study method,
see Chapter 5, pp. 107-108.)

• Work on large, long-term assignments due at the end of the term by
breaking them into smaller short-term tasks and complete them in suc-
cessive stages throughout the term. For instance, if you have a large term
paper to turn in by the last week of class, divide your work on it into the follow-
ing smaller tasks and complete each of these tasks in separate installments.
1. Search for and decide on a topic.
2. Locate sources of information on the topic.
3. Organize information obtained from your sources into categories.
4. Develop an outline of your paper’s major points, including the order or se-

quence in which they’ll be covered.
5. Construct a first draft of the paper.
6. Review and refine the first draft (and, if necessary, write additional drafts).
7. Complete a final draft.
8. Proofread the final draft for spelling and grammatical errors before turning

it in.

Reflection 4.6

Are you currently making productive use of your time between classes? If not, what
could (or should) you do instead of what you’re currently doing?

Chapter 4 Time Management 77

Take portable schoolwork with you during the day—work that can be carried with you and
worked on anywhere at any time. This will enable you to take “dead time”—time spent being
bored or doing nothing (such as waiting for appointments or transportation)—and transform
it into “live” (productive) time. ”“Only boring people get bored.—Graffiti that once appeared in a bathroom stall at the University of Iowa, circa 1977

Combating Procrastination
A major enemy of effective time management is procrastination. Research indicates
that 80% to 95% of college students procrastinate and almost 50% report they pro-
crastinate consistently. Procrastination is such a serious issue that some college
campuses have opened “procrastination centers” especially for students struggling
with this problem.

Instead of abiding by the proverb, “Why put off till tomorrow what can be
done today?” the procrastinator’s philosophy is just the opposite: “Why do today
what can be put off till tomorrow?” Adopting this philosophy leads to a perpetual
pattern of postponing what needs to be done until the last possible moment, forcing
the procrastinator to rush frantically to finish work just before the deadline, and
then turning in work that is inferior or incomplete (or turning in nothing at all).

”“Many people take no care of their money ‘til they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German
poet, dramatist, and author of the epic

A procrastinator’s intention to work in advance often ends up
with this scenario.

List of Things
To Do Today

List of Things
Due Today

1. Write Paper
2. Study for
Math Test
3. Prepare Speech

1. Turn in Paper
2. Take Math
3. Deliver Speech

Next time I’ll start sooner!

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Myths That Promote Procrastination
To have any hope of putting a stop to procrastination, students need to let go of two
popular myths (misconceptions) about time and performance. If you believe in ei-
ther of the following myths, challenge yourself to think otherwise.

Myth 1. “I work better under pressure” (on the day or night before some-
thing is due). Procrastinators often confuse desperation with motivation. Their ra-
tionale for thinking that they work better under pressure really isn’t a rationale at all;
instead, it’s a rationalization to justify the fact that they only work under pressure—
when they’re forced to, because they’ve run out of time and are under the gun of a
looming deadline.

78 Chapter 4 Time Management

It’s certainly true that when we’re under the pressure of an immediate deadline,
we’re more likely to start working and work faster, but that doesn’t mean we’re
working smarter, more effectively, or producing work of better quality. Because pro-
crastinators repeatedly play “beat the clock,” they focus more on beating the buzzer
than delivering their best shot. The typical result is delivering a work product of
poorer quality than what could have been produced if they started sooner.

“Haste makes waste.”—Benjamin Franklin
Myth 2. “Studying in advance is a waste of time because I’ll forget it all by
test time.” Procrastinators use this belief to justify putting off all studying until the
night before an exam. As will be discussed in chapter 5, studying that’s distributed
(spread out) over time is more effective than massed (crammed) studying. Further-
more, last-minute studying can lead to pulling “late-nighters” or “all-nighters,”
depriving the brain of dream sleep (a.k.a. REM sleep) that’s needed to retain infor-
mation and manage stress.

Working under time pressure also increases performance pressure because it
leaves procrastinators with little time to seek help with their work and no time to
accommodate last-minute emergencies or random catastrophes.

Strategies for Preventing and Overcoming Procrastination
Listed below are strategies for reducing the tendency to procrastinate and prevent-
ing it from happening in the first place.

Consistently use effective time-management strategies. It’s been found that
procrastinators are less likely to procrastinate when they convert their intentions or
vows (“I swear I’m going to start tomorrow”) into concrete action plans. Studies
show that if people consistently use effective time-management plans and practices
(such as those discussed in this chapter) and apply them to tasks that they procrasti-
nate on, their procrastination habit begins to fade and is replaced by more produc-
tive work habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”—Aristotle, ancient Greek

Organization matters. Research indicates that disorganization contributes to pro-
crastination. If our workspaces and work materials are well-organized and ready to
go, we’re more likely to get going and start working. Having the right materials in
the right place at the right time not only makes it easier for us to begin work, it also
helps us maintain momentum by reducing the need to stop, find stuff that’s needed
to continue working, and then have to restart the work process all over again. For
procrastinators, anything that delays the start of their work, or interrupts their
work once it’s begun, can supply them with just enough time (and the right excuse)
to postpone doing the work.

The less time and effort it takes to start working and continue working, the more likely it is that
the work will be started, continued, and completed.

A simple and effective way to organize college work materials is to develop a
personal file system, in which materials from separate courses are filed (stored) in
separate notebooks or folders—paper or electronic. This keeps all materials related
to the same course in the same place and allows for immediate access to these mate-
rials when they’re needed. A file system not only helps with organization, it also re-
duces the risk of procrastination by reducing the time (and effort) it takes to get
started. Also, by having everything “in place,” it reduces stress triggered by the un-
settling feeling of having things “all over the place.”

Chapter 4 Time Management 79

Location matters. Effective time and task management include effective manage-
ment of one’s work environment. Where work takes place can influence whether
work is begun and gets done. Working in an environment that minimizes distrac-
tions and maximizes concentration reduces the risk of procrastination. Intentionally
arrange your work environment to minimize social distractions (e.g., friends nearby
who are not working) and social-media distractions (e.g., texting or tweeting). Bet-
ter yet, remove everything from your work site that’s not related to the work you’re

Procrastination can also be reduced by working in an environment that includes
positive social-support networks; for example, working with a group of motivated
students who make your work more attractive, less distractive, and more productive.

Although my college friends and I had different majors, we found that if we all studied
together we could help each other stay focused and avoid procrastination. Each night
about five of us would meet up in one of our residence hall rooms with our coffee, snacks,
and textbooks. We’d each find a spot somewhere in that room–either at a desk or on the
floor–and hunker down to study for exams or to get our reading assignments done.
These study sessions were both enjoyable and productive; we were able to keep up with
the demands of our courses while also spending time together.

However, despite our best efforts, some of us would occasionally get distracted, start
cracking jokes, or just lose steam. Since we were so committed to supporting each other,
whenever this happened, we’d rein each other in and refocus. These evening sessions
with my friends helped me stick to a regular study schedule, do well in my courses, and
strengthened the friendships I made in college.
—Michele Campagna

Make the start of work as inviting or appealing as possible. For many procras-
tinators, initiating work—getting off the starting blocks—is their stumbling block.
They experience what’s known as “start-up stress”—when they’re about to start
working, they start having negative thoughts about the work they’re about to do—
expecting it to be difficult, stressful, or boring. ”“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.—Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), acclaimed American humorist and author

Start-up stress can be reduced by sequencing work tasks in a way that allows
you to work first on tasks you find more interesting or are more likely to do suc-
cessfully. Beginning with these tasks can give you a “jump-start,” enabling you to
overcome inertia and generate momentum. Once this initial momentum is created,
you can ride it and use it as motivational energy to attack the less appealing work
that comes later in your work sequence—which often turns out to be less onerous
or anxiety-provoking than you thought it would be. Many times, the anticipation of
a daunting task is worse than the task itself. In one major study of college students
who didn’t start a project until just before its due date, it was found that that they
experienced anxiety and guilt while they were procrastinating, but once they began
working, these negative emotions subsided and were replaced by more positive feel-
ings of progress and accomplishment. Another study found that the areas of the
brain where pain is experienced are active before procrastinating students began
doing their work but became deactivated once they started working.

”“Did you ever dread doing something, and then it turned out to take only about 20 minutes to do?—Conversation between two college
students overheard in a coffee shop

If you have trouble beginning your work due to start-up stress, try starting your
work in an environment that you find pleasant and relaxing while doing something
you find pleasant and relaxing (e.g., working in your favorite coffee shop while sip-
ping your favorite beverage).

80 Chapter 4 Time Management

If you don’t have trouble starting your work but lose motivation before com-
pleting it, schedule easier and more interesting work tasks in the middle or
toward the end of your planned work time. Some procrastinators have difficulty
starting work; others have trouble continuing and finishing the work they’ve
started. As previously mentioned, if you have trouble beginning your work, it might
be best for you to start with tasks that you find easier or more interesting. On the
other hand, if your procrastination involves stopping your work before completing
it, then it might be better to attack easier and more interesting tasks at a later point
in your work sequence—at a time when your interest and energy tends to fade.
Knowing that there are more stimulating and manageable tasks ahead of you can
also provide you with an incentive for completing the less enjoyable or more diffi-
cult tasks first.

“I’m very good at starting things but often have trouble keeping a sustained effort.”—First-year college student
If you are close to completing a task, “go for the kill”—finish it then and
there—rather than stopping and going back to it later. As the old saying goes:
“There’s no time like the present.” By continuing to work on a task that you already
started, you capitalize on the momentum you’ve already generated. In contrast,
postponing work on a task that’s near completion and going back to it again later
means that you have to overcome start-up inertia and regenerate momentum all
over again.

There’s another advantage of finishing a task that’s already been started—it pro-
vides a sense of closure—a feeling of personal accomplishment and self-satisfaction
that comes with knowing you’ve “closed the deal.” Seeing a task checked off as
completed supplies you with a visible sign of achievement that can motivate you to
keep going and tackle the next task.

(Complete the AchieveWORKS Learning and Productivity Self-Assessment.
Take a close look at these results and the results of your AchieveWORKSPersonal-
ity Self-Assessment. What do these two reports say about your inclination to finish
tasks and activities? What suggestions offered by these two self-assessments could
help you stay on task and increase productivity?)

Divide large work tasks into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Work becomes less
overwhelming and less stressful when it’s handled in small chunks or segments.
Procrastinating about large work tasks can be reduced by using a “divide and con-
quer” strategy—divide the large task into smaller, more manageable subtasks, set
deadlines for these smaller tasks just like you would the final product, and attack the
small tasks one at a time. By breaking down the total task into smaller pieces, you
can take quick jabs at the tall task, poke holes in it, and whittle down its size with
each successive punch. This divide-and-conquer approach reduces the pressure of
having to deliver one, big knockout punch right before the final bell (deadline or
due date). Don’t underestimate the power of short work sessions; they can be more
productive than marathon sessions because it’s easier to maintain motivation, con-
centration, and energy for shorter periods of time.

Chapter 4 Time Management 81

The two biggest projects I’ve had to complete in my life were writing my doctoral thesis
and this textbook. The strategy that enabled me to complete both of these large tasks was
to set short-term deadlines for myself (e.g., complete 5-10 pages each week). I psyched
myself into thinking that these little, self-imposed due dates were really drop-dead dead-
lines that I had to meet. This strategy allowed me to divide a monstrous chore into a se-
ries of smaller, more manageable mini-tasks. It was like taking a huge, hard-to-digest
meal and breaking it into small, bite-sized pieces that I could easily ingest and gradually
digest over time.

—Joe Cuseo

Reflection 4.7

Would you say you’re a procrastinator?

If yes, do you think you procrastinate to such a degree that it reduces the quality of
your work or adds to your level of stress?

How do you think most students would answer the above two questions?

”“To eat an elephant, first cut it into small pieces.—Author unknown
Psychological Causes of Procrastination
In some cases, procrastination isn’t the result of poor time-management habits but
has deeper psychological roots. Procrastination can be used as a psychological strat-
egy to protect one’s self-image and self-esteem. Some procrastinators engage in a
strategy called self-handicapping—they intentionally (or unconsciously) “handicap”
themselves by limiting the amount of time they have to prepare for and complete
tasks. So, if their performance turns out to be less than spectacular, they can always
conclude (or rationalize) that it was because they were performing under a handi-
cap—lack of time. For example, if self-handicapping procrastinators receive a low
grade on a test, they can “save face” (self-esteem) by saying that they had the ability
or intelligence to earn a high grade, but just didn’t put in much time studying for the
exam. Better yet, if they happen to get a good grade—despite the last-minute, last-
ditch effort—it proves just how smart they were because they were able to earn a
high grade without putting in much time at all! Thus, self-handicapping creates a
fail-safe or win-win scenario that always protects the procrastinator’s self-image.

”“Procrastinators would rather be seen as lacking in effort than lacking in ability.—Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology and procrastination researcher

In addition to self-handicapping, there are other psychological factors that have
been found to contribute to procrastination, such as the following:

• Perfectionism. The procrastinator has unrealistically high personal standards
or expectations and believes that it’s better to postpone work, or not do the
work at all, than to risk doing it less than perfectly.

• Fear of failure. The procrastinator feels that it’s worse to put in the time to do
the work and fail or receive negative feedback, than to do the work at all.

• Fear of success. The procrastinator fears that doing well will show others that
he can perform at a high level, which will create expectations from others that
he maintain this high level of performance.

• Indecisiveness. The procrastinator has difficulty making decisions in general,
including decisions about what to do first, when to do it, or whether to do it.

“Striving for excellence
motivates you; striving for
perfection is demoralizing.”—Harriet Braiker, psychologist and bestselling author

”“When you’re given a positive label, you’re afraid of losing it, and when you’re hit with a negative label, you’re afraid of deserving it.
—Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology,
Stanford University

82 Chapter 4 Time Management

• Thrill seeking. The procrastinator loves the adrenaline rush associated with
rushing to get things done just before a deadline.

If these psychological issues are the root of procrastination, they need to be up-
rooted and dealt with before the problem can be solved. This may require seeing a
counseling psychologist (either on or off campus) who is professionally trained to
deal with these issues.

Regardless of whether the cause is lack of time-management skills or deeper psy-
chological factors, procrastination continues to be a problem for many students and
one that can have significant impact on their ability to succeed in college. Be on the
lookout for it, guard against it, and be willing to seek help if you’re experiencing it.

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on managing time and preventing procrastination, con-
sult the following websites:

Time-Management Strategies:

Beating Procrastination:


Chapter 4 Exercises
4.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation why you chose it.

4.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies recommended for preventing and overcoming procrastination on pp. 78-80. Select three strategies
that you think are most important and intend to put into practice.

4.3 Reality Bite
Procrastination: The Vicious Cycle
Delayla has a major paper due at the end of the term. It’s now past midterm and she still hasn’t started to work on it. She
keeps telling herself, “I should have started sooner” and is now beginning to feel anxious and guilty. To relieve her anxiety
and guilt, Delayla starts doing other tasks instead, such as cleaning her room and organizing files on her computer. These
tasks keep her busy, take her mind off the term paper, and give her the feeling that she’s getting something accomplished.
Time continues to pass and the deadline for the paper is growing dangerously close. Delayla now finds herself in the stressful
position of having lots of work still to do and very little time to do it.

Adapted from Procrastination: Why You Do It, and What to Do About It (Burka & Yuen)

1. What do you expect Delayla will do at this point? Why?

2. What grade do you think she will end up receiving on her paper?

3. Can you relate to this student’s experience, or know students who have had this experience?

4. Other than simply starting sooner, what else could Delayla (and other procrastinators like her) have done to break this
procrastination cycle?

4.4 Time Analysis Inventory
1. Go to the following website:
2. Complete the time management exercise at this site. The exercise asks you to estimate the hours per day or week that

you engage in various activities (e.g., sleeping, employment, and commuting). When you enter the amount of time you
devote to each activity, the website automatically computes the total number of remaining hours you have available in
the week for schoolwork.

3. After completing your entries, answer the following questions (or provide your best estimate).
a) How many hours per week do you have available for schoolwork?

b) Do you have two hours available for schoolwork outside of class for each hour you spend in class? If you don’t, what
activities could be eliminated or reduced to create this 2:1 ratio?


4.5 Time Management Self-Awareness
Look at the results of your AchieveWORKSPersonality assessment report

Did the results provide you with helpful insights on how you organize your time and your approach to completing tasks? If
yes, why? If no, why not?

4.6 Term at a Glance
Review the syllabus (course outline) for each course you’re enrolled in this term, and complete the following information for
each course:

Term ______________________________________Year ____________________

Course Professor Exams Projects
& Papers



Late & Makeup
Assignment Policy

1. Is the overall workload what you expected? Are you surprised by the amount of work required in any particular

2. At this point in the term, what do you see as your most challenging or demanding course(s)? Why?

3. Do you think you can handle the total workload required for the full set of courses you’re enrolled in this term?

4. What adjustments or changes could you make to your personal schedule that would make it easier to accommodate
your academic workload this term?

4.7 Developing a Weekly Time-Management Plan for Your First Term in College
Use the following Week-at-a-Glance Grid to map out your typical week looks like this term. Start by recording what you
usually do on these days, including the times you’re in class, at work, and when you relax or recreate. You can use
abbreviations (e.g., CT for class time, HW for homework, J for job, and R&R for rest and relaxation). List the abbreviations you
created at the bottom of the page so that you (and your instructor) can follow them.

If you’re a full-time student, plan for 25 hours a week for homework (HW). (If you’re a
part-time student, find two hours you could devote to homework for every hour you’re in
class—for example, if you’re in class nine hours per week, find 18 hours of homework

These homework hours could take place at any time during the week, including weekends.
If you combine 25 hours per week of out-of-class school work with the amount of time
you spend in class each week, you should end up with a 40-hour academic workweek—
comparable to a full-time job—which is how college work should be viewed.

“The amount of free time you
have in college is much more
than in high school. Always
have a weekly study schedule to
go by. Otherwise, time slips
away and you will not be able to
account for it.
—Advice to new college students
from a first-year student


Week-at-a-Glance Grid
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

7:00 a.m.

8:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m.

12:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

5:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m.

9:00 p.m.

10:00 p.m.

11:00 p.m.

1. How likely are you to put this time-management plan into practice?

Circle one: Definitely Probably Unlikely

2. What would help or encourage you to put this plan into practice?

3. What would deter or discourage you from putting this plan into practice?

4. How do you think other students would answer the above three questions?



Deep Learning

Chapter Purpose & PreviewThe key academic tasks you’re expected to perform in college include taking lecture notes,
completing reading assignments, studying, and test taking. This chapter provides specific
research- and brain-based strategies for tackling these tasks. Implementing these strate-
gies will enable you to learn at a deeper level than simply memorizing information. You can
apply these deep-learning strategies across all subjects and throughout life.

Learning GoalAcquire and apply a comprehensive set of strategies that will enable you to study
smarter, learn more deeply, and retain what you learn longer.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 5.1

What would you say is the key difference between learning and memorizing?

What is Deep Learning and Why is it Important?
Learning is the fundamental mission of all colleges and universities, and it’s some-
thing that doesn’t stop after graduation. It’s a lifelong process that is important for
personal and professional success but has become even more important in the 21st
century. Currently the ongoing growth of information technology, coupled with a
knowledge-based economy and increasing global interdependence, is creating a
high demand for college graduates who have “learned how to learn” and who can
apply their learning skills throughout life in different occupational roles and cul-
tural contexts.

When college students learn deeply, they dive below the surface of shallow
memorization to build mental bridges between what they are learning and what
they already know. Deep learning doesn’t take place if information is passively ab-
sorbed into the brain, as if it were a sponge. Instead, it involves actively building
new ideas onto ideas that are already stored in the brain. When this happens, mem-
orizing isolated facts and bits of information is transformed into a deeper learning
process that builds conceptual knowledge—networks of connected ideas in the
brain that involve actual physical (neurological) connections between brain cells.
(See Figure 5.1.)

”“When I have to do work, and I’m getting it. It’s linking what I already know to what I didn’t know.—Student’s description of a “good class”

88 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

FIGURE 5.1: Network of Brain Cells

Deep learning involves making connections between what you’re trying to learn and
what you already know. When you learn something deeply, it’s stored in the brain as a

link in an interconnected network of brain cells.

©Jurgen Ziewe/

Studies suggest that most college students are not in the habit of engaging in
deep learning. They show up for class most of the time, copy down some notes,
highlight information in their textbooks, memorize what they think they’ll be
tested on, and regurgitate what they’ve memorized on exams. These practices may
get students through high school, but different methods are needed to excel in col-
lege—methods that promote deep learning, long-term retention of what has been
learned, and application of learning to life.

“Do you really want to learn or do you just want to get by?”—Question posed by a student to another student in a coffee shop
Stages in the Learning and Memory Process
Learning deeply and retaining what you’ve learned is a process that involves three
key stages:

1. Sensory input (perception). Taking information into the brain
2. Memory formation (storage). Transforming that information into knowledge

and storing it in the brain
3. Memory recall (retrieval). Bringing that knowledge back to mind when you

need it.

These three stages are summarized visually in Figure 5.2. The stages are simi-
lar to the way information is processed by a computer: (1) information is first en-
tered onto the screen (input), (2) then saved in a memory file (storage), and (3) later
retrieved (recalled) when needed. This three-stage process can serve as a frame-
work for using the two major routes through which you will acquire knowledge in
college: lectures and readings.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 89

FIGURE 5.2: Key Stages in the Learning and Memory Process


Sensory Perception Memory Storage Retrieval

(Test-Taking)(Long-Term Memory)

Attention Working Memory

(Studying)Hearing (lectures)
Seeing (readings)



©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Effective Lecture-Listening and Note-Taking Strategies
The importance of listening skills for academic success was highlighted in a classic
study of more than 400 students who were given a listening test at the start of their
college experience. At the end of their first year in college, 49% of the students who
scored low on the listening test were on academic probation, compared to only 4.4%
of students who scored high on the listening test; furthermore, 68.5% of students
who scored high on the listening test were eligible for the honors program, com-
pared to only 4.17% of those students who had low listening test scores.

Reflection 5.2

Do you think writing notes in class helps or hinders your ability to pay attention to
and understand lectures?


Studies show that information delivered during lectures is the number one
source of test questions (and answers) on college exams. When lecture information
is not recorded in students’ notes and a question about it appears on a test, it has
only a 5% chance of being recalled. Thus, as you would expect, students who take
notes during lectures earn higher course grades than students who just listen to lec-
tures, and students who take more complete lecture notes have higher overall
grade-point averages.

Good college grades begin with good class notes.

Contrary to a popular belief that writing while listening interferes with listen-
ing, students report that taking notes in class increases their attention and concen-
tration. Studies also show that when students write down information presented to
them during lectures, they’re more likely to remember that information when
tested on it later. One study discovered that students with grade-point averages
(GPAs) of 2.53 or higher recorded more information in their notes and retained a
larger percentage of the most important information delivered in class than did
students with GPAs of less than 2.53. These findings aren’t surprising when you
consider that taking notes involves hearing information, writing it, and then seeing it
after it’s been written. Thus, three different memory traces (tracks) for that infor-
mation are recorded in the brain, which triples the likelihood it will be

90 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

In addition, when you take notes, you’re left with a written record of lecture in-
formation that can be studied later to prepare for exams. In contrast, if you take few
or no notes, you’re left with little or no information to study. Since, most questions
on college exams come from information contained in professors’ lectures, come to
class with the attitude that your instructors are dispensing answers to test questions
as they speak and your job is to pick out and record these answers so you can pick
up points on their exams.

Points your professors make in class that make it into your notes turn into points you earn on
exams (and higher grades you earn in your courses).

You can get the most out of class lectures by employing effective strategies at
three key times: before, during, and after class.

Pre-Lecture Strategies: What to Do Before Class
Check your syllabus to see where you are in the course and how the upcom-
ing class fits into the total course picture. By checking the course syllabus be-
fore each class session you’re able to see how each part (class) relates to the whole
(course). The brain’s natural tendency is to look for patterns in the information it
receives and integrate separate pieces of information into a meaningful whole. In
Figure 5.3, notice how your brain naturally connects information to perceive a
whole that is meaningful (a triangle).

FIGURE 5.3: Triangle Illusion

You perceive a white triangle in the middle of this figure.
However, if you use three fingers to cover up the three corners
of the white triangle that fall outside the other (green) triangle,
the white triangle suddenly disappears. What your brain does is
take these corners as starting points then fills in and connects
the rest of the information on its own to create a complete or
whole pattern (triangle) that is meaningful to you. Also, notice
how you perceive the background (green) triangle as a whole
triangle, even though parts of its three sides are missing. This
triangle illusion illustrates how the human brain is naturally
wired to make connections and seek patterns. You can learn
more effectively and deeply by capitalizing on the brain’s
pattern-seeking, connection-making tendencies.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Before class, review your notes from the previous class session and from any
reading assignments relating to the upcoming lecture topic. Research indicates
that when students review information related to an upcoming lecture topic, they
take more accurate and complete notes on that topic when it’s discussed in class.
Thus, one way to improve your ability to learn from lectures is to review your notes
from the previous class session and read textbook information related to the lecture
topic—before hearing the lecture. By reviewing previously acquired information, your
prior knowledge is activated, which enables you to connect the upcoming lecture in-
formation with what you already know—a powerful way to promote deep learning.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 91

Adopt a seating location that maximizes attention and minimizes distraction.
Many years of research show that students who sit in the front and center of class
get higher exam scores and earn higher course grades. This relationship has been
found even when students are assigned seats by their instructor, which proves that
it’s not just due to the fact that more motivated and studious students tend to sit at
the front of the room. Instead, the better academic performance achieved by stu-
dents sitting front and center stems from learning advantages they experience
when they sit in this location.

Front-and-center seating benefits academic performance by improving your
ability to see material written on the board or screen and your ability to hear what the
instructor is saying. It also means that you don’t have to peer over or around the
heads of other students. This means you make more direct eye contact with the in-
structor, which increases your focus of attention, reduces your sense of anonymity,
and increases your level of involvement in class. In addition, sitting in the front of
class can reduce any anxiety you may have about speaking up in class because you will
not have a host of students turning around and looking at you when you speak.

”“I like to sit up front so I am not distracted by others and I don’t have to look around people’s heads to see the board.
—First-year college student

The evolution of student attention from the back to the front of class.

© Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

When you enter class, you have a choice about where you’re going to sit. Choose wisely by
selecting a location that will maximize your attentiveness to the instructor and your effective-
ness as a note-taker.

The bottom line: When you walk into a classroom, get in the habit of heading
for a seat in the front and center of class. In your larger classes, it’s especially impor-
tant to get “up close and personal” with your instructors—not only to improve your
attention, note-taking, and class participation—but also to improve your instruc-
tors’ ability to remember who you are and how you perform in class. This will work
to your advantage when it’s time to ask instructors for letters of recommendation.

Sit by people who will enable (not disable) your ability to listen and learn.
Your ability to maintain attention in class and take good lecture notes depends not
only on where you are seated, but who is seated nearby you. Make an intentional at-
tempt to sit near classmates who will not distract you and interfere with the quality
of your note-taking. Listening actively throughout a lecture is a demanding task
that requires undivided attention; your attention is less likely to be divided if you’re
sitting near motivated students who are giving the lecture their undivided

92 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Reflection 5.3

When you enter a classroom, where do you usually sit?

Why do you sit there? Is it a conscious choice or more like an automatic habit?

Do you think that the seat you usually occupy in class places you in the best
possible position for listening and learning?

Adopt a seating posture that screams attention. Sitting upright and leaning for-
ward is body language associated with alertness and attention. When these physical
(postural) signs of alertness reach the brain, they stimulate mental alertness. Brain
research shows that when humans are mentally alert and ready to learn, a greater
amount of a brain chemical (C-kinase) is released at the connection point between
brain cells, which increases the likelihood that neurological (learning) connections
are formed between them.

If your body is in an alert and ready position, your mind picks up these physical
cues and follows your body’s lead. Similar to how baseball players get into a ready
position before a pitch is delivered to prepare themselves to catch batted balls, stu-
dents who get into a ready position in class put themselves in a better position to
catch ideas delivered in class.

Another advantage to being attentive in class is that it sends a clear message to
your instructors that you’re a courteous and conscientious student. This can influ-
ence your instructor’s perception and evaluation of your academic performance,
and if at the end of the course you’re on the border between a higher and lower
grade, you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

Listening and Note-Taking Strategies: What to Do During Class
Give lectures your undivided attention. As previously noted, research shows
that in all subject areas, most test questions appearing on college exams come
from the professor’s lectures, and students who take better class notes get better
course grades. Studies also show that the more time students spend surfing the
web or using Facebook during lectures, the lower their scores on course exams.
These results hold true for all students, regardless of how they scored on college
admissions tests.

Like all human beings, all college professors are not created equal. Some are
dynamic speakers who are easy to pay attention to; others are less dynamic and
pose a greater challenge to your attention span. It’s in classes taught by less-
dynamic speakers that you will be more tempted to lose attention and stop taking
notes. Resist this temptation. Instead, rise to the challenge, ramp up your atten-
tion, redouble your efforts to listen actively, and try even harder to take good
notes. Don’t let a less engaging or less entertaining lecturer lower your course
grade. Stay self-engaged and finish the course with the self-satisfaction of earn-
ing a good grade.

Take your own notes in class. Don’t rely on someone else to take notes for you.
Taking notes in your own words focuses your attention and ensures the notes you
take make sense to you. Taking your own notes in your own words makes them
meaningful to you. Research shows that students who record and review their own
notes on information presented to them earn higher scores on memory tests for

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 93

that information than do students who review notes taken by others. Although it’s a
good idea to collaborate with classmates to compare notes for accuracy and to pick
up information you may have missed, don’t rely on someone else to do your note-
taking for you.

Take notes in longhand rather than typing them on a laptop. Studies show
that when students use a keyboard to type notes, they’re more likely to mindlessly
punch in the exact words used by the instructor instead of transforming the in-
structor’s words into words that are meaningful to them. When tested for under-
standing and memory of key concepts presented in class, students who take notes
in longhand tend to outperform those who type notes on a keyboard. This may be
because the finger movements used for writing require greater attention and more
varied, effortful movement than touch typing. These more effortful movements
leave stronger motor (muscle) memory traces in the brain, which serve to deepen
learning and strengthen memory.

Be alert to instructor cues about important information contained in lec-
tures. Because the human attention span is limited, it’s impossible to attend to and
take notes on every single word a professor says. A listener’s best alternative is to
listen actively and selectively for information that matters most. Here are some
strategies for detecting and recording the most important information delivered by
professors during lectures:

• Pay attention to information your instructors put in print—on the board, on a
slide, or in a handout. If an instructor has taken the time and energy to write it
out or type it out, this is usually means that the information is important and
you’re likely to see it again—on an exam.

• Pay special attention to information presented at the very beginning and end of
class. Instructors are most likely to provide valuable reminders, reviews, and
previews at the very start and very end of class sessions.

• Look for verbal and nonverbal cues signalling that the instructor is delivering es-
pecially important information. Don’t fall into the mindless habit routine of
paying attention only to what the instructor is writing down on the board or
has recorded on a PowerPoint slide and then mindlessly copying it down ver-
batim. It’s been found that students record almost 90% of material written on
the board or on PowerPoint slides, but less than 50% of important ideas that
professors state aloud but don’t write out.

Taking effective lecture notes involves more than just robotically recording
what you see on the board or on a screen; it also involves actively listening to what
the instructor is saying and selectively detecting key ideas to record in your notes.
See Box 5.1 for common clues to important information that your professors may
be communicating orally to you, but not writing down for you.

94 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Box 5.1
Clues for Detecting Important Information
Delivered by Professors during Lectures
Verbal cues:
• Phrases that signal important information (e.g., “The

point here is . . .” or “What’s most significant about this
is . . .”).

• Information that’s repeated or rephrased in a different
way (e.g., “In other words, . . .” or “To put it another
way . . .”).

• Stated information that’s followed by a question to
check students’ understanding (e.g., “Is that clear?”
“Do you follow that?” “Does that make sense?” or “Are
you with me?”).

Vocal (tone of voice) cues:
• Information delivered in a louder tone or at a higher

pitch—which may indicate excitement or emphasis.

• Information delivered at a slower rate or with longer
pauses—which may be your instructor’s way of giving
you more time to write down these ideas because
they’re particularly important.

Nonverbal cues:
• Information delivered with:

a) Facial expressiveness (e.g., raised or furrowed

b) Body movement (e.g., gesticulation or animation);
c) Eye contact (e.g., looking directly and intently at

the faces of students to see if they’re following or
understanding what’s being said).

• Moving toward the class (e.g., moving away from the
podium or blackboard and closer to the students—as if
to ensure they hear what’s being said).

• Orienting their body directly toward the class (i.e., both
shoulders squarely facing the class—as if to ensure that
students see their face when they say it).

Keep taking notes during a lecture even if you don’t immediately or fully un-
derstand what is being said. Your professors will often lecture on information
that you may have little prior knowledge about, so it’s unrealistic to
expect that you’ll understand everything being said the first time you hear it. When
you’re uncertain or confused about the material being presented, don’t give up and
stop taking notes. Having notes on that material will at least leave you with a re-
cord to review later—when you have more time to think about it and make sense of
it. If the lecture material still doesn’t make sense to you after you’ve taken time to
review it, seek clarification from your instructor, a trusted classmate, or your

Take notes in organized form. When you keep separate ideas in separate para-
graphs, you’re left with a better organized and more understandable set of notes. If
your instructor continues to make points relating to the same idea, keep taking
notes on that idea in the same paragraph. When the instructor shifts to a new idea,
skip a few lines and shift to a new paragraph.

Your instructors are likely to using certain phrases that signal a shift to a new or
different idea (e.g., “Let’s turn to . . .” or “In addition to . . .”). Use these phrases as
cues to help you take notes in paragraph form. Be sure to leave extra space between
paragraphs to give yourself room to later add information that you may have ini-
tially missed, or to take notes on your notes.

Consider using the Cornell Note-Taking System. This method of note-taking
was first developed by a college professor at Cornell University. Frustrated by
his students’ poor test scores, he designed a system that students could use to
take better notes in class and later use their notes to better prepare for exams.
Because he taught at Cornell University, his method came to be called the Cor-
nell Note-Taking System; it has become one of the most well known and most

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 95

frequently recommended college note-taking
method. Listed below are its key steps.

• On a single 8 ½ x 11 page of notepaper, draw a
vertical line about 2 ½ inches from the left edge
of the page and a horizontal line about 2 inches
from the bottom edge of the page (as depicted in
the scaled-down illustration below). This cre-
ates three separate spaces—labeled A, B, and C.

• Use area A (right side of the vertical line) to
record notes during lectures.

• Use area B (bottom of page) to summarize the
main points—which should be done as soon
as possible after class.

• Use area C (left side of the page) to list ques-
tions about the material covered in class.
Then use the lecture notes taken in areas A
and B to answer the questions listed in area C.


2½” 6”

Area C 9” Area A

2” Area B

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

After you have listed the questions and at-
tempted to answer them from your notes, you can
team up with a classmate to check whether the
questions and answers are similar, or check with
your professor to see if other questions should be

The Cornell method of note taking promotes deep learning by prompting you
to reflect on your notes and by challenging you to restate the material in your own
words—which ensures you’re not memorizing it superficially but understanding it

Post-Lecture Strategies: What to Do After Class
Whatever note-taking method you choose to use, the most important thing is to
use a method that (a) enables you to stay actively engaged in class and (b) allows you
to reflectively review the notes you have taken after class. The following pair of
strategies may be used to ensure that you don’t forget to take the second key step in
the note-taking process: reflective review.

As soon as class ends, quickly check your notes for missing information or
incomplete thoughts. Information delivered during a lecture is likely to be fresh
in your mind immediately after class, so a quick check of your notes at this time will
allow you to take advantage of your short-term memory. Quickly reviewing and re-
flecting on the information you’ve recorded helps you move that information into
long-term memory before it’s forgotten. You can do this quick review alone, or bet-
ter yet, with a motivated classmate. If you both find the same gaps in your notes,
check them out with your instructor before he or she leaves the classroom. Even
though it may be weeks before you will be tested on the material, the sooner you
pick up missed points and clear up sources of confusion, the better, because it will
put you in a better position to understand upcoming material that builds on what
was previously covered. Catching confusion early in the game also enables you to
avoid the last-minute scenario of being one of many students seeking help from the
instructor just before test time. The critical time just before exams should be spent

96 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

studying notes that you know are complete and accurate, rather than rushing
around trying to find missing information and seeking last-minute help on con-
cepts covered weeks earlier.

Reflection 5.4

Do you tend to stick around a few minutes after class to review your notes and
clear up missing information or confusing points before leaving the classroom?

If you don’t, why not?

Before the next class session meets, reflect on and review your notes from
the previous session. During this review process, take notes on your notes by:

• Translating technical information into your own words to make it more mean-
ingful to you.

• Reorganizing your notes to get ideas related to the same point in the same

Studies show that students who organize their lecture notes into meaningful
categories demonstrate better recall of that information on memory tests than stu-
dents who simply review the notes they’ve taken in class.

Effective note taking is a two-stage process: Stage 1 involves actively taking notes in class and
stage 2 takes place after class—when you take time to reflect on the notes you’ve taken and
process them more deeply.

I spent my first year in college spending a lot of time trying to manipulate my schedule
to create large blocks of free time. I took all of my classes in a row without a break to
preserve some time at the end of the day for relaxing and socializing with friends. Sel-
dom did I even look at my notes until it was time to be tested on them. Thus, on the day
before a test I was in a panic trying to cram the lecture notes into my head for the up-
coming exam. Needless to say, I didn’t perform well on many of my first tests. Eventu-
ally, a professor told me that if I spent some time each day rewriting my notes I would
retain the material longer, increase my grades, and decrease my stress at test time. I em-
ployed this system and it worked wonderfully.

—Aaron Thompson

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 97

Reflection 5.5

Rate yourself in terms of how frequently you engage in the note-taking strategies
listed below, using the following scale:

4 = always, 3 = sometimes, 2 = rarely, 1 = never

1. I take notes aggressively in class. 4 3 2 1

2. I sit near the front of class. 4 3 2 1

3. I adopt an alert, active-listening posture when
seated in class (e.g., I sit upright and lean forward). 4 3 2 1

4. I take notes on what my instructors say, not
just what they write on the board. 4 3 2 1

5. I pay special attention to information presented
at the start and end of class. 4 3 2 1

6. I take notes in paragraph form. 4 3 2 1
7. I review my notes immediately after class to
check if they’re accurate and complete. 4 3 2 1

8. If I miss class, I get notes from a motivated

4 3 2 1

Strategic Reading
Reading assignments in college are likely to be lengthier and more challenging
than those assigned in high school and college students are expected to do the as-
signed reading without anyone checking to see if they have done it. Not surpris-
ingly, research shows that college students who consistently complete their as-
signed readings earn higher course grades.

”“Employ your time in improv-ing yourself by other men’s writing so that you shall come easily by what others have labored for.
—Socrates, classic Greek (Athenian)
philosopher and founding father of
Western philosophy

Information contained in assigned readings ranks right behind information from
lectures as a source of test questions on college exams. College students are likely to
find questions on exams about information contained in reading assignments that
their professors didn’t talk extensively about in class or didn’t even mention in class.
Professors are also likely to expect students to relate or connect information covered
in their lectures with information contained in the readings they’ve assigned. Fur-
thermore, professors often deliver information in their lectures with the expectation
that students have completed the assigned reading on the topic they’re lecturing
about. Consequently, if students do not complete assigned readings by their due date,
they are likely to have more difficulty understanding class lectures.

It’s important to remember that assigned reading is not optional; it’s required
and should be done according to the schedule your instructor has established. By
completing reading assignments in a timely manner, you will: (a) be better posi-
tioned to understand class lectures, (b) improve the quality of your participation in
class, and (c) obtain information that may appear on exams that is not explicitly
covered in class.

Your reading comprehension and retention can be strengthened by using the
following research-based strategies.

98 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Pre-Reading Strategies: What to Do Before Reading
Before starting a reading assignment, first get a sense of how what you’re
about to read will fit into the overall organizational structure of the book and
course. If you’re reading a textbook chapter, you can do this efficiently by taking a
quick look at the book’s table of contents to see how the chapter you’re about to read
is situated in the overall sequence of chapters. Look especially at the chapter’s rela-
tionship to the chapter before it and after. This pre-reading strategy will give you a
sense of how the part you’re focusing on fits into the bigger picture. Research shows
that when students see how the material they’re about to learn is organized—if they
see how the part relates to the whole—before they attempt to learn the specific part,
they’re better able to comprehend and retain that particular part. Thus, the first step
toward improving reading comprehension and retention of a book chapter is to see
how the chapter fits into the book or course as a whole.

Preview a chapter you’re about to read by first reviewing its boldface head-
ings and any chapter outline, objectives, summary, or end-of-chapter ques-
tions that may be included. Before tackling the chapter’s specific content,
preview what’s in the chapter to get a general sense of its overall organization. If
you dive into the specific details first, you may lose sight of how the smaller details
connect with the larger picture. Because the brain’s natural tendency is to perceive
and comprehend whole patterns rather than isolated bits of information, start by
taking a moment to see how the part you’re working on fits into the bigger picture.
Just as seeing the picture of a completed jigsaw puzzle can help see where the piece
in your hand belongs, so, too, does getting a picture of the whole chapter help you
connect (and understand) its particular parts.

Before beginning to read, take a moment to think about what ideas or
knowledge you may already have that relates to the main topic. This short re-
flection will activate areas of the brain where your prior knowledge about that topic
is stored, thereby preparing it to make meaningful connections with the material
you’re about to read.

Reflection 5.6

When you open a textbook to read an assigned chapter, do you immediately start
reading it sentence by sentence, or do you first scan the chapter to get a sense of
its overall organization? If you don’t, would you be willing to put this strategy into

Strategies to Use During the Reading Process
Approach reading with the mindset that you’re on a search and find mission—to
detect and select the most important information. Described below are three key
strategies that can be used while reading to help you determine what information
should be focused on and retained.

Use boldface or dark-print headings and subheadings as guideposts to find
important information. These headings organize the chapter’s major points; you
can use them as “traffic signs” to steer you toward the most important information

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 99

contained in the chapter. Better yet, turn the chapter’s headings into questions and
read to find answers beneath them. This question-and-answer strategy will ensure
that you read actively and with a purpose. Studies show that most students try to
learn and remember material they’ve read by simply re-reading it; however, this
practice is much less effective than reading with a purpose. Asking yourself ques-
tions about what you are reading while you are reading it is one way to read with a
purpose. You can set up this strategy by previewing the chapter and placing a ques-
tion mark after each heading contained in the chapter.

Creating and answering questions while reading also increases your motivation
to read because the questions can stimulate your curiosity and desire to find an-
swers to them. Creating and answering questions about what you’re reading is also
an effective way to prepare for exams because you’re practicing exactly what you’ll
be expected to do on exams—answer questions.

Pay close attention to information that’s italicized, underlined, or capital-
ized. These features are intentionally designed to call your attention to key terms
that must be understood so that you can understand terms and concepts covered
later in the reading. Don’t simply highlight these words because their special ap-
pearance suggests they’re important. Instead, slow down to read them carefully and
be sure you understand them before moving on to read additional material.

Your goal when reading is not just to cover the assigned pages, but to uncover the most
important ideas found on those pages.

Pay special attention to the first and last sentences in each paragraph. These
sentences provide an important introduction and conclusion to the key point made
in the paragraph. In fact, it’s a good idea to reread the first and last sentences of
each paragraph before you move on to the next, particularly if you’re reading sub-
ject matter in math and science which is highly technical and cumulative—se-
quenced in such a way that understanding upcoming concepts depends heavily on
what was previously covered.

Take written notes on important information you find in your reading. Just as
taking notes on information delivered during lectures improves performance on
exams, so does taking notes on reading assignments. Research shows that the
common student practice of just highlighting the text (the author’s words) is not a
particularly effective reading strategy. Highlighting is a passive process, whereas
note-taking actively engages you in the reading process and enables you to trans-
form the author’s into words that are meaningful to you.

Don’t slip into the habit of using your textbook simply as a coloring book in
which the artistic process of highlighting information in spectacular, kaleidoscopic
colors distracts you from the more important process of learning actively and think-
ing deeply about what you are reading. Highlighting is okay as long it’s not the only
thing you do while reading; instead, take time to make notes on the material you’ve
highlighted—in your own words—to ensure that you reflect on it and make it per-
sonally meaningful. When you transform what someone else has written into words
of your own, you’re implementing a powerful principle of deep learning: Connect-
ing what you’re trying to learn to what you already know.

An ideal time to pause and write a brief summary of what you’ve read in your
own words is when you encounter a boldface heading—this indicates that you’re
about to embark on a new topic or concept. Pausing to reflect on what you read

100 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

prior to the new heading will deepen your knowledge of it and enable you to use
that knowledge to help you understand what you’re about to read next.

Highlighting textbooks in psychedelic colors is a very popular reading strategy
among college students, but it’s a less effective strategy for producing deep learning than
taking written notes on what you’ve highlighted.


Used Textbooks

Categorized by Color of Used Highlighters

Dark Black




©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Reflection 5.7

When reading a textbook, do you usually have the following tools on hand?

Highli ghter: yes no

Pen or pencil: yes no

Notebook: yes no

Class notes: yes no

Dictionary: yes no

Glossary: yes no

If you haven’t used one or more of the above tools while reading, which one(s) do you
plan to use in the future?

Use the visual aids that accompany the written text. Don’t fall into the trap of
thinking that visual aids can or should be skipped because they’re merely supple-
mental or ornamental. Visual aids, such as charts, graphs, diagrams, and concept
maps, are powerful learning and memory tools because: (a) they enable you to
“see” the information in addition to reading (hearing) it, and (b) they organize sep-
arate ideas into a single snapshot.

Furthermore, periodically shifting from words to visuals adds variety and a
change of pace to the learning process. Research shows that breaking up sustained

“I had the worst study habits and the lowest grades. Then I found out what I was doing wrong. I had been highlight-
ing with a black magic
—Jeff Altman, American comedian

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 101

periods of reading (verbal input) with other forms of sensory input, such as visual
input, serves to stimulate motivation and sustain attention.

Regulate or adjust your reading speed to the type of subject matter you’re
reading. As you know, academic subjects vary in terms of their level of technicality
and complexity. Reading material in a math or science textbook requires reading at
a slower rate with more frequent pauses to check for understanding than reading a
novel or short story.

Post-Reading Strategies: What to Do After Reading
End reading sessions with a short review of the key information you’ve
highlighted and taken notes on. Instead of ending reading sessions by trying to
cover a few more pages, reserve the last five minutes to review the key ideas
you’ve already covered. Most forgetting of information taken into the brain takes
place immediately after we stop focusing on that information and start turning
our attention to something else. The graph in Figure 5.4 depicts the results of a
classic experiment that tested how well information is recalled at various times
after it was taken in. As you can see on the far left of the graph, most forgetting
occurs soon after information has been received (e.g., after 20 minutes, more
than 60% of it was forgotten). The results of this classic study have been con-
firmed multiple times and underscore the importance of reviewing information
immediately after it’s been read. Doing so improves memory by intercepting the
human “forgetting curve” at its steepest point of memory loss—just after the in-
formation has been processed (taken in).

So, before moving onto another task, take a few minutes at the end of your
reading sessions to review the most important information you’ve just read to help
your brain “lock” that information into long-term memory.

FIGURE 5.4: The Forgetting Curve

Immediate recall

Retention (percent)





2 4 6 8 10 15 20 25
Elapsed time (days)


20 minutes

1 hour

9 hours

Source: Hermann Ebbinghaus, Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology, 1885–1913.

102 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

After completing a reading assignment and reviewing what you’ve read, if
there are important concepts that you still find confusing, seek clarification
from another source. The problem may not be you; it may be the way in which
the author presented or explained the concept. You may be able to quickly clear up
your confusion by consulting another source or resource.

• Look at how another book or an Internet site explains it. Not all textbooks
are created equal; some do a better job of explaining certain concepts than oth-
ers. A different book or website may sometimes explain a hard-to-understand
concept more clearly than your assigned textbook.

• Seek help from your instructor. If you completed the reading assignment
and made every effort to understand the concepts contained in the reading,
most instructors should be willing to help clear up any confusion you may have
about a particular concept.

• Seek help from learning assistance professionals or peer tutors in your
Learning Center (Academic Support Center). This is your key campus re-
source for assistance with learning, including learning from reading assignments.

Box 5.2
SQ3R: A Method for Improving Reading
Comprehension and Retention
A popular system for organizing and remembering
effective reading strategies is the SQ3R system. SQ3R is
an acronym for key steps that should be taken when
reading college textbooks. Research supports the effec-
tiveness of the SQ3R system for improving reading
comprehension and exam performance. The system
consists of the following five-step sequence:

1. Survey
2. Question
3. Read
4. Recite
5. Review

S = Survey: Get a preview and overview of what you’re
about to read.

1. Use the chapter’s title to activate your thoughts about
the subject and get your mind ready to receive
information related to it.

2. Read the introduction, chapter objectives, and
chapter summary to become familiar with the
author’s purpose, goals, and key points.

3. Note the boldface headings and subheadings to get a
sense of the chapter’s organization before beginning
to read. This supplies you with a mental structure or
framework for making sense of the information
you’re about to read.

4. Take note of any graphics—such as charts, maps, and
diagrams; they provide valuable visual reinforcement
for the verbal material contained in the text.

5. Pay special attention to reading aids (e.g., italics and
boldface font); use these aids to help you identify,
understand, and remember key concepts.

Q = Question: Stay active and curious.
As you read, use boldface headings to formulate questions
and read to find answers to those questions. Also, add any
questions of your own that come to mind while you’re
reading. When your mind is actively searching for
answers to questions, it becomes more engaged in the
learning process.

R = Read: Find answers to the questions you have

Read one section at a time—with your questions in
mind—and search for answers to your questions.

R = Recite: Rehearse your answers.
After you complete reading each section, go back to the
questions you asked and see if you can answer them from
memory. If not, look at the questions again and practice
your answers until you can recall them without looking.
Don’t move onto the next section until you’re able to
answer all questions relating to the section you’ve just read.

R = Review: Go back and get a second view of the whole

Once you’re finished the chapter, review all the questions
you’ve created for the different sections. Test yourself to
see if you can still recall the answers to these questions
without looking at them. For answers you cannot recall,
review the information in that section to refresh your

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 103

Reflection 5.8

Rate yourself in terms of how frequently you engage in the reading strategies listed
below, using the following scale:

4 = always, 3 = sometimes, 2 = rarely, 1 = never

1. I read chapter outlines and summaries before I
start reading the chapter content. 4 3 2 1

2. I preview a chapter’s boldface headings and
subheadings before I begin to read the chapter. 4 3 2 1

3. I adjust my reading speed to the type of subject
I am reading. 4 3 2 1

4. I try to relate what I’m reading to what I already know. 4 3 2 1

5. I look up the meaning of unfamiliar words and
unknown terms that I come across before I
continue reading. 4 3 2 1

6. I take written notes on information I read. 4 3 2 1

7. I use the visual aids included in my textbooks. 4 3 2 1

8. I finish reading sessions by reviewing important
information that I noted or highlighted. 4 3 2 1

Strategic Studying: Learning Deeply and Remembering Longer
Studying shouldn’t be a short and fast sprint that takes place just before test time; it
should be a slower, long-distance run that’s spread out over an extended period of
time. The studying that’s done the night before an exam should be the last step in a
sequence of test-preparation steps that begins well before test time. These steps in-
clude: (a) taking accurate and complete notes in class, (b) completing assigned read-
ings, and (c) seeking help from instructors, learning assistance professionals, or
trusted peers to understand any concepts contained in lectures and readings that
are unclear or confusing. Once these steps have been taken, you’re then positioned
to study the information you’ve acquired and learn it deeply.

Described below is a comprehensive set of study strategies you can use to en-
sure that your learning is deep and durable (long-lasting).

Give Studying Undivided Attention
The human attention span has limited capacity—we have only so much of it avail-
able to us at any point in time and we can give all or part of it to whatever task(s)
we’re working on. As the phrase “paying attention” suggests, it’s like paying
money; we don’t have unlimited amounts of it to spend. When studying, if some at-
tention is spent on other activities at the same time (e.g., watching TV or messag-
ing friends), it’s deducted from the total amount of attention paid to studying.
Thus, studying receives “divided” rather than “undivided” (full) attention.

104 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Research on multitasking reveals that when people engage in two or more tasks
at the same time, they don’t pay equal attention to the multiple tasks they’re per-
forming. Instead, attention is divided by shifting it back and forth between tasks,
and performance on the task that demands the most concentration or deepest
thinking suffers the most. Challenging or complex mental tasks cannot be done au-
tomatically or mindlessly. For deep learning to take place on these tasks, the brain
needs quiet, internal reflection time for permanent connections to form between
brain cells. If the brain is engaged in other tasks, or is receiving other sources of ex-
ternal stimulation at the same time, this connection-making process is interfered
with and learning is impaired.

Studies show that doing challenging academic work while
multitasking divides up attention and drives down comprehen-
sion and retention.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

“You can do several things at once, but only if they are easy and undemanding. You are probably safe carrying on a
conversation with a
passenger while driving on
an empty highway [but] you
could not compute the
product of 17 x 24 while
making a left turn into dense
traffic, and you certainly
should not try.”
—Daniel Kahneman, professor
emeritus of Psychology, and author
of Thinking Fast and Slow

To minimize the learning-interference effects of multitasking, unplug all elec-
tronic accessories while studying. You can even use apps to help you do so (e.g.,
a cell-phone silencer). If you cannot commit to going completely “unplugged,”
then set aside a short block of time to check electronic messages independent
of study time. You can arrange this in a way that allows you to use social media
as a reward after studying rather than as a distraction while studying.

Make Meaningful Associations
Deep learning doesn’t take place through osmosis—by passively soaking up infor-
mation in the same form as it appears in a textbook or lecture. Instead, it occurs
when learners actively translate the information they receive into a form that’s
meaningful to them.

Deep learning does not take place through the simple transmission of information from teacher
or textbook to learner; it involves effortful transformation of information into knowledge by
the learner.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 105

The brain’s natural learning tendency is to transform unfamiliar information
into a familiar form that makes sense and is personally meaningful to the learner—
as illustrated by the following experience.

When my son was about 3 years old, we were riding in the car together and listening to a
song by the Beatles, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You may be familiar with this
tune, but in case you’re not, there’s a part in it where the following lyrics are sung repeat-
edly: “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely . . .”

When this part of the song was playing, I noticed that my 3-year-old son was singing
along. I thought it was pretty amazing for a boy his age to be able to understand and re-
peat those tricky lyrics. However, when that part of the song came on again, I was listen-
ing to him more closely and noticed that he wasn’t singing “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely,
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely . . .” Instead, he was singing: “Sausage Pepperoni, Sausage
Pepperoni . . .” (which were his two favorite pizza toppings).

My son’s brain was doing what all human brains naturally do. It took unfamiliar informa-
tion—song lyrics that didn’t make any sense to him—and transformed it into a form that
was meaningful to him.

—Joe Cuseo

You can experience the brain’s natural inclination for meaning-making by read-
ing the following passage, which once appeared anonymously on the Internet:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabridge Uinverstisy, it deos’t mattaer in
what order the ltteers in a word are, the only iprmoetnt thing is that the
frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and
you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcusae the human mind deos
not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Notice how natural it was for you to transform these meaningless, misspelled
words into familiar, meaningful words that were already stored in your brain. This
exercise illustrates how when we are learning something new or unfamiliar, the
brain’s natural tendency is to find meaning in it by relating it something we already
know. You can capitalize on the brain’s natural meaning-making tendency to learn
more efficiently and effectively in college. For instance, if you’re learning an unfa-
miliar academic term, before trying to beat the term into your brain through sheer
repetition or brute memorization, first try to find something about the term that’s
meaningful to you. One way to do so is by looking up the etymology or “root” of
the unfamiliar term. Suppose you’re taking a biology course and studying the auto-
nomic nervous system—the part of the nervous system that operates without our
conscious awareness and voluntary control (e.g., heart and lungs). The meaning of
this biological term is revealed by its prefix “auto,” which means self-controlling or
“automatic”—as in automatic transmission. Once you find meaning in abstract or
academic terms, you can learn them faster and retain them longer than by trying to
memorize them through sheer repetition.

If looking up the etymological root of an unfamiliar term still doesn’t make it
meaningful, you can make the term meaningful to you in other ways. For example,
if looking up the root of “artery” (a blood vessel that carries blood away from the
heart) doesn’t reveal anything about its meaning or purpose, you can take its first
letter, “a”, make it stand for “away,” and make sense (meaning) out of this otherwise
meaningless term. By so doing, you take an unfamiliar term that would require re-

106 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

peated rehearsal to be remembered and transform it into a meaningful term that’s
immediately and forever memorable.

Another way you can make learning meaningful is by comparing or contrasting
what you’re learning with something you already know. You can do this by getting
in the habit of asking yourself the following questions when studying new

(a) How is this concept similar to something I have previously learned or experi-
enced? (Compare)

(b) How is this concept different than something I previously learned or already
know? (Contrast)

Research indicates that asking these questions is a very simple yet effective
learning strategy. It works because the new idea being learned becomes more
meaningful when it’s related to something you already know.

Deep learners dive below the shallow surface of memorization by making the effort to connect
what they’re currently learning to what they’ve previously learned.

Reflection 5.9

Think of a technical academic term or concept you’re learning in a course this term
and create a meaningful association you could use to remember it.

Try first to find meaning in what you’re learning before memorizing it through sheer repetition.
If you can connect what you’re trying to learn to what you already know, the deeper you’ll learn
it and the longer you’ll remember it. “The extent to which we remember a new experience has more to do with how it relates to existing memories

than with how many times
we experience it.”
—Morton Hunt, in The Universe
Within: A New Science Explores the
Human Mind

Integrate Information from Lectures and Readings
Try to find connections between ideas in your lecture notes and reading assign-
ments that relate to the same concept. Get them in the same place under the same
category heading. Index cards can be used for this purpose. They can function like
a portable file cabinet, with a card representing a separate category and functioning
like the hub of a wheel, around which individual pieces of related information can
be attached like spokes. In contrast, when ideas pertaining to the same point or
concept are spread all over the place, they’re likely to be spread all over the place in
your mind—leaving them mentally disconnected and leaving you confused, over-
whelmed, or stressed out.

Deep learners ask questions like: How can this specific piece of information be categorized or
classified into a larger concept? How does this idea relate to or “fit into” something bigger?

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 107

Distribute Study Time across Separate Study Sessions
Deep learning depends not only on how you learn (your method), but also on
when you learn (your timing). The way in which you distribute or spread out
your study time is as important as the total time you spend studying. For stu-
dents of all abilities and ages, research consistently shows that distributing
study time over several shorter sessions results in deeper learning and longer
retention than loading all study time into one long session.

Although cramming before exams is better than not studying at all, it’s far less
effective than spacing out studying across time. Instead of frantically jamming all
your study time into a massive, one-shot session (“massed practice”), use distributed
practice—“distribute” or spread out your study time across several shorter sessions.
Distributed practice improves learning and memory in two major ways:

• It minimizes loss of attention due to fatigue and boredom that can set in
during a long study session.

• It reduces mental interference by giving the brain some downtime, allowing
it to cool down and lock in information it has just processed (taken in) with-
out having to process a lot of additional incoming information. The brain
works like a muscle: After it’s been exercised, if given some “cool down”
time before it’s exercised again, it builds greater strength (memory) for in-
formation it just worked on. On the other hand, if the brain’s downtime is
interfered with by the arrival of a new wave of information, it gets over-
loaded and is less able to retain information it previously took in. That’s ex-
actly what cramming does—it overloads the brain with lots of information in
a limited period. In contrast, distributed study does just the opposite—it
uses shorter sessions with downtime in between sessions, which gives the
brain time to slow down and retain the information it previously processed
(studied) and gives it the opportunity to move that information from short-
term to long-term memory.

”“Hurriedly jam-packing a brainis akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase—it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.
—Benedict Carey, in How We Learn:
Throw Out the Rule Book and Unlock
Your Brain’s Potential

Lastly, distributed study has emotional advantages: it’s more motivating and less
stressful than cramming. Your motivation to begin and continue studying is likely
to be stronger if you know you’re going to be doing it for a short, manageable seg-
ment of time than for a long, exhausting stretch of time.

Reflection 5.10

Do you study in advance of exams or cram just before exams?

How do you think most students would answer this question?

Use the “Part-to-Whole” Study Method
This method of learning is a natural extension of the distributed practice strategy.
It involves breaking up the material to be learned into smaller parts, studying those
parts in separate sessions in advance of an exam, and using the very last study ses-
sion just before the exam to review (restudy) “the whole”—all the parts that were
studied previously in separate sessions. Thus, the final session isn’t a cram session
or a study-something-new session; it’s a review session.

108 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Research shows that college students of all ability levels learn material more ef-
fectively when they study it in small units and move on to the next unit only after
material from the previous unit has been learned and understood. Dividing up ma-
terial into smaller parts and studying those parts in advance of an exam gives you a
chance to check your understanding of each part before moving on to learn the next
part. This is particularly advantageous in cumulative courses where learning the
next unit builds on understanding the previous unit (e.g., math and science courses).

Don’t buy into the myth that studying in advance is a waste of time because you’ll
forget everything you previously studied near test time. (As discussed in chapter 4,
procrastinators often use this argument to rationalize their habit of putting off study-
ing until the very last moment.) Memory research demonstrates that information
studied previously may be temporarily forgotten, but once it’s reviewed, it can be re-
learned and retained much faster than it was the first time. Thus, if we cannot recall
previously studied information right away, it doesn’t mean it’s completely forgotten;
there’s still a memory trace of it in the brain and all it takes is a quick review to
strengthen that memory trace and enable us to recall the previously studied informa-
tion. This disproves the myth that studying ahead of time is a waste of time and sup-
ports the idea that reviewing previously studied information just before test time is an
effective learning strategy.

Capitalize on the Power of Visual Learning
The human brain consists of two hemispheres (half spheres)—a left and right
hemisphere (see Figure 5.5). Each of these hemispheres specializes in different
types of learning. Typically, the left hemisphere specializes in verbal learning; it
primarily processes words, both spoken and written. In contrast, the right hemi-
sphere specializes in visual–spatial learning, dealing primarily with perceiving
and learning from images, patterns, and objects that occupy physical space. If
you engage both hemispheres while studying, two different memory traces are
recorded in the brain—one in each hemisphere. This process of laying down
both verbal and visual memory traces is referred to by learning scholars as dual
coding. Because two memory traces are better than one, when information is
dual coded, it’s learned more deeply and retained longer.


The human brain is comprised of two half
spheres (hemispheres): the left hemisphere
specializes in verbal learning, and the right
hemisphere specializes in visual learning.

©JupiterImages Corporation.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 109

You can capitalize on the power of dual coding when processing verbal in-
formation by using all the visual aids available to you, including those used by
your instructors in class and those supplied by the textbooks you’re reading
outside of class. Research shows that visual images are powerful aids to learn-
ing. You can also create your own visual aids by representing the verbal infor-
mation you’re learning in the form of pictures, symbols, or concept maps—
such as flowcharts, timelines, spider webs, wheels (with hubs and spokes), or
branching tree diagrams. (For an example of a concept map, see Figure 5.6. For
additional examples and ideas for creating your own concept maps, go to: Research indicates that students who make
drawings of what they’re learning outperform students who do not or who just
look at drawings provided for them. As previously mentioned, when you repre-
sent verbal information in visual form, it doubles the number of memory traces
recorded in your brain. (As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand

FIGURE 5.6: Concept Map for the Human Nervous System



Spinal Cord

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
(to the sides of the CNS)

Cranial Nerves

Spinal Nerves

Sensory (carry signals to brain)
Motor (carry signals from brain)

Sensory (carry signals to spinal cord)
Motor (carry signals from spinal cord)

Somatic (Voluntary) Division
[Brain Muscles]

Autonomic (Involuntary) Division
[Brain Internal Organs]



Central Nervous System (CNS)

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Drawings and visual illustrations can be much more than forms of artistic expression; they can
also be powerful learning tools—you can draw to learn!

Reflection 5.11

Think of a course you’re taking this term in which related pieces of information could
be joined together to form a concept map. Make a rough sketch of this map that
includes the information you’re trying to learn and remember.

110 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

Build Variety into the Study Process
Infusing variety and change of pace into your study routine can increase your moti-
vation to study and your concentration while studying. Here are some practical
strategies for doing so.

Mix it up: periodically shift the type of academic tasks you engage in during a
single study session. Changing the nature of the academic work you’re doing
while studying increases your alertness and concentration by reducing habitua-
tion—attention loss that typically takes place after engaging in the same type of
mental task over and over again. You can combat attention loss due to habituation
by varying the type of tasks you perform during a study session. For instance, you
can shift periodically between tasks that involve reading, writing by hand, typing
on a keyboard, reviewing, reciting, or solving problems. Similar to how athletes
benefit from mixing different types of drills into their workouts (e.g., separate drills
for building strength, speed, and endurance), studies show that “interleaving” (mix-
ing) different academic subjects or academic skills during a single study session re-
sults in deeper learning and stronger memory.

Study in different places. In addition to spreading out studying at different times,
it’s also a good idea to spread it out in different places. Studying in different loca-
tions provides different environmental contexts for learning, which reduces the
amount of mental interference that normally builds up when all information is
studied in the same place. The great public speakers in ancient Greece and Rome
used this method of changing places to remember long speeches. They walked
through different rooms while rehearsing a speech, learning each major part of the
speech in a different room.

Students are often advised to establish a set time to study so they get into a reg-
ular study routine; however, this doesn’t mean that students learn best by always
studying the same subject in the same place. Periodically changing the subjects you
study or academic tasks you perform during a study session, as well as the environ-
ment in which you study, improves attention to (and retention of) the material
being studied.

Break up long study sessions with short study breaks that include physical
activity (e.g., a short jog or brisk walk). Breaking up long stretches of studying
with physical activity not only refreshes the mind by giving it a rest from studying,
it also gets stimulates the mind by increasing blood flow to the brain, which in-
creases retention of what has been studied and concentration for what will be stud-
ied next.

Learn with and through multiple sensory channels. Different senses channel in-
formation into different centers of the brain. When we see something, it may
start with our eyes, but we don’t actually “see” it until that sensory input reaches
the visual center of the brain. Similarly, input from other senses, such as hearing
and touch, reach areas of the brain specialized for receiving information from
these particular senses. Figure 5.7 contains a map of the outer surface of the
human brain that shows where different areas specialize in receiving input from
different sensory modalities. Learning through multiple sensory channels results
in deeper learning and stronger memory because: (a) interconnections are
formed across multiple areas of the brain, allowing the information to be stored
in more than one place, and (b) more routes or avenues are created through
which we can retrieve (recall) the information that’s been stored.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 111

FIGURE 5.7: A Map of the Functions Performed by the Outer Surface of the
Human Brain

and Balance








of Body







of Thought
and Social

Motor Control

Leg and Trunk Face




Brain image modified from ©David Huntley/

Remember that movement is also a sensory channel. When we move, our
brain receives kinesthetic stimulation—sensory signals generated by our muscles.
Memory traces for movement are stored in an area of the brain that involved in all
types of learning and memory. Thus, incorporating movement into the learning
process can improve your ability to retain what’s being learned by adding a power-
ful motor (muscle) memory trace of it to your brain. You can capitalize on move-
ment to enhance your ability to learn and retain academic information by using
your body to act out what you’re studying or to symbolize it with your hands. For
instance, if you’re trying to remember five points relating to a topic or concept,
your memory of those points can be strengthened by counting them out on your
fingers while studying them.

”“When I have to remember something, it’s better for me to do something with my hands so I could physically see it happening.
—First-year college student

I was talking about memory in class one day and told my students that when I have trou-
ble remembering how to spell a word, its correct spelling often comes back to me as
soon as I start to write out the word. One of my students raised her hand and said the
same thing happens to her when she forgets a phone number—it comes back to her
when she begins to punch it in. Both of these experiences point to the power of
movement for improving learning and memory

—Joe Cuseo

Also, remember that talking involves movement—moving your lips and tongue.
Thus, talking aloud about what you’re studying, either to a friend or to oneself, im-
proves memory not only by supplying the brain with auditory (sound) input, but
also supplying it with kinesthetic (motor) input. ”“I have to hear it, see it, write it, and talk about it.—First-year college student responding to the question: “How do you learn best?”(Complete Exercise 5.5 at the end of this chapter. If your results on the Achieve-
WORKSLearning and Productivity Report indicate that you have kinesthetic

112 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

and tactile preferences, these learning-through-movement activities may be particu-
larly effective ways to strengthen your learning.)

Learn with Emotion
Networks of neurons (brain cells) run between the emotional and memory
centers of the brain; as a result of these neural connections, the emotions we
experience while learning can affect how well we learn. Research indicates that
positive emotions, such as excitement and enthusiasm, can strengthen memory
for academic information just as it does for memory of life events and personal
experiences. When we’re excited or enthused about what we’re learning,
adrenaline is released into the bloodstream and carried to the brain. Once
adrenaline reaches the brain, it increases blood flow and glucose production,
which stimulates learning and strengthens memory. Thus, if we approach what
we’re learning with passion and positivity, we’re more likely to learn it deeply
and remember it longer. One way you can generate these positive emotions
while learning is by increasing your awareness of the relevance or significance
of what you’re learning. For instance, if you’re learning about photosynthesis,
keep in mind that you’re not just memorizing the steps of an invisible chemical
reaction; you’re learning about the underlying force that sustains all forms of
plant life on planet Earth. If you don’t know why the concept you’re learning is
significant or important, find out by doing a quick computer search or by dis-
cussing it with your instructor or an advanced student majoring in the field.

You learn more deeply and retain what you learn much longer when it’s a “total body experi-
ence”—when you put your whole self into it—your mind (thinking), body (movement), and
heart (emotion).

Learn Collaboratively
In contrast to working independently or competitively, collaborative learning in-
volves two or more students work interdependently to advance each other’s success.
Learning is strengthened when it takes place in a social context that includes inter-
personal interaction. As learning scholars put it, human knowledge is “socially con-
structed” or built up through dialogue and exchange of ideas. When students who
are learning the same concepts talk to each other about what they’re learning, the
ideas they exchange verbally get combined mentally and are incorporated into one
another’s thinking. Thus, by having frequent, intelligent conversations with other
learners, you broaden your knowledge base, deepen your learning, and elevate the
quality of your thinking.

In a national study involving in-depth interviews with more than 1,600 college
students, it was discovered that almost all students who were struggling academi-
cally had one particular learning habit in common: They always studied alone. In
contrast, research from kindergarten through college shows that when students
learn collaboratively in teams, they experience significant gains in academic
achievement. When seniors at Harvard University were interviewed, nearly
every one of them who had participated in learning teams considered the expe-
rience to be crucial to their academic progress and success. The ability to col-
laborate and work in teams is also one of the top skills sought by employers of col-
lege graduates.

“If you want to go quickly, go by yourself—if you want to go farther, go in a group.” —African proverb

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 113

The power of teamwork is magnified further when students make wise
choices about what other students to include on their learning teams. Listed
below are some guidelines for making wise choices about learning teammates
and study partners.

• Keep a keen eye out for classmates who are motivated, who attend class consis-
tently, come to class prepared, and participate actively in class. These students
are likely to be significant contributors to your learning team, not hitchhikers
or freeloaders looking for a free ride.

• Include members on your learning team whose personal characteristics, back-
grounds, and experiences differ from your own. When teams are composed
solely of students with similar characteristics and experiences, or students who
are very familiar with one another, they often end up being the least productive
teams. Because of their similarity and familiarity, their work group can quickly
turn into a social group or gabfest, which take them off task and onto topics that
have nothing to do with the learning task (e.g., what they did last weekend or
what they’re planning to do next weekend). Instead, include at least some mem-
bers on your learning team who are not friends or close acquaintances and who
differ from you in age, gender, race or ethnicity, and cultural or geographical
background. Such variety brings different life experiences, thinking strategies,
and learning approaches to the team, which not only increases its social diver-
sity, but also its learning capacity. ”

“TEAM = Together Everyone
Achieves More
—Author unknown

Maximize the benefits of collaborative learning by teaming up with peers from different
backgrounds and cultures. Studies consistently show that we learn more from people who differ
from us than from people like us.

Keep in mind that learning teams are more than just study groups formed the
night before an exam. You can team-up with classmates earlier and more frequently
to collaborate on a number of different academic tasks, such as those listed below.

Note-Taking Teams. Immediately after class, take a couple of minutes to team-up
with a motivated classmate to compare and share notes. Because listening to
lectures is a demanding task, it’s likely that one of you will miss a point that your
partner picked up and vice-versa. You could use a two-step procedure called “coop-
erative note-taking pairs,” in which one partner summarizes his or her notes for the
other—who adds any information to the notes that he or she may have missed;
then partners reverse roles—the summarizer becomes the listener and adds infor-
mation missing from the notes that the partner picked up. During this cooperative
note-taking process, you and your teammate could ask each other questions such
as: “What do you think were the main ideas or most important points covered?”,
“What points did you find most challenging or confusing”?, and “What test ques-
tions might be asked of us that are based on these notes?”

114 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

During my first term in college, I was having difficulty taking complete notes in my biol-
ogy course because the instructor spoke rapidly and with an unfamiliar accent. I noticed
another student (Alex) sitting in the front row who was trying the best he could to take
notes but seemed to be experiencing the same difficulty as me. Following one particu-
larly fast and complex lecture, we looked at each other and started shaking our heads in
frustration. We got together, talked about how difficult it was to take notes in this class,
and decided to join forces after every class to compare notes and identify points we
missed or found confusing. First, we helped each other by quickly comparing and sharing
our notes in case one of us got something the other missed. If there were points we both
missed or couldn’t figure out, we immediately went to the front of class together to con-
sult with the instructor before he left the room. At the end of the course, Alex and I fin-
ished with the highest grades in the course.

—Joe Cuseo

Reading Teams. After completing reading assignments, team up with another stu-
dent to compare your highlighting and margin notes and identify information you
think should be studied for upcoming exams.

Writing Teams. Collaborate with other students to provide one another with
feedback on your writing. Studies show that when peers review each other’s writ-
ing, the quality of their individual writing improves and they develop more positive
attitudes about writing. You can form peer-writing teams to improve your writing
at any or all of the following stages in the writing process:

• Topic selection and refinement—collaborate to come up with a list of possi-
ble topics and subtopics to write about

• Pre-writing—collaborate to clarify your writing purpose, thesis statement, and
reading audience

• First draft—collaborate to improve the organization, style, or tone of your

• Final draft—collaborate to proofread your writing, detect technical errors, and
correct clerical mistakes before turning in your final product.

Library Research Teams. First-year students are often unfamiliar with how to
navigate a college or university library and conduct academic research. Some stu-
dents actually experience “library anxiety” and will go to great lengths to avoid
even stepping foot into the library, particularly if it’s a large and intimidating place.
By forming a library research team, you can create a social support group to make
library research less intimidating and transform it from a solitary experience done
alone to a collaborative venture done together. Such collaboration not only can re-
duce library anxiety, it can also generate collective energy that results in a better
work than library research done alone.

It’s perfectly acceptable and ethical to team up with others to search for information and share
resources. This isn’t cheating or plagiarizing—as long as your final products are completed
individually and what you turn into the instructor is your own written work.

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 115

Study Teams. Research on study groups indicates that they are most effective
when each member has done all required course work prior to the group meet-
ings—for example, each teammate has attended class, taken notes, and com-
pleted all the required readings. The power of study teams is also magnified
when its members: (a) study individually before meeting as a group, (b) come to
group meetings prepared with answers or ideas to share with teammates, and
(c) come armed with specific questions to ask. This ensures that all team mem-
bers are both individually accountable for their own learning and collectively
responsible for contributing to the learning of their teammates.

”“I would suggest students get to know [each] other and get together in groups to study or at least review class material. I find it is easier to ask your
classmates with whom you are
comfortable asking ‘dumb’
—Advice to first-year students from a
college sophomore

Don’t forget that team learning means more than late-night study groups. Students can form
learning teams in advance of exams to help each other with other academic tasks—such as
note-taking, reading, writing, and library research.

Test-Review Teams. After receiving your results on course examinations (and as-
signments), you can join others to review your results as a team. By comparing your
answers with those of your teammates, you can get a clearer idea about how you
lost and earned points. Having the opportunity to view the work of teammates who
received the maximum number of points on certain test questions can also provide
work models you can emulate to improve your future performance. It’s especially
effective to team-up with peers to review tests and assignments early in the term be-
cause you are then left with ample time to use their feedback to improve your final
course grade.

Reflection 5.12

Think about the students in your classes this term. Are there classmates you would feel
comfortable connecting with after exams to form test-review teams?

If yes, why? If no, why not?

Self-Monitoring: Self-Assessment for Deep Learning
Deep learners are reflective learners—they reflect on how they go about learning
(their learning habits and strategies) and if they are learning deeply. They self-
monitor (self-check) and self-assess whether they’re really getting it by asking
themselves questions such as: “Am I actually understanding this?” and “Do I really
know it, or am I just memorizing it?” ”“When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it; and when you do not, to know that you do not know; that is knowledge.

—Confucius, influential Chinese thinker
and educator

How do you know if you really know it? Probably the best answer to this ques-
tion is if you can say: “I find meaning in it—I can relate to it personally or put it in
terms that make sense to me.” Listed below are self-assessment questions you can
use to check to see if you have moved beyond memorization to deeper, more mean-
ingful learning. By answering these specific questions, it will help you answer the
bigger question: “How do I know if I really know it?”

Can you paraphrase (restate or translate) what you’re learning in your own
words? One way to check if you really know something is to see if you can state it
differently than the way your instructor or textbook stated it. If you can, it’s a good
sign that you’ve moved beyond surface memorization (mental regurgitation) to a

116 Chapter 5 Deep Learning

deeper level of comprehension. For example, by taking what you’re learning and
completing the following sentence: “In other words . . .”, it shows you’ve trans-
formed it into a form that’s meaningful to you.

Can you explain what you’re learning to someone else? Another way to gain
awareness of how well you know or don’t know something is by trying to explain it
to someone who doesn’t know it (just ask any teacher). Studies confirm that stu-
dents gain a deeper level of understanding of what they’re learning when they’re
asked to explain it to another person. If you can translate what you’re learning into
language that’s understandable to a peer, it’s a good sign that you’ve learned it

“Most things used to be external to me—out of a lecture or textbook. It makes learning a lot more interest-
ing and memorable when you
can bring your experiences
into it. It makes you want to
—Returning adult student

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”
—Albert Einstein, the “father of
modern physics”

Can you think of an example of what you are trying to learn? If you can come
up with a specific instance or illustration of an academic concept, it shows you’re
able to take an abstract concept and convert it into a concrete experience.

Can you think of an analogy between the concept you’re learning and some-
thing you already know or have previously experienced? If you can say that this
concept is “similar to” or “works the same way as”, it indicates that you have con-
nected what you’re learning to what you already know—a sign of deep learning.

Can you transfer what you’re learning to a new situation or problem that you
haven’t seen before? The ability to apply what you’ve learned in a different situa-
tion or context is a good indicator of deep learning. Learning specialists refer to
this mental process as decontextualization—taking what’s been learned in one con-
text and transferring it to a different context. For instance, you know you’ve
learned a mathematical concept deeply when you can take that concept and use it
to solve math problems that are different from those solved by your instructor in
class or used by the author of your textbook. This is why math instructors rarely in-
clude the same problems on exams that they solved in class or in the textbook.
They’re not trying to “trick” students at test time; they’re trying to determine
whether students have learned deeply really learned to solve problems (deep learn-
ing), rather than just memorize solutions.

Reflection 5.13

Rate yourself in terms of how frequently you use the following learning strategies:

4 = always, 3 = sometimes, 2 = rarely, 1 = never

1. I avoid multitasking while studying. 4 3 2 1

2. I try to make connections between what I’m currently
studying and what I’ve previously learned. 4 3 2 1

3. Before I start memorizing unfamiliar terms, I first try
to discover their meaning from their prefix, suffix, or
word origin. 4 3 2 1

4. I pull together information from my class notes and readings
that relate to the same concept and get it in the same place. 4 3 2 1

5. I use as many senses as possible while studying
(e.g., say it aloud, map it out, act it out). 4 3 2 1

Chapter 5 Deep Learning 117

6. I self-monitor (check myself) while studying to be sure I’m
learning deeply, not just memorizing. 4 3 2 1

7. I distribute (spread out) my study time over several short
sessions in advance of exams and use my last study session
before exams to review the information I studied previously. 4 3 2 1

8. I participate in learning teams or study groups
with classmates. 4 3 2 1

Which of the above study strategies have you not used in the past but plan to use in
the future?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on how to learn deeply and strategically, see the follow-
ing websites:

Strategic Learning & Study Strategies:

Brain-Based Learning:

The Rules

7 Brain-Based Ways to Make Learning Stick

Learning Math and Overcoming Math Anxiety:!/file/Maths_anxiety_strategies.

The Rules

7 Brain-Based Ways to Make Learning Stick!/file/Maths_anxiety_strategies


Chapter 5 Exercises
5.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to

For each of the quotes you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

5.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies for strategic studying, learning deeply, and remembering longer discussed on pp. 103-116. Select three
strategies that you think would be most useful and intend to put into practice.

5.3 Reality Bite
Too Fast, Too Frustrating: A Note-Taking Nightmare
Susan Scribe is a first-year student majoring in journalism. She’s currently enrolled in an introductory course required for her
major (Introduction to Mass Media). The instructor for this course lectures at a rapid rate and uses vocabulary that goes right
over her head. Because she cannot get all her instructor’s words in her notes and cannot understand half the words she does
manage to write down, she’s become so frustrated that she’s stopped taking notes. She really wants to do well in this course
because it’s the first course in her major, but she’s afraid she’ll fail it because her class notes are so pitiful.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. Can you relate to this case personally, or do know any students who are in a similar situation as Susan?

2. What would you recommend that Susan do at this point? Why?

5.4 Self-Assessment of Learning Habits
Look back at the ratings you gave yourself for strategic note-taking (Reflection 5.5, p. 97), reading (Reflection 5.8, p. 103),
and studying (Reflection 5.13, pp. 116-117). Add up your total score for these three sets of learning strategies:

Note Taking = _________

Reading = _________

Studying = _________

Total Learning Strategy Score = _________

Self-Assessment Questions
1. In which learning-strategy area did you score lowest?

2. Do you think the area in which you scored lowest may be contributing to your lowest course grade at this point in the

3. Of the eight strategies listed in the area that you scored lowest, which one could you put into practice immediately to
improve your performance in a course you’re having the most difficulty with this term?

4. What’s the likelihood that you will put the preceding strategy into practice?


5.5 Consulting a Learning Specialist
Make an appointment to visit the Learning Center or Academic Support Center on campus to discuss the results of your
note-taking, reading, and studying self-assessment in Exercise 5.3 (or any other learning self-assessment you may have
taken). Ask for recommendations about how you can improve your learning habits in your lowest score area. After your visit,
answer the following questions.

1. Who did you meet with in the Learning Center?

2. What steps were recommended to you for improving your academic performance?

3. How likely is it that you will take the steps recommended to you?

a) definitely

b) probably

c) possibly

d) unlikely


4. Do you plan to see a learning specialist again? (If yes, why? If no, why not?)

5.6 Learning Style Assessment
Take the AchieveWORKS Personality assessment review in the Learning and Productivity Report.

What do the results suggest are your strongest learning preferences?

For which classes this term would the suggestions offered be most helpful?



Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

Chapter Purpose & PreviewEffective test-taking is both an art and a science. This chapter supplies you with a system-
atic set of research-based strategies for improving your performance on both multiple-
choice and essay exams. It identifies strategies that can be used before, during, and after
exams, as well as practical tips for becoming more “test wise” and less “test anxious.”

Learning GoalApply effective strategies to prepare for and improve performance on college exams and
standardized tests, and as strategies for using past test results to improve future test

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 6.1

Which one of the following types of tests do you prefer to take, or do you tend to
perform better on?

a) Multiple-choice tests

b) Essay tests


Learning in college typically takes place in a three-stage process: (1) students ac-
quire information from lectures and readings; (2) study that information; and (3)
attempt to recall the information they study at test time. This chapter focuses on
strategies relating to the third stage of this learning process and are organized into
three key categories:

• Strategies to use in advance of a test
• Strategies to use during a test
• Strategies to use after test results are received.

Pre-Test Strategies: What to Do in Advance of Exams
Your ability to remember material on an exam depends not only on how well you
studied, but also on how the way you studied matches the way you’re tested. For

122 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

instance, you may be able to remember what you studied if you’re tested in a multi-
ple-choice format, but not if you’re tested in an essay format, because these two
types of test questions require different types of memory. Test questions can be
classified into two major categories, depending on the type of memory required to
answer them:

1. Recognition test questions: these questions ask you to select or choose the cor-
rect answer from choices that are provided for you. Falling into this category
are multiple-choice, true–false, and matching questions. Such questions do not
require you to supply or produce the correct answer on your own; instead,
you’re asked to identify or pick out the correct answer, similar to how a witness
is asked to identify the “correct” criminal from a lineup of suspects.

2. Recall test questions: these questions ask you to retrieve information and pro-
duce it on your own. As the word “recall” implies, you have to re-call (“call
back”) information and supply it yourself—as opposed to picking it out from
information supplied for you. Recall test questions include essay and short-
answer questions, which require you to generate your own answer—in writing.

Because recognition test questions (e.g., multiple-choice or true–false) ask you
to recognize or pick out the correct answer from answers provided for you, study-
ing that involves carefully reading over your class notes and textbook highlights
and selecting important information may be an effective strategy because it
matches the type of mental activity you will be using on the test—reading test
questions and selecting the correct answer.

On the other hand, recall test questions, such as essay questions, do not involve
answer selection; they require answer production—you produce the answer on your
own. Studying for essay tests by just looking over your class notes and reviewing
your reading highlights would not be an effective study strategy because it doesn’t
match what you’re expected to do on the test—which is to supply the correct infor-
mation yourself rather than recognize information provided for you. To prepare
for essay test questions, study time needs to be spent on memory retrieval—recall-
ing the information on your own—without looking at it.

You can practice memory retrieval while studying for essay tests by using the
following strategies: (1) recitation and (2) creating retrieval cues.

Stating aloud the information you’re trying to remember—without looking at it—
is a memory-improvement strategy known as recitation. Research consistently
shows that recitation is a self-testing study strategy that may be the most powerful
of all test-preparation strategies. Recitation strengthens memory and prepares you
well for essay tests because:

• It requires more mental effort to dig out (retrieve) the answer on your own and
enables the brain to practice exactly what it’s expected to do on an essay test.

• It gives you clear feedback about whether or not you know the material. If
you’re unable to retrieve and recite information without looking at it when
you’re studying, you know for sure that you will not be able to recall it at test
time and need to study it further. You can supply yourself with this type of feed-
back by putting questions on an index cards and their answers on the flip side.
If you find yourself flipping over the index card to look at the answer, it’s a clear
sign that you cannot retrieve the information and need to study it again. (To
create electronic flash cards, go to:

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 123

• It encourages you to express what you’re learning in your own words. If you can
paraphrase what you’re studying—rephrase it in your own words—that’s a
good indicator you really understand it. If you really understand it, you’re more
likely to remember it because you’ve made it more meaningful.

Recitation can be done silently, by speaking aloud, or by writing out what
you’re reciting. Speaking aloud or writing out what you’re reciting are particularly
effective essay test-preparation strategies because they involve physical activity,
which ensures that you’re actively involved and engaged in the learning process.
(Check the results of your AchieveWORKS Personality assessment. How does the
recitation technique match up with your auditory preference? What recommenda-
tions would work best for you?)

Creating Retrieval Cues
Have you ever had the experience of trying to remember the name of someone,
and you know you know it, but just can’t bring it to mind? If you were given a hint
(e.g., the first letter of the person’s name or a name that rhymes with the name you
can’t remember), you’re likely to suddenly recall the name. The hint you were
given is called a retrieval cue. A retrieval cue is a type of memory trigger (like a
string tied around your finger) that helps trigger your memory of something that
you know but may have temporarily forgotten.

Research shows that students who are unable to remember previously studied in-
formation are better able to recall that information if they’re given a retrieval cue. In
one classic study, students studied a long list of items, some of which were animals
(e.g., giraffe, coyote, and turkey); other items on the list fell into different categories
(vegetables, minerals, etc.). After the students finished studying the list, they were
given a blank sheet of paper and asked to write down all the items on the list that they
could recall. None of the students were able to recall the names of all the items on
the list. However, when the word “animals” was written on top of the answer sheet
given to some of the students, they were able to recall the names of more animals
from the list they studied than did students who were just given a blank answer sheet.
This experiment confirmed that category names can serve as powerful retrieval cues.
By taking pieces of information you need to recall on an essay test and organizing it
into categories, you can then use these category names as retrieval cues at test time.
Retrieval cues work to improve memory because memories are stored in the brain as
part of an interconnected network. If you’re able to recall one piece or segment of
the network (the retrieval cue), it can trigger memory of other pieces of information
related to it that are stored in the same network.

Reflection 6.2

Think about important items of information you need to remember in a course
you’re taking this term. Group these items into a category that may be used as a
retrieval cue to help you remember them.

1. What’s the course?

2. What’s the category you’ve created as a retrieval cue?

3. What items of information would this retrieval cue help you recall?

124 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

Another way to create retrieval cues is to come up with your own catchword or
catchphrase to “catch” (batch together) related ideas you’re trying to remember. Ac-
ronyms can serve as catchwords, with each letter acting as a retrieval cue for a batch
of related ideas. For instance, suppose you’re studying for an essay test in abnormal
psychology that will test your knowledge of different forms of mental illness. You
could create the acronym SCOT as a retrieval cue to help you remember to include
the following key elements of mental illness in your essay answers: Symptoms (S),
Causes (C), Outcomes (O), and Treatments (T).

Strategies to Use Immediately Before a Test
If possible, take a brisk walk or light jog prior to the exam. Physical activity in-
creases mental alertness by increasing oxygen flow to the brain; it also decreases
tension by increasing your brain’s production of emotionally “mellowing” brain
chemicals (e.g., serotonin and endorphins).

Come to the test fully armed with all the test-taking tools you need. In addi-
tion to the basic supplies (e.g., no. 2 pencil, pen, blue book, Scantron, calculator,
etc.), bring backup equipment in case you experience equipment failure (e.g., an
extra pen in case your first one runs out of ink or extra pencils in case your original
one breaks).

Get to the classroom as early as possible. Arriving early allows you to take a few
minutes before the exam and get into a relaxed pre-test state of mind by thinking
positive thoughts, taking slow, deep breaths, and stretching your muscles.

(Take a look at your AchieveWORKS Personality assessment report. What do
the results suggest you do when starting an exam?)

“Avoid flipping through notes (cramming) immediately before a test. Instead, do some breathing exercises and
think about something other
than the test.”
—Advice to first-year students from
a college sophomore

Sit in the same seat you normally occupy in class. Research indicates that mem-
ory is improved when information is recalled in the same place where it was origi-
nally received. For example, research shows that when students take a test on mate-
rial in the same environment where they studied the material, they tend to
remember more of it at test time than do students who study the material in one
place and take a test on it in a different place. Although it’s unlikely you can do all
your studying in the same room where your test will be taken, it may be possible to
do a short, final review session in your classroom or in an empty classroom with
similar features. This strategy can strengthen your memory by enabling you to as-
sociate the physical features of the room with the material you’re trying to remem-
ber. Seeing these features again at test time can help trigger your memory of that

A fascinating study supporting this recommendation was once conducted on a
group of deep sea divers. Some of these divers learned a list of words on a beach,
while the others learned the list underwater. They were later tested for their mem-
ory of the words on the list. Half the divers who learned the words on the beach re-
mained there to take the test; the other half were tested underwater. Half the divers
who studied the words underwater took the test in the same place; the other half
took the test on the beach. The results showed that the divers who took the test in
the same place where they learned the list recalled 40% more of the items than div-
ers who did their learning and testing in different places. This study provides
strong evidence that memory is strengthened when studying and testing takes place
in the same location.

Other intriguing studies have shown that if students are exposed to a certain
aroma while studying (e.g., the smell of chocolate) and are later exposed to that

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 125

same smell when tested, they’re better able to recall what they studied. One way to
apply this finding to improve your memory of previously studied information at
test time is to put on a particular cologne or perfume while studying, and put in on
again on the day of the test. This strategy may improve your memory for the infor-
mation you studied by matching the scent of the study environment with the scent
of the test environment. Although this strategy may seem silly, keep in mind that
the area of the brain where humans perceive smell has many connections with the
brain’s memory centers. These neurological connections probably explain why
people often report that certain smells trigger long-ago memories (e.g., the smell
of a summer breeze may trigger memories of summer games played during child-
hood). Because smell and memory are neurologically linked in the brain, smell has
the potential to serve as a memory-retrieval cue. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to give it
a try. You might also consider trying the nutritional strategies described in Box 6.1.

Box 6.1
Nutritional Strategies for Strengthening
Academic Performance
Is there a “brain food” that can enhance test performance?
Can we “eat to learn” or “eat to remember”? Some animal
studies suggest that memory can be improved by consum-
ing foods containing lecithin—a substance that helps the
brain produce acetylcholine—a chemical that plays an
important role in the formation of memories. High
amounts of lecithin, which explains why fish is sometimes
called “brain food.”

Despite the results of some animal studies, not enough
human research evidence exists to conclude that certain
foods significantly improve our ability to acquire, retain,
or recall knowledge. However, the following nutritional
strategies are likely to improve your mental performance
on days when your knowledge is being tested.

Eat breakfast on the day of the exam. Studies show that
when students eat a nutritious breakfast on test day, they
achieve higher test scores. Breakfast on test day should
include grains (e.g., whole wheat toast, whole grain
cereal, oatmeal, or bran) because these foods contain
complex carbohydrates that deliver a steady stream of
energy to the body throughout the day. Complex carbo-
hydrates also help the brain produce a steady stream of
serotonin—a brain chemical that reduces tension and

“No man can be wise on an empty stomach.” —George Eliot, 19th-century English novelist

Make the meal you eat before an exam a light meal.
Eating a heavy meal near test time will elevate your blood
sugar to an especially high level, causing your body to
release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream to
reduce the high blood-sugar level. This draws blood sugar
away from the brain, causing mental fatigue—which is the
last thing you want to experience during an exam.

If you need an energy boost prior to an exam, eat a piece
of fruit rather than a candy bar. Candy bars are processed
sweets that infuse synthetic sugar into the bloodstream,
providing a short, sudden burst of energy. That’s the good
news; the bad news is that this short-term rush of blood
sugar and sudden jolt of energy is accompanied by
increased bodily tension, followed by a sharp drop in
energy and feelings of sluggishness. The key is to find a
food that elevates energy without elevating tension and
supplies a high level of energy over an extended period of
time. The best nutritional option for producing such a
steady, sustained state of higher energy is consuming
natural sugar contained organically in a piece of fruit, not
processed sugar slipped artificially into a candy bar.

Avoid consuming caffeine before an exam. Although
caffeine stimulates alertness, it also elevates bodily
tension and nervousness. These are feelings you don’t
want to experience during a test, particularly if you’re
prone to test anxiety. Also, because caffeine is a diuretic,
it increases the urge to urinate—an urge you want to avoid
during an exam because you’re confined to a classroom
and can’t afford to lose time to leave the room to tend to
urinary needs (or stay in the room and be distracted by

126 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

any Strategies to Use During Exams
As soon as you receive a copy of the test, write
down any hard-to-remember terms, formulas,
equations, and any memory-retrieval cues you
may have created. You want to be sure not to for-
get this important information once you start fo-
cusing your attention on the test itself.

Answer first the questions you know well and
carry the most points. Before automatically an-
swering questions in the order they appear on the
test, take a moment to check out the overall layout
of the test and note the questions that carry the
most points and the questions you’re best prepared
to answer. Tackle these questions first. Put a check-
mark next to questions whose answers you’re un-

sure of and come back to them later after you’ve answered the questions you know
well. This strategy will ensure that you earn points for the answers you know be-
fore you run out of test time.

Consuming large doses of caffeine or other stimulants
before exams is likely to increase your alertness, but it’s
also likely to increase your level of stress and test anxiety.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Comp

If you experience “memory block” for information you know that you know,
use the following strategies to unlock it.

• Mentally put yourself back in the environment in which you studied. Re-create
the situation by mentally picturing the place where you first heard or saw the
information and where you studied it—including sights, sounds, smells, and
time of day. This memory-improvement strategy is referred to as guided re-
trieval, and research supports its effectiveness for recalling information of all
kinds, including information recalled by eyewitnesses to a crime.

• Think of any idea or piece of information that relates to the information you
can’t remember. Studies show that when students forget something they stud-
ied, they’re more likely to suddenly remember it if they first recall something
related to it.

• Take your mind off the question for awhile and answer another question. This
frees up your subconscious to focus on the forgotten information, which can
later trigger your conscious memory of it. Moving on to other test questions
might also enable you to find information included in those questions that trig-
gers recall of the answer to the earlier question that you temporarily forgot.

• Before turning in your test, double-check your answers. This is the critical last
step in the test-taking process. Pressure and anxiety associated with test taking
can cause the test-taker students to overlook details, misread instructions, un-
intentionally skip questions, or make absentminded mistakes. So, take some
time to look over your answers and correct any mindless mistakes you may have
made before turning it in. Avoid the temptation to immediately bolt out of class
after answering the last test question because you’re feeling tired or stressed
out. When you think about the amount of time and effort you put into prepar-
ing for an exam, it’s foolish not to take a little more time at the end of the test
to be sure that you avoided any absentminded mistakes that could cost you
points that you should have earned.

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 127

Reflection 6.3

I’m most likely to experience memory block during exams in the following subjects:

During tests, when I experience memory block, what I usually do is . . .

Strategies for Answering Multiple-Choice Test Questions
You’re likely to encounter significant number multiple-choice questions on college
tests (particularly in large classes), certification or licensing exams for particular
professions (e.g., nursing and teaching), and admissions tests for graduate school
(e.g., master’s and doctoral degree programs) or professional school (e.g., law
school and medical school). Given the ubiquity of multiple-choice tests in college
and beyond, the following section of this book contains a comprehensive set of
strategies for improving performance on such tests. The following strategies can
also be applied to true–false questions, which are really essentially multiple-choice
questions that have two choice options: (a) true or (b) false.

Read all choices listed and then use a process-of-elimination approach to elim-
inate answers you know are clearly wrong. Search for the correct answer by first
discarding options that are obviously wrong and continue to do so until you’re left
with one choice that appears to be the best (truest) option. Keep in mind that the
correct answer on a multiple-choice question is often the choice that has the high-
est probability or likelihood of being true; it doesn’t have to be absolutely true—
just truer than all the other choices listed.

A process-of-elimination approach is an effective test-taking strategy to use when
answering multiple-choice questions.

To be or not to be?
(a) Orange Julius
(b) Julius Erving (“Dr. J.”)
(c) Julius Caesar
(d) Caesar Salad
(e) Caesarean Section

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

For a choice to be correct, the entire statement must be true. If any part of the
statement is inaccurate or false, eliminate it because it’s an incorrect answer.

When you cannot narrow down your choice to one answer, use test-wise
strategies to find clues to the best possible answer. Your first strategy on any

128 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

multiple-choice question should be to choose an answer based on your knowledge
of the material, not by guessing the correct answer based on how the question is
worded. However, if you’ve relied on your knowledge and used the process-of-
elimination strategy to eliminate clearly wrong choices, and you’re still left with
two or more answers that appear to be correct, then you should turn to being test-
wise—use the wording or placement of the test question to help you select an an-
swer that’s most likely to be correct. Here are three test-wise strategies you can use
to make the best choice possible on multiple-choice test questions where more
than one choice appears to be correct:

• Pick the answer that contains qualifying words. Correct answers are more
likely to words that qualify or modify the answer, such as: “usually,” “probably,”
“often,” “likely,” “sometimes,” “perhaps,” or “may.” Knowledge often doesn’t
come neatly packaged in the form of absolute or unqualified truths, so choices
are more likely to be false if they make broad generalizations or contain abso-
lute words such as “always,” “every,” “never,” “only,” “must,” and “completely.”

• Pick the longest answer. True statements often require more words to make
them true.

• Pick a middle answer rather than the first or last answer. If you’ve nar-
rowed down the correct answer to either “a” or “c,” your best bet may be to go
with “c.” Similarly, if you’ve narrowed your choices to “b” or “d,” go with “b.”
Studies show that instructors are more likely to place the correct answer as a
middle option rather than as the first or last choice, perhaps because they think
the correct answer will be too obvious or stand out if it’s placed at the top or
bottom of the list.

Check to be sure each answer on your answer sheet aligns with the corre-
sponding test question. Sometimes students skip a test question on a multiple-
choice test and forget to skip the corresponding number of that question on the an-
swer form. If this happens, it can throw off all the other answers by one space or
line, resulting in a disastrous “domino effect” of wrong answers that can wreak
havoc on the student’s final test score. To prevent this from happening, look over
your test before turning it in and search carefully for questions that you may have
skipped and intended to go back to later. Check the alignment of all your answers
to be sure there are no blank spaces on your column of answers and that the order
of your answers match the order of test questions.

Don’t be afraid to change your first answer. A common test-taking myth is that
your first answer is always your best answer. Numerous studies on the topic of
changing answers on multiple-choice and true–false tests, dating all the way back to
1928, show that most changed test answers go from being incorrect to correct and
result in improved test scores. In one study of more than 1,500 students’ midterm
exams in an introductory psychology course, it was discovered that when students
changed answers, 75% of the time they changed from an incorrect to correct an-
swer. This is probably due to the fact that students catch mistakes are caught when
they read the question again or they find some information later in the test that
causes them to reconsider (and correct) their answer to an earlier test question.

If you have good reason to believe that an answer change should be made, don’t
be afraid to make it; chances are that it will improve your test score. The only ex-
ception to this general rule is when you find yourself changing most of your origi-

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 129

nal answers. This may simply mean that you were not well prepared for the exam
and are just doing a lot of guessing and second-guessing.

Reflection 6.4

On multiple-choice exams, do you ever change your first answer to a question?

If you do make changes, what’s your usual reason for doing so?

Strategies for Answering Essay Questions
In addition to multiple-choice questions, essay questions are commonly found on
college exams. The following strategies may be used to strengthen your perfor-
mance on essay questions.

Look for “mental action” verbs in the question that point to the type of
thinking your instructor expects you to demonstrate in your answer. Box 6.2
contains a list of thinking verbs that often appear in essay questions and the type of
mental action typically called for by each of these verbs.

Box 6.2
Action Verbs Commonly Appearing on
Essay-Test Questions and the Type of
Thinking They Call For
Analyze—break the topic down into its key parts or
essential components.

Compare—identify similarities and differences between
key concepts.

Contrast—identify differences between ideas, particularly
sharp differences and clashing viewpoints.

Describe—provide details (e.g., who, what, when, and

Discuss—analyze (break it into parts) and evaluate the
parts (e.g., its strengths and weaknesses).

Document—back up your conclusions and interpretations
with supporting evidence.

Explain—provide reasons for; answer the questions,
“why?” and “how?”

Illustrate—provide specific instances or concrete

Interpret—draw your own conclusion and explain why
you came to that conclusion.

Support—back up your ideas with logical reasoning,
persuasive arguments, statistics, or research findings.

Reflection 6.5

Which one of the mental actions listed in Box 6.2 was most often required on your
high school writing assignments?

Which one was least often (or never) required?

130 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

Make an outline of your key ideas before you begin writing out your an-
swers. First, do a quick “information dump” by jotting down the main points you
plan to make in your essay answer—in outline form. (See Exhibit 1 for an exam-
ple.) An outline is effective for several reasons:

• It ensures that you remember to discuss your most powerful points. The
points listed in your outline can serve as memory-retrieval cues to help you re-
member the “big picture” before you launch into the smaller details.

• It earns you points by improving your answer’s organizational quality.
One factor that instructors consider when awarding points for an essay is how
well that essay is organized. An outline will improve your answer’s organization
which, in turn, will increase the number of points you’re awarded.

• It helps reduce test anxiety. By outlining your points ahead of time, you can
focus on expressing (writing) those points without the added stress of figuring
out what you’re going to say at the same time you’re figuring out how to say it.

• It can earn you points on a question that you don’t have time to com-
plete. If you run out of test time before writing out your full answer to an essay
question, an outline shows your instructor what you planned to include in your
answer. The outline itself is likely to earn you points because it demonstrates
your knowledge of the major points called for by the question.

Exhibit 1
1. There are several different studies that scientists conduct, but one study that

they conduct is to find out how genetics can influence human behavior in identical
twins. Since they are identical, they will most likely end up very similar in behavior
because of their identical genetic makeup. Although environment has some impact,
genetics are still a huge factor and they will, more likely than not, behave similarly.
Another type of study is with parents and their family trees. Looking at a sub-
ject’s family tree will explain why a certain person is bipolar or depressed. It is
most likely caused by a gene in the family tree, even if it was last seen decades
ago. Lastly, another study is with adopted children. If an adopted child acts a cer-
tain way that is unique to that child, and researchers find the parents’ family tree,
they will most likely see similar behavior in the parents and siblings as well.





ion tr





2. The monistic view of the mind-brain relationship is so strongly opposed and criti-
cized because there is a belief or assumption that free will is taken away from
people. For example, if a person commits a horrendous crime, it can be argued
“monistically” that the chemicals in the brain were the reason, and that a person
cannot think for themselves to act otherwise. This view limits responsibility.No





Another reason that this view is opposed is because it has been said that there
is no afterlife. If the mind and brain are one and the same, and there is NO differ-
ence, then once the brain is dead and is no longer functioning, so is the mind. Thus, it
cannot continue to live beyond what we know today as life. And this goes against many
religions, which is why this reason, in particular, is heavily opposed.6


Short Outlines (in Side Margin) Used by a College Sophomore to Earn Maximum Points on Essay Test Questions

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 131

Get directly to the point on each question. Avoid elaborate introductions that
take up your test time (and your instructor’s grading time) but don’t earn you any
points. An answer that begins with the statement “This is an interesting question
that we had a great discussion about in class . . .” is pointless because it doesn’t add
points to your test score. Timed essay tests often leave you pressed for time, so
don’t waste time on flowery introductions that contribute nothing to your test

One effective way to get directly to the point on essay questions is to include
part of the question in the first sentence of your answer. For example, if the test
question asks you to, “Argue for or against capital punishment by explaining how it
will or will not reduce the nation’s homicide rate.” Your first sentence could be,
“Capital punishment will not reduce the homicide rate for the following reasons . . .”
Thus, your first sentence becomes your thesis statement—it points you directly to
the major points you’re going to make in your answer and earns you immediate
points for your answer.

Answer essay questions in as much detail as possible. Don’t assume that your
instructor already knows what you’re talking about or will be bored by details. In-
stead, take the approach that you’re writing to someone who knows little or noth-
ing about the subject—as if you’re an expert teacher explaining it to a beginning

As a general rule, it’s better to over-explain than under-explain your answers to essay

Back up your points with evidence—facts, statistics, quotes, or examples.
When you’re answering essay questions, adopt the mindset of a lawyer: make your
case by citing specific supporting evidence (exhibit A, exhibit B, etc.).

Leave space between your answers to each essay question. If you recall some-
thing later that you would like to add to your original answer, this space will pro-
vide a place to do so.

Proofread your answers for spelling and grammar. Even if your instructors do
not explicitly state that grammar and spelling count toward your grade, both are
still likely to influence their overall evaluation of your written work. Before turning
in your test, taking some time to catch and correct clerical errors will improve your
overall test score.

Neatness counts. Many years of research indicate that neatly written essays are
scored higher than sloppy ones, even if the content of the answers are essentially
the same. These findings aren’t surprising when you consider that grading essay
answers is a time-consuming, labor-intensive task that requires your instructor to
plod through multiple answers written by multiple students with multiple styles of
handwriting—ranging from crystal clear to quasi-cryptic. Making your instructor’s
job a little easier by writing as clearly as possible, and by cleaning up any sloppy
markings before turning in your test, is likely to earn you more points on your
essay answers.

132 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

Post-Test Strategies: What to Do After Receiving Test Results
Successful test performance involves both forethought (preparation before the test)
and afterthought (reflection after the test). Often, when students get a test back,
they just check to see what grade they got and then stuff it in a binder or toss it into
the nearest wastebasket. Don’t fall prey to this unproductive habit; instead, reflect
on your results to: (a) determine where you lost and gained points, and (b) develop
strategies for improving your next test performance. STOP and ask yourself ques-
tions like the following:

• Were these the results I expected?
• What do the results suggest about the effectiveness of my approach to learning

the material?
• How can I use my results as constructive feedback to improve my next test


Mistakes should neither be ignored nor neglected; they should be detected and corrected so
they don’t happen again.

“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should do about it: admit it; learn from it; and don’t
repeat it.”
—Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary
college football coach

If you get a test back with a disappointing grade, don’t get bitter, get better.
View your mistakes in terms of what they can do for you, not to you. A poor test
performance can be turned into a productive learning experience, particularly if it
occurs early in the course when you’re still learning the rules of the game. A low
test does not mean you’re incapable of doing better work or are destined to end up
with a poor grade in the course. Studies of high-achievers and experts in multiple
fields reveal that they hunger for feedback and are more often interested in feed-
back about what they did wrong so they can fix it.

Listed below are specific strategies for using test results as feedback to improve
your future test performance.“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.”

—Confucius, ancient Chinese
philosopher and educator After getting a test back, determine where you earned and lost points. Identify

what went right so you can do it again, and troubleshoot what went wrong so you
don’t make the same mistake again. On test questions where you lost points, use
the strategies summarized in Box 6.3 to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Reflection 6.6

When you get a test back, do you carefully review the results to see where you
gained and lost points?

Do you use this information as feedback to improve your next test performance?

How do you think most students would answer the above two questions?

Reflect on feedback provided by your instructor. Make careful note of any
comments the instructor may have written on your exam and keep these comments
in mind when you prepare for the next exam. You can seek additional feedback by
making an appointment to confer with your instructor during office hours. If you
do make an office visit to discuss your test, don’t focus on or complain about the

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 133

overall test grade; instead, focus on getting feedback on how you could improve
your next future test performance.

Box 6.3
Strategies for Pinpointing the Source of Lost
Points on Exams
On test items where you lost points, try to zero in on the
stage of the learning process where the breakdown
occurred. You can do so by asking yourself the following

• Did I have the information needed to answer the
question correctly? If I didn’t, where should it have
been acquired in the first place? Was the information
presented in class and didn’t get into my notes? If yes,
consider adopting strategies for improving lecture
listening and note-taking. (See the strategies cited on
pp. 90–97). If the missing information was contained in
assigned reading, check whether you’re using effective
reading strategies (such as those listed on pp. 98–103).

• Did I have the information, but didn’t remember it?
Failing to remember information on a test can usually
be traced back to the following causes:

(a) Trying to cram in too much study time just before
the exam and not giving the brain enough time to
“digest” (consolidate) the information and store it in
long-term memory. The solution may be to distrib-
ute study time more evenly in advance of the next
exam and take advantage of the “part-to-whole”

study method. (See strategies provided on pp.

(b) Not learning the material deeply enough to be able
to recall it at test time. This may require using
strategies for studying smarter or more strategi-
cally. (See study strategies cited on pp. 103–115.)

(c) Studying and knowing the material well, but
experiencing test anxiety that interfered with
recalling it at test time. This may require use of
strategies for reducing test anxiety (see pp.
135-136). (If problems with text anxiety persist,
seek assistance from a professional in the Aca-
demic Support Center or Counseling Center.)

• Did I study the material but didn’t really understand
it? This suggests you may need to self-monitor your
comprehension more closely while studying to
determine whether you’re learning deeply, as opposed
to just memorizing. (See the deep learning strategies
supplied on pp. 104–106.)

• Did I know the material but lost points due to
careless test-taking mistakes? If this happened, the
solution may be simply to take some time after
completing an exam to check for absentminded errors
before turning it in.

Get feedback from professionals in your Learning Center or Academic Sup-
port Center. Tutors and other learning support professionals on campus can pro-
vide you with constructive feedback about how to improve your test-preparation
and test-taking strategies. Ask these professionals to take a look at your tests and
seek their advice about how to improve your future test performance.

Seek feedback from classmates. Peers can also be a valuable source of informa-
tion on how to improve your test results. Consider reviewing your test with trusted
classmates, particularly those who did well on the test. Their test answers can pro-
vide you with models of the type of work your instructor expects on exams. Ask
successful students what they did to be successful, such as how they prepared for
the test and what strategies they used during the test.

Teaming up with classmates after exams (and assignments) early in the term is
especially effective because it enables you to get a better idea of what the instructor
will expect of you throughout the remainder of the course. You can use this infor-
mation as early feedback to diagnose your initial mistakes, improve your next ef-
fort, and elevate your overall course grade—while there’s still plenty of time left in

134 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

the term to do so. (See Box 6.4 for a summary of the most effective forms of feed-
back to seek for strengthening your academic performance.)

Box 6.4
Seeking Performance-Enhancing Feedback
When asking for feedback from others to improve your
academic performance, seek feedback with the following

• Specific feedback. Feedback that identifies precisely
what needs to be done to improve your performance
and how you should go about doing it. For example,
after a test, ask for feedback that provides you with
more information than just your overall test and
course grade. Seek specific information about where
you lost points and what specific test-preparation and
test-taking strategies you could use to improve your
next performance.

• Prompt feedback. After receiving your grade on a test
or assignment, immediately review the results and seek
feedback as soon as possible. Right after getting your
test back is the time when you’re likely to be most
motivated to find out what you got right and wrong;
it’s also the time when you’re most likely to retain the
feedback you receive.

• Proactive feedback. Seek feedback early in the
learning process so that you have plenty of time and
opportunity to use the feedback throughout the term to
accumulate more points and earn a higher final grade.

A study strategy that I developed when I was a college student was to review my previous
tests and quizzes in my courses to prepare for my midterm and final exams. I noticed that
when my professors gave exams that included material covered up until the middle or
end of the term, many of the same questions that were included in previous exams ap-
peared again, often in exactly the same form, or just with a slight twist. Using these ear-
lier, shorter quizzes as practice tests helped prepare for later, larger exams.

—Michele Campagna

Test Anxiety: Recognizing and Reducing It
High levels of test anxiety interfere with students’ ability to recall information pre-
viously studied and increase their risk of making careless concentration-related er-
rors on exams, such as overlooking key words in test questions. When test anxiety is
experienced, anxious thoughts and feelings (e.g., fear of failure) occupy their
mind during exams and take up valuable “mental space” that should be devoted
to recalling knowledge and thinking critically. Studies show that students who
experience test anxiety are also more likely to use ineffective “surface”-level study
practices to prepare for exams that rely on memorization, rather than effective
“deep-learning” strategies that enable them to find meaning in what they’re learn-
ing and making connections between concepts.

Listed below are strategies that can be used to recognize and minimize test

Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies 135

Understand what test anxiety is and what it’s not. Don’t confuse anxiety with
stress. Stress is a physical reaction that prepares the body for action by arousing and
energizing it; this heightened level of arousal and energy can actually enhance per-
formance (see pp. ____). In fact, being totally stress-free during an exam may mean
that you’re too laid back and could care less about how well you do. Attaining peak
levels of human performance—whether it be athletic or academic—aren’t achieved
by totally eliminating stress. Instead, research shows that a moderate level of stress
(neither too high nor too low) during exams and other tests of human performance
serves to maximize alertness, concentration, and memory. Thus, the key is keeping
stress at a manageable level that capitalizes on its capacity to get you pumped up or
psyched out but prevents it from reaching a level where you’re stressed or psyched

If a student frequently experiences the following physical and psychological
symptoms during a test, it probably means that the student’s stress level is high
enough to be called test anxiety.

• Bodily symptoms of nervousness during tests, such as pounding heartbeat, rapid
pulse, muscle tension, sweating, or queasy stomach.

• Difficulty concentrating or focusing attention on test questions.
• Experiencing a rush of negative thoughts and feelings, such as fear of failure or

self-putdowns (e.g., “I always mess up on exams.”)
• Hurrying through the test just to get it over with and get rid of the uncomfort-

able feelings being experienced.
• “Going blank” during the exam and forgetting much of what was previously

• Suddenly being able to remember information that was forgotten during the

exam after turning in the exam and leaving the test situation.

Use effective test-preparation strategies prior to the exam. Test anxiety re-
search indicates that college students who prepare well for exams and use effective
study strategies to prepare for exams (such as those discussed in Chapter 5) experi-
ence less test anxiety during exams. Studies also show that there’s a strong relation-
ship between procrastination and test anxiety—i.e., students who put off studying
to the very last minute are more likely to report higher levels of test anxiety. The
high level of pretest tension caused by last-minute rushing and cramming for a test
often carries over to the test itself, resulting in higher levels of tension during the
test. Furthermore, late night cramming deprives the brain of stress-relieving dream
(REM) sleep, which leads to higher levels of tension the next day—the day of the

Focus on the test in front of you, not the students around you. Don’t spend
valuable test time looking at how others are doing and wondering if they’re doing
better than you. If you came to the test well prepared and still find the test difficult,
it’s likely that other students find it difficult too. If you happen to notice others fin-
ishing before you do, don’t assume they breezed through the test and are smarter
than you. Their faster finish may simply reflect the fact that they didn’t know many
of the answers and decided to give up and get out (rather than prolong the agony).

Instead of worrying about what you’re getting wrong and how many point
you’re losing, focus on the answers you’re getting right and the points you’r


Thoughts can influence emotions and positive emotions—such as those
associated with optimism and a sense of accomplishment—can improve mental

136 Chapter 6 Test-Taking Skills and Strategies

performance by enhancing the brain’s ability to process, store, and retrieve infor-
mation. One way to maintain a positive test-taking mindset is to keep in mind that
college exams are designed to be more difficult than high school tests. Even with-
out achieving a near-perfect test score, you can still achieve a good test grade.

Keep in mind that tests are not measures of your overall intelligence, per-
sonal potential, or self-worth. No single exam can measure your true intellectual
capacity or academic talent. In fact, the grade you receive on a test may not even be
a good indicator of how much you have learned or your ability to learn.

If you continue to experience test anxiety after trying to overcome it on your
own, seek assistance from a professional in your Learning (Academic Sup-
port) Center or Counseling Center. Some emotional challenges, like milder
forms of personal anxiety and depression, can be managed with self-help strategies
(for details, see chapter 13); so, too, can test anxiety. However, if the problem per-
sists after you’ve done all you can to cope with it on your own, it’s time to seek help.
This doesn’t mean you’re academically weak or incompetent; it means you have the
emotional intelligence and resourcefulness to realize your limitations and to capi-
talize on the support networks available to you.

Reflection 6.7

How would you rate your general level of test anxiety during exams? (Circle one.)

high moderate low

What types of tests or subjects tend to produce the most test stress or anxiety for you?


Do you think that the amount of stress you experience during exams is manageable, or
do you think it’s too high and interferes with your test performance? If it’s too high,
what step(s) could you take to reduce it to a more manageable level?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on test-taking strategies and managing test anxiety, con-
sult the following websites:

Test-Taking Strategies:

Overcoming Test Anxiety:


Chapter 6 Exercises
6.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation why you chose it.

6.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies for answering essay questions on pp. 129-131. Select three strategies that you think are most
important and intend to put into practice.

6.3 Reality Bite
Bad Feedback: Shocking Midterm Grades
Fred has enjoyed his first weeks on campus. He has met lots of people and really likes being in college. He’s also very pleased
to discover that, unlike high school, his college schedule doesn’t require him to be in class all day long. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that unlike high school, where his grades were all As and Bs, Fred’s first midterm grades are three Cs, one D,
and one F. He’s stunned and a bit depressed because he thought he was going to do well in college. Because he never received
grades this low in high school, he’s beginning to think that he’s not college material and may flunk out.

Reflection Questions
1. What factors do you think may have caused or contributed to Fred’s bad start?

2. What do you recommend Fred do right now to get his grades up and avoid being placed on academic probation?

3. What might Fred do in the future to prevent this midterm setback from happening again?

6.4 Self-Assessment of Test-Taking Strategies
Rate yourself in terms of how frequently you use these test-taking strategies below, using the following scale:

4 = always, 3 = sometimes, 2 = rarely, 1 = never

1. I take tests in the same seat where I usually sit in class and take notes. 4 3 2 1

2. I first answer essay test questions I know well before answering those of which
I’m unsure.

4 3 2 1

3. I use a process-of-elimination approach on multiple-choice questions to eliminate
clearly wrong choices until I find one that’s correct or appears to be the most accurate

4 3 2 1

4. I look for key action words that indicate what type of thinking I should display in my
answer (e.g., “analyze,” “compare”).

4 3 2 1

5. On essay questions, I outline or map out the major ideas I’ll include in my answer
before starting to write out my answer.

4 3 2 1

6. I look for information included on a test that may help me answer difficult questions
and that may help me remember information I’ve forgotten.

4 3 2 1


7. I leave extra space between my answers to essay questions in case I want to come back
and add more information later.

4 3 2 1

8. After finishing a test, before turning it in, I double-check for errors I may have made
or questions I may have skipped.

4 3 2 1

Self-Assessment Reflections:
Which of the above strategies do you already use consistently?

Which of the above strategies rated (1) or (2) are you most likely and least likely to implement? Why?

6.5 Midterm Self-Evaluation
About halfway through an academic term, college students are likely to experience the “midterm crunch”—a wave of major
exams and assignments. Midterm a good time to take a close look at your academic progress in all your courses.

Using the form below, list the courses you’re taking this term and the grades you’re receiving in these courses. If you don’t
know your current grade in a course, check the syllabus for the instructor’s grading scale and estimate your grade based on
the scores you’ve received on your completed tests and assignments. This should give you at least a rough idea where you
stand in the course. If you’ve checked the course syllabus and your results on your completed tests and assignments and are
still having difficulty determining your course grade, see your instructor to get an idea of where you stand in class.

Course No. Course Title Grade














1. Were these the grades you expected? Were they better or worse than you anticipated?

2. Were these the grades you were hoping for? Are you pleased or disappointed with them?

3. Do you see any patterns in your performance that point to things you’re doing well and things you need to improve?

4. If you had to pinpoint one action you could take right now to improve your lowest course grade, what would it be?

6.6 Calculating Your Midterm Grade Point Average
Use the information below to calculate what your grade-point average (GPA) would be if your current course grades turn
out to be your final course grades.

How to Compute Your GPA
Most colleges and universities use a grading scale ranging from 0 to 4 to calculate a student’s GPA or quality point average
(QPA). Some schools use a grading system that involves only letters (A, B, etc.), whereas others use letters as well as pluses and
minuses (A-, B+, etc.). Check your college catalog or student handbook to determine what grading system is used at your

The typical point value (points earned) by different letter grades are listed below.

Grade = Point Value

A = 4.0

A– = 3.7

B+ = 3.3

B = 3.0

B– = 2.7

C+ = 2.3

C = 2.0

C– = 1.7

D+ = 1.3

D = 1.0

D– = .7

F = 0

Step 1. Calculate the grade points you’re earning in each of your courses this term by multiplying the course’s number of
units (credits) by the point value of the grade you’re now earning in the course. For instance, if you have a grade of B in a
three-unit course, that course is earning you 9 grade points; if you have a grade of A in a two-unit course, that course is
earning you 8 grade points.

Step 2. Calculate your GPA by using the following formula:

Total Number of Grade Points for all Courses

Divided by Total Number of Course Units


For example, see the following fictitious courses and course grades:

Course Units × Grade = Grade

Roots of Rock & Roll 3 × C (2) = 6

Daydream Analysis 3 × A (4) = 12

Surfing Strategies 1 × A (4) = 4

Wilderness Survival 4 × B (3) = 12

Fake News 2 × D (1) = 2

Love and Romance 3 × A (4) = 12

16 48

48 = 3.0


Reflection Questions
1. What is your GPA at this point in the term?

2. Is this the GPA you expected to attain? If there’s a gap between the GPA you expected to achieve and the GPA you now
have, what do you think accounts for this discrepancy?

3. Do you think your final GPA at the end of the term will be higher or lower than it is now? Why?

Note: It’s very common for college students’ first-year GPA to be lower than it was in high school. In one study that
compared students’ high school GPAs with their GPAs after their first year of college, it was found that:

• 29% of college students had GPAs of 3.75 or higher in high school, but only 17% had GPAs that high at the end of their
first year of college.

• 46% of college students had high school GPAs between 3.25 and 3.74, but only 32% had GPAs that high after the first
year of college.



Three Key Academic Success and
Lifelong Learning Skills

Chapter Purpose & PreviewResearching, writing, and speaking effectively are flexible skills that can be transferred
and applied to all majors and careers. In this chapter, you will acquire strategies to locate
and evaluate information, construct papers and reports, and use writing as a tool to
learn deeply and think critically. The chapter also includes specific, practical tips for
making effective oral presentations, overcoming speech anxiety and becoming a more
self-confident public speaker.

Learning GoalDevelop skills for accessing and referencing others’ ideas through scholarly research,
and acquire strategies for effectively communicating your own ideas orally and in

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 7.1

What would you say is the difference between acquiring factual knowledge and
learning a transferable skill?

The Importance of Research and Communication Skills
We’re now living in the “information” and “communication” age; more informa-
tion is being produced, reproduced, and communicated in today’s world than at any
other time in human history. Since information is now being generated and dis-
seminated at such a rapid rate, “information literacy”—the ability to search for, lo-
cate, and evaluate information—has become an essential 21st-century skill. Oral
and written communication skills have also become increasingly important for suc-
cess in the contemporary work world; college graduates with these skills have a
clear advantage in today’s job market. If you dedicate yourself to improving your
speaking, writing, and information literacy, you will improve both your overall aca-
demic performance in college and your career performance after college.

”“Employers are far more interested in the prospect’s ability to think and to think clearly, to write and speak well, and how (s)he works with
others than in his [or her]
major or the name of the
school (s)he went to. Several
college investigating teams
found that these were the
qualities on which all kinds of
employers, government and
private, base their decisions.
—Lauren Pope, author, Looking Beyond
the Ivy League

142 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

Information Literacy: Research Strategies for Locating and
Evaluating Information
As noted in Chapter 2, a key goal of colleges and universities is to empower stu-
dents to become self-reliant, lifelong learners. One attribute of a self-reliant, life-
long learner is information literacy—the ability to locate, evaluate, and use informa-
tion. When you’re information literate, you’re a critical consumer of information
who knows how to access accurate and relevant information whenever you need it.

“Information literacy is knowing how, where, and why to get information. You can quickly and easily find
information on anything. You
have no fear of something
you don’t know, because you
know you can easily find
information about it.”
—First-year college student

Organizing a Research Report
Described below is a systematic set of information literacy strategies that you can
use to write research papers and reports in college (and beyond). This stepwise pro-
cess may also be used for researching and delivering oral presentations.

1. Define Your Research Topic or Question
The first step in the process of writing a college research report is to be sure you’re
researching a topic that is acceptable to your instructor and is neither: (a) too nar-
row—leaving you with an insufficient amount of information to write about, nor (b)
too broad—leaving you with too much information to cover. If you have any doubts
about your topic’s acceptability or scope, before going any further, seek feedback
from your instructor or from a professional in your college library.

College librarians are both information literacy experts and college educators. Be sure to
capitalize on the out-of-class, one-on-one educational support they can provide you.

2. Identify Information Resources and Tools You Will Use
Information resources come in two major forms:

• Print resources—e.g., card catalogs, published indexes, and guidebooks
• Online resources—e.g., online card catalogs, Internet search engines, and

electronic databases (Find out what resources your instructor prefers or re-
quires before beginning the information search process.)

Different information search tools are likely to supply you with different source
types of information; therefore, it’s best to rely on more than one. Box 7.1 contains
a summary of information search terms and tools you can use. As you read through
the following list, place a check mark next to those you’re familiar with and a plus
sign next to those you’ve used before.

Reflection 7.2

Look back at the terms listed in Box 7.1. What terms were you already familiar with?
Which of these tools have you used before?

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 143

Box 7.1
Key Information Search Tools and Terms
Search Engine: a computer-run program that allows you
to search for information across the entire Internet or at a
particular website. For regularly updated summaries of
different electronic search engines, how they work, and
the type of information they generate, go to: https://

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): An Internet address
consisting of letters or numbers that pinpoints the exact
location of an information resource (e.g., http://www.

Database: a collection of data (information) that’s been
organized to make it easily accessible and retrievable. A
database may include:

a) reference citations—such as author, date, and publica-
tion source

b) abstracts—summary of the contents of a scholarly

c) full-length documents
d) a combination of (a), (b), and (c).

Subscription Database: a database that can only be
accessed with a paid subscription. Your college or
university library is likely to have subscriptions to many
of these databases, so you may be able to access them at
no personal cost.

Catalog: a library database containing information about
what information sources the library owns and where
they’re located. Most catalogs are now in electronic form
and can be searched by typing in a topic heading, author,
or keyword.

Index: an alphabetical listing of topics contained in a

Descriptor (a.k.a. Subject Heading): a key word or phrase
in the index of a database that describes the subjects or
content areas found within it, and enables you to quickly
locate sources relevant to your research topic. For example,
“emotional disorders” may be a descriptor for a psychology

database that leads you to sources of information about
anxiety and depression. (Some descriptors or subject
headings are accompanied by suggestions for other search
words you can use to explore the topic you’re researching.)

Keyword: a word used to search multiple databases that
matches the search word you’ve entered with information
contained in different databases. (Note: A keyword is very
specific, so if information relating to your topic does not
exactly match the key word, it isn’t likely to be retrieved.
For example, if you use the key word “college” and you’re
also interested in finding information about universities,
you may have to use the key word “university” to find
sources with that term in their title.

Search Thesaurus: a list of words or phrases with similar
meaning that allows you to identify which of these words or
phrases can be used as key words, descriptors, or subject
headings in the database. This feature enables you to choose
the best search terms before beginning the search process.

Wildcard: a symbol, such as an asterisk (*), question mark
(?), or exclamation point (!) that can be used to substitute
different letters into a search word or phrase, allowing
you to conduct an electronic search on all variations of
the word represented by the symbol. For example, an
asterisk at the end of the key word, econom*, may be used
to search all information sources containing the words
“economy,” “economical,” or “economist.”

Citation: a reference to a specific source of information
cited in a book, article, or web page that provides infor-
mation about the source (its author, publication source,
and date of publication), which you can use to retrieve the

Abstract: a concise summary of the source’s content that
usually appears at the beginning of an article, which can
help you decide quickly whether the source is relevant to
your research topic.

For a more extensive glossary of Internet terms, see:
Matisse’s Glossary of Internet Terms at http://www.

After locating a potential information source, the next step is to assess its rele-
vance to your research topic. One simple strategy for determining the relevance of
a source is to ask yourself if it will help answer any of the following questions about
the topic you’re investigating: Who? What? When? Where? Why? or How?

Welcome to ResearchBuzz

Welcome to ResearchBuzz



144 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

3. Evaluate the Validity and Quality of Your Sources
The primary purpose of searching for and citing sources in your research paper is
to provide documentation—references that support or confirm your ideas and con-
clusions. Because sources of information can vary widely in terms of their accuracy
or validity, critical thinking must be used to evaluate the quality of information you
locate. The ever-growing Internet has made this critical thinking process more im-
portant (and more challenging) because much of the information posted on the
Web is “self-published” and not subjected to the same quality control measures as
information published in professional journals and books—publications that only
go public after they’ve been carefully reviewed, evaluated, and edited by a neutral
panel of experts. You can use the following criteria to critically evaluate the quality
of information sources.

“I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names are what and why and how and when
and where and who.”
—Rudyard Kipling, “The Elephant’s
Child,” The Just-So Stories

• Scholarly: Does the information appear in a scholarly publication that has been
reviewed by a panel or board of impartial experts in the field? Scholarly publi-
cations are written in a formal style that include references to other published
sources and are “peer reviewed” or “peer refereed,” which means that they have
been evaluated and approved for publication by other experts in the field. Pro-
fessional journals are peer reviewed (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine), but
popular magazines and websites are not.
Subscription databases available at your college or university library are more
likely to contain peer-reviewed sources than free databases available to you on
the Internet. However, you can also use websites like “Google Scholar”
( to find some scholarly sources that may be accessed for

Wikipedia isn’t considered to be a scholarly source, but you can track down scholarly references
mentioned on Wikipedia, read them, and cite them in your research report.

• Credibility: Is the source written by an authority or expert in the field (e.g.,
someone with an advanced educational degree or professional experience relat-
ing to the topic)? For example, if your topic relates to an international issue, a
highly credible source would be an author who has an advanced degree in inter-
national relations or extensive professional experience in international affairs.

• Objectivity: Is the author likely to be impartial or unbiased toward the subject?
Take into consideration how the professional position or personal background
of authors may influence their ideas or their interpretation of evidence. Schol-
ars should be impartial and objective in their pursuit of truth; they should not
be in a position to gain fiscally, personally, or politically by reaching a certain
conclusion about the topic they’re investigating.

You should be skeptical about the objectivity of information contained in
web-based sources with addresses that end with “.com” because these are
“com”mercial sites whose primary purpose is to sell products and make money,
not educate the public or engage in the objective pursuit of truth. To assess the
objectivity of websites, always ask yourself why the site was created, what its ob-
jective or purpose is, and who sponsors it.

Even scientific research may lack objectivity. For instance, if you find an arti-
cle on climate change written by scientists who work for or with an industry
that risks incurring costs or losing revenue by switching to a more ecologically
efficient source of energy, it’s reasonable to suspect that these researchers have a
conflict of interest and may be biased toward reaching a conclusion that will

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 145

benefit their employer (and themselves). When evaluating an article, check for
bias by asking yourself the following questions: (a) Is the author a member of a
special interest group or organization that may be affected by or benefit from
the article’s conclusions? (b) Does the author consider alternative or opposing
viewpoints and respond to these viewpoints fairly? (c) Does the author use
words that convey rationality and objectivity, or are the ideas (and opinions) ex-
pressed in a highly emotional or inflammatory tone? If you think an article may
lack complete objectivity, but still contains some good information and strong
arguments, you can cite it in your paper, but be sure you demonstrate critical
thinking by noting its potential bias.

• Currency: Has the source been published or posted recently? In certain fields
of study, such as science and technology, recent references may be strongly pre-
ferred because new data is generated rapidly in these fields and information can
become quickly outdated. In other fields, such as history and philosophy, older
references may be viewed as timeless classics, so citing them is perfectly accept-
able. Check with your instructor before you begin the search process to be sure
if both recent and historical references are equally acceptable, or if either is

4. Include a Sufficient Number and Variety of Sources
The quality of your research is likely to be judged only on the credibility of your
sources, but also on their quantity and variety.

Number of sources: As a general rule, it’s better to use as many references as pos-
sible because more references supply your report with a broader base of support
and a wider range of perspectives. In addition, using multiple sources allows you to
demonstrate the higher-level thinking skill of synthesis—the ability to integrate in-
formation from multiple sources.

Variety of sources: For some research reports, the variety of references cited may
be as important as their sheer quantity. You can intentionally vary and balance your
sources by drawing on different types of references, such as:

• Books
• Scholarly journals—written by professionals and research scholars in the field
• Magazine and newspaper articles—written by journalists
• Course readings and class notes
• Interviews and personal experiences.

You can also vary your references by using both (a) primary sources—firsthand
information or original documents (e.g., research studies or memoirs), and (b) sec-
ondary sources—publications that build on or respond to primary sources (e.g., text-
book chapters or newspaper articles that summarize research findings or analyze
previously published information).

Lastly, you can vary your references by blending older, classic sources with
more recent, cutting-edge research. Combining the classic with the current can po-
sition you to show how certain ideas have changed or evolved over time, while oth-
ers have withstood the test of time.

146 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

5. Use Sources as Stepping Stones to Your Own Ideas and Conclusions
It’s your name that appears on the front cover of your research report, so your re-
port should be something more than an accumulation or amalgamation of other
peoples’ ideas. Simply collecting and compiling the ideas of others will result in a
final product that reads more like a high school book report than a college research
paper. Look at your sources as raw material that you’ll mold and shape into a fin-
ished product with your stamp on it. Don’t just report or describe the information
find; react to it, interpret it, and cite it as evidence to support your own interpreta-
tions and conclusions.

6. Cite Your Sources with Integrity
Students with integrity don’t cheat on exams and then rationalize that their cheat-
ing is acceptable because “others are doing it,” nor do they plagiarize others’ work
and pawn it off as their own. By citing your sources carefully, you demonstrate in-
tellectual honesty by giving credit where credit is due. You credit others whose
ideas you’ve borrowed and you credit yourself for the careful research you’ve done.

“When a student violates an academic integrity policy, no one wins, even if the person gets away with it. It isn’t
right to cheat and it is an
insult to everyone who put
the effort in and did the
work. I learned my lesson and
have no intention of ever
cheating again.”
—First-year college student’s
reflection on an academic integrity

When should sources be cited? Simply put: Reference everything that’s included
in your paper that was obtained from a source other than yourself. This includes
other people’s words, ideas, statistics, research findings, and visual work (e.g., dia-
grams, pictures, or drawings). There’s only one exception to this rule: Information
that’s common knowledge—information that most people already know—does not
have to be cited. Common knowledge includes information like well-known facts
(e.g., the earth is the third planet from the sun) and familiar dates (e.g., the Declara-
tion of Independence was signed in 1776).

The Internet has given us easy access to an extraordinary amount of informa-
tion, making research much easier; that’s the good news. The bad news is that it has
also made proper citation more challenging. Determining the true “owner” or orig-
inal author of posted information isn’t always as clear or obvious as it is for pub-
lished books and articles. If you want to cite information you’ve found at a website
but are unsure of its author, cite the full name of the website, the date of the posted
information (if available), and the date you accessed or downloaded it. If you have
any doubt about how to cite an online source, print it out and check it out with your
instructor or a professional in your college library.

As a general rule, if you’re unsure about whether something needs to be referenced, it’s better
to reference it and run the risk of unnecessary referencing than to run the risk of plagiarism—a
serious violation of academic integrity that can have serious consequences. (See Box 7.2 on
p. 147 for specific details about what constitutes plagiarism and specific ways to avoid it.)

Where and how should a source be cited? A source should be cited in two
places: (a) in the body of your paper where you used the information, and (b) in the
reference section at the end of your paper (also known as a “bibliography” or “works
cited” section). How sources should be cited depends on the referencing style pre-
ferred by the particular academic field in which the paper is written. Your instructor
should inform you about the referencing style you should use; if not, seek

“Although it may seem like a pain to write a works cited page, it is something that is necessary when writing a
research paper. You must
acknowledge every single
author of whose information
you used. The authors spent
much time and energy
writing their book or article
[so] you must give them the
credit that they deserve.”
—First-year student’s reflection on a
plagiarism violation You’re likely to be asked to use either of the following two referencing styles in

your college research papers:
• MLA style—the style adopted by the Modern Language Association—

commonly used in the Humanities and Fine Arts

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 147

• APA style—the style adopted by the American Psychological Association—
commonly used in the Social and Natural Sciences

If you go on to take advanced courses in a specialized professional field, you
may be asked to use other styles, such as The Chicago Manual of Style for papers in
history, or the Council of Biology Editors (CBE) style for papers in the biological

Software programs are now available that automatically format references ac-
cording to a particular citation style, such as CiteFast ( and
EasyBib ( If you use these programs, be sure to proofread the re-
sults because they can sometimes generate inaccurate or incomplete citations.

Reflection 7.3

Prior to college, did you write papers that required citation of references? If yes, what
referencing style did you use?

Box 7.2
Plagiarism: A Violation of Academic
What Exactly is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity that
involves intentional or unintentional use of someone
else’s work without acknowledging it, thus giving the
impression it’s your own work.

Common Forms of Plagiarism

1. Paying someone, or paying a service, for a paper and
turning it in as if you wrote it.

2. Submitting an entire paper, or portion thereof, that
was written by someone else.

3. Copying sections of someone else’s work and
inserting it into your own.

4. Cutting paragraphs from separate sources and
pasting them into the body of your own paper.

5. Paraphrasing or rewording someone else’s words or
ideas without citing that person as a source. (Strate-
gies for paraphrasing without plagiarizing may be
found at:

6. Placing someone else’s exact words in the body of
your paper and not placing quotation marks around
those words.

7. Failing to cite the source of factual information in
your paper that’s not common knowledge.

Examples of different forms of plagiarism may be found
at the following sites:

Final Notes:

• If you include information in your paper and just list
its source in your reference (works cited) section, but
do not cite the source in the body of your paper, this
still qualifies as plagiarism.

• Only include sources in your reference section that
you actually cited in the body of your paper. Placing
sources in your reference section that are not cited in
your paper isn’t technically a form of plagiarism, but
it may viewed as a deceitful attempt to “pad” your
reference section and give the reader the impression
that you incorporated more sources into your
research report than you actually did.

148 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

Reflection 7.4

Look back at the different forms of plagiarism described in Box 7.2. Were there any
that you were surprised to see, or didn’t realize were types of plagiarism?

Writing Skills and Strategies
Writing is a versatile academic skill that strengthens academic performance across
the curriculum, including general education courses and courses in your major. It’s
the primary route through which you will communicate your knowledge and the
quality of your thinking on college exams and course assignments. It doesn’t matter
how much knowledge you have in your head, if you can’t get that knowledge out of
your head and onto paper, you will not be able to demonstrate what you know and
get credit for knowing it. Thus, improving your writing will not only enhance your
communication skills, it will also elevate your college grades.

In addition, your ability to write clearly, concisely, and persuasively will con-
tribute to your career success after college. When college alumni were asked about
the professional skills they needed to succeed in the workplace, more than 90% of
them ranked “need to write effectively” as a skill that was of “great importance” to
their current work. Employers also report in national surveys that writing is one of
the top skills they seek in college graduates. In fact, the letter of application (cover let-
ter) you write to apply for employment positions after college will be the first impres-
sion you will make on a potential employer. A well-written letter of application will en-
able you to get your “foot in the door” and take your first step toward converting your
college degree into a professional position.

“Want one more reason for developing strong writing skills? Money. Good writing skills are consistently one of
the most sought-after skills
by employers.”
—Karen Brooks, career development
specialist and author of You Majored
in What? Mapping Your Path From
Chaos to Career

Strengthening your writing skills will strengthen your academic performance across the
curriculum and your job performance throughout your career.

Writing to Learn
As mentioned in Chapter 1, humans learn most effectively when they’re actively
engaged in the learning process and reflect on the process after it has taken place.
Writing is a powerful tool for promoting engagement in learning and reflection on
learning, whether the learning takes place inside or outside the classroom. Research
shows that writing promotes learning and thinking, so much so that scholars have
coined the term “writing to learn” to capture the idea that writing is not just a com-
munication skill learned in English composition classes, but also a learning strategy
that deepens understanding of any academic subject or life experience. Just as you
can learn to be a better writer, you can write to be a better learner.

Writing to learn includes practices that differ from the traditional practices of
writing essays and term papers in two key ways: (a) they’re shorter—requiring less
amount of time to complete, and (b) they’re written primarily for the benefit of the
writer—to stimulate thinking and learning. Writing-to-learn strategies can be ap-
plied to a wide range of learning tasks and purposes, such as those listed below. As
you read the following list, place a check mark next to any strategy you rarely use or
have never used.

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 149

Writing to Listen
Writing can improve your ability to listen to and learn from class lectures, class dis-
cussions, and study-group sessions. For instance, as soon as a class session ends, you
could write a “one-minute paper” (taking no more than a minute to complete) to
reflect on the key ideas you heard in class that day—by writing a response to ques-
tions such as: “What were the most significant concepts I learned in class today?”
“What was the most confusing concept discussed in today’s class that I need to clear
up with my instructor or a classmate?”).

Writing to Read
Just as writing can promote active listening in class, it can promote active reading
out of class. Taking notes on what you’re reading while you’re reading implements
the learning principle of active involvement more effectively than highlighting be-
cause writing a response to what you’ve read involves more mental and physical en-
ergy than highlighting sentences. ”“I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand, and enter in a little book of short hints of what you find that is curious, or that might be

useful; for this will be the best
method of imprinting such
particulars in your memory,
where they will be ready.
—Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century
inventor, politician, and co-signer of the
Declaration of Independence

Writing to Remember
The physical act of writing creates motor (muscle) memory for the information
you’re writing, enabling you to better retain and retrieve the information you’ve
written. Writing also improves memory by allowing you to see the information
you’re trying to remember, which lays down a visual memory trace of it in your

Writing to Organize
Writing summaries, outlines, and ideas on index cards that relate to the same concept
are effective ways to organize the information you’re trying to learn, which promotes
learning by getting those related ideas organized (and connected) in the same place in
your brain. These forms of writing also engage the mind in synthesis—a higher-level
thinking skill.

Writing to Study
Writing study guides and practice answers to potential test questions are effective
ways to prepare for exams, either when studying alone or in a study group. Writing
out answers is a particularly effective way to prepare for an essay test because it en-
ables you to practice what you will be expected to do on the test itself—write out
answers to essay questions.

Writing to Understand
Paraphrasing or restating what you’re trying to learn by writing it down in your
own words is an effective way to ensure you’re understanding it (not just memoriz-
ing it) because it transforms what you’re learning into words that are meaningful to
you. In addition, the process of writing slows down the process of thinking, making
your thinking more deliberate, systematic, and attentive to specific details.

Lastly, writing leaves you with a tangible product of your thinking that you can
view, review, and use as feedback to further improve the quality of your thinking. In
other words, writing allows you to “think out loud on paper” and hear (as well as
see) your thoughts.

”“I write to understand as much as to be understood.—Elie Wiesel, world-famous American novelist, Nobel Prize winner, and Holocaust survivor

150 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

Writing to Create
Writing is not only a product or a result of thinking, it’s also a process for thinking—the
act (process) of writing itself stimulates thoughts and generates ideas. One type of
writing that can be particularly effective for generating creative ideas is called free-
writing—writing that involves quickly jotting down free-flowing thoughts on
paper—without worrying about spelling and grammar. Freewriting can be used as a
warm-up exercise to help you come up with ideas for a research topic, to keep track
of ideas generated during group brainstorming sessions, or to record great ideas
that suddenly pop into your mind at unexpected times.

“There is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.”—H. L. Mencken, 20th-century
American journalist and social critic

Writing to Discuss
Prior to participating in class discussions or small group work, you can gather your
thoughts in writing before expressing them orally. This practice ensures that you
carefully think through your ideas before sharing them, which, in turn, should im-
prove the quality of ideas you share. Taking a moment to gather your thoughts in
writing before delivering them orally will also make you a less anxious, more confi-
dent speaker because you know what you’re going to say before you start to say it.
(Writing down your thoughts prior to a discussion also help you remember all the
key points you intend to make during the discussion.)

Writing for Problem Solving
You can use writing while solving problems in math and science to track your
thought process. Writing down the thoughts going through your head at each
major step in the problem-solving process makes you more aware of how you’re
thinking while you’re thinking. This type of mental self-awareness (referred to as
metacognition) has been found to improve thinking and problem-solving. Tracking
your thoughts in writing while successfully solving a problem leaves you with a re-
cord of the train of thought you used to solve the problem. You can review that re-
cord later and ride that train of thought again to solve future problems of the same
type or that require a similar thought process.

Reflection 7.5

Which of the above-listed types of writing have you not tried?

Which one of these untried types of writing do you think would benefit you the most
and would you be willing to try? Why?

Writing Papers and Reports
Studies show that only a small percentage of high school students engage in writing
assignments that are as lengthy and challenging as those required in college. Most
writing assignments before college involved summaries or descriptive reports. Col-
lege students are expected to complete lengthier writing assignments and engage in
more expository (persuasive) writing that requires them to express their point of
view and prove their point of view by supporting it with compelling evidence. This
is often done in the form of a term paper—a research report completed over the
course of an academic term that typically accounts for a large part of the student’s
course grade.

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 151

Reflection 7.6

Think about your writing assignments in high school.

a) What was the longest paper you wrote?

b) What types of thinking were you usually asked to demonstrate in your writing
assignments (e.g., summarize, analyze, criticize)?

Writing a term paper is a multistage process that cannot be completed in one
night. Breaking down the writing process into separate stages and completing these
stages in advance of the paper’s due date is an effective way to strengthen the quality
of your final product. These stages include:

• Determining the purpose or goal of the paper
• Generating ideas to write about
• Organizing your ideas into major categories
• Ordering the categories into a logical sequence
• Expressing your ideas in the form of well-written sentences and paragraphs
• Revising your writing after editing and proofreading

Dividing large writing assignments into smaller, manageable steps can reduce late-night
frustration and the risk of permanent laptop damage.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Listed below is a systematic, 10-step process for completing these stages. Using
this stepwise process should make your writing of papers more manageable, less
stressful, and more successful.

1. Determine the purpose and goal of the paper. The critical first step in the
process of writing an effective paper is having a clear understanding of its pur-
pose or goal. This will help you stay on track and moving in the right direction.
It also helps you get going in the first place because one of the major causes of
writer’s block and writer procrastination is uncertainty about the goal or pur-
pose of the writing task. ”

“Begin with the end in mind.
—Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of
Highly Effective People

152 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

Before you start to write anything, be sure you know what you’re expected to
accomplish. Ask yourself the following questions about the writing assignment:
• What is its major objective or intended outcome?
• What type of thinking am I being asked to demonstrate?
• What criteria (standards) will my instructor use to evaluate and grade my

2. Focus first on generating ideas. In the initial stages of the writing process, the

only thing you should be concerned about is getting ideas you have in your head
out of your head and onto paper. Writing scholars refer to this stage of the writing
process as focused freewriting—writing freely for a certain period on a particular
topic just to come up with ideas relating to the topic—without worrying about
whether these ideas are expressed in grammatically correct sentences or even com-
plete sentences. Beginning by simply generating ideas serves to jump-start the writ-
ing process, creates some initial momentum and helps overcome writer’s block.
The simple act of writing down your thoughts can, in itself, stimulate additional
thoughts. Even if you don’t think you have any great ideas, just start by writing
down any ideas; these ideas can trigger other ideas, some of which may turn out to
be great ideas. (Production of new ideas can also be stimulated by just changing
your writing environment or format, such as shifting to a different room, or shift-
ing from writing ideas in pen or pencil to typing them on a keyboard.)

“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will
bring about new things he
would not have thought of if
he had not started to say
[write] them.”
—William Stafford, American author
and recipient of the National Book
Award for Poetry

3. Categorize your ideas. After you have generated ideas, the next step is to sort
them out and figure out how they can be pieced together. This organizational
process can be tackled in two sub-steps.
• First, group together ideas relating to the same point or concept. For instance,

if your topic is terrorism and you find three ideas on your list referring to what
motivates terrorists, group those ideas together under the category of “motiva-
tional causes.” Similarly, if you find ideas on your list that relate to preventing
or deterring terrorism, group those ideas under the category of “potential solu-
tions.” Consider recording separate ideas on sticky notes and place sticky notes
containing relating to the same general category on the same index card. Index
cards can come in handy for organizing your ideas and for sequencing your
ideas because they can be repositioned easily until you discover an order that
produces the best flow or progression of your ideas—which leads to the step

• Arrange your index-card categories in an order that has a smooth and logi-
cal flow, creating a sequence with a meaningful beginning, middle, and end.
Once all the index cards have been placed in this sequence, you have an out-
line for your paper that includes all major points to be covered and the or-
der in which they will be covered.

When I wrote this chapter, I started by writing down ideas on separate pieces of paper.
Second, I took pieces of paper relating to different general categories (e.g., information lit-
eracy and writing) and put them in separate piles. Third, I took the piles of general catego-
ries and broke them into smaller piles of sub-categories (e.g., piles relating to different as-
pects of information literacy sources and different stages of the writing process). Fourth, I
arranged the piles in an order or sequence that seemed to flow logically from start to finish.

I was doing this sorting and ordering while sitting at a table in a Chicago airport. A gen-
tleman at a nearby table caught my eye and said: “I see you’re organizing all your re-
ceipts.” I said: “Actually, I’m organizing all my ideas.”

—Joe Cuseo

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 153

Another effective way to organize and sequence ideas for paper is by arranging
them in a drawing or diagram. When ideas are laid out in a visual-spatial format, the
product is referred to as a “concept map” or “graphic organizer.” Figure 7.1 illustrates
a concept map that organizes major ideas related to higher-level thinking—a topic cov-
ered in Chapter 8. This particular type of concept map is known as a “clock map” be-
cause its main ideas are organized like the numbers of a clock, beginning at the top (12)
and moving sequentially in a clockwise direction. Concept maps can be created in any
pattern that works best for the material you’re trying to organize and sequence. (For a
variety of concept-mapping formats and apps, see:

FIGURE 7.1: Concept Map Used to Organize and Sequence Major Ideas Relating to
Higher-Level Thinking


Analysis Synthesis




















©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

4. Write a first draft of your paper that converts your main ideas into a logi-
cal sequence of paragraphs. The previous steps in the writing process are of-
ten referred to as prewriting because they take place before you starting writing
full sentences and complete paragraphs. The actual writing process begins with
the paper’s first draft, in which the ideas that have been generated and organized
are converted into the sentences and paragraphs. Listed below are strategies for
writing a first draft.
• Use the first section of the paper to create a meaningful introduction, over-

view, or preview of the major points you will make in the remainder (body)
of the paper. Your opening paragraph is critical because it shapes the
reader’s first impression and sets the stage for what will follow. It should in-
clude a thesis statement—a short summary (one to three sentences) of the key
point you intend to make or the central question you will attempt to answer
in the body of your paper. In short, when you construct a thesis statement,
you’re saying: “My point is . . .” This statement is the compass that guides
your thinking and the reader’s thinking throughout the paper, keeping both
the writer and reader on the same page and moving in the same direction
toward the same destination (your conclusion).

• Place ideas relating to separate points in separate paragraphs. A paragraph
should consist of a chain of sentences linked to the same thought or idea.
When you shift to a new idea, shift to a new paragraph.

• Whenever possible, start new paragraphs with a topic sentence that intro-
duces the new idea you’re about to make. Topic sentences help create a
sense of continuity within your paper, connecting successive paragraphs
with one another.

154 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

• Use the final paragraph (or two) of your paper to “tie it all together,” drive
home your key points, and finish strong.

• After all your paragraphs have been written, your paper should have three
clearly identifiable parts:
(a) introduction—an opening section that includes your thesis statement;
(b) body—the middle section (“meat” or “heart” of your paper) that supplies

different arguments and sources of evidence supporting your thesis
statement; and

(c) conclusion—a closing section that summarizes the key arguments and ev-
idence cited in the body of your paper and connects them back to your
thesis statement to prove your point.

5. Write more than one draft. Don’t expect to write a perfect draft of your paper
on the first try. Even professional writers report that it takes them more than
one draft (often three or four) before they produce an acceptable final product.
Although the final version of award-winning writers may seem impeccably writ-
ten, what precedes it is a messy process that includes lots of revisions between
the first try and the finished product. Just as actors and actresses need multiple
takes (take 2, take 3, etc.) to get their spoken lines right, so do writers need mul-
tiple takes (drafts) to get their written lines right.

“I’m not a writer; I’m a rewriter.” —James Thurber, award-winning American journalist and author
After completing your first draft, step away from it for a while and return to it
later and review it with a fresh mind and new set of eyes. In particular, review
your thesis statement to be sure that it still serves as an accurate compass for the
direction your paper has taken. It’s okay to go back to tweak your original thesis
statement so that it better reflects and captures your conclusion. However, if
you find yourself making radical changes to your thesis statement, this suggests
you may strayed too far from it and need to replace it with one that aligns more
directly with your conclusion.

Reflection 7.7

For papers you have written in the past, did you write more than one draft before
submitting them?

If no, why not?

6. Critically review your own written work as if you were another reader or
editor, rather its author. It’s noteworthy that the term “revision” literally
means to re-vision (view again). At this stage in the process, you re-view your
writing as if the words were written by someone else and your role now is now
that of a critic and editor. If you find words and sentences that aren’t clearly
capturing what you intended to say, now’s the time to tweak or rephrase them.

When critiquing and editing your paper, keep in mind the criteria (judgment
standards) your instructor will use when reading and grading your paper. If
your instructor has shared these criteria with the class, have them in front of
you and use them as guidelines to evaluate and improve your work. It’s likely
that your paper will be evaluated with respect to the following criteria, so keep
them in mind during your review process.
• Documentation. Are your key points and conclusions supported by evi-

dence? For example:
a) direct quotes from authoritative sources

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 155

b) specific examples
c) statistical data
d) scientific research findings
e) firsthand experiences.

• Overall Organization. An overview of your paper should reveal that it has
three clearly identifiable parts: a beginning (introduction), a middle (body),
and an end (conclusion). Ask yourself if these three parts unite to form a
connected whole. Also, check to be sure there’s continuity between para-
graphs within your paper: Does your train of thought stay on track and
moving in the right direction from start to finish? If you find yourself get-
ting off track at certain points in your paper, eliminate that information or
rewrite it in a way that re-routes your thoughts back onto the main track
(your thesis).

• Sentence Structure. Refine and fine tune your sentences. Keep an eye out
for sentence fragments—“sentences” without a noun or a verb—and run-on
sentences—two or more sentences that are not separated by a period or con-
junction (e.g., “and” or “but”).

Check for sentences that are too long—those that can go on and on with-
out any punctuation and leave readers without enough time to pause and
take a breath. You can tighten up or break up these long-winded sentences
by: (a) punctuating them with a comma to give the reader a short pause,
(b) punctuating them with a semicolon that provides a longer pause than a
comma (but not as long as a period), or (c) dividing them into two shorter
sentences (separated by a period).

Also, check for choppy sentences that “chop up” what you’ve written into
such short segments that it disrupts the natural reading rhythm. If you find
choppy sentences, combine them into a longer sentence, and, if necessary,
punctuate them with a comma or semicolon instead of a period. A good
strategy for determining whether your sentences flow smoothly is to read
them aloud. Note the places where you naturally tend to pause and where
you tend to keep going. Your natural pauses may serve as cues for places
where your sentences need punctuation, and your natural runs may indicate
sentences that are flowing smoothly and should be left alone.

• Word Selection. Are certain words or terms showing up so frequently in
your paper that they sound repetitious? If so, remove the redundancy and
infuse variety by substituting words that have the same or similar meaning.
This substitution process can be made easier by using a thesaurus, which
may be conveniently available on your computer’s word processing pro-
gram or by doing a quick “google search” for a synonym.

7. Seek feedback on your paper from a trusted peer or writing professional.
You should be the first and final reader of your paper reader, but you don’t have
to be the only one. No matter how honest or objective we may try to be about
our own writing, we may still be blind to its weaknesses. We all have a tendency
to see what we hope or want to see in our work, especially after we’ve put a
great deal of time, effort, and energy into the process of creating it.

Whether you’re already a good writer or still developing your writing skills,
the quality of your written work can be improved by seeking and receiving
feedback from others. Even professional writers share their drafts with other
writers to obtain feedback. Similarly, you could seek feedback at any stage of the
writing process—whether it be for help with getting a better understanding of
the purpose or goal of the writing assignment, brainstorming ideas for a topic,
writing a first draft, or reviewing your final draft.

156 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

A tutor in the Writing or Learning Center would be a good candidate to ask
for a second opinion on your paper. Another option would be to pair up with a
trusted writing partner to exchange and assess each other’s papers by using the
same criteria your instructor will use to evaluate and grade your work. Studies
show that when students at all levels of writing ability receive feedback from
others prior to submitting a paper, the quality of their writing improves, as does
their grade on the writing assignment. Getting help with your writing isn’t
cheating or plagiarizing–as long as you’re the one who does the re-writing in
response to the feedback you receive.

8. In your final draft, be sure that your conclusion and introduction are con-
nected or aligned. Your conclusion should flash back to your initial thesis
statement and show how you’ve addressed it. By connecting your introduction
and conclusion, you provide a pair of meaningful bookends to your paper, an-
choring it at its two most pivotal points—beginning and end. By doing so, you
capitalize on the power of two key impressions—the first impression and last

“End with the beginning in mind.” —Joe Cuseo, non-award-winning author of the book you’re now

9. Carefully proofread your paper for clerical and technical mistakes before
submitting it. Proofreading may be defined as a micro form of editing in
which you focus attention on minute mechanics related to referencing, gram-
mar, punctuation, and spelling. It represents the critical last step in the editorial
process that involves detection and correction of small, technical errors which
were likely overlooked at earlier stages of the writing process when you were
focusing attention on your paper’s content and structure.
Don’t forget that when you are proofreading for spelling errors, your com-
puter’s spell-checker will not catch words that seem to be correctly spelled, but
are actually misspelled in the context you’re using them. For instance, a spell-
checker would not detect any of the four “correctly” spelled words that are re-
ally misspelled in the context of the following sentence: “Where your high-heal
shoes when we meat for the executive bored meeting.” A career counselor once
reported that a student forgot to proofread her job application before submit-
ting it. Her roommate read her application and laughingly noticed that she mis-
takenly applied for a job in “pubic service” instead of “public service.”

“Spell checkers aren’t always reliable, so ask someone for suggestions or read your papers out loud to yourself.”
—Advice to first-year students from
a college sophomore

Careful proofreading is the crucial last step in the process of writing a high-quality paper.
Forgetting to take this simple but essential step, and losing points for minor mistakes on a
product that you spent so much time working on, would be like circling the bases after hitting a
home run and forgetting to touch home plate.

10. After your paper is graded and returned to you, carefully review your in-
structor’s written comments. Use these comments as constructive feedback
to improve your performance on future assignments. If the written feedback
you receive still leaves you unclear about what to do to improve your work,
make an appointment to discuss the paper with your instructor. Not only will
this supply you with the opportunity to receive personalized one-on-one feed-
back about your writing, your office visit sends a clear message to the instructor
that you’re a student who is serious about learning and achieving academic

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 157

Public Speaking: Making Oral Presentations
and Delivering Speeches
The Importance of Oral Communication
In addition to writing, speaking is the second major channel through which you will
communicate and demonstrate your knowledge in college, whether it be by making
formal oral presentations, participating in small-group discussions, or raising your
hand to contribute ideas in class. When graduating seniors at Harvard University
were asked about specific strategies they would recommend to first-year students to
overcome shyness and develop social self-confidence, their most frequent recom-
mendation was for first-year students to take classes in which they were expected to
speak up.

Developing your ability to speak in a clear, concise, and confident manner will
not only strengthen your academic performance in college, it will enhance your ca-
reer performance after college. In fact, the oral communication skills you display
during a job interview will likely play a pivotal role in your being hired for your first
position after college graduation. Research repeatedly shows that employers place a
high value on oral communication skills and rank them at the very top of character-
istics they seek in prospective employees. Speaking skills will also increase your
prospects for career advancement by strengthening your professional presentations
and performance at group meetings.

”“As you move up through your career path, you’re judged on your ability to articulate a point of view.—Donald Keogh, former president of the
Coca-Cola Company

Reflection 7.8

How many times have you made an oral presentation or delivered a speech?

Does your college require a course in speech or public speaking? If yes, when do you
plan to take it? If no, would you consider taking an elective course in public speaking?

(To assess your verbal skills, complete Exercise 7.6 at the end of this chapter.)

Strategies for Making Effective Oral Presentations
Listed below are strategies for delivering oral presentations and speeches. Because
both speaking and writing are forms of verbal communication, you will find that
many of the strategies suggested here for improving oral reports are like those for
improving written reports. Thus, you can “double dip” and use the following oral
presentation strategies to strengthen your written presentations (or vice versa).

First, decide on the purpose or goal of your presentation. An oral presentation
usually falls into either of the following two categories, depending on its purpose or

1. Informative presentations—provide members of the audience with informa-
tion that increases their knowledge or supplies them with practical information
to help them complete tasks.

2. Persuasive (expository) presentations—attempt to persuade (convince) mem-
bers of the audience to buy into a particular idea or course of action.

158 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

The first step to delivering an effective presentation is clarifying what you in-
tend your presentation to accomplish and then keeping that end goal in mind when
deciding on what to include in your presentation. When making decisions about
whether to include (or exclude) a particular idea or piece of information in your
presentation, ask yourself: Will it contribute to the ultimate purpose or goal of my

In college, most oral presentations will likely fall into the persuasive category,
which means that you will research information, draw conclusions about your re-
search, and document your conclusions with evidence. Similar to writing research
papers, persuasive oral presentations require you to think critically, cite sources,
and demonstrate academic integrity.

Select a topic that matters to you and you’re really passionate about. If you
have the freedom to choose the topic for your presentation, seize this opportunity
to present on a subject that you are enthused about and find especially interesting.
Your interest and enthusiasm is likely to show through during the delivery of your
presentation, which, in turn, is likely to increase your audience’s attention, your
self-confidence as a presenter, and the overall quality of your presentation.

“Enthusiasm is everything.”—Pelé, Brazilian soccer player (arguably the most famous player in the sport’s history)

Create an outline or bulleted list of the major (general) points you’re going
to make. First, get your major points down on PowerPoint slides or index cards;
second, arrange them in an order that provides the smoothest sequence or flow of
your ideas.

Use your slides or index cards as retrieval cues (“cue cards”) to remember
each of the major points you will make during the presentation. Beneath each
major point on your slide or index card, list 3-5 sub-points or specific ideas you in-
tend to make in relation to that general point. Research shows that humans can
only keep about four points or bits of information in mind (in their working or
short-term memory) at a time.

Rehearse and revise. Just as you should write several drafts of a paper before turn-
ing it in, an oral presentation should be rehearsed and revised before it’s delivered.
Rehearsal will help ensure that your presentation isn’t interrupted by long pauses,
stops and starts, and distracting “fillers” (e.g., “uh,” “umm,” “like,” “you know,” ).
Rehearsal will also help reduce your level of speech anxiety. Studies show that fear
of public speaking is often really fear of failure—fear of being negatively evaluated
by the audience. If your oral presentation is well prepared and well rehearsed, your
fear of failure will decrease, along with your level of speech anxiety.

“The only time I get nervous is when I am not very familiar with my topic or if I’m winging my assignment and
I’m not prepared.”
—First-year student commenting on
her previous oral presentations

When rehearsing your presentation, pay special attention to the following parts:

• Introduction. This part of your speech should be particularly well-rehearsed
because it can create a positive first impression of your presentation and a sense
of positive anticipation about what’s to come next. Like a well written report,
the introduction to your oral report should include a thesis statement—a state-
ment about why you’re speaking about this topic and what you intend to accom-
plish by the end of your presentation. It should also include a “hook” (e.g., a
powerful visual image) that captures the audience’s initial interest in, or excite-
ment about, the topic’s importance and value.

• Transition statements. These are phrases that signal you’re moving from one
major idea to another (e.g., “Now let’s turn to . . .”). These statements serve to
highlight the key parts of your presentation and how they’re connected.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confi-dence is preparation.”
—Arthur Ashe, former world
top-ranked professional tennis
player and first black player ever
selected to the United States Davis
Cup team

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 159

• Conclusion. This is your chance to finish strong and create a powerful last
impression that drives home your presentation’s most important points. Your
conclusion should include a statement that refers back to, and reinforces, your
original thesis statement, thereby connecting your ending with your beginning.

”“First, I tell ‘em what I’m gonna tell ‘em; then I tell ‘em; then I tell ‘em what I told ‘em.—Anonymous country preacher’s formula for successful sermons
Lastly, when you rehearse your presentation, keep track of the total time it

takes to complete it. Be sure it falls within the time range set by your instructor and
is neither too short nor too long.

Before officially delivering your presentation, do a trial run of it in front of a live
audience. Ask a friend or group of friends to listen to your presentation and give you
some feedback. This trial run can serve as “dress rehearsal,” giving you the opportunity
to practice your presentation not as a stand-alone soliloquy but in front of a live audi-
ence—which is what you’ll be doing when you deliver your actual presentation.

Another way to get useful feedback on your presentation prior to its delivery is to
have someone video-record it. This will enable you to step outside of yourself and
observe your presentation as if you were a member of the audience. Such an “out-of-
body experience” enables you to get outside yourself and see yourself as others would
see you. This can be especially useful for increasing your self-awareness of the non-
verbal communication (body language) habits you engage in while speaking.

As you might expect, when you first see how you look and hear how you sound,
you’re likely to be quite surprised or even shocked. This is a normal reaction; the
initial shock will soon fade and you’ll feel more comfortable viewing, reviewing,
and improving your presentation.

Reflection 7.9

Have you ever received feedback on the quality of your speaking skills from a teacher,
a peer, or by observing yourself on video?

If you have, what did you learn about your speaking habits and how to improve them?

If you haven’t, would you be willing to seek feedback from others on your oral presen-
tation skills, or view a video-recording of yourself delivering an oral presentation?

Observe presentations made by others and learn from them. Note the things
that effective speakers do when delivering oral presentations and use them as clues
to improve the quality of your own presentations.

When delivering your presentation, maximize eye contact with the audience.
During your talk, it’s perfectly fine to occasionally glance at your index cards and
slides and use them as cue cards to help you recall the points you want to make;
however, most of your time should be spent looking at your audience. Oral presen-
tations can be deadly boring when the speaker’s “presentation” involves looking at
and reading slides off a screen, rather than looking at and speaking to the audience.
(See Box 7.3 for a summary of top tips for using, not abusing, PowerPoint.)

Effective oral presentations should not be written out word-by-word and read
verbatim, nor should they be entirely impromptu (improvised) presentations deliv-
ered off the top of your head. Instead, they should be extemporaneous, meaning that
they fall somewhere in between “winging it” and memorizing it word-for-word.
Extemporaneous speaking involves advanced preparation and the use of notes or

160 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

slides as memory-retrieval cues, but allows you some freedom to ad lib or impro-
vise. If you happen to forget the exact words you planned to use, you can freely sub-
stitute different words to make the same point—without stumbling or stressing
out—and without your audience ever noticing that you made any changes or substi-
tutions. The key to extemporaneous speaking is to rehearse and remember all your
major points, not the exact words you will use to discuss each and every point. This
will ensure that your presentation comes across as natural and authentic, rather
than mechanical or robotic.

Box 7.3
Tips for Using (Not Abusing) PowerPoint
• Use the titles of slides as general headings or catego-

ries for your major ideas.
• List only 3-5 points (ideas) on each slide.
• List information on your slides as bulleted points,

not complete sentences. The more words included on
your slides, the more time your audience will spend
reading the slides instead of listening to you. You
can help keep the focus on you by showing only one
point on your slide at a time. This will prevent the
audience from reading ahead and direct their
attention on one point—the point that you’re
currently discussing.

The points on your PowerPoint slides do not constitute
your entire presentation. They are just memories cues
and slide holders for ideas relating to those points that
you will elaborate on during your presentation.

“A presentation is about explaining things to people that go above and beyond what they get in the slides. If it weren’t, they might just as well get your slides and read them in the comfort of their own office, home, boat, or
—Jesper Johansson, senior security strategist for Microsoft, in “Death
by PowerPoint”

• Use a font size of at least 18 points to ensure that
people in the back of the room can read what’s
printed on each slide.

• Don’t use elaborate coloring merely for decorative
purposes because it can be a source of distraction;
instead, use color for educational purposes—as a
visual aid to emphasize and organize your points. For
example, a dark or bold blue heading may be used to
highlight the title of the slide (representing your
major point) and a lighter shade of blue may be used
for the bulleted sub-points beneath it.

• Incorporate visual images into your presentation.
Don’t hesitate to use pictures, graphs, cartoons, or
other visual illustrations that relate to and reinforce
your major points. (As discussed in chapter 5, this
practice allows information to be stored in the brain
as two different memory traces—one verbal and one
visual—which increases the likelihood the point
you’re making will be retained by the audience.)

The true “power” of PowerPoint may not be its ability to
project printed words, but to project visual images that
illustrate or illuminate your spoken words.

• If you include words or images on a slide that are not
your own, demonstrate academic integrity by noting
their source at the bottom of the slide.

• Before going public with your slides, proofread them
with the same care as you would a written paper.

Managing Speech Anxiety
If you’re anxious about making stand-and-deliver speeches, you’re certainly not
alone. It’s such a common fear, it could almost be considered “normal.” National
surveys show that fear of public speaking affects people of all ages, including ado-
lescents and young adults. A significant number of college students also experience
classroom communication apprehension—anxiety about speaking specifically in class-
room settings.

Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills 161

Keep in mind that it’s natural to experience at least some stress in any situation
where your performance is being observed or evaluated. This isn’t necessarily a bad
thing because stress that’s kept at a moderate level can actually increase energy, con-
centration, and memory. However, when stress reaches the level of fear or anxiety,
it can leave a person unwilling or unable to stand up in front of a group (“stage
fright”) or speak up in class, that person may be experiencing speech anxiety. Listed
below are strategies for managing speech anxiety and keeping it at a moderate and
productive level.

Just prior to your speech, take some time to intentionally relax yourself. For ex-
ample, take deep breaths, or use any other stress-management strategy that works well
for you. (See Chapter 13, pp. ____, for an assortment of stress-management strategies.)

Avoid consuming caffeine or other “energy drinks” prior to delivering your
speech. These substances will elevate your level of physiological arousal during
your presentation, which, in turn, can elevate your level of psychological arousal

Approach your speech with a positive mindset. Simply stated, positive thinking
triggers positive emotions. Here are some strategies for putting yourself in a posi-
tive frame of mind:

• Adopt the mindset that your speech is nothing more than a formal conversation
with a group of friends. To help get you into this conversational mode, make
eye contact with small sections of the audience while delivering your speech.
When you shift to a new idea or section of your speech, shift your focus of at-
tention to a different section of the audience. This strategy will help relax you
by making the audience seem smaller; it will also ensure you make periodic eye
contact with different sections of the audience.

• Expect to give a good speech, but not a perfect speech. Don’t put extra pressure
on yourself by thinking that you’re going to deliver a presentation like a silver-
tongued TV reporter delivering the nightly news (who is actually reading it off
a teleprompter). A few verbal mistakes are common during speeches and often
go unnoticed by the audience. You can still receive an excellent grade on an oral
presentation without delivering a flawless performance.

• Keep in mind that the audience to whom you are speaking is not made up of ex-
pert speakers. Most of them have no more public speaking experience than do
you, nor are they experienced critics. These are your peers and they know that
standing up in front of class and delivering a formal speech isn’t an easy thing to
do. They’re likely to be very accepting of any mistakes you make, as they hope
you would be for them when it’s their turn to stand and deliver.

When delivering your speech, focus on the message (your ideas), not the mes-
senger (yourself). By consciously keeping your attention on the ideas you are com-
municating, you will focus less attention on yourself and become less self-conscious
and less anxious about the impression you’re making on the audience or the audi-
ence’s impression (evaluation) of you.

Like any fear, fear of public speaking tends to subside after getting your “feet
wet” after doing it for the first time. The anticipation of a stressful experience is
often worse than the experience itself. Feelings of anxiety experienced before deliv-
ering a speech are often replaced by feelings of accomplishment, pride, and self-
confidence after the speech is delivered.

”“I was really nervous during the entire thing, but I felt so relieved and proud afterwards.—First-year college student commenting on her first public speech

162 Chapter 7 Three Key Academic Success and Lifelong Learning Skills

My college required that I take a course in public speaking by the end of my sophomore
year. Since I had never before delivered a formal speech, I was extremely nervous about
standing up and making a presentation in front of a large group of people so I postponed
taking the course as long as I possibly could. Finally, as a second-semester sophomore, I
delivered my first oral presentation. When it was done, I felt like I just got a huge gorilla
off my back.

After giving that first speech, I noticed that I was more confident about asking questions
in my classes, speaking up during group discussions, and expressing myself in situations
where a large number of people were present. Eventually, I became a college professor
and spent my entire career speaking in front of people. I now make presentations on col-
lege campuses across the United States and in other countries.

Every now and then I think about that first speech I gave as a college sophomore and re-
alize that it was a turning point in my life. It gave me the opportunity to overcome my
speech anxiety and gave me the self-confidence to succeed in my eventual career. It also
gave me the confidence and courage to deliver moving and memorable eulogies at my fa-
ther’s and mother’s funerals.

—Joe Cuseo

Reflection 7.10

Are you planning to take a course in public speaking?

If yes, why? If no, why not?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on research, writing, and oral communication skills, see
the following websites:

Information Literacy (Information Search) Strategies:

Writing Strategies:

Academic Integrity and Character:

Public Speaking Skills:

Welcome to Enhance My Writing!


Chapter 7 Exercises
7.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to you.

For each of the quotes you selected, provide an explanation why you chose it.

7.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies for writing to learn on pp. 149-150. Select three strategies that you think are the most important and
intend to put into practice.

7.3 Reality Bite
Crime and Punishment: Plagiarism and Its Consequences
An article once appeared in an Ohio newspaper, titled “Plagiarism Persists in Classrooms,” in which an English professor is
quoted as saying: “Technology has made it easier to plagiarize because students can download papers and exchange
information and papers through their computers. But technology has also made it easier to catch students who plagiarize.”
This professor works at a college which subscribes to a website that matches the content of students’ papers with content
from books and online sources. Many professors now require students to submit their papers through this website. If students
are caught plagiarizing, for a first offense, they typically receive an F for the assignment or the course. A second offense can
result in dismissal or expulsion from the college, which has already happened to a few students.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. What do you think are the primary motives or reasons why students plagiarize from the web?

2. In your opinion, what would be a fair or just penalty for students who are found guilty of a first plagiarism violation?
What do you think would be fair penalty for a second violation?

3. How might web-based plagiarism be minimized or prevented from happening in the first place?

7.4 Internet Research
Go to This website allows you to conveniently access multiple search engines, web directories, and
newsgroups. Type in the name of a subject or topic you’d like to research and select three of the multiple search engines
listed at this site.

1. What differences did you find in the type of information generated by the three search engines?

2. Did any of these search engines locate better or more comprehensive information than the others?

3. Would you return to this website again to help you with future research?

7.5 Is It or Is It Not Plagiarism?
The following four incidents were brought to a college judicial-review board to determine if a student had committed
plagiarism and, if so, what the penalty should be. After reading each case, respond to the questions listed below it.

CASE 1. A student turned in an essay that included substantial material copied from a published source. The student
admitted that he didn’t cite the source properly, but argued that it was because he misunderstood the directions for the
assignment, not because he was attempting to steal someone else’s ideas.

Is this plagiarism?


How severe is it? (Rate it on a scale from 1 = low to 5 = high)

What should the consequence or penalty be?

How could this accusation of plagiarism been avoided?

CASE 2. A student turned in a paper that was identical to a paper submitted by another student for a different course.

Is this plagiarism?

How severe is it? (Rate it on a scale from 1 = low to 5 = high)

What should the consequence or penalty be?

CASE 3. A student submitted a paper he wrote in a previous course as an extra-credit paper for a course.

Is this plagiarism?

How severe is it? (Rate it on a scale from 1 = low to 5 = high)

What should the consequence or penalty be?

CASE 4. A student submitted a paper in an art history class that contained some ideas from art critics she read about and
whose ideas she agreed with. The student didn’t cite the critics as sources, but claimed it wasn’t plagiarism because their
ideas were merely their own subjective judgments or opinions, not facts or findings; furthermore, they were opinions she
agreed with.

Is this plagiarism?

How severe is it? (Rate it on a scale from 1 = low to 5 = high)

What should the consequence or penalty be?

How could this accusation of plagiarism been avoided?

Look back at these four cases. Which do you think represents the most and least severe violation of academic integrity?

7.6 Assessing Your Linguistic Intelligence
1. Review the Communication section of your AchieveWORKS Personality self-assessment and reflect on the strengths,

challenges, and recommendations offered.

2. What does your report say about your communication abilities?

3. What personal strengths does the report point to? What areas does it suggest may need further development?

7.7 Preparing an Oral Presentation on Student Success
1. Scan this textbook and identify a chapter topic or chapter section that’s most interesting to you or matters most to you.

2. Create an introduction for an oral presentation on this topic that:

a) Provides an overview or sneak preview of what will be covered in your presentation

b) Creates a favorable first impression of your presentation that you think would grab the attention of your audience
(your classmates)

c) Demonstrates the topic’s relevance or importance for your audience.

3. Create a conclusion to your presentation that:

a) Relates back to your introduction

b) Highlights your most important point(s)

c) Leaves a memorable last impression.



Higher-Level Thinking

Chapter Purpose & PreviewNational surveys of college professors consistently show that their number one educational
goal is developing students’ critical thinking skills. In this chapter you will learn what
critical thinking actually is, how it relates to creative thinking and other forms of higher-
level thinking, and how to demonstrate different forms of higher-level thinking on your
college exams and assignments. You will also learn how to use higher-level thinking skills
to draw valid conclusions as well as make sound judgments and personal decisions.

Learning GoalUnderstand what constitutes critical thinking and other higher-level thinking skills and
develop strategies for applying these skills in college and beyond.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 8.1

To me, critical thinking is . . .

What Is Higher-Level Thinking?
Contestants on TV quiz shows like Jeopardy demonstrate their knowledge of facts
by responding to such questions as: “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, and “Where?” If
game show contestants were asked to respond to questions such as: “Why?”,
“How?”, or “What if?”, they would be asked to engage in higher-level thinking
(a.k.a. higher-order thinking). This is a more advanced level of thinking than that
used to acquire factual knowledge. It involves reflecting on the knowledge you have
acquired and taking it to a higher level—for example, evaluating its validity, inte-
grating it with other ideas, or using it to create new ideas. As its name implies,
higher-level thinking involves raising the bar and jacking up your thinking to a
level that goes beyond merely remembering, reproducing, or regurgitating factual

“To me, thinking at a higher
level means to think and
analyze something beyond the
obvious and find the deeper
meaning. ”
—First-year college student

National surveys repeatedly show that the number one educational goal of col-
lege professors is to help students think at a higher or more advanced level. In one
national survey of college professors who taught freshman- through senior-level
courses in various academic fields, more than 95% of them reported that the most
important goal of a college education is to develop students’ ability to think

166 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

critically. Similarly, college professors teach-
ing introductory courses for freshmen and
sophomores report that the primary educa-
tional purpose of their courses is to develop
students’ critical thinking skills. Simply
stated, professors are more concerned with
teaching you how to think than teaching you
what to think or what facts to memorize.

“The Thinker”—one of the most recognized
sculptures in the world—created by August
Rodin, 19th-century French sculptor

©Rafael Ramirez/

Compared with high school, college
courses focus less on acquiring information
and more on thinking about issues, concepts,
and principles. Memorizing information may
get you a grade of “C,” demonstrating com-
prehension of that information may get you a
“B,” and going beyond comprehension to
demonstrate higher-level thinking is likely to
earn you an “A.” This is not to say that
knowledge and comprehension are unimport-
ant; they provide the stepping stones needed
to climb to higher levels of thinking—as illus-
trated in Figure 8.1.

“What is the hardest task in the world? To think.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson, celebrated 19th-century American essayist
and lecturer

FIGURE 8.1: The Relationship between Knowledge, Comprehension, and Higher-Level

Higher-Level Thinking


Basic Knowledge

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

College professors expect students to do more than just retain or reproduce information; they
want students to demonstrate higher levels of thinking with respect to knowledge they acquire
(e.g., analyze it, evaluate it, apply it, or integrate it with other concepts).

Benefits of Higher-Level Thinking
In addition to promoting academic excellence in college, other major benefits of
developing higher-level thinking skills include the following:

1. Higher-level thinking is a durable skill that lasts a lifetime. Studies show
that memory for factual information fades quickly with the passage of time.
However, higher-level thinking is a skill (like learning to ride a bike) that’s re-
tained on a long-term basis and can be used throughout life.

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 167

2. Higher-level thinking is essential for success in today’s “information
age”—a time when new information is being generated at faster rates
than at any other time in human history. Most employees in the 21st century
workforce will no longer work with their hands; they will work with their
heads. Repetitive work tasks are being increasingly performed by robots and are
being replaced by jobs that require the ability to think and solve problems.
National surveys repeatedly show that today’s employers are looking for college
graduates with higher-level thinking skills, including the ability to think criti-
cally and solve problems.

3. Higher-level thinking skills are vital for citizens in a democratic nation.
Authoritarian political systems, such as dictatorships and fascist regimes,
suppress critical thought and demand submissive obedience to authority. In
contrast, citizens in a democratic nation can control their political destiny by
making wise choices about the leaders they elect. Thus, effective use of higher-
level thinking skills, such as critical thinking, is essential for effective civic en-
gagement and the preservation of democracy.

4. Higher-level thinking provides a safeguard against prejudice, discrimina-
tion, and hostility. Racial, ethnic, and national prejudices are often rooted in
narrow, self-centered, and group-centered thinking. Oversimplified, dualistic
thinking can lead humans to categorize others into either “in” groups (us) or
“out” groups (them). Such simplistic thinking can, in turn, lead to ethnocen-
trism—the tendency to view one’s own racial or ethnic group as the superior
“in” group and see other groups as inferior “out” groups. Development of
higher-level thinking skills, such as taking multiple perspectives and using bal-
anced thinking, counteracts the type of dualistic, ethnocentric thinking that
leads to prejudice, discrimination, and hate crimes.

5. Higher-level thinking helps preserve mental and physical health. Mentally
active people are less likely to suffer memory loss or experience dementia as they
age. Similar to how physical activity exercises muscles in the body, thinking exer-
cises the brain. It stimulates neurophysiological activity among brain cells, invig-
orates them, and reduces the likelihood they will deteriorate with age.

Contrary to common belief, problem solving and other forms of higher-level thinking will
not “fry” your brain; it actually stimulates and exercises the brain, reducing the risk of
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of late-life dementia.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

168 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

Defining and Describing the Major Forms of Higher-Level Thinking
All educators agree that “critical thinking” is an essential skill for students to de-
velop, but it’s a skill that has been defined in a variety of ways. When your college
professors ask you to “think critically,” they’re usually asking you to engage in the
higher forms of thinking listed in Box 8.1. As you read the descriptions of these
forms of thinking, note whether you’ve heard of it before.

Box 8.1
Seven Major Forms of Higher-Level
1. Analysis (Analytical Thinking). Breaking down

information into its essential elements or parts.
2. Synthesis (Integrative Thinking). Connecting

separate pieces of information to form a more
complete and coherent product or pattern.

3. Application (Applied Thinking). Using knowledge
for practical purposes to solve problems and resolve

4. Multidimensional Thinking. Thinking about
ourselves and the world around us from multiple
angles or perspectives.

5. Balanced Thinking. Carefully considering reasons for
and against a particular position or viewpoint.

6. Creative Thinking. Generating ideas that are unique,
original, or innovative.

7. Evaluation. Critically judging the soundness of
arguments and evidence used to reach conclusions.
(This form of higher-level thinking is the one most
commonly referred to as “critical thinking.”)

“In college . . . you will be expected to get inside what you are learning to apply it, make comparisons and connections, draw implications, and use ideas.” —Robert Shoenberg, in Why Do I Have to Take This Course?
Reflection 8.2

Look back at the seven forms of higher-level thinking described in Box 8.1. Which of
these forms of thinking have you previously used on exams or assignments?

Analysis (Analytical Thinking)

The higher-level thinking process of analysis is similar to the physical process of
peeling an onion. When you analyze something, you take it apart, peeling it away
to find its key elements or core components. For example, if you were to analyze a
chapter in this book, you would do more than cover its content; you would try to
uncover or discover the key ideas embedded within the content, detect its central
points, and distinguish them from background information and incidental details.
In an art course, analytical thinking would be used to identify elements of a painting
or sculpture (e.g., its structure, texture, tone, and form). In the natural and social
sciences, analysis would be used to examine the underlying reasons or causes for
natural (physical) phenomena and social events—referred to as “causal analysis.”
For instance, a causal analysis of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United
States would involve identifying the key factors that led to the attack or the under-
lying reasons why the attack took place.

“In physics, you have to be analytical and break it [the problem] down into its parts.”
—Physics student

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 169

Reflection 8.3

A TV commercial for a particular brand of liquor (which shall remain nameless) once
showed a young man getting out of his car in front of a house where a party is taking
place. After getting out of his car, he takes out a knife, slashes his tires, and goes inside
to join the party. Using the higher-level thinking skill of analysis, what would you say
were the underlying or embedded messages in this commercial?

Synthesis (Integrative Thinking)

Synthesis is a higher-level thinking skill that’s basically the opposite of analysis. In-
stead of breaking down or taking apart ideas, synthesis involves piecing together
separate ideas to form an integrated whole—like piecing together parts of a puzzle.
Connecting ideas learned in different courses is a form of synthesis, such as inte-
grating ethical concepts learned in a philosophy course with marketing concepts
learned in a business course to construct a set of ethical guidelines for marketing
and advertising products.

”“Integration of learning is the ability to connect information from disparate contexts and perspectives . . . to connect one field of study with another, the
past with the present, one part
with the whole—and vice versa.
—Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts

Although synthesis and analysis are seemingly opposite thought processes, they
actually complement one another. Analysis enables you to disassemble information
into its key parts; synthesis allows you to reassemble those key parts into a whole.
For instance, when writing this book, the authors analyzed published material in
many fields (e.g., psychology, history, philosophy, and biology) to detect pieces of
information in these fields that were most relevant to promoting the success of col-
lege students. These pieces of information were then synthesized or reassembled
into a whole—the textbook you’re now reading.

Synthesis is not just a summary of ideas produced by someone else; it’s a thought process that
integrates isolated pieces of information to generate a comprehensive product of your own.

Application (Applied Thinking)
When you learn something deeply, you transform information into knowledge. If
you then take that knowledge and transform it into practice, you’re engaging in a
higher-level thinking process known as application. This is a powerful form of higher-
level thinking that allows you to take knowledge, transfer it to real-life situations, and
put it to practical use. For instance, students would be engaging in application if they
take knowledge acquired in an accounting course to help them manage their personal
finances, or if they take knowledge acquired about social and emotional intelligence
in chapter 9 of this book to improve their interpersonal relationships.

Always be on the lookout for ways to act on the knowledge you acquire and be
ready to apply it to better yourself and the world around you. When you use knowl-
edge to improve the quality of your life or the life of others, you’re not only engaging
in application, you’re also exhibiting an admirable character trait known as wisdom.

”“As gold which he cannot spend will make no man rich, so knowledge which he cannot apply will make no man wise.—Dr. Samuel Johnson, famous English
literary figure and original author of the
Dictionary of the English Language

Multidimensional Thinking
When you view yourself and the world around you from different perspectives or
vantage points, you’re engaging in multidimensional thinking. Multidimensional

170 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

thinkers are able to think from the following four key perspectives and see how
each of them influences, and is influenced by, the issue they’re examining. “To me, thinking at a higher level is when you approach a question or topic thought-fully, when you fully explore

every aspect of that topic
from all angles.”
—First-year college student

1. Perspective of Person (Self): How does this issue affect individuals on a per-
sonal basis?

2. Perspective of Place: What impact does this issue have on people living in dif-
ferent regions of the country or nations of the world?

3. Perspective of Time: How will future generations of people be affected by
this issue?

4. Perspective of Culture: How is this issue likely to be interpreted or experi-
enced by groups of people with different social customs and traditions? (the
perspective of culture)

Understanding complex issues requires understanding how they are embedded
in and influenced by multiple elements that make up a larger, interconnected sys-
tem. For example, global warming (climate change) is an issue that involves the
gradual thickening and trapping of heat in the earth’s atmosphere, due to a buildup
of gases generated by humans burning fossil fuels for industrial purposes. The con-
sensus among today’s scientists is that this buildup of human-made pollution is
causing temperatures to rise (and sometimes fall) around the world, resulting in
more extreme weather conditions and more frequent natural disasters—such as
droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and dust storms. As depicted in Box 8.2, under-
standing and addressing the issue of climate change requires understanding interre-
lationships among the perspectives of person, place, time, and culture.

Box 8.2
Understanding Climate Change from Four
Key Perspectives

Addressing the issue of climate change involves humans
at a personal level because individual efforts to conserve
energy in their homes and their willingness to purchase
energy-efficient products.

Climate change is an international phenomenon that
extends beyond the boundaries of any one country; it
affects all countries and its solution requires the concerted
effort of different nations around the world to reduce their
level of carbon emissions.

If the current trend toward increased global warming isn’t
addressed soon, it could seriously threaten the lives of
future generations of humans.

Industries in technologically and industrially advanced
cultures are primarily responsible for contributing to the
problem of climate change. However, the adverse effects of
climate change are likely to be worse for less technologi-
cally advanced cultures because they lack the resources to
respond to it. Industrially advanced cultures will need to
use their advanced resources and technology to devise
alternative methods for generating energy in ways that
reduce the risk of global warming for all cultures.

Reflection 8.4

Think of a current national or international issue (other than climate change) whose
solution requires multiple perspective-taking or multidimensional thinking.

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 171

Balanced Thinking
When you seek out and carefully consider arguments for and against a particular po-
sition, you’re engaging in balanced thinking. If you gather supporting evidence or
arguments for a position, you’re engage in a mental process called adduction—when
you adduce, you identify reasons for a position. In contrast, refutation is the process
of finding sources of evidence or arguments that fail to support a position; when
you refute, you provide reasons against a particular position.

The goal of a balanced thinker is not to stack up evidence for one position or
the other but to be an impartial judge who weighs both supporting and opposing
evidence on both sides of an issue, striving to reach a reasoned conclusion that is
neither biased nor one-sided. When you consider the strengths and weaknesses of
opposing arguments at the same time, it reduces the likelihood that you’ll fall prey
to an overly simplistic form of thinking that’s typical of many first-year students—
dualistic thinking—thinking that “truth” comes in the form of clear-cut, black-or-
white answers or solutions, with one position or theory being “right” and all others
being “wrong.”

”“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, regarded as one of
the greatest American writers of the
20th century

Don’t be surprised or frustrated if you find scholars disagreeing about what po-
sitions and theories are more accurate or account for most of the “truth” in their
field. Such disagreement represents a constructive thought process known as dialec-
tic or dialogic thinking (deriving from the root “dialogue” or “conversation”). It’s a
productive form of intellectual dialogue that acknowledges different sides of a com-
plex issue and results in a more balanced, integrated understanding of it. In a study
of leaders who excel in the field of business, it was discovered that one of their dis-
tinguishing qualities was their capacity for “integrative thinking”—the ability to
hold opposing or conflicting ideas in their head and use that tension to create a new
and superior idea—much like how humans use their opposable thumbs to excel at
manual tasks.

”“[Successful] business leaders have the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads. And then, without panicking or settling for one
alternative or the other, they’re
able to produce a synthesis
that is superior to either
opposing idea.
—Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman
School of Management, University of

The first step to take when solving problems or seeking the truth is not to im-
mediately and boldly jump in and take an either-or (for-or-against) position. In-
stead, take a cautious and balanced approach in which you (a) carefully and equally
examine arguments for and against each position, (b) acknowledge the strengths
and weaknesses of both positions, and (c) seek to integrate the strongest points of
each position.

Lastly, balanced thinking involves more than just totaling the number of
arguments for and against a position; it also involves weighing the strength of each
argument. Arguments can vary in terms of their degree of importance or level of
support. When weighing an argument, ask yourself, “What is the quality and quan-
tity of evidence supporting it?” Consider whether the evidence is:

” “Listening well is as importantto critical thinking as contributing brilliantly.—Stephen Brookfield, in Developing Critical Thinkers
1. Definitive—so strong or compelling that a definite conclusion should be

2. Suggestive—strong enough to suggest that a tentative or possible conclusion

may be reached
3. Inconclusive—too weak to reach any conclusion.

When making class presentations and writing papers or reports, be mindful of
how much weight should be assigned to different arguments and explain how their
weight has been factored into your conclusion.

In some cases, after reviewing both supporting and contradictory evidence for
different positions, balanced thinking may lead you to suspend judgment and with-
hold drawing a conclusion that favors one position over another. A balanced thinker
may occasionally conclude that the evidence doesn’t strongly favor a particular

172 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

position, or additional information is needed before a final judgment or firm con-
clusion can be drawn. These aren’t wishy-washy answers; they are legitimate con-
clusions to reach after all the evidence has been carefully considered and weighed.
In fact, it’s better to be undecided based on an informed and balanced viewpoint
than to be decided based on an uninformed or biased viewpoint.

“For years I really didn’t know what I believed. I always seemed to stand in the no man’s land between
opposing arguments,
yearning to be won over by
one side or the other but
finding instead degrees of
merit in both. But in time I
came to accept, even
embrace, what I called “my
confusion” and to recognize
it as a friend and ally, with no
apologies needed.”
—“In Praise of the ‘Wobblies’” by Ted
Gup, journalist, who has written for
Time Magazine, National
Geographic, and The New York Times

If you find that the more you learn, the more complicated things seem to be,
that’s good news. It means you’re moving from simplistic to complex thinking that
is becoming more nuanced and balanced.

Reflection 8.5

Consider the following positions:

1. Course requirements should be eliminated; college students should be allowed to
choose the classes they want to take for their degree.

2. Course grades should be eliminated; college students should take classes on a
pass–fail basis.

Using balanced thinking, identify one argument for and against each of these two

“The more you know, the less sure you are.”—Voltaire, French historian, philosopher, and advocate for civil

Critical Thinking (Evaluation)
When you evaluate or judge the quality of an argument or work product, you are en-
gaging in a form of higher-level thinking known as critical thinking. This thinking
skill is highly valued by professors teaching all subjects in the college curriculum
and is expected of students at all stages of the college experience. Thus, by develop-
ing your critical thinking skills as a first-year student, you will improve your aca-
demic performance across the curriculum and throughout your time in college.

Many students misinterpret critical thinking to mean “being critical”—criticizing
something or somebody in a negative way. Although critical thinking does involve
making critical judgments, those judgments can be either positive or negative—
similar to how a film critic can give a good (thumbs up) or bad (thumbs down) re-
view of a movie. Whether the judgment is positive or negative (or some combination
thereof), critical thinking involves backing up the judgment with specific, well-in-
formed reasons and evidence to support it. Failure to do so makes it an unfounded
criticism—a criticism that lacks a solid foundation or basis of support.

“Critical thinking is an evaluative thought process that requires deep thinking.”—First-year college student
You can start developing higher-level critical thinking skills by using the follow-

ing criteria as standards for evaluating an idea or argument:

1. Validity (Truthfulness): Is it logically sound or evidence-based?
2. Morality (Ethics): Is it fair or just?
3. Beauty (Aesthetics): Does it have artistic merit or value?
4. Practicality (Usefulness): Can it be used for beneficial purposes?
5. Priority (How it Ranks in Terms of Importance or Effectiveness): Is it bet-

ter than other ideas or courses of action?

Critical Thinking and Inferential Reasoning
When making arguments and drawing conclusions, we use a mental process called
inferential reasoning. We start with a premise (a statement or observation) and use it

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 173

to infer (step to) a conclusion. Inferential reasoning is used to reach conclusions
through use of (a) logic or (b) empirical (observable) evidence.

1. Logic. Reaching a conclusion by showing that it logically follows from, or is
logically consistent with, an established premise. In other words, if statement
“A” is true, it can be concluded that statement “B” must be true.
For example:
Statement A. The constitution guarantees all American citizens the right to

vote. (Premise)
Statement B. Women and people of color are American citizens, therefore,

they should have the right to vote. (Conclusion)

2. Empirical (observable) evidence. Reaching a conclusion by showing that it is
supported with statistical data or research findings. In other words, based on
evidence “A,” it can be concluded that “B” is true.
For example:
Statement A. Statistics show that a much higher percentage of people who

smoke experience cancer and heart disease than non-
smokers. (Premise)

Statement B. Based on statistical evidence, smoking is a major health risk.

Logical reasoning and empirical evidence are different routes through which
conclusions are reached (inferred), but these two routes can be combined to make a
stronger case for the same conclusion. For instance, those who argue that the legal
drinking age should be lowered to 18 have used the following forms of logical rea-
soning and empirical evidence to support their position:

1. Logical reasoning: 18-year-olds in the United States are considered to be legal
adults with respect to such rights and responsibilities as voting, serving on ju-
ries, joining the military, and being held responsible for committing crimes;
therefore, 18-year-olds should have the right to drink.

2. Empirical evidence: In other countries where drinking is allowed at age 18,
statistics show that they have fewer binge-drinking and drunk-driving problems
than the United States.

Reflection 8.6

Can you think of arguments against lowering the drinking age to 18 that are based on
logical reasoning and/or empirical evidence?

Inferential reasoning based on logic and empirical evidence is the primary
thought processes that humans use to reach conclusions about themselves and the
world around them. You will also use this form of thinking to make arguments and
reach conclusions in your college courses because you will often be required to take
positions and support them with sound reasoning and solid evidence.

Logical Fallacies: Inferential Reasoning Errors
Errors can be made in the process of inferential reasoning; these errors are com-
monly referred to as logical fallacies. Listed below is a summary of the major types of

174 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

logical fallacies. Be mindful of these slips in reasoning and when evaluating your
own thinking and the thinking of others. As you read through the following infer-
ential reasoning errors, note in the margin whether you have ever witnessed it or
committed it.

• Non sequitur. Drawing a conclusion that does not necessarily follow from or
connect with the premise—the initial statement or observation. (“Non sequi-
tur” derives from Latin, which literally means, “it does not follow.”) Example:
There was a bloody glove found at the murder scene and it doesn’t fit the de-
fendant, therefore the defendant must be innocent.

• Selective Perception. Seeing only examples and instances that support one’s
position while overlooking or ignoring those that contradict it. Example: Be-
lievers of astrology who only notice people whose personalities happen to fit
their astrological sign, but overlook those who do not.

“A very bad (and all too common) way to misread a newspaper: To see whatever supports your point of view
as fact, and anything that
contradicts your point of
view as bias.”
—Daniel Okrent, first public editor of
The New York Times

• Dogmatism. Stubbornly clinging to a personal point of view that’s unsup-
ported by evidence while remaining closed-minded (nonreceptive) to other
viewpoints that are better supported by evidence. Example: Arguing that adopt-
ing a national health system is a form of socialism which cannot or will not
work in a capitalistic economy, while ignoring the fact that there are other na-
tions in the world that have both a national health care system and a capitalistic

• Double Standard. Using two sets of critical thinking standards—a higher stan-
dard for judging the ideas of others and a lower standard for judging one’s own
ideas. Example: Looking for the flaws in others’ arguments and challenging
their opinions, but not applying the same critical thinking process to our own
arguments and opinions.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”—Aldous Huxley, English writer and author of Brave New World
• Wishful Thinking. Thinking that something is true, not based on logic or evi-

dence, but because it’s the way we want it to be. Example: A teenage girl who
believes she will not become pregnant, despite that fact that she and her boy-
friend are having sex regularly without any form of contraception.

• Hasty Generalization (a.k.a. “Cherry-Picking”). Reaching a general conclu-
sion by picking out a limited number of examples or cases to support it. Exam-
ple: Concluding that members of a racial or ethnic group are all “that way”
based on just a few instances.

“Belief can be produced in practically unlimited quantity and intensity, without observation or
reasoning, and even in
defiance of both by the
simple desire to believe.”
—George Bernard Shaw, Irish
playwright and Nobel Prize winner
for literature

• Jumping to a Conclusion. Immediately leaping to a conclusion without taking
time to consider other reasons or explanations. Example: A shy person immedi-
ately concludes that someone doesn’t like her because that person didn’t make
eye contact with her, without considering the possibility that the other person’s
lack of eye contact may be the result of his being distracted or shy as well.

• False Cause and Effect (a.k.a. Correlational Error). Concluding that if two
things co-occur at about the same time or in close sequence, one must cause the
other. Example: Concluding that schizophrenia is caused by drug use because
schizophrenics are more likely to use drugs than non-schizophrenics, but failing
to consider that schizophrenia is a mentally illness whose victims is not caused by
using drugs, but the result of using drugs to help them cope with their symptoms.

• False Analogy (a.k.a. False Equivalency). Concluding that because two
things are alike in one respect, they must be alike in another respect. This is the
classic “comparing apples with oranges” error—both alike in that they are fruits
but they’re unalike in other ways. Example: People who argue that government
is a form of business, therefore it should be run like a business or run by busi-
nessmen. Although it’s true that government and business are societal institu-
tions that have some similarities (e.g., budgets and payrolls), they are also dif-

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 175

ferent: the primary purpose of government is to serve and safeguard citizens;
the primary purpose of business is to serve customers and create profit.

• Glittering Generality. Making a positive, general statement that is not backed
up by specific details or evidence. Example: A letter of recommendation that
describes the recommended person as “very intelligent” and having a “great
personality,” but provides little or no evidence to support of these claims.

• Straw Man Argument. Distorting or misrepresenting an opposing argument
or position and then attacking it. Example: Criticizing a politician’s bill as an at-
tempt to abolish Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms (own guns)
when, in fact, the bill only calls for a ban on high-powered military assault

• Ad Hominem Argument. Attacking the person, not the person’s argument.
(Literally translated, ad hominem means “to the man.”) Example: Discounting
a young person’s argument by saying: “you’re too young and inexperienced to
know what you’re talking about,” or discounting an older person’s argument by
stating: “you’re too old-school to understand this issue.”

• Red Herring. Bringing up an irrelevant point that draws attention away from
the real issue being discussed or debated. (The term “red herring” derives from
an old practice of dragging a herring—a strong-smelling fish—across a trail to
distract the scent of pursuing dogs.) Example: People who responded to criti-
cism of former President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scan-
dal by arguing, “He was a good president who accomplished many great things
while he was in office.” (Nixon’s effectiveness as a president is an irrelevant
point or red herring; the real issue under discussion is Nixon’s behavior in the
Watergate scandal.)

• Smoke Screen. Intentionally disguising or camouflaging the truth by providing
confusing or misleading explanations. Example: A politician opposes putting lim-
its on prescription drug prices by arguing that it interferes with America’s system
of free enterprise when the reason for this position is that he or she is receiving
campaign funds from drug manufacturing companies.

• Slippery Slope. Using fear tactics to argue that not accepting a position will re-
sult in a “domino effect”—one bad thing happening after another—like a series
of falling dominoes. Example: Arguing that “if America does not intervene mil-
itarily in Vietnam to stop communism, it will spread to other countries and,
eventually, to America.”

• Rhetorical Deception. Using slick fast-talk or deceptive language to conclude
that something is true without providing reasons or evidence. Example: Using
glib expressions like, “Clearly this is . . .”, “It’s obvious that . . .”, or “Any reason-
able person can see . . .” without explaining why it’s so “clear”, “obvious”, or

• Circular Reasoning (a.k.a. “Begging the Question”). Drawing a conclusion
by circling back to the premise and restating it—in other words, saying some-
thing is true because it is true. Example: Concluding that “stem cell research is
unethical because it’s morally wrong.”

• Appealing to Authority or Prestige. Concluding that if an authority figure or
celebrity says it’s true, it must be true. Example: Believing that Product X
should be bought simply because a famous actor or athlete endorses it. Or, con-
cluding that a course of action should be taken simply because the president
says it should be taken.

• Appealing to Tradition or Familiarity. Concluding that if something has
been considered to be true for a long time, or has always been done in a certain
way, it must be true or be the best way to do it. Example: “Throughout history,

176 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

marriage has been a relationship between a man and a woman; therefore, gay
marriage should be illegal.”

• Appealing to Popularity or to the Majority (a.k.a. Jumping on the Band-
wagon). Concluding that if an idea is popular or held by the majority of people,
it must be true. Example: “So many people believe in psychics, it must be true;
they can’t all be wrong.”

• Appealing to Emotion. Concluding that something is true based on how pas-
sionately or emotionally it’s stated rather than on the quality of reasoning be-
hind the statement. Example: “He must be telling the truth because he denied
the allegation so intensely and forcefully.”

“Political talk shows have become shouting matches designed to push emotional hot buttons and drive us
further apart. We desperately
need to exchange ideas with
one another rationally and
—David Boren, President, University
of Oklahoma, and longest-serving
chairman of the U.S. Senate
Intelligence Committee

Reflection 8.7

Glance back at the reasoning errors just discussed. Identify two that you have wit-
nessed or experienced. What were the situations in which these errors took place? Why
do you think they took place?

(Check the results of your AchieveWORKS Learning and Productivity Report and your
Personality assessment report and review the personalized strategies suggested to you
for becoming a more successful learner. Have you tried these strategies or plan to try
them? If not, analyze your reasons. Can you identify any logical fallacies in your

“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”—John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S.

When I teach classes and give workshops, I often challenge students and participants to
debate me on political issues. I ask them to identify their political party affiliation for a
debate topic, or their position on a social issue for which there are different political
viewpoints. The ground rules are as follows: They choose the topic for debate; they can
only use facts to support their argument, rebuttal, or both; and they must respond in a ra-
tional manner, without letting emotions drive their answers.

When I conduct this exercise, I usually discover that the topics people feel most
strongly about are often those they haven’t critically evaluated. For instance, people say
they are Democrat, Republican, independent, and so on, and argue from these posi-
tions; however, few of them have taken the time to critically examine whether their
stated political affiliation is actually consistent with their personal viewpoints. They al-
most always answer “no” to the following questions: “Have you read the core document
(e.g., party platform) that outlines the party stance?” and “Have you engaged in self-
examination of your party affiliation through reasoned discussions with others who say
they have the same or different political affiliations?”

—Aaron Thompson

Creative Thinking
When you generate something new or different—an original idea, strategy, or work
product—you’re engaging in creative thinking. Creative thinking leads you to ask
the question: “Why not?” (e.g., “Why not do it a different way?”).“All thinking begins with wonder.”—Socrates, classic Greek (Athenian) philosopher and founding father of

Western philosophy The process of creative thinking may be viewed as an extended or more advanced
form of synthesis. Similar to synthesis, creative thinking involves connecting differ-
ent ideas, but they’re connected or combined in a way that results in something that’s
unique or distinctively different. For instance, the musical genre of hard rock was

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 177

created by combining elements of blues and rock and roll, and folk rock was born
when Bob Dylan combined musical elements of acoustic blues and amplified rock. In
the film, “Flash of Genius” (based on a true story), Robert Kearns combined preex-
isting mechanical parts to create the intermittent windshield wiper.

”“The blues are the roots. Everything else are the fruits.—Willie Dixon, blues songwriter; commenting on how virtually all forms of contemporary American music
contain elements of blues music, which
originated among African American

Keep in mind that creative thinking is not restricted to the arts; it occurs in all
subject areas—even in fields that seek precise and definitive answers. In math, cre-
ative thinking is used when new approaches or strategies are used to arrive at a cor-
rect solution to a problem. In science, creativity takes place when a scientist first uses
imaginative thinking to create a hypothesis or logical hunch (“What might happen
if . . . ?”) and then tests this hypothesis by conducting an experiment to confirm
whether the hypothesis is true. ”“Imagination should give wings to our thoughts, but imagination must be checked and documented by the factual results of the experiment.

—Louis Pasteur, French microbiologist,
chemist, and founder of pasteurization
(a method for preventing milk and wine
from going sour)

It could be said that thinking critically involves looking “inside the box” to
evaluate the quality of its content. Thinking creatively involves looking “outside
the box” to imagine new packages with different content. Creative and critical
thinking are two of the most important forms of higher-level thinking and they
often work together in a reciprocal and complementary fashion. Creative thinking
is used to ask new questions and generate new ideas; critical thinking is used to
evaluate or critique new ideas that are generated. If our evaluation (critique) of
what’s been created reveals that it lacks quality, we shift back to creative thinking to
generate something new and improved. For an idea to be truly creative, it must not
be just different or unusual, it must also be effective or significant. ”“Creativity isn’t ‘crazytivity’.—Edward De Bono, internationally known authority on creative thinkingThe starting point for the complementary processes of creative and criticalthinking can also be reversed, whereby we start by using critical thinking to evalu-ate an established idea or approach. If our evaluation indicates that this idea or ap-
proach should be improved, we turn to creative thinking to come up with a new
idea or different approach, and then we turn back to critical thinking to evaluate the
quality of the new idea we created.

Brainstorming is a problem-solving process that illustrates how creative and
critical thinking work hand-in-hand. The steps involved in the process of brain-
storming are summarized in Box 8.3. This process can be engaged in alone or with

Box 8.3
The Process of Brainstorming

Key Steps:
1. Generate as many possible ideas as you can and jot

them down as soon as they come to mind. At this stage,
just let your imagination run wild; don’t be concerned
about whether the idea you generate is impractical,
unrealistic, or outrageous. Studies show that initial
concerns about whether ideas will work often blocks our
ability to create ideas that have the potential to work.

2. Review the ideas you generated and use them as a
springboard to trigger additional ideas.

3. After you run out of ideas, reflect on and critically
evaluate the ones listed and eliminate those that you
think are least effective or useful.

4. From the remaining list of ideas, choose the best idea
or best combination of ideas.

Note that the first two steps in the brainstorming process
involve divergent thinking—a form of creative thinking in
which you go off in different directions to generate diverse
ideas. In contrast, the last two steps in the process involve
convergent thinking—a form of critical thinking in which
you converge (focus in) and narrow down the ideas you’ve
generated, evaluating each of them for their effectiveness.

As this 4-step process suggests, creativity doesn’t just
happen suddenly or effortlessly (the so-called “stroke of
genius”); instead, it takes sustained mental effort and
thoughtful review. Although creative thinking may
occasionally involve spontaneous or intuitive leaps, it
typically involves careful reflection and evaluation to
determine if any of those leaps actually land us on an
innovative and effective idea.

178 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

I was once working with a friend to come up with ideas for a grant proposal. We started
out by sitting at his kitchen table, exchanging ideas while sipping coffee; then we both
got up and began to pace back and forth, walking all around the room and bouncing dif-
ferent ideas off each other. Whenever one of us came up with an idea, the other would jot
it down (whoever was pacing closer to the kitchen table at the moment).

After we ran out of ideas, we shifted gears, slowed down, and sat down at the table to-
gether to critique the ideas we generated during our “binge-thinking” episode. After
some debate, we finally settled on an idea that we judged to be the best of all the ideas we
generated, and we used this idea for the grant—which, fortunately, was awarded to us.
Although I wasn’t fully aware of it at the time, the stimulating thought process my friend
and I were engaging in was called brainstorming: first we engaged in creative thinking—a
fast-paced, idea-production stage; then followed it with critical thinking—a slower-
paced, idea-evaluation stage.

—Joe Cuseo

Creative thinking and critical thinking go hand-in hand. We use the former to generate new
ideas and the latter to evaluate the quality of the new ideas we generate. “Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes; art is knowing which ones to keep.”

— Scott Adams, creator of the
Dilbert comic strip and author of The
Dilbert Principle

Strategies for Stimulating Creative Thinking
In addition to brainstorming, creative thinking can be stimulated by adopting the
following attitudes and practices.

• Be flexible. Think about ideas and objects in alternative and unconventional
ways. The power of flexible and unconventional thinking was well illustrated in
the movie Apollo 13, a true story about astronauts whose lives were saved by the
creative use of duct tape as an air filter. Flexible thinking was also used by Jo-
hannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, who made his ground-
breaking discovery while watching a machine being used to press (crush) grapes
at a wine harvest. He thought that the same type of machine could be used for a
different purpose—to press letters onto paper.

• Be experimental. Play with ideas; try them out to see whether they’ll work or
work better than the status quo. Studies show that creative people are mental
risk-takers who experiment with different ideas and techniques. When we cling
rigidly to what’s conventional or traditional, we’re clinging to the comfort or
security, familiarity, and predictability; this often blocks originality, ingenuity,
and openness to change. Tom Kelley, cofounder of the famous IDEO
design firm in Palo Alto, California, has found that innovative thinking emerges
from an exploratory mindset that’s “open to new insights every day.” So, be ex-
ploratory! Step beyond the comfort zone of the familiar, traditional, and

• Get mobile. Stand up and move around while you’re thinking. Research shows
that taking a walk (inside or outside) stimulates the production of creative ideas.
Even just by standing up, the human brain gets approximately 10% more oxy-
gen than it does when sitting down. Because oxygen provides fuel for the brain,
our ability to think creatively is enhanced when we’re up on our feet and mov-
ing around.

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 179

• Get it down. Creative ideas can suddenly come to mind at the most unex-
pected times—a process that creativity researchers refer to as incubation. Similar
to how incubated eggs can hatch at any time, so too can our thoughts hatch and
give birth to original ideas. However, just as suddenly as these innovative ideas
slip into our mind, they can just as quickly slip out of our mind as soon as we
start thinking about or doing something else. You can prevent this mental slip-
page from happening by having the right equipment on hand to record your
creative ideas before you forget them. Carry a pen and a small notepad, a packet
of sticky notes, or a portable electronic recording device at all times to immedi-
ately record original ideas the instant you have them.

• Get diverse. Seek ideas from a variety of social and informational sources.
Bouncing ideas off different people and getting feedback from them about your
ideas is a good way to generate mental energy, synergy (multiplication of ideas),
and serendipity (accidental discoveries). Studies show that creative people ven-
ture beyond the boundaries of their area of training or specialization. They
have wide-ranging interests and a broad knowledge base, which they draw upon
and combine to generate new ideas. Be on the lookout to combine the knowl-
edge you acquire from different subjects and different people, and use it to
build bridges to new ideas.

”“I make progress by having people around who are smarter than I am—and listening to them. And I assume that everyone is smarter about
something than I am.
—Henry Kaiser, successful industrialist,
known as the father of American

• Take a break. If you’re having trouble discovering a solution to a problem,
stop working on it for a while and come back to it later. Creative solutions often
come to mind after you take your mind off the problem you’re trying to solve.
When you work intensely on a problem or challenging task for a sustained pe-
riod of time, your attention can get rigidly riveted on just one approach to its
solution. By taking your mind off the problem and returning to it later, you al-
low your attention to shift to a different feature or aspect of the problem. This
new focus point puts you in a position to view it from a different angle or van-
tage point, enabling you to see a solution that you may not have seen before.
Taking a break from the problem and coming back to it later also allows the
problem to incubate in your mind at a lower level of consciousness (and at a
lower level of stress), which can give birth to a sudden solution.

”“Eureka! (literally translated: “I have found it!”)—Attributed to Archimedes, ancient Greek mathematician and inventor when he suddenly discovered (while
sitting in a bathtub) how to measure
the purity of gold

• Reorganize the problem. When you’re stuck on a problem, try rearranging
its parts or pieces. Reorganization can transform the problem into a different
pattern and enable you to suddenly see a solution that you previously
overlooked—similar to how changing the order of letters in a word jumble can
help you find the hidden word. You can use the same strategy to change the
wording of any problem you’re working on, or you can record ideas on differ-
ent index cards and arrange them in different sequences. Sticky notes (a.k.a.
post-it notes) are ideal for this purpose. You can post them on almost anything,
remove them from where they were stuck (without a mess), and rearrange them
in any sequence or pattern you’d like.

”“Creativity consists largely of re-arranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.—George Keller, prolific American
architect and originator of the Union
Station design for elevated train

If you’re having trouble solving a problem that involves a sequence of steps
(e.g., a math problem), try reversing the sequence and start working from the
end or the middle. The new sequence enables you to come at the problem from
a different direction and may provide an alternative path to its solution.

• Be persistent. Creativity takes time, dedication, and hard work. Studies of cre-
ative people indicate that innovative insights typically don’t occur effortlessly,
but emerge from sustained effort and ongoing commitment. In a survey of
more than 140 creativity researchers, the personal attribute they rated number
one in importance for creative achievement was perseverance and resilience.

”“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.—Thomas Edison, scientist and creator of more than 1,000 inventions, including the light bulb, phonograph, and motion
picture camera

180 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

Reflection 8.8

Do you consider yourself to be a creative thinker? (Why or why not?)

What could you do to enhance your ability to think creatively?

Using Higher-Level Thinking Skills to Improve Academic
Performance in College
Thus far, this chapter has focused primarily on helping you get a clear idea of what
higher-level thinking is and what its major benefits are. What follows are strategies
for developing habits of higher-level thinking that you can apply to improve your
performance in college (and beyond).

Connect ideas you acquire in class with related ideas found in your assigned
reading. When you discover information in your reading that relates to something
you’ve learned in class (or vice versa), make a note of it in the margin of your text-
book or your class notebook. By integrating knowledge from these major sources,
you’re engaging in the higher-level thinking skill of synthesis. You can then use the
information you synthesized on exams and assignments to improve your course

When listening to lectures and completing reading assignments, pay atten-
tion not only to the content being covered but also the thought process used
by the professors and authors. Ask yourself what forms of higher-level thinking
they are using. The more observant you are about the type of higher-level thinking
skills that scholars are modeling for you, the more likely you are to emulate those
thinking skills and demonstrate them on your exams and assignments.

Pause periodically to think about how you are thinking. When you’re working
on academic tasks, be mindful of the type of thinking you’re engaging in (e.g., anal-
ysis, synthesis, or evaluation). Thinking about and becoming more aware of how
you’re thinking is a mental process called metacognition. It’s a process that has been
found to strengthen higher-level thinking and problem-solving.

A simple but powerful way to develop higher-level thinking skills is by asking
yourself questions that prompt you to reflect on your thinking. Because thinking
often involves silent self-talk, if you can get in the habit of asking yourself questions
that call for higher-level thinking, you can begin training your mind to think at a
higher level. You can then routinely apply these questions to the material you’re
learning in college to demonstrate higher levels of thinking on your exams and as-
signments, and earn higher grades in your courses.

Box 8.4 contains key questions you can use of yourself to trigger different
forms of higher-level thinking. The questions are constructed as incomplete sen-
tences so you can fill in the blank with any topic or concept you may be studying in
any course you may be taking. Research indicates that when students get in the
habit of using question stems such as these, they get in the habit of engaging in and
demonstrating the higher levels of thinking called for by these questions. As you
read the questions in the following box, think about how these questions may be
applied to material you’re learning in courses this term.

“If you do not ask the right questions, you do not get the right answers.” —Edward Hodnett, British poet

Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking 181

Box 8.4
Questions You Can Ask Yourself to Develop
Multiple Forms of Higher-Level Thinking

down information into its essential elements or parts.
* What are the main ideas contained in ______?
* What are the key issues raised by ______?
* What hidden assumptions or values are embedded

within ______?
* What are the reasons behind ______?
* What are the underlying causes of ____?
* How are the ideas contained in _____similar to or

different than ____?
* How might this ____ be broken down into compo-

nent parts and addressed in a systematic, step-by-
step fashion?

* What additional information do I need to under-
stand or complete this ____?

2. SYNTHESIS—integrating separate pieces of informa-
tion into a more complete, coherent product or pattern.
* In what way(s) is this idea related to ____?
* How could these different ______ be grouped

together into a more general class or category?
* How can this idea be joined or connected with

______ to create a more comprehensive answer or

* How might these separate ______ be reorganized
or rearranged to get a more complete understand-
ing of the “big picture?”

knowledge for practical purposes to solve problems
and resolve issues.
* What purpose or function could ____ serve?
* What are the practical implications or conse-

quences of _____?
* How can ____ be used to improve or

* How might this theory or principle be applied to

* How could ______serve to prevent or eliminate


4. BALANCED THINKING—carefully considering
reasons for and against a particular position or
* What are the strengths (advantages) and weak-

nesses (disadvantages) of ______?

* What evidence supports and contradicts ______?
* What are the arguments for and against ______?
* What are the major costs and benefits of _____?
* What are the potential risks and rewards of _____?

ourselves and the world around us from multiple
angles or perspectives.
* What viewpoints need to be considered to get a

complete understanding of _____?
* What factors or variables combine to influence

* What aspects of personal development should be

considered when _____?
* How would people from different cultural back-

grounds interpret or react to ______?
* What dimensions of the self (personal develop-

ment) would be affected by ____?
* What dimensions of the world (global develop-

ment) would be influenced by ____?

6. CREATIVE THINKING—generating ideas that are
unique, original, or innovative.
* What would happen if ______?
* What could be invented to ______?
* What might be a different method for ______?
* What changes could be made to improve ______?
* What would be a novel approach to ______?
* What strategies have not yet been tried for solving

the problem of ___?
* What are alternative ways of looking at ______?

7. EVALUATION—critically judging the soundness of
arguments and evidence used to reach conclusions.
* What examples support the argument that

* What research evidence is there for ______?
* What statistical data document or back up this

* What assumptions are being made to reach the

conclusion that ____?
* If ____ is true, would it follow that ____ is also

* If people believe in ______, then actions or

practices consistent with this belief would be

* What criteria (standards) are being used to judge
the validity of ____?


182 Chapter 8 Higher-Level Thinking

* What criteria are being used to judge the ethicality
or morality of ____?

* What criteria are being used to evaluate the
aesthetic value (beauty) of ____?

Save these higher-level thinking questions and keep them
in mind when completing different academic tasks
required in your courses (e.g., preparing for exams,
writing papers or reports, and participating in class
discussions or study group sessions). Try to get in the

habit of periodically stepping back to reflect on your
thinking and think about the type of thinking you’re
engaging in (analysis, synthesis, application, etc.). You
could even keep a “thinking log” or “thinking journal” to
become more self-aware of the thinking strategies you’re
using and developing. This strategy will not only help you
acquire higher-level thinking skills for use in college, it
will also help you use these skills during job interviews
and in letters of application for career positions or
admission to graduate or professional schools.

Reflection 8.9

Look back at the higher-level thinking questions listed in Box 8.4. Identify one ques-
tion listed under each of the seven forms of thinking that could be asked about a
concept or issue being discussed in a course you’re taking this term.

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on the topics discussed in this chapter, see the following

Higher-Level Thinking Skills:

Critical Thinking:

Creative Thinking:

Thinking Errors:
your-mental-strength (site for evaluating the validity or factual accuracy of statements
made by politicians in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases)


Chapter 8 Exercises
8.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that were especially meaningful or inspirational to you.

For each of the quotes you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

8.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies for stimulating creative thinking on pp. 178-179. Select three strategies you think would be most
useful and intend to put into practice.

8.3 Reality Bite
Trick or Treat: “Confusing” Test or “Challenging” Test?
In Professor Plato’s philosophy course, students just had their first exam returned to them and they’re going over it in class.
Some students are angry because they feel the professor included “trick questions” on the test to intentionally confuse them.
Professor Plato responds by saying that his test questions were not designed to trick or confuse them but to “challenge them
to think.”

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. What do you think led some students to conclude that some of Professor Plato’s test questions were intentionally

designed to trick or confuse them?

2. When Professor Plato said that his test was designed to “challenge students to think,” what type of test questions do you
think he was referring to?

3. On future tests, what might the students do to reduce the likelihood that they’ll feel tricked or fooled again?

4. On future tests, what might Professor Plato do to reduce the likelihood that his students will complain about being
asked “trick questions”?

8.4 Faculty Interview
Make an appointment to visit a faculty member teaching a course you’re taking this term, or a faculty member in a field of
study that you’re thinking about pursuing as a college major. During your visit, ask the following questions:

1. In your field of study, what key questions do scholars ask?

2. What methods do scholars use to investigate and discover answers to the questions they ask?

3. How do scholars in your field demonstrate critical and creative thinking?

4. What types of thinking skills does it take for students to succeed and excel in your field?

8.5 Self-Assessing Personal Qualities Associated with Higher-Level Thinking
Higher-level thinking is not just a thought process, it’s also a personal attribute. Listed below are four key characteristics of
higher-level thinkers, accompanied by specific behaviors relating to each of these characteristics. As you read the behaviors
listed under each characteristic, place a checkmark (P) next to any behavior you think you already possess and an asterisk (*)
next to any behavior you think you need to acquire or develop.


1. Tolerant and Accepting

___ I don’t tune out ideas that conflict with my own.

___ I try to find common ground with others who hold viewpoints that differ from my own.

___ I keep my emotions under control when someone criticizes my viewpoint.

___ I feel comfortable discussing controversial issues.

2. Inquisitive and Open Minded

___ I’m eager to continue learning new things from different people and different experiences.

___ I’m willing to seek out others who hold viewpoints that differ from my own.

___ I find differences of opinion and opposing viewpoints to be interesting and stimulating.

___ I attempt to understand why people hold different opinions on the same issue.

3. Reflective and Tentative

___ I take time to consider all perspectives or sides of an issue before drawing conclusions, making choices, or reaching

___ I give fair consideration to ideas that others often instantly disapprove of or find distasteful.

___ I acknowledge the complexity, ambiguity, or uncertainty of certain issues, and am willing to say: “I need to give this
more thought” or “I need more information or evidence before I can draw a conclusion.”

___ I periodically reexamine my own opinions and positions to determine whether they should be maintained or

4. Honest and Courageous

___ I’m willing to honestly examine my viewpoints to see if they’re biased or prejudiced.

___ I’m willing to challenge others’ ideas that appear to be based on personal bias or prejudice.

___ I’m willing to express a personal viewpoint that may not conform with the majority’s viewpoint.

___ I’m willing to change my personal opinions or beliefs when they’re contradicted by new evidence.

Look back at the list and count the number of checkmarks and asterisks you placed under each of the four general areas:

Checkmarks Asterisks

Tolerant and Accepting ______ ______

Inquisitive and Open Minded ______ ______

Reflective and Tentative ______ ______

Honest and Courageous ______ ______

Reflection Questions
• Under which attribute did you place (a) the most checkmarks and (b) the most asterisks? What do you think accounts

for the difference?

• What could you do in college to strengthen your weakest area (the attribute under which you placed the most


8.6 Demonstrating Higher-Level Thinking in Your Courses
Look at the syllabus for three courses you’re enrolled in this term and find an assignment or exam that counts the most
toward your final course grade. For each of these courses, identify one of the following forms of higher-level thinking you
could demonstrate on that assignment or test:

1. Analysis (Analytical Thinking): Breaking down information into its essential elements or parts.

2. Synthesis (Integrative Thinking): Connecting separate pieces of information to form a more complete and coherent
product or pattern.

3. Application (Applied Thinking): Using knowledge for the practical purpose of solving a problem or resolving an issue.

4. Multidimensional Thinking: Thinking about yourself or the world around you from different angles or perspectives.

5. Balanced Thinking: Carefully considering reasons for and against a position or viewpoint.

6. Creative Thinking: Generating an idea that is unique, original, or innovative.

7. Evaluation: Critically judging the soundness of arguments and evidence used to arrive at a conclusion.

Course 1 exam or assignment: _________________________

Form of higher-level thinking I will demonstrate:

How I plan to demonstrate this form of thinking:

Course 2 exam or assignment: _________________________

Form of higher-level thinking I will demonstrate:

How I plan to demonstrate this form of thinking:

Course 3 exam or assignment: _________________________

Form of higher-level thinking I will demonstrate:

How I plan to demonstrate this form of thinking:



Social and Emotional Intelligence

Chapter Purpose & PreviewCommunicating and relating to others are important life skills and essential elements of “social
intelligence.” Similarly, being aware of, and being able to manage one’s own emotions and the
emotions of others are key life skills and critical components of “emotional intelligence.” This
chapter identifies specific ways in which social and emotional intelligence can be exhibited; it
also supplies you with interpersonal communication and human relations strategies to
promote positive relationships with others and enhance your leadership potential.

Learning GoalAcquire research-based strategies for strengthening listening and conversational skills,
emotional sensitivity, ability to resolve interpersonal conflict, and relate to others in a
positive and productive manner.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 9.1

When you hear the word “intelligence,” what characteristics come to mind?

The Importance of Social and Emotional Intelligence
If your answer to the previous question focused on “intellectual” characteristics,
your response reflected the traditional definition of intelligence. Human intelli-
gence was once considered to be a general intellectual trait that could be measured
by a single intelligence test (IQ). Scholars have since discovered that the singular
word “intelligence” is inaccurate and needs to be replaced with the plural “intelli-
gences” to reflect the fact that humans can and do display intelligence in multiple
forms that cannot be captured in a single test score. One of these multiple intelli-
gences is social intelligence (a.k.a. “interpersonal intelligence”)—the ability to com-
municate and relate effectively to others. It’s long been known that social intelli-
gence is essential for effective leadership and more recent research indicates that
it’s a better predictor of personal and professional success than intellectual ability.

”“Relationships are the key to leadership effectiveness . . . Leadership is inherently relational.—Komives, Lucas, & McMahon,
Exploring Leadership: For College
Students Who Want to Make a

Another recently recognized form of intelligence is emotional intelligence—the
ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, emotions of others, and be-
have in ways that have a positive impact on the emotions of others.

188 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

Similar to research findings on social intelligence, research on emotional intel-
ligence reveals that it’s a better predictor of personal and occupational success than
intellectual test scores. Research also shows that emotional self-awareness is a key
characteristic of effective leaders.

Listening: A Key Element of Social Intelligence
When people answer survey questions that ask them to identify what they like most
about their best friend, “good listener” ranks among the top characteristics cited.
Effective listening is also a key characteristic of effective problem solvers and ranks
among the top skills sought by employers when hiring and promoting employees.
Despite the well-documented power of listening, interpersonal communications
and human relations experts report that most people spend too much time talking
and not enough time listening. Listening well involves use of active listening strate-
gies, such as those discussed below.

“We have been given two ears and but a single mouth in order that we may hear more and talk less.”
—Zeno of Citium, ancient Greek

Active Listening Strategies
Humans can listen to and comprehend words spoken to them at a rate four times
faster than the rate at which words can be spoken. Consequently, when we listen to
others speak, there’s plenty of time for us to slip into passive listening—hearing the
words, but not really listening to those words—because our mind has wandered off
somewhere. Active listening is a communication skill that involves: (a) focusing our
full attention on the speaker’s message, as opposed to just waiting for our turn to
talk or thinking about what we’re going to say next; (b) being an empathic listener,
who pays close attention not only to the speaker’s spoken words but also to what
the speaker is communicating nonverbally; and (c) being an engaged listener who
expresses interest in the speaker, checks for understanding of the speaker’s words
and feelings, and encourages the speaker to elaborate.

By listening actively and empathically to others, and by giving their thoughts and feelings our
undivided attention, we send a clear and strong message that we respect them.

Active listening doesn’t happen automatically. It’s a skill developed through dis-
ciplined effort and deliberate practice that eventually becomes a natural habit. The
following practices may be used to develop the disciplined habit of active listening.

• When listening, monitor your understanding of what’s being said. Good lis-
teners take personal responsibility for following the speaker’s message. In con-
trast, poor listeners put all the responsibility on the speaker to make the message
clear and interesting. To check if you’re following the speaker’s message, particu-
larly if it’s a complex or emotionally sensitive message, occasionally paraphrase
what you hear the speaker saying in your own words (e.g., “Let me make sure I
understand . . .” or “What I hear you saying is . . .”). Such check-in statements
ensure that you’re following what’s being said; they also assure the speaker that
you’re listening closely to what’s being said and taking the message seriously.

• In addition to checking if you’re understanding what the speaker is saying,
check if you’re understanding what the speaker is feeling. Pay particularly
close attention to the speaker’s nonverbal messages—such as tone of voice and
body language—which often provide clues to the emotions behind the words.
For instance, if the person is speaking at a faster rate and at a higher volume than
usual, it may indicate that the person is experiencing frustration or anger; in con-

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 189

trast speaking at an uncharacteristically slower rate and at a lower volume may
indicate dejection or depression.

• Avoid the urge to interrupt the speaker when you think you have some-
thing important to say. Wait until the speaker has paused for a few seconds to
be sure that the person completed his or her train of thought.

• If the speaker pauses and you start to say something at the same time the
speaker starts speaking again, let the person continue before expressing
your thought. It’s more socially sensitive (and socially intelligent) to listen first
and speak second.

• If your questions are followed by periods of silence, don’t become uncom-
fortable and rush in to ask something else. Silence may simply mean that the
speaker is reflecting and taking time to formulate a thoughtful response.

• Be sure your listening “body language” sends a message to the speaker
that you’re interested and non-judgmental. It’s estimated that more than two-
thirds of all human communication is nonverbal and this form of communication
often sends a stronger and truer message than verbal communication. When a
speaker perceives inconsistency between a listener’s verbal and nonverbal mes-
sages (e.g., one signals interest, the other disinterest), the nonverbal message is
more likely to be perceived as the true message. Consequently, body language
may be the most powerful way a listener can communicate genuine interest in the
speaker’s message and convey respect for the speaker. (See Box 9.1 for effective
nonverbal messages to send while listening.)

• Be an open-minded listener. Avoid close-mindedness or selective listening—
selecting or tuning into only those stations that immediately capture your own
interests or reinforce your opinions, and tuning out or turning off everything
else. When others express ideas we don’t agree with, we still owe them the cour-
tesy of listening to what they have to say, rather than immediately shaking your
head, frowning, or interrupting them.

Ignoring or blocking out information and ideas about topics that we don’t im-
mediately find interesting or don’t support our viewpoint is not only a poor social
skill, it’s also a poor critical thinking skill because our thinking becomes deeper
and more complex when it’s challenged by exposure to topics and viewpoints that
don’t simply match or duplicate our own.

”“Listening well is as important to critical thinking as is contributing brilliantly.—Stephen Brookfield, author, Developing Critical Thinkers
Box 9.1
Nonverbal Signals Associated with Active
Good listeners listen with good listening body language;
they use their whole body to communicate to the speaker
they’re paying full attention to, and are fully interested in
what the speaker is saying. Communication experts have
created the acronym “SOFTEN” as a tool for summarizing
and remembering the key body-language signals that
should be sent while listening. Listed below are the
nonverbal signals represented by each letter of the
SOFTEN acronym.

S = Smile. Smiling sends signals of acceptance and
interest. However, it should be done periodically, not

continuously. (A continuous, non-stop smile can
come across as inauthentic or artificial.)
Sit Still. Fidgeting or squirming sends the message
that you’re bored or growing inpatient (and can’t wait
to get out of there).

O = Open Posture. Avoid closed-posture positions, such
as crossing your arms or folding your hands, these
nonverbal signals can send a message that you’re not
open to what the speaker is saying or passing
judgment on what’s being said.

F = Forward Lean. Leaning forward sends the message
that you’re looking forward to what the speaker is
going to say next. In contrast, leaning back can send
a signal that you’re backing off from (losing interest


190 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

in) what’s being said or, worse yet, that you’re
evaluating (psychoanalyzing) the speaker.
Face the Speaker Directly. Try to line up your
shoulders directly or squarely with the speaker’s
shoulders, as opposed to turning one shoulder toward
the speaker and one shoulder away, which may send
the message that you want to leave or are giving the
speaker the “cold shoulder.”

T = Touch. A light touch on the arm or hand occasionally,
particularly to reassure a person who’s speaking
about something they’re worried about or seem to be
uncomfortable about, can be a good way to commu-
nicate warmth and acceptance. However, touch
sparingly and make it more like a pat rather than a
sustained touch or stroke, which could be interpreted
as inappropriate intimacy (or sexual harassment).

E = Eye Contact. Lack of eye contact with the speaker can
send the message that you’re looking elsewhere to
find something more interesting or stimulating to do
than listening to what’s being said. However, eye
contact shouldn’t be continuous or relentless because
it borders on staring or glaring. Instead, strike a
happy medium by making periodic eye contact—
occasionally look away and then return your eye
contact to the speaker.

N = Nod Your Head. Nodding slowly and periodically
while listening sends the signal that you’re following
what’s being said and affirming the person saying it.
However, avoid rapid and repeated head nodding—
this may send a signal that you want the speaker to
hurry up so you can start talking or that you want to
end the conversation as soon as possible.

One way to gain greater awareness of your nonverbal communication habits is
by asking some people who know you well, and whose judgment you trust, to imi-
tate your body language. This exercise can be very revealing (and sometimes

Reflection 9.2

Are there any effective nonverbal-listening messages cited in Box 9.1 that you weren’t
already aware of, or that you think you need to work on? If yes, which one(s)?

Speaking and Conversational Skills
In addition to effective listening skills, social intelligence includes being skilled at
speaking and carrying on conversations with others. Listed below are strategies for
doing so. Some of these strategies may appear to be obvious or very fundamental,
but they’re also very powerful. Despite their simplicity, or perhaps because of it,
they’re often forgotten or overlooked.

Communicate your ideas precisely and concisely. When speaking, your objective
should be to get to the point, make your point, get off stage, and give someone
else a chance to speak. Nobody appreciates a “stage hog” who dominates the
conversation and gobbles up more than his or her fair share of talk time.

“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” —Top tip for public speakers offered by Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd
president of the United States and
noted orator

Our spoken messages become less time-consuming, less boring, and more to
the point when we avoid tangents, unnecessary details, and empty fillers—such
as: “like”, “kinda like”, “I mean”, “I’m all”, and “you know.” Such fillers simply
“fill up” time while adding nothing substantive or meaningful to the conversa-
tion. Excessive use of fillers can also cause the listener to lose attention to and in-
terest in what we’re saying.“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”—Chief Joseph, Leader of the Nez Percé, Native-American Indian tribe

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 191

Take time to gather your thoughts mentally before expressing them verbally. It’s
better to think about what we’re going to say before saying it than while we’re
saying it. Good conversationalists don’t make others listen to their thoughts
while they think through them; they give forethought to what they’re going to
say before speaking, so they’re able to speak more economically, minimize their
use of fillers, and open more time up for others to speak and be heard.

”“To talk without thinking is to shoot without aiming.—An old English proverb
Be comfortable with silent spells during conversations. Silent spots during con-
versations can sometimes cause us to feel uncomfortable (like standing close to a
stranger in an elevator). To relieve the discomfort of silence, it’s tempting to rush
in and say anything to get the conversation going again. This urge to break the
silence may be well intended, but it can result in something being said before or
without sufficient forethought. Often, it’s better to hold back words and think
them through before blurting them out and risk saying something thoughtless.

”“Silence is better than unmeaning words.— Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician
Silent spells during a conversation shouldn’t be automatically viewed as a “com-

munication breakdown.” Instead, they may indicate that the people involved in the
conversation are pausing to think deeply about they hear the other is saying and are
comfortable enough with one another to allow these reflective pauses to take place.

Reflection 9.3

Would you say that you’re a good conversationalist?

If yes, what makes you so?

If no, what prevents you from being one?

Interpersonal Relationship Skills (a.k.a. Human Relations Skills)
In addition to communicating effectively with others, interpersonal relationship
skills, also referred to as human relations skills, is another key component of social
intelligence. These skills involve relating harmoniously with others and building
positive relationships with them.

How can you help others view you as approachable and willing to form positive
and productive relationships with them? The first steps are knowing (and remem-
bering) who they are and showing interest in them. Listed below are specific strate-
gies for taking these steps.

Learn and remember names. When you know someone’s name and refer to that
person by name, you affirm the person’s individuality and uniqueness. You’ve prob-
ably heard people say they have a good memory for faces but not names, which im-
plies that they will never be good at remembering names. The truth is that the abil-
ity to remember names is not some kind of natural-born talent or inherited ability.
Instead, it’s a skill that’s developed through intentional effort and effective use of
memory-improvement strategies, such as those described below.
• When you meet someone, pay close attention to that person’s name when you

first hear it. The crucial initial step to remembering someone’s name is to get
the name into your brain in the first place. As obvious as this may seem, when
we first meet someone, instead of listening actively and carefully for the per-
son’s name, we’re often more concerned about the first impression we’re mak-
ing on that person after being introduced, or what we’re going to say to next

”“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name. The name sets that individual apart; it makes him or her unique among all others.
Remember that a person’s
name is to that person the
sweetest and most important
sound in any language.
—Dale Carnegie, author of the best-
selling book, How to Win Friends and
Influence People, and founder of The
Dale Carnegie Course—a worldwide
leadership training program for business

192 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

after being introduced. Consequently, we forget the name because we never did
get the name into our brain in the first place—because our mind was literally
“absent”—somewhere else.

• Strengthen your memory for a person’s name by saying the name soon after
you first hear it. For instance, if your friend Gertrude has just introduced you
to Geraldine, you might say: “Geraldine, how long have you known Ger-
trude?” When you state a person’s name shortly after first hearing it, you pre-
vent memory loss at the time when forgetting is most likely to take place—
during the first minutes after the brain takes in new information. There’s also
another benefit of saying the person’s name right after you’ve heard it: It makes
the person feel acknowledged and welcomed.

• Associate the person’s name with some other piece of information you’ve
learned or know about the person. For instance, you can associate the person’s
name with (a) some physical characteristic of the person (e.g., “tall Paul”), (b)
the place where you met, or (c) your first topic of conversation. By making a
mental connection between the person’s name and something else you know
about the person, you capitalize on the brain’s natural tendency to store (retain)
information as part of an interconnected network.

• Keep a name journal that includes the names of people you meet along with
some information about them (e.g., where you met, what you talked about, or
what their interests are). We write down and make lists of things we want to re-
member to do or to buy, so why not write down the names of people whose
names we want to remember?

“When I joined the bank, I started keeping a record of the people I met and put them on little cards, and I
would indicate on the cards
when I met them, and under
what circumstances, and
sometimes [make] a little
notation which would help
me remember a
—David Rockefeller, prominent
American banker, philanthropist,
and former CEO of the Chase
Manhattan Bank

Remembering names is not only a good way to make friends and improve your social life, it’s
also a professional skill for being successful in any career you choose to pursue.

Refer to people by name when you see them and interact with them. Once
you’ve learned someone’s name, be sure to refer that person by name during your
interactions. If you happen to see Waldo, saying “Hi, Waldo” will mean a lot more
to him than simply saying “Hi” or “Hi there”—which sounds like you’ve just en-
countered an unidentifiable object “out there” in public space, or addressing a per-
sonal letter as, “to whom it may concern.” Continuing to refer to people by name
after you’ve first learned their names strengthens your memory for their names and
shows them that you remember who they are (and that they’re important to you).

Remember information that people share with you and mention it when you
interact with them. Listen closely to what others share with you during conversa-
tions, especially to things that seem important to them and they really care about
(for one person that may be politics, for another it may be sports, and for another it
may be relationships). Remember what seems to matter to the person and bring it
up in your future conversations.

Move beyond the routine of asking just the standard, generic questions (e.g.,
“What’s up? What’s going on?”). Instead, ask about something you talked about
last time (e.g., “How did you make out on that math test last week?”). We tend to
remember what’s important to us. By remembering what others share with us, we
show them that they’re important to us.

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 193

There’s another advantage of showing interest in others and remembering
their interests: You’re likely to begin hearing them say what a great listener and
conversationalist you are. In addition, you’re likely to find them becoming more
interested in you and listening to what you have to say. ”“You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming interested in other people than you can in 2 years by trying to get other people interested in

—Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and
Influence People

Four keys to relationship building are: (1) referring to people by name; (2) showing interest
in people by asking them questions about their interests; (3) remembering what they share
with you; and (4) show them you remember what they share with you by bringing it up during
your next conversation.

Dating and Romantic Relationships
Romantic relationships traditionally begin through the process of dating. However,
college students today take different approaches to dating, ranging from not dating
at all to dating with the intent of exploring or cementing long-term relationships.
These different approaches to dating and forming romantic relationships are sum-
marized in Box 9.2.

Box 9.2
Different Approaches to Dating and
Romance among College Students

Postponing Dating. Students who take this approach feel
that the demands of college work and college life are too
time-consuming to take on the additional social and
emotional burden of dating while in college.

“It’s hard enough to have fun here with all the work you have to do. There’s no reason to have the extra drama [of dating] in your life.” —College sophomore
Hooking Up. Students who prefer this approach believe
that formal dating is unnecessary; they feel that their
social and sexual needs are better met more causally
though associations with friends and acquaintances.
Instead of going out on a one-on-one date, they prefer to
first meet and connect with romantic partners in larger
group settings, such as college parties.

Casual Dating. Students using this approach like to date
primarily for the purpose of enjoying themselves, rather
than getting “tied down” to any one person. These are
“casual daters” who prefer to go out on a short series of

dates with one person, then stop and start dating someone
else; or, they may date different individuals at the same
time. Their primary goal is to meet new people and
discover what characteristics they find attractive in

“Now all a guy has to do to hookup on a Saturday night is to sit on the couch long enough at a party. Eventually a girl will plop herself down beside him . . . he’ll make a joke, she’ll laugh, their eyes will meet, sparks will fly, and the
mission is accomplished. And you want me to tell this guy
to call a girl, spend $100 on dinner and hope for a
goodnight kiss?”
—College student

Exclusive Dating. Students adopting this approach prefer
to date one person for an extended period. Although
marriage is not the goal, an exclusive dater takes casual
dating one step further: they date for the purpose of
getting a better idea about what characteristics they’re
seeking in a long-term mate or spouse.

Courtship. Students using this approach to dating use it
with the intent of finding and continuing a relationship
until it culminates in marriage or a long-term

194 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

Reflection 9.4

How would you define love? Would you say it’s a feeling? An action? Both?

What would you say are the best signs or indicators that two people are “in love”?

What would you say are the most common reasons why people “fall out of love”?

Forms and Stages of Love
Research on romantic relationships reveals that love typically is experienced in the
following forms and progresses through the following stages.

Stage 1. Passionate Love (Infatuation)
This is the very first stage of romantic love and tends to be characterized by:

• Erotic love—the relationship involves intense physical arousal and passion; at-
tention is focused primarily on the partner’s physical appearance, and physical
attraction between the partners is at a peak.

• Impulsivity—the partners quickly “fall into” love and are “swept off their feet”
(e.g., “love at first sight”).

• Obsession—the partners can’t stop thinking about one another (they’re
“madly in love”).

• Intense emotions—a rush of chemicals surges through the body and brain
(like a drug-induced state), such as: (a) adrenalin—a bodily hormone that trig-
gers faster heart rate and breathing, and (b) dopamine—a brain chemical that
triggers feelings of excitement, euphoria, joy, and general well-being.

• Idealism—the partners perceive each other and their relationship as being
“perfect.” They may say things like: “We’re made for each other”, “Nobody
else has a relationship like ours”, and “We’ll be together forever.” Such idealis-
tic thinking can lead to love being “blind”—a form of denial in which the part-
ners don’t “see” (push out of conscious awareness) each other’s personal short-
comings or the shortcomings in their relationship (although these
shortcomings may be obvious to outside observers).

• Attachment and Dependency: The lovers feel insecure without each other
and can’t bear being separated (e.g., “I can’t live without him”). As a result of
such attachment and dependency, love at this stage follows the principle: “I love
you because I am loved” and “I love you because I need you.” It’s hard to deter-
mine if the person is in love with the other person or is in love with the idea or
feeling of being in love.

• Possessiveness and Jealousy: The partners feel they have exclusive rights to
one another and may quickly become suspicious about the partner’s fidelity or
be jealous of anyone else who interacts with the partner in a friendly or affec-
tionate manner. These feelings are often unjustified and irrational (“insane jeal-
ousy”)—for example, the lover suspects the partner is “cheating” when there’s
no real evidence that cheating is taking place.

• Love Sickness: If the partners break up, “love withdrawal” tends to follow the
breakup, that is similar to withdrawal from a pleasure-producing drug. Studies
show that the most common cause of despair or depression among college stu-
dents is a romantic breakup.

Despite expressions
like “I love you with all
my heart,” romantic
love takes place in the
brain and is accompa-
nied by major changes
in the production of
brain chemicals.

Happy Valentine’s Day
I Love You

with All My Brain!

compilation ©Kendall Hunt Publishing


Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 195

Stage 2. Mature Love
The partners gradually “fall out” of first-stage (puppy) love and progress or “fall
into” a more mature or advanced stage of love that is characterized by the following

• The partners become less selfish and self-centered and more selfless and other-
centered. Love is no longer just a noun—an emotion or feeling within the
person (e.g., “I’m in love”), but becomes an action verb—a way in which the
partners act toward each other and treat one another (e.g., “we love each
other”). More emphasis is placed on caring for the partner, rather than being
cared for. This more mature stage of love follows two principles:

1) “I am loved because I love”—rather than “I’m in love because I am loved”
2) “I need you because I love you”—rather than “I love you because I need you”

• Less of an emotional high is experienced at this stage than at early stages of the
relationship. After the passage of time and more experience with the partner,
the original “mad rush” of hormones and euphoria-producing brain chemicals
gradually levels off—similar to how the effects of a drug level off after being
used for an extended period. The intense emotional “ups and downs” of early
stage love are now replaced by feelings of emotional serenity (mellowness) and
evenness—a less extreme, but more consistently pleasant emotional state char-
acterized by slightly elevated levels of different brain chemicals (endorphins,
rather than dopamine). Unlike infatuation or early-stage love, this pleasant
emotional state does not decline with time; in fact, it may increase as the
relationship continues and matures.

• Physical passion decreases. The “flames of the flesh” don’t burn as intensely as
in first-stage love, but a romantic afterglow continues. This afterglow is charac-
terized by more emotional intimacy or psychological closeness between the
partners and greater self-disclosure, mutual trust, and interpersonal honesty—
all of which enhance both the physical and psychological quality of the

• Interest is now focused on the partner as a whole person, not just on the part-
ner’s physical qualities. The partners have a less idealistic, more realistic view of
one another, recognizing and accepting both their strengths and weaknesses.
They genuinely like each as persons (not just as lovers) and consider their part-
ner to be their “best” or “closest” friend. ”

“I learned love and I learned
you. I learned that, in order to
love someone, you must be
blind to the physical and the
past. You must see their
emotional and mental
strengths and weaknesses,
passions and dislikes, hobbies
and pastimes.
—Letter written by a first-year student

• The partners have mutual trust and confidence in each other’s commitment;
they aren’t plagued by feelings of suspicion, distrust, or petty jealousy. Each
partner may have interests and close friends outside the relationship without
the other becoming jealous.

• The partners have mutual concern for each other’s growth and fulfillment.
Rather than being envious or competitive, they take joy in the partner’s per-
sonal successes and accomplishments.

• The relationship contains a balanced blend of independence and interdepen-
dence, sometimes referred to as the “paradox (contradiction) of love”—both
partners maintain their independence and individuality, and both have their
own sense of personal identity and self-worth, but when together, their respec-
tive identities become more complete. ”“Two become one, yet remain one.—Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

196 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

Reflection 9.5

Rate your degree of agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

1. “All you need is love.”

Strongly agree Agree Not sure Disagree Strongly disagree

Reason for rating:

2. “Love is just a four-letter word.”

Strongly agree Agree Not sure Disagree Strongly disagree

Reason for rating:

3. “Love stinks.”

Strongly agree Agree Not sure Disagree Strongly disagree

Reason for rating:

Managing Interpersonal Conflict
Disagreement between people is an inevitable aspect of social life. Research shows
that even the most happily married couples do not experience continuous marital
bliss; they have occasional disagreements and periodic discord. Because interper-
sonal conflict cannot be completely escaped or eliminated, the best we can do is de-
fuse it, contain it, and prevent it from reaching unmanageable levels. The interper-
sonal communication and human relations skills already discussed in this chapter
can help minimize the severity of disagreements and conflicts. In addition to these
general social skills, the following set of specific strategies may be used to handle
interpersonal conflicts constructively and compassionately.

Express your point assertively—not passively, aggressively, or passive–
aggressively. When you’re passive, you don’t stand up for your personal rights; you
allow others to take advantage of you by letting them push you around. You say
nothing when you should say something. You say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
You tend to become angry, bitter, or resentful because you keep it all inside.

In contrast, when you’re aggressive, you stand up for your rights, but at the same
time you violate the rights of others with whom you have a conflict by threatening,
dominating, humiliating, or bullying them. You use intense, emotionally loaded
words to attack the person (e.g., “You spoiled brat” or “You’re a self-centered jerk”).
You may manage to get what you want but at the other person’s expense and at the
risk of destroying a relationship or losing a friend. Later, you tend to feel guilty about
overreacting or coming on too strong (e.g., “I knew I shouldn’t have said that”).

When dealing with interpersonal conflict, the goal is reconciliation, not retaliation.

When you’re passive–aggressive, you’re approach to handling conflict is getting
back at, or getting even with, the other person by: (a) withholding or taking away
something (e.g., not speaking to the person; withdrawing attention and affection),
or (b) indirectly hinting that you’re angry (e.g., making cynical comments or using
sarcastic humor).

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 197

When you’re assertive, you’re not aggressive, passive, or passive–aggressive. You
handle conflict in a way that protects or restores your rights without violating or
stomping on the rights of others. You handle conflict in a direct but even-tempered
manner. Rather than yelling, screaming or “getting in the face” of the other person,
you speak in a normal volume or tone and you communicate at a normal distance.

Strategies for Resolving Conflicts Assertively
Focus on the behavior causing the conflict, not the person. Avoid labeling oth-
ers as “selfish,” “mean,” “inconsiderate,” etc. If you’re upset because your room-
mate doesn’t do his share of cleaning, stay away from aggressive labels such as
“slob” or “slacker.” Such negative personal labels turn the other person into a ver-
bal punching bag, which is likely to put that person on the defensive and ready to
launch a retaliatory counterattack on your personal flaws. Before you know it,
you’re likely to find yourself in a war of words and mutual character assassinations
that end up making the conflict worse.

”“Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.—Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and one of the most widely admired people of the 20th century
Rather than focusing on the person’s general character, focus on the specific ac-

tion or behavior that’s causing the problem (e.g., failing to do the dishes or leaving
dirty laundry around the room). This lets others know exactly what behavior needs
to be changed to resolve the conflict without embarrassing or humiliating them. It’s
much easier to change a specific behavior than it is to change a general character

Use “I” messages that refer to how the other person’s behavior is affecting
you. “I” messages don’t target the other person; they place the focus on you—what
you are perceiving and feeling. This sends a message that’s less accusatory and
threatening. Suppose you receive a course grade that’s lower than what you think
you earned. You think a mistake was made, so you decide to approach your instruc-
tor about it. The conversation shouldn’t begin by your saying to the instructor: “You
made a mistake” or “You gave me the wrong grade.” These messages are likely to
put the professor immediately on the defensive and ready to defend the grade you
received. A less threatening way to open the conversation, and one that the instruc-
tor is more likely to listen to and consider carefully, would begin with an “I” state-
ment—such as: “I think an error may have been made in my test grade.”

“I” messages are less aggressive because they’re not aimed at the other person;
instead, they focus on the issue and how it’s affecting you. For instance, by saying,
“I feel angry when . . .” rather than “You make me angry when . . . ,” you’re hon-
estly conveying how you feel instead of aggressively guilt-tripping the person for
making you feel that way.

To maximize the positive impact of “I” messages:

• Be specific about what emotion you’re experiencing. For instance, saying “I feel
neglected when you don’t write or call” identifies what you’re feeling more spe-
cifically than saying, “I wish you’d be more considerate.” Describing what you
feel in specific terms increases the persuasive power of your message and re-
duces the risk that the other person will misunderstand or discount it.

• Communicate what you want the other person to do in the form of a firm re-
quest rather than a demand or ultimatum. Saying, “I would like you to . . .” is
less likely to put the person on the defensive than saying, “I expect you to . . .”
or “I insist that you . . .”

198 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

• Be specific about what you want the person to do to resolve the conflict. Saying,
“I would like for you to call me at least once a day” is more specific than saying,
“I want you to keep in touch with me.”

Reflection 9.6

You’re working on a group project and your teammates aren’t carrying their weight.
You’re getting frustrated and angry because you’re doing almost all the work yourself.

Construct an “I” message that communicates your concern to your teammates in an
assertive, nonthreatening way.

Avoid absolute judgments and overgeneralizations. Compare the following
pairs of statements:

(a) “You’re no help at all” versus “You don’t help me enough.”
(b) “You never try to understand how I feel” versus “You don’t try hard enough

to understand how I feel.”
(c) “I always have to clean up” versus “I’m doing more than my fair share of the


The first statement in each of the preceding pairs represents an absolute state-
ment that covers all times, situations, and circumstances. Such extreme, blanket
criticisms send the message that the person is doing nothing right with respect to
the issue or conflict in question. In contrast, the second statement in each of the
above pairs phrases the criticism in terms of degree or amount—the person is doing
something right at least some of the time, but needs to do more of it right more of
the time—which is likely to be less threatening or humiliating (and probably closer
to the truth).

Approach the conflict with the attitude that you’re going to solve the prob-
lem, not win the argument. The goal of resolving a conflict is not to get even or
prove you’re right. Winning the argument or proving your point, but not persuad-
ing the person to change the behavior that’s causing the conflict, is like winning a
battle and losing the war. Instead, approach conflict resolution with the mindset
that both parties can win and will end up with a better relationship in the long run.

Pick a private place and time to resolve the conflict. Avoid airing your griev-
ance with the person while others are present. As the old expression goes, “Don’t
air your dirty laundry in public.” Criticizing someone in the presence of others is
akin to a public stoning, and likely to humiliate the person, cause resentment, and
result in retaliation not cooperation.

Things are better left unsaid until you find the right time and place to say them.

Decompress emotionally before expressing your concern verbally. A conflict
shouldn’t be addressed during a fit of anger. Making your point while you’re en-
raged may give you an immediate sense of satisfaction or relief but is less likely to
change the other person’s attitude or behavior than a calm and reasoned request.
Instead of unloading on the person, take the load off yourself—take time to cool

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 199

down, formulate your arguments, and express them rationally. Responding in a
mellow, reflective manner also communicates to the other person that you’ve given
serious consideration to the matter and are not firing away like a “loose cannon.”

If things begin to get nasty, call for a time-out or cease-fire and postpone the
discussion until both of you cool off. When emotions and adrenaline run high,
logic and reason run low, and the anger of both combatants is likely to escalate until
it turns into a blow-by-blow volley of verbal punches and counterpunches that may
go something like this:

Person A: “You’re way out of control.”
Person B: “I’m not out of control; you’re the one who’s overreacting.”
Person A: “I’m overreacting? You’re the one who’s acting like a jerk!”
Person B: “I may be acting like a jerk, but you’re the real jerk!”

Blow-by-blow exchanges such as these are likely to turn up the emotional heat
to such a high level that resolving the conflict takes a back seat to winning the fight.
Both boxers need to back off, retreat to their respective corners, and try again later
when neither is looking to throw a knockout punch.

Give the person a chance to respond. Just because you have a justifiable com-
plaint doesn’t mean the other person must forfeit all rights to free speech and self-
defense. Avoid jumping the gun and pulling the trigger before hearing the other
side of the story and getting all the facts straight. By giving the other person a fair
chance to be heard, you increase the likelihood that you’ll receive a cooperative

”“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.—Stephen Covey, international best-selling author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
After listening to the other person’s position, check your understanding by

summarizing it in your own words (e.g., “What I hear you saying is . . .”). This is an
important step in resolving conflicts because disagreements often stem from a mis-
understanding or breakdown in communication. Respectfully hearing the other
person’s side of the story, and assuring the person that it’s been heard, can go a long
way toward resolving the conflict.

Acknowledge the person’s perspectives and feelings. Once you’ve heard the
person’s response, even if you disagree with it, don’t dismiss or discount the person’s
feelings. Avoid saying things like, “That’s ridiculous!” or “That’s no excuse!” In-
stead, acknowledge the person’s response—for example, by saying: “I can under-
stand what you were thinking” or “I see how you might feel that way.” After making
this acknowledgement, you can then explain why your complaint or concern is still

End your discussion of the conflict on a warm, constructive note. Finish it by
ensuring there are no hard feelings and let the person know that you’re optimistic
the conflict can be resolved and your relationship strengthened.

If the person makes the change you requested, express your appreciation.
Even if your complaint was legitimate and your request justified, the person’s effort
to accommodate your concern shouldn’t be taken for granted. (The worst thing to do
is to “rub it in” by saying something like: “That’s more like it” or “It’s about time!”) ”“To keep your marriage brimming with love . . . when you’re wrong, admit it; when you’re right, shut up.—Ogden Nash, American poetExpressing appreciation to the other person for making a change is not only the
socially sensitive thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do, because recognizing

200 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

and reinforcing the person’s changed behavior increases the likelihood that the pos-
itive change will continue and you will continue to benefit from it.

(Review the Working with Others portion of your AchieveWORKS Personal-
ity assessment report to learn more about your strengths and blind spots when it
comes to your approach to collaboration.)

At its most basic level, social intelligence involves civility—which could be defined
as “responsible freedom”—the freedom of people to exercise one’s individual rights,
but without interfering with the rights of others. Individual freedom shouldn’t be
confused with egocentrism. The former includes social responsibility and a com-
mitment to the common good; the latter involves thinking only of oneself without
concern for the needs or rights of others. Civility respects the rights of others, in-
cluding their right to hold and express viewpoints that differ from our own—with-
out denying them the opportunity to do so and without derisively dismissing them
as being “dumb,” “ignorant,” or “evil.”

“The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.”—William Safire, American author,
journalist, and presidential speech

It’s noteworthy that the term “university” derives from the Latin, meaning “the

whole,” and the term “college” derives from the Latin, meaning “community.”
Thus, colleges and universities should be places where civility and the principles of
community are strongly valued and vigorously practiced, such as those listed in Box

“For some students, college represents their first opportunity to experience what it is like to live in a real
community where we assume
responsibility for each other.”
—David Boren, President of the
University of Oklahoma

Box 9.3
Six Principles of Campus Community
A college or university should be:

1. An Educationally Purposeful Community: The
campus should be a place where faculty and students
share academic goals and work together to
strengthen the educational process.

2. An Open Community: The campus should be a place
where civility is affirmed—where freedom of expres-
sion and differences of opinion are accepted, pro-
tected, and promoted.

3. A Just Community: The campus should be a place
where the sacredness of each person is honored and
where diversity is valued.

4. A Disciplined Community: The campus should be a
place where individuals accept their obligations to
the group and where well-defined governance
procedures guide behavior toward the common good.

5. A Caring Community: The campus should be a place
where the well-being of each member is sensitively
supported and where service to others is encouraged.
(Caring is the glue that makes the first four principles
work; it’s the key to establishing the campus as a
place where personal feelings and freedoms are

6. A Celebrative Community: The campus should be a
place where the heritage of the institution is remem-
bered and where rituals affirming its traditions are
widely shared.

Civility also involves taking action (not looking way) when the rights or dignity
of other community members are being violated. It’s been said that in a democratic
country, if the rights of any group of citizens are threatened by prejudice and dis-
crimination, the political stability and viability of democracy itself is threatened.
The same could be said for a campus community. Students who take an active role
in challenging prejudice and discrimination on campus demonstrate both civility
and character.

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 201

Civility and democracy go hand-in-hand; when the former is practiced, the latter is protected.

”“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.—Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader and winner of the Nobel Peace PrizeEmotional Intelligence
Doing college well is a challenging task that will test your emotional strength and
your ability to persevere over an extended period of time (to graduation). Research
indicates that college students who score higher on tests of emotional intelligence,
such as the ability to identify and regulate their emotions and moods, are better able
to focus their attention, get absorbed (stay “in the zone”) while performing challeng-
ing tasks, and persist until they complete those tasks instead of quitting because of
frustration or boredom. Research also indicates that experiencing positive emotions,
such as optimism and excitement, contributes to academic success. In one study of
nearly 4,000 first-year college students, it was found that their level of optimism or
hope for success during their first term on campus was a more accurate predictor of
their first-year grades than was their SAT score or high school grade point average.

In addition to enhancing academic performance, emotional intelligence
strengthens our social interactions by enabling us to relate to others with greater em-
pathy and emotional sensitivity. By engaging in the following practices, we demon-
strate emotional intelligence, and in so doing, we enrich the quality of our interper-
sonal relationships.

”“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
—Maya Angelou, award-winning author
and civil rights activist

Express genuine interest in and concern for others’ feelings. Instead of asking the
routine questions like, “How are you?” or “How’s it goin’?” ask the question,
“How are you feeling?” Showing genuine concern for others’ feelings increases
the likelihood that they will share their feelings with you, and when you validate
the feelings they share with you, they feel better about themselves.

Share information about yourself. How often have you witnessed this rapid, ritu-
alistic interchange between two people?

Person A: “Hi, how’s it goin’?”
Person B: “Fine, how ya’ doin’?”
Person A: “Good. Thanks.”

In this exchange, no substantive information is shared by either person and
chances are that both persons neither expect nor want to hear about how the other
person is truly feeling. These superficial social rituals are understandable and ac-
ceptable when people first interact with each other. However, if relationships are to
move to a closer, more meaningful level, must move beyond social rituals to mutual
sharing of personal experiences.

Building close, authentic relationships is a give-and-take process in which two
people progressively share more personal information with one another—an inter-
personal process that human relations specialists call the intimacy spiral. You can
start this reciprocal sharing process by noticing the types of personal information
others share with you and then you responding, in turn, by sharing something simi-
lar about yourself that’s a little more personal or intimate. By relating a similar ex-
perience of your own, you demonstrate empathy—the ability to identify with and
relate to the feelings of others.

202 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

Naturally, this mutual sharing should be progress in small doses; you don’t want
to suddenly blow others away with hot blasts of intimacy and overwhelm them with
private details about your personal life. Instead, the sharing process should proceed
gradually and sensitively. As you continue to have more contact and conversations
with someone who you see as a potential friend, continue to engage in further self-
disclosure by disclosing a little more of yourself. If that person asks you, “How’s it
going?” or “How are you?” take these questions seriously and respond by sharing
something meaningful about yourself. Your sharing could include sharing your as-
pirations, fears, success stories, and challenges. By sharing yourself with others, it
shows you trust them, and in turn, they’re more likely to trust you.

Look for opportunities to provide others with genuine compliments. Keep your
eye out for positive behaviors displayed by others and praise them when you see
them. Small, simple compliments can often have large, long-term impact on reinforc-
ing positive behaviors in others and developing close relationships with others. Sim-
ply stated, people like to be around others who make them feel good about themselves
and who provide them with feedback on what they’re doing well.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”—Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
Albanian Catholic nun and winner
of the Nobel Peace Prize

Remember that compliments can be given for many things besides physical ap-
pearance (e.g., “you look nice” or “that’s a cute outfit”). Compliments about others’ ac-
tions and inner character are more powerful because they recognize not for how they
look, but for who they are and what they do.

Strive to display positivity and enthusiasm. Not surprisingly, people prefer to
be around people who are upbeat and enthusiastic. Studies show that when peo-
ple interact with others who are in a good mood, it elevates their own mood. As
the old adage goes, “Enthusiasm is contagious”—others can “catch” our good mood,
and when they do, their own mood improves. In contrast, when we’re pessimistic,
angry, or “down”, we bring others down with us, and we drive down our chances of
connecting with them.

Reflection 9.7
What do you think will be your biggest challenge to staying positive and optimistic
while you’re in college? What could you do, or what resources could you use, to help
you handle this challenge?

Becoming a Leader
Leadership is a process of exerting positive influence or change. Effective leaders use
social and emotional intelligence to promote positive change in: (a) individuals, (b)
groups, (c) organizations, (d) communities, or (e) society.

Why Student Leadership Matters
Student leaders are likely to be seen by their peers as more approachable and less
threatening than older professionals and authority figures. Because they’re at a sim-
ilar age and stage of development, students more readily relate to and identify with
peer leaders.

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 203

In addition to having positive impact on their peers, students who become lead-
ers experience positive change in their own social and emotional development, such
as improving their interpersonal skills, self-confidence, self-esteem, sense of pur-
pose, and personal identity. It’s also been found that when students become in-
volved in peer leadership and peer mentoring, they benefit by experiencing gains in
concern for others, altruistic values, character development, and civic engagement.

Peer leaders also provide students with valuable social support at a critical stage
of development—when they’re in the midst of making the transition to college and
an unfamiliar social environment in which they are likely to have considerably more
individual freedom, more personal choices, and more decision-making responsibili-
ties than at any other time in their lives. In fact, many peer mentors report that
their motive for getting involved in peer mentoring programs was to give first-year
students the support they had received from peer mentors when they were first-
year students making the transition to college. When people find themselves in un-
familiar, challenging, and stressful situations, they often look to others for cues on
how to act. Your peers are watching you. The behavior you model matters, and by
modeling positive behavior, you have the potential to be a student leader.

”“I think they’re really searching for someone to kind of follow, someone to see as an example, more than we think.—Peer leader

I was the first in my family to go to college. I didn’t know anyone who had done college
or knew how to “do college.” My parents told me that if I could find a group of peers
who seemed to understand the lay of the land, I’d be able to use their knowledge to help
myself. So, I spent my first semester looking out for students who made good grades and
I joined organizations where motivated students were likely to be found. Making connec-
tions with these students also helped me make connections with supportive faculty and

Because I took the initiative to identify successful peers and because of their leadership
skills and willingness to share their knowledge with me, instead of feeling like I was a
stranger in a strange land, I found myself being part of a positive, socially supportive

—Aaron Thompson

As a first-year student, you can be a peer leader even though you don’t hold a for-
mal leadership position. Leadership development scholars argue that leadership de-
velopment should begin early in college so that students can practice and refine their
leadership skills throughout the remaining years of their college experience. By de-
veloping your leadership skills while in college, you will be developing one of the
most important skills that today’s employers seek in college graduates. Even if you
have never thought of yourself as a “leader,” you can begin right now to develop and
demonstrate leadership skills. Don’t let your leadership potential be limited by com-
mon misconceptions about what makes a leader, such as the three myths listed below.

Myth #1. Effective leaders are “natural” (“born”) leaders. Contrary to popular
belief, leadership is not an inherited personality trait or a genetic gift. Leadership
doesn’t take place automatically and effortlessly; it’s a learned skill acquired over
time through practice and feedback.

”“It’s not the absence of leadership potential that inhibits the development of more leaders; it’s the persis-tence of the myth that
leadership can’t be learned.
—Kouzes & Posner, The Student
Leadership Challenge

204 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

Myth #2. Effective leaders are extroverted, bold, forceful, and aggressive.
These traits may characterize some famous (or infamous) political and military
leaders, but effective leaders are not typically dominant, controlling, or power-
driven. Power simply means the ability to influence others. Successful leaders are
powerful because they can influence (and motivate) others, not because they can
dominate or overpower them. Often, leaders display their leadership skills in subtle,
socially sensitive ways. Powerful leaders don’t always roar; many of them are “quiet
leaders” who influence and empower others with a soft voice, or without doing
much talking at all. Instead, they lead primarily by example—by modeling positive
behaviors and strategies for others to observe and emulate.

“At times, we have confused ‘leadership’ with ‘dominance.’”—David Boren, President of the
University of Oklahoma and
longest-serving chairman of the
U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee

Myth #3. Leadership is exercised by people who hold official leadership posi-
tions and have formal leadership titles. Leadership can either be assigned or
emergent. Assigned leaders are those who occupy leadership positions in an organi-
zation. People holding such positions have the potential to be leaders but do not ac-
tually exhibit leadership until they use their position to exert positive influence on
others. Leadership isn’t automatically bestowed or guaranteed by a position or title;
it’s earned by the leader’s ability to have a positive impact and make productive
change happen. People who do not occupy formal leadership positions can still be
leaders by positively influencing other people and promoting productive change.
Such people are referred to as “emergent leaders” because their positive influence
develops over time and emerges from the social and emotional skills and attributes
they possess, not from the official title or position they hold.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
—John C. Maxwell, nationally-
acclaimed leadership speaker and

Positive Outcomes of Peer Leadership
Contrary to how peers are portrayed in the popular media, they can be much more
than a source of negative “peer pressure” but a source of positive “peer power,”
serving as productive collaborators, teammates, and role models. Research repeat-
edly shows that peer leaders make significant contributions to the educational and
personal development of other students. “The student’s peer group is the single most potent source of influence on growth and development during the

undergraduate years.”
—Alexander Astin, What Matters in

In short, when all the research on the positive impact of peer leadership is
viewed together, it points strongly to the conclusion that student leaders create a
“win-win-win” scenario that benefits:

1. Their peers—who improve academically and personally from interacting with
student leaders.

2. Their campus—where peer leaders help build a campus culture characterized by
higher levels of student satisfaction and higher rates of college completion.

3. Themselves— by contributing to the development of other students, peer leaders
simultaneously acquire knowledge and skills that contribute to their own col-
lege and career success.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping
—Ralph Waldo Emerson,
19th-century American essayist,
poet, and leader of
Transcendentalism (a philosophical
movement founded on the principle
of the inherent goodness of people
and nature)

Reflection 9.8

Which one of the above three benefits of peer leadership were you least aware of?

Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence 205

Areas of Student Leadership in College
On college campuses across the country, students are now serving as leaders in mul-
tiple roles and positions. You can become a peer leader in any of three key areas or
arenas student leadership:

1. Academic Leadership. Students who lead study groups, provide peer tutoring,
or serve as co-educators in college courses (e.g., first-year seminars). You can
provide effective academic leadership in any of these roles without necessarily
being intellectually gifted or brilliant, but simply by being as a learning
resource for students who may be struggling academically and by modeling ef-
fective learning strategies, such as: exhibiting intellectual curiosity, engaging in
active note-taking in class, and contributing insightful questions and informed
comments during class discussions.

2. Social and Emotional Leadership. Students who lead and mentor other stu-
dents in ways that are more personal than academic, such as: making minority
students feel welcome, reaching out to shy or bashful students, being an em-
pathic listener, and supporting students who are experiencing setbacks or crises.

3. Organizational and Civic Leadership. Students who lead larger groups of
peers, such as leading student clubs, campus organizations, fraternities, sorori-
ties, and athletic teams, or organizing community-outreach efforts and political

Box 9.4 lists some of the formal positions that student leaders now hold on col-
lege campuses. The wide variety of positions that appear on the list is testimony to
the diversity and versatility of student leadership. The list is long, but not exhaus-
tive; it’s likely that students occupy additional leadership positions on college cam-
puses that do not appear on this list. As you read the leadership positions and
descriptions listed in the box below, place a checkmark next to those that seem to
best “fit” your personal talents, interests, and values.

Box 9.4
Positions Occupied by Student Leaders at
Colleges and Universities
1. Student Ambassadors—work with college admissions

offices to represent the college, recruit new students,
and facilitate campus visits from prospective students
and their families.

2. Peer Orientation-Week Leaders—welcome new
students to campus and facilitate their transition to

college life.
3. Student Leaders of Campus Clubs & Organizations—

provide leadership for student government and
student groups who share common interests or goals.
4. Peer Resident Advisors (a.k.a. Community

Assistants)—provide advice, support, and guidance to
students living in campus residences.
5. Peer Mentors—serve as role models and success

coaches for new students.

6. Peer Tutors—provide learning assistance to students
on an individual or group basis.

7. Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leaders—provide
learning assistance for students enrolled in

difficult courses (e.g., courses with high rates of Ds,
Fs, or Ws) and lead supplementary group-study
sessions scheduled outside of class time.

8. Peer Leaders for Learning Communities—meet
regularly to support students who enroll in two or
more courses together (a learning community),
helping these students connect with one another,
their course instructors, and learning-support

9. Peer Co-Educators/Co-Facilitators for First-Year
Seminars—work with instructors in first-year

experience courses, serving as a liaison between
instructor and students, providing a student


206 Chapter 9 Social and Emotional Intelligence

perspective on course topics, and facilitating student
involvement in class and on campus.

10. Peer Academic Advisors—help students schedule
classes and register for courses.

11. Peer Counselors—provide students with support on
social or emotional issues and mental health.

12. Peer Wellness Counselors—assist students on matters
relating to physical health and well-being.

13. Peer Ministers—support students’ spiritual develop-
ment and organize faith-based experiences.

14. Peer Community-Service Leaders—facilitate
volunteerism and service to the community by

organizing, publicizing, and encouraging student
involvement in community-based experiences.

15. Team Captains—provide leadership for teammates
participating in intercollegiate or intramural

athletic programs.

Reflection 9.9

Review the checkmarks you placed next to the leadership positions listed in Box 9.4.

Why did you think those positions best matched your personal talents, interests, and

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on leadership relating to social and emotional intelli-
gence, consult the following websites:

Social Intelligence

Interpersonal Communication Skills

Emotional Intelligence



Chapter 9 Exercises
9.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

9.2 Strategy Reflection
Review the practices suggested for demonstrating emotional intelligence and enhancing the quality of interpersonal
relationships described on pp. 201-202. Select two you think are most important and intend to put into practice.

9.3 Reality Bite
Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Romantic versus Academic Commitments
Lauren has been dating her boyfriend (Nick) for about two months. She’s deeply in love and is convinced that this is the real
thing. Lately, Nick has been asking her to skip class to spend more time with him. He tells Lauren: “If you really love me, you
would do it for our relationship.” Lauren feels that Nick truly loves her and wouldn’t do anything to intentionally hurt her or
interfere with her goals. So she accommodates Nick’s request and begins skipping some classes to spend more time with him.
Lauren’s grades soon start to slip; at the same time, Nick continues to demand more of her time.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. What concerns you most about Lauren’s behavior?

2. What concerns you most about Nick’s behavior?

3. Would you agree with Lauren’s decision to start skipping classes?

4. If you were Lauren’s friend, what advice would you give her?

5. If you were Nick’s friend, what advice would you give him?

6. What might Lauren do to keep her grades up and still sustain her relationship with Nick?

9.4 Self-Assessment of Interpersonal Relationships
On a scale of 1-5 (1 = low, 5 = high), rate yourself on each of the following characteristics.

I am good at initiating relationships.

I am accessible.

I am approachable.

I am a good listener.

Provide a reason or explanation for each of your ratings that describes: (1) what you’re doing well, (2) what you’d like to improve,
and (3) what you could do to improve (or what resource you could use to help you improve).


9.5 Identifying Major Ways of Handling Interpersonal Conflict
1. Think of a social situation or interpersonal relationship that’s currently creating some conflict or stress in your life.

Describe how this conflict could be approached in each of the following ways:

(a) Passively

(b) Aggressively

(c) Passive–aggressively

(d) Assertively

(See pp. 32-33 for descriptions of each of these four approaches.)

2. Practice the assertive approach by role-playing it with a friend or classmate and consider applying it to the actual
relationship that’s currently creating conflict or stress for you.

9.6 Leadership Information Interview
Interview someone holding a leadership position, particularly someone you consider to be an effective leader. Possible
candidates for this interview include professionals working on or off campus, peer leaders, friends, or family members.
During the interview, ask the leader some or all the following questions. (Feel free to add or substitute questions of your

1. What interested you in, or led you to, your current leadership position?

2. What advice would you give to others about how they could best prepare for the leadership position you hold?

3. During a typical day or week, what types of leadership responsibilities or activities consume most of your time?

4. What personal qualities or prior experiences have contributed most to your effectiveness as a leader?

5. What skills, perspectives, or attributes do you see as being critical for success in your particular leadership role?

6. What do you like most about your leadership role?

7. What are the most difficult or frustrating aspects of your leadership position?

8. Are there particular moral issues or ethical challenges that you encounter in your leadership role?

9. Do your leadership responsibilities include interacting with people from diverse ethnic/racial groups and cultural

10. What impact do your leadership responsibilities have on other aspects of your life?

11. How do you continue learning and developing as a leader?

12. To help me gain additional insights into the nature of effective leadership, is there a leader you respect or admire who
you would recommend I speak with?

Personal Reflections on the Interview:
a) What impressed you most about this leader?

b) What was the most useful leadership idea or strategy you acquired during the interview?

c) Did you learn anything during the interview that surprised or concerned you about the process of leadership?

d) As a result of conducting the interview, did your interest in or motivation for becoming a leader increase, decrease, or
remain the same? Why?




Chapter Purpose & PreviewToday’s college students will experience more diversity on their campuses than at any other
time in American history. This chapter defines “diversity”, identifies its major forms, and
documents how experiencing diversity deepens learning, enhances critical and creative
thinking, and contributes to career success. The chapter also includes specific strategies for
breaking down barriers and biases that often block humans from experiencing the full
benefits of diversity and supplies specific strategies for initiating and sustaining rewarding
relationships with members of diverse groups.

Learning GoalGain greater appreciation of human differences and develop skills for making the most
of diversity in college and beyond.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 10.1

When I hear the word “diversity,” the first thought that comes to mind is . . .

What is Diversity?
Literally translated, the word “diversity” derives from the Latin diversus, mean-
ing “various” or “variety.” Thus, human diversity refers to the variety of differ-
ences among people that comprise humanity (the human species). The
relationship between humanity and diversity may be likened to the relationship
between sunlight and the variety of colors that comprise the visual spectrum.
Similar to how sunlight passing through a prism disperses into different colors
that comprise the visual spectrum, the human species residing on planet earth is
dispersed into different groups that comprise the human spectrum (humanity).
Figure 10.1 illustrates this metaphorical relationship between diversity and

”“We are all brothers and sisters. Each face in the rainbow of color that popu-lates our world is precious and special. Each adds to the rich
treasure of humanity.
—Morris Dees, civil rights leader and
co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law

As depicted in Figure 10.1, human diversity manifests itself in a multiplicity of
ways, including differences among people in their national origins, cultural back-
grounds, physical characteristics, sexual orientations, and sexual identities. Some
dimensions of diversity are easily detectable, some are very subtle, and others are

210 Chapter 10 Diversity

Reflection 10.2

Look at the diversity spectrum in Figure 10.1 and look over the list of groups that make
up the spectrum. Do you notice any groups missing from the list that should be added, either
because they have distinctive characteristics or because they’ve been targets of prejudice
and discrimination?

FIGURE 10.1: Humanity and Diversity



Age (stage of life)
Race (e.g., White, Black, Asian)
Ethnicity (e.g., Native American, Hispanic, Irish, German)
Socioeconomic status (job status/income)
National citizenship (citizen of U.S. or another country)
Native (first-learned) language
National origin (nation of birth)
Geographical region (e.g., North or South; urban or rural)
Generation (historical period during which a group was born & raised)
Political ideology (e.g., liberal/conservative)
Religious/spiritual beliefs (e.g., Christian/Buddhist/Muslim)
Family status (e.g., single-parent/two-parent family)
Marital status (single/married)
Parental status (with/without children)
Sexual orientation (heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual)
Physical ability/disability (e.g., able to hear/deaf)
Mental ability/disability (e.g., mentally able/challenged)
Learning ability/disability (e.g., absence/presence of dyslexia)
Mental health/illness (e.g., absence/presence of depression)


= dimension of diversity

*This list represents some of the major dimensions of human diversity; it does not constitute a complete list of all possible forms of human diversity.
Also, disagreement exists about certain dimensions of diversity (for example, whether certain groups should be classified as races or ethnic groups).

Gender (male/female/transgender/gender transition)

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Diversity is a topic that includes issues relating to equal rights and social
justice for minority groups. However, it’s not just a political or social justice
issue that pertains only to certain groups of people; it’s also an educational
issue—an integral element of the college experience that enhances the learning,
development, and career preparation of all students. Diversity brings different
perspectives and approaches to what is learned (the content) and how it is
learned (the process), which serves to enrich the quality of any learning

“Ethnic and cultural diversity is an integral, natural, and normal component of educational experiences for
all students.”
— National Council for Social

Chapter 10 Diversity 211

Diversity is a human issue that embraces and benefits all people; it’s not a code word for
“some” people. Although one major goal of diversity is to promote appreciation and equitable
treatment of particular groups of people who have experienced and continue to experience
prejudice and discrimination, it’s also a learning experience that enhances the quality of all
students’ college education, career preparation, and leadership potential. (For specific details
about these benefits of diversity, see pp. 224-225.)

Diversity and Humanity
Diversity represents variations on the same theme: humanity. Thus, diversity and hu-
manity are interdependent, complementary concepts. To understand human diversity
is to understand both our differences and our similarities. Diversity appreciation in-
cludes valuing the unique experiences of different groups of humans as well as the
common (universal) experiences shared by all humans. Members of different ethnic
and racial groups may have distinctive cultural or physical characteristics, but mem-
bers of all ethnic and racial groups live in communities, develop interpersonal rela-
tionships, have personal needs, and undergo life experiences that shape their individ-
ual identity. Humans of all races and cultures also share the same emotions and facially
communicate those emotions in similar ways (see Figure 10.2).

FIGURE 10.2:

Humans all over the world display similar facial expressions when they experience and express certain emotions. See if you
can detect the universal emotions being expressed by the following faces of people from different cultural backgrounds.

Answers: The emotions expressed by the top-three faces (left to right): anger, fear, and sadness.
Bottom-three faces (left to right): disgust, happiness, and surprise.

All images ©JupiterImages Corporation.

212 Chapter 10 Diversity

Anthropologists have also found that all groups of humans in every corner of
the world share the following characteristics: storytelling, dance, music, decorating,
adorning the body, socialization of children by elders, moral codes of conduct, su-
pernatural beliefs, and mourning the dead. Although different cultural groups may
express these experiences in distinctive ways, these are universal experiences shared
by all cultural groups.

Reflection 10.3

In addition to the universal characteristics already mentioned, can you think of any
other human characteristic or experience shared by all human groups, no matter what
their race or culture may be?

You may have heard the question: “We’re all
human, aren’t we?” The answer to this question is
“yes and no.” Yes, all humans are the same, but not
in the same way. A metaphor for making sense of
this apparent contradiction is to visualize humanity
as a quilt composed of multiple patches representing
different cultural groups, which are woven together
by a common thread: their shared humanity. (See
picture on the right.) The quilt metaphor acknowl-
edges the identity and beauty of all cultures. It dif-
fers from the old American “melting pot” metaphor,
which viewed cultural differences as something to be
melted down and obliterated. It also differs from the
old “salad bowl” metaphor that depicted America as
a hodgepodge or mishmash of cultures thrown to-
gether without any common connection. In con-
trast, the quilt metaphor suggests that the cultures of
different human groups should be recognized, pre-
served, and valued. Even though these cultures are different, they come together to
form a seamless, unified whole. This blending of diversity and unity is captured in
the Latin expression E pluribus unum (“Out of many, one”)—the motto of the United
States—which appears on all its currency.

“We are all the same, and we are all unique.” —Georgia Dunston, African-American biologist and research
specialist in human genetics

“We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic.”—Jimmy Carter, 39th president of
the United States and winner of the
Nobel Peace Prize

©steven r. hendricks/

I was 12 years old, living in New York City, when I returned home after school one Fri-
day. My mother asked me if anything interesting happened in class that day. I told her
that the teacher went around the room asking students what they had for dinner the
night before. At that moment, my mother stopped what she was doing and nervously
asked me: “What did you tell the teacher?” I said: “I told her and the rest of the class
that I had pasta last night because my family always eats pasta on Thursdays and
Sundays.” My mother became very agitated and fired the following question back at
me in a very annoyed tone: “Why didn’t you tell her we had steak or roast beef?” I
was stunned and confused because I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong or why I
should have hidden the fact that we had eaten pasta. Then it dawned on me: My
mom was embarrassed about being an Italian-American. She wanted me to conceal
our family’s ethnic background and make us sound more “American.”

Chapter 10 Diversity 213

As I grew older, I understood why my mother felt the way she did. She was raised in
America’s “melting pot” generation—a time when different American ethnic groups were
expected to melt down and melt away their ethnicity. They were not to celebrate diver-
sity; they were to eliminate it.

—Joe Cuseo

When different human groups are appreciated for both their diversity and their commonality,
their separate cultural streams merge into a single river, harnessing the collective power of

Diversity and Individuality
When we talk about diverse groups, it’s important to keep in mind that individual
differences among members within a particular racial or ethnic group are greater
than the average difference between groups. Said in another way, there’s more vari-
ability (individuality) within the same group than between groups. For instance, the
differences that exist among individuals of the same race in terms of their physical
characteristics (e.g., height and weight) and psychological characteristics (e.g., tem-
perament and personality) are greater than the average difference between their ra-
cial group and other racial groups. Although it’s valuable to learn about differences
between different groups, the substantial differences among individuals within the
same group should neither be overlooked nor underestimated. We shouldn’t as-
sume that individuals who share the same racial or ethnic characteristics share simi-
lar personal characteristics.

As you encounter diversity in college and beyond, keep the following key dis-
tinctions in mind:

• Humanity. All humans are members of the same group—the human species.
• Diversity. All humans are members of different groups—for example, different

racial and ethnic groups.
• Individuality. Each human is a unique individual who differs from other mem-

bers of the same group(s) to which he or she may belong.

”“I realize that I’m black, but I like to be viewed as a person, and this is everybody’s wish.—Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame basketball player
”“Every human is, at the same time, like all other humans, like some humans, and like no other human.—Clyde Kluckholn, famous American


I am a highly educated, straight, Latina, born and raised in NYC. I am an educator and
an administrator. I am also a daughter, a mother, a sister, and a wife. And there are many,
many other characteristics that I could add to this list. As I have grown older, I realize
more and more that there isn’t one characteristic that defines who I am. The diverse
characteristics that comprise me make me the unique person that I am.

—Michele Campagna

214 Chapter 10 Diversity

Forms and Varieties of Diversity
Cultural Diversity
Culture is the distinctive pattern of beliefs and values learned by a group of people
who share the same social heritage and traditions. In short, culture is the whole way
in which a group of people has learned to live. It includes their style of speaking
(language), fashion, food, art, and music, as well as their beliefs and values. Box
10.1 summarizes the key components of culture that are typically shared by mem-
bers of the same cultural group.

Box 10.1
Key Components of Culture
• Language: How members of the culture communicate

through written or spoken words, including their
dialect and their distinctive style of nonverbal commu-
nication (body language).

• Use of Physical Space: How cultural members arrange
themselves with respect to social-spatial distance (e.g.,
how closely they stand next to each other when having
a conversation).

• Use of Time: How the culture conceives of, divides up,
and uses time (e.g., the speed or pace at which they
conduct business).

• Aesthetics: How cultural members appreciate and
express artistic beauty and creativity (e.g., their style of
visual art, culinary art, music, theater, literature, and

• Family: The culture’s attitudes and habits with respect
to family interactions (e.g., its customary styles of
parenting children and caring for the elderly).

• Economics: How the culture meets its members’
material needs, and the customary ways in which

wealth is acquired and distributed (e.g., its overall level
of wealth and the wealth gap between its very wealthy
and very poor members).

• Gender Roles: The culture’s expectations for “appro-
priate” male and female behavior (e.g., how men and
women are expected to dress and whether women can
hold the same occupational positions as men).

• Politics: How decision-making power is exercised in
the culture (e.g., democratically or autocratically).

• Science and Technology: The culture’s attitude
toward, and use of, science and technology (e.g., the
degree to which the culture is technologically

• Philosophy: The culture’s ideas and views about
wisdom, goodness, truth, and social values (e.g.,
whether its members place greater value on individual
competition or collective collaboration).

• Spirituality and Religion: Cultural beliefs about the
existence of a supreme being and an afterlife (e.g., its
members’ predominant faith and belief systems about
the supernatural).

Reflection 10.4

Look back at the components of culture cited in Box 10.1. Add another component
that you think may be an important characteristic of a culture and explain why you
chose it.

Culture serves to bind its members into a supportive, tight-knit community.
Unfortunately, however, culture can not only bind us, it can also blind us from see-
ing things from different cultural perspectives. Because culture shapes thought and
perception, people from the same ethnic (cultural) group run the risk of becoming
ethnocentric—centered so much on their own culture that they end up perceiving
the world only through their own cultural lens and fail to consider or appreciate
other cultural viewpoints.

Chapter 10 Diversity 215

Optical illusions are a good example of how strongly our cultural perspective
can influence (and distort) our perceptions. Compare the lengths of the two lines in
Figure 10.3.

FIGURE 10.3:
Optical Illusion

©Kendall Hunt Publishing

If you perceive the line on the right to be longer than the one on the left, it’s be-
cause your perception has been shaped by your cultural background. People from
Western cultures (e.g., Americans and Europeans) perceive the line on the right to be
longer. However, both lines are actually equal in length. (If you don’t believe it, take
out a ruler and measure them.) Interestingly, this optical illusion is experienced only
by people in Western cultures whose living spaces and architectural structures consist
primarily of rectangular-shaped building and angled corners. The illusion is not expe-
rienced by people from non-Western cultures whose living spaces and architectural
structures are predominantly circular—e.g., huts or igloos (see the photo below).

People whose cultural
experiences involve living
and working in circular
structures are not deceived
by the optical illusion
depicted in Figure 10.3.

©James Michael Doresey/

The optical illusion depicted in Figure 10.3 is just one of several illusions
experienced by people in some cultures but not others. These cross-cultural
differences in susceptibility to optical illusions illustrate how strongly our
cultural experiences can influence and sometimes misinform our perception of
reality. People think they’re seeing things objectively (as they are), but they’re
actually seeing things subjectively (from the perspective shaped by their partic-
ular cultural background).

If our cultural experiences can shape our perception of the physical world,
they can certainly shape our perception of the social world. Research in social
psychology reveals that the more exposure people have to something (or some-
body), not only does it become more familiar, it also tends comes to be perceived
more positively and judged more favorably. This phenomenon is so prevalent
and powerful that social psychologists have come to call to it the “familiarity
principle”—what is familiar is perceived as better or more likeable. One conse-
quence of the familiarity principle is that our familiar cultural experiences can
bias us toward viewing our culture as being better or more “normal” and accept-
able than others. By remaining open to the viewpoints of people from other cultures
who perceive the world from vantage points different than our own, we uncover our
cultural blind spots, expand our range of perception, and put ourselves in a position
to view the world with greater objectivity and cultural sensitivity.

216 Chapter 10 Diversity

I was once watching a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles
Clippers. During the game, a short scuffle broke out between two members of the op-
posing teams: the Lakers’ Pau Gasol—who is from Spain, and the Clippers’ Chris Paul—
who is African American. After the scuffle ended, Gasol tried to show Paul there were no
hard feelings by patting him on the head. Instead of interpreting Gasol’s head pat as a
peace-making gesture, Paul took it as a putdown and returned the favor by slapping
(rather than patting) Gasol in the head.

This head patting–head slapping misunderstanding stemmed from a basic difference in
nonverbal communication between two players from different cultures. Patting someone
on the head in European cultures is a friendly gesture; European soccer players often do
it to an opposing player to express no ill will after a foul or collision. However, this same
nonverbal message meant something very different to Chris Paul—an African American
raised in urban America.

—Joe Cuseo

Ethnic Diversity
An ethnic group refers to a group of people who share the same culture. Thus, a
“culture” is what an ethnic group has in common (e.g., common language and tradi-
tions) and “ethnic group” refers to the people who share the same cultural character-
istics—which have been acquired (learned) through shared social experiences.
Members of different ethnic groups may still be members of the same racial
group—a group of people whose shared physical characteristics that have been in-
herited. For instance, white Americans constitute the same racial group, but are
members of different ethnic groups (e.g., French, German, Irish). Similarly, Asian
Americans constitute the same racial group, but are members of different ethnic
groups (e.g., Japanese, Chinese, Korean).

European Americans are still the majority ethnic group in the United States;
they account for more than 50 percent of the American population. Native Ameri-
cans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans are minority
ethnic groups because each of these groups represents less than 50 percent of the
American population.

Reflection 10.5

Are you a member of, or do you identify with, any ethnic group(s)? If yes, what would
you say are the key cultural characteristics or values shared by your ethnic group(s)?

Racial Diversity
A racial group (race) is a group of people who share distinctive physical traits—most no-
tably, skin color. The variation in skin color we now see among humans is largely due
to biological adaptations that have evolved over thousands of years, beginning when
humans first began to migrate to different climatic regions of the world. Currently, the
most widely accepted explanation for racial differences in skin color is the “Out of Af-
rica” theory. Genetic studies and fossil evidence indicate that all Homo sapiens inhabited

Chapter 10 Diversity 217

Africa 150,000-250,000 years ago; over the course of time, some of them migrated
from Africa to other parts of the world. Those who lived and reproduced in hotter re-
gions of the world nearer the equator (e.g., Africa and South America) developed
darker skin color, which helped them adapt and survive by providing them with better
protection from the potentially damaging effects of intense sunlight. In contrast,
lighter skin tones emerged over time among humans inhabiting colder climates farther
from the equator (e.g., Central and Northern Europe). Their lighter skin color con-
tributed to their survival by enabling them to absorb greater amounts of vitamin D
from the less direct and intense sunlight available to them in their region of the world.

Currently, the US Census Bureau categorizes humans into five racial categories:

• White: people whose lineage may be traced to the original humans inhabiting
Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

• Black or African American: people whose lineage may be traced to the origi-
nal humans inhabiting Africa.

• American Indian or Alaska Native: people whose lineage may be traced to the
original humans inhabiting North and South America (including Central
America), and who continue to maintain their tribal affiliation or attachment.

• Asian: people whose lineage may be traced to the original humans inhabit-
ing the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including
Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine
Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

• Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: people whose lineage may be traced
to the original humans inhabiting Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific Islands.

It’s important to keep in mind that racial categories merely represent classifica-
tions that human societies have decided to construct—in other words, race is a so-
cially constructed concept. No identifiable set of genes distinguishes one race from
another; in fact, there continues to be disagreement among scholars about what
groups of people constitute a human race or whether distinctive races actually exist.
No blood test or any other type of biological test on a person will immediately and
accurately indicate the person’s race. Humans have simply created social categories
called “races” based on certain external differences in peoples’ outer physical ap-
pearance. Although skin color was used as the primary basis for creating these cate-
gories, “racial” groups could have just as easily been categorized on the basis of eye
color (blue, brown, and green), hair color (brown, black, blonde, or red), or body
size (tall, short, or mid-sized).

My father stood approximately six feet tall and had straight, light brown hair. His skin color
was that of a Western European with a very slight suntan. My mother was from Ala-
bama; she was dark in skin color with high cheekbones and had long curly black hair.
In fact, if you didn’t know that my father was of African American descent, you
would not have thought he was black.

All my life, I’ve thought of myself as African American and all people who know me
think of me as being African American. I’ve lived more than half of a century with that
as my racial identity. Several years ago, I carefully reviewed records of births and
deaths in my family history and discovered that I had less than 50% African lineage.
Biologically, I can no longer call myself Black; socially and emotionally, I still am.
Clearly, my “race” has been socially constructed, not biologically determined.

—Aaron Thompson

218 Chapter 10 Diversity

Although the color of humans’ external layer of skin may be dissimilar, all
members of the human species are remarkably similar at an internal biological level.
More than 98% of the genes found in humans are exactly the same, regardless of
what their particular racial category may be. This large amount of genetic overlap
among us accounts for the fact that we humans are clearly distinguishable from
members of all other animal species. The tremendous amount of genetic overlap
among humans also explains why the internal body parts of all humans look the
same and no matter what the color of our outer layer of skin, when it’s cut, we all
bleed in the same color.

Differences between human races in their external appearance are superficial and easily
detectable; commonalities across races in their internal biological make-up are less obvious
and more meaningful.

I was sitting in a coffee shop in the Chicago O’Hare airport while proofreading my first
draft of this chapter. I looked up from my work for a moment and saw what appeared to
be a white girl about 18 years of age. As I lowered my head to return to work, I did a dou-
ble-take and looked at her again because something about her seemed different or un-
usual. When I looked more closely at her the second time, I noticed that although she
had white skin, the features of her face and hair appeared to be those of an African Amer-
ican. After a couple of seconds of puzzlement, I figured it out: she was an albino African
American. That satisfied my curiosity for the moment, but then I began to wonder:
Would it still be accurate to say she was “black” even though her skin was not black?
Would her hair and facial features be sufficient for her to be considered or classified as
black? If yes, then what would be the “race” of someone who had black skin tone, but did
not have the typical hair and facial features characteristic of black people? Is skin color
the defining feature of being African American or are other features equally important?

I was unable to answer these questions, but found it amusing that all of these thoughts
were crossing my mind while I was working on a chapter dealing with diversity. On the
plane ride home, I thought again about that albino African American girl and realized
that she was a perfect example of how classifying people into “races” isn’t based on objec-
tive, scientific evidence, but on subjective, socially constructed categories.

—Joe Cuseo

Attempting to categorize people into distinct racial groups is more difficult
today than at any other time in history because humans of different racial groups
are increasingly forming interracial families. By 2050, the number of Americans
who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than tri-
ple, growing to 26.7 million.

Reflection 10.6

What race(s) do you consider yourself to be? Would you say you identify strongly with
your racial identity, or do you rarely think about it? How do you think other students
would answer these questions?

Chapter 10 Diversity 219

The Growing Ethnic and Racial Diversity in America
Racial and ethnic minorities now account for almost 37% of the total American
population—an all-time high. In 2011, for the first time in history, more than half
(50.4%) of all children born in the United States were members of racial and ethnic
minority groups. By the middle of the 21st century, minority groups are projected
to comprise 57% of the American population and more than 60% of our nation’s

The growing diversity in America’s overall population is matched by growing
diversity in its colleges and universities. In 1960, whites made up almost 95% of the
total college population; in 2010, that percentage had decreased to 61.5%. Between
1976 and 2010, the percentage of ethnic minority students in higher education in-
creased from 17% to 40%. ”“For many students, regardless of racial background, the higher education environment will be the most racially diverse learning environment they

have experienced in their lives.
—Beverly Daniel Tatum, former
president, Spelman College and author
of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting
Together in the Cafeteria

The rising diversity on American campuses is particularly noteworthy when
viewed in light of the historical treatment of racial and ethnic minority groups
in the United States. In the early 19th century, education was not a right, but a
privilege available only to those who could afford to attend private schools.
That privilege was experienced largely by Protestants of European descent.
Later, white immigrants from other cultural backgrounds began migrating to
the United States and public education then became mandatory—with the goal
that schools would acculturate or “Americanize” these new immigrants and
obliterate their former cultural identities. In many states, Americans of color
were left out of the educational process altogether or were educated in separate,
racially segregated schools with inferior educational facilities. It was not until a
groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling (Brown v Board of Education, 1954) that
the face of education changed for people of color. On that day, the US Supreme
Court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This
decision made it illegal for Kansas and 20 other states to deliver education in
segregated classrooms.

Today, a major goal of virtually all American colleges and universities is to en-
sure that students from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to enter higher
education, benefit from the college experience, and enrich the learning experience
of their college classmates.

Socioeconomic Diversity
In addition to racial and ethnic diversity, human diversity exists among groups of
people in terms of their socioeconomic status (SES)—their level of education, level
of income, and the occupational prestige of the jobs they hold. Societies are strati-
fied into upper, middle, and lower (working) classes, with groups occupying lower
social strata having fewer economic resources and social privileges.

Sharp socioeconomic differences exist across different racial, ethnic, and gender
groups. For instance, in 2012, the median income for non-Hispanic white house-
holds was $57,009, compared with $39,005 for Hispanics and $33,321 for African
Americans. The great housing and mortgage collapse after the turn of the 21st cen-
tury had its most damaging impact on lower-income, ethnic minorities: between
2005-2009, household wealth fell by 66% for Hispanics and 53% for blacks, versus
16% for whites.

A privilege is an unearned advantage. Students coming from wealthier families
have advantages that poorer students do not. Families with higher income levels
and socioeconomic status are privileged with two major forms of capital: (a) eco-
nomic capital—what they have (e.g., homes, health benefits, and discretionary

220 Chapter 10 Diversity

income for travel and other educational experiences for their children), and (b) so-
cial capital—who they know (e.g., contacts with employers, college admissions per-
sonnel, and “power players” in the legal and political system). Students from
higher-income families acquire these privileges without having to earn them and
they will benefit from these privileges throughout life. For instance, families with
higher socioeconomic status have greater social capital for getting their children
into college and have greater economical capital for preparing them to gain college
access (e.g., financial resources to pay for college-admissions test preparation ser-
vices and to hire independent counselors to help their children get into college or
the “best” colleges). Similarly, privileged legacies—advantages handed down with-
out being earned, such as inheriting money or being admitted to a college because a
family member previously attended the college, or donated to the college, are not
available to less privileged students who lack such social and economic capital.

“Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever
experienced. Being born poor
in the U.S. gives you
disadvantages unlike
anything in Western Europe,
Japan and Canada.”
—David I. Levine, economist and
social mobility researcher

Socioeconomic differences also affect access to and success in college. Young
adults from high-income families are seven times more likely to earn a college
degree and hold a prestigious job than young adults from low-income families.
Among low-income students who do enroll in college, national surveys reveal
that almost one-third of them report that food and housing challenges are inter-
fering with their educational efforts. Twenty-two percent of these students re-
ported that during the previous month, they experienced very low levels of food
security—inability to access sufficient amounts of nutritious foods (to the point
of being hungry), and over 60% of students who experienced food insecurity also
experienced housing insecurity—difficulty paying their rent or utility bills. Fif-
teen percent of food-insecure students also reported experiencing occasional

Reflection 10.7

Are you the first member of your family to attend college?

Would you be the first member of your family to graduate from college?

How do your answers to the above two questions make you feel?

International Diversity
Adding further to the diversity on college campuses are international students.
Since the turn of the century, the number of international students in the United
States has grown by 72%. During the 2016-2017 academic year, over a million in-
ternational students were enrolled on American campuses—more than any other
country in the world.

The need for American college students to better understand and appreciate in-
ternational diversity is highlighted in a study conducted by an anthropologist who
went “undercover” and posed as a student in a university residence hall. She found
that the biggest complaint international students had about American students was
their lack of knowledge about other countries and the misconceptions they held
about people from certain nations. Leadership scholars have also noted that be-
cause of increasing economic interdependence among nations and the growing
number of multinational organizations, future leaders of businesses and organiza-
tions need to have a stronger “global leadership mindset”—that is, greater commit-

Chapter 10 Diversity 221

ment to gaining knowledge about other nations’ cultures and stronger intercultural
communication skills. For instance, an effective American business leader in today’s
global economy needs to know that American business culture values risk taking
and making quick business decisions, whereas Middle Eastern countries (e.g., Ku-
wait and Egypt) value a more conservative approach to decision-making that in-
volves taking fewer risks, longer time to deliberate before reaching decisions, and
more emphasis on relationship building during the decision-making process.

Gender Diversity
At one point in history, all college students were men. In fact, the term “freshman”
literally meant “fresh man” because every new college student was, indeed, a
man; no females were enrolled in (or could enroll in) college. Even as late as
1955, only 25% of American college students were female. By 2000, that per-
centage had jumped to almost 66%. Between 1990 and 2009, the proportion of
women enrolling in college increased at a rate almost three times faster than
that of men. Women now earn the majority of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral
degrees granted in the United States. Women also hold almost 40% of all man-
agement positions in American organizations.

Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Diversity
Humans experience and express their gender and sexuality in diverse ways. Sexual
orientation—“an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual at-
traction to other people,” and gender identity—a person’s innermost concept of self
as male, female, a blend of both or neither—are two important dimensions of sexual
diversity themselves. An individual’s gender identity may be the same or different
from the sex assigned at birth, and a person’s gender expression—the external appear-
ance of one’s gender identity as expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or
voice also may or may not conform to behaviors and characteristics typically associ-
ated with being either masculine or feminine. There are many terms associated
with gender-expression identity and sexual orientation that people often don’t talk
about because they’re uncomfortable with them or are simply unfamiliar with
them. Box 10.2 contains an alphabetical listing of these terms and what they mean.

Box 10.2

Androgynous: A person who has the physical characteris-
tics of both sexes, or who identifies with being both male
and female.

Asexual: A person who has no sexual feelings or desires, or
who is not sexually attracted to anyone.

Bisexual: A person who is sexually attracted to both men
and women.

Cisgender: People whose gender identity matches the sex
they were assigned at birth (as opposed to transgender).

Coming out (a.k.a. Coming out of the of the closet):
Accepting and revealing one’s sexual orientation or gender

Gay: People who are attracted to members of their same

Gender dysphoria: A condition in which a person experi-
ences discomfort or distress because of a mismatch between
their biological sex and gender identity.

Gender-fluid: People who do not identify themselves as
one set or fixed gender identity.

Gender identity: A sense of one’s own personal gender; it
can align with the person’s sex assigned at birth or differ
from it.


222 Chapter 10 Diversity

Genderqueer (a.k.a. Non-binary): A range of gender
identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine ,
such as having two or more gender identities, moving
between gender identities, or gender identity.

Heterosexism: Prejudice or discrimination against homo-
sexuals based on the belief that heterosexuality is the only
normal sexual orientation.

Heterosexual: A person who is sexually attracted to
members of the opposite sex.

Homophobia: Negative attitudes and feelings (e.g.,
discomfort or fear) toward people who are attracted to
members of their own sex.

Intersex: Individuals born with bodily variations in sexual
characteristics that are not typical of a male or female (e.g.,
variations in sex chromosomes, genitals, or hormones).

Lesbian: A female who is sexually attracted to other

LGBTQ: An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgen-
der, and/or queer or questioning.

Outing: Disclosing an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation
or gender identity without that person’s consent.

Pansexual (a.k.a. Omnisexual): a person who can be
romantically or sexually attracted to people of any gender
or sexual orientation.

Sexual Orientation: A person’s pattern of romantic or
sexual attraction to other people, whether they be of the
opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or both
sexes and more than one gender.

Transgender (a.k.a. Trans): people whose gender identity
differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transphobia: Negative attitudes and feelings (e.g., fear
discomfort, or hostility) toward people who are

College campuses across the country are increasing their support for
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning) stu-
dents by creating centers and services whose purpose is to promote their accep-
tance by the college community. These campus support services play an impor-
tant role in combating homophobia and related forms of sexual prejudice on
campus, while promoting awareness and tolerance of all forms of sexual orien-
tation and identity. By accepting individuals who span the full spectrum of sex-
ual diversity, we acknowledge and appreciate the reality that heterosexuality is
just one form of human sexual expression. Our growing acknowledgement of
sexual diversity is reflected in the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize
same-sex marriage nationwide.

Chapter 10 Diversity 223

Reflection 10.8

What forms of diversity do you see represented on campus?

When you first arrived on campus, did you find certain groups that you: (a) didn’t
expect to see, (b) didn’t expect to see in such large numbers, or (c) didn’t expect to be
open about their group membership?

Generational Diversity
Human diversity also exists with respect to the historical time period during which
different groups of people grow up. The term “generation” refers to a cohort
(group) of individuals born during the same historical period, whose attitudes, val-
ues, and habits have been shaped by events that took place in the world during their
formative years of development. People growing up in different generations tend to
develop different attitudes and beliefs because of the different historical events they
experienced during their upbringing.

Box 10.3 contains a brief summary of different generations that have been
identified, the key historical events they experienced, and the personal characteris-
tics commonly associated with each generational group.

Box 10.3
Generational Diversity: A Snapshot
• The Traditional Generation (a.k.a. “Silent Genera-

tion”) (born 1922–1945). This generation was influ-
enced by events such as the Great Depression and
World Wars I and II. Characteristics associated with
people growing up at this time include loyalty, patrio-
tism, respect for authority, and conservatism.

• The Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946–1964). This
generation was influenced by events such as the Vietnam
War, Watergate, and the civil rights movement. Charac-
teristics associated with people growing up at this time
include idealism, emphasis on self-fulfillment, and
concern for social justice and equal rights.

• Generation X (born 1965–1980). This generation was
influenced by Sesame Street, the creation of MTV,
AIDS, and soaring divorce rates. They were the first
“latchkey children”—youngsters who used their own
key to let themselves into their home after school
because their mothers (or single mothers) were working
outside the home. Characteristics associated with
people growing up at this time include self-reliance,
resourcefulness, and the ability to adapt to change.

• Generation Y (a.k.a. “Millennials”) (born 1981–2002).
This generation was influenced by the September 11,

2001, terrorist attack on the United States, the shooting
of students at Columbine High School, and the collapse
of the Enron Corporation. Characteristics associated
with people growing up at this time include a prefer-
ence for working and socializing in groups, familiarity
with technology, and willingness to engage in volun-
teer service in their community (which is why they’re
sometimes referred to as the “civic generation”).
Millennials also represent the most ethnically diverse
generation, are more open to experiencing diversity
than previous generations, and are more likely to view
diversity positively.

“You guys [in the media] have to get used to it. This is a new day and age, and for my generation that’s a very common word. It’s like saying ‘bro.’ That’s how we address our friends. That’s how we talk.”
—Matt Barnes, millennial, biracial professional basketball player,
explaining to reporters after being fined for using the word “niggas” in
a tweet to some of his African American teammates

• Generation Z (a.k.a. “The iGeneration”) (born
1994–present). This generation includes the latter half
of Generation Y. They grew up with wars being fought
in Afghanistan and Iraq, international terrorism, global
recession, and climate change. As a result of these


224 Chapter 10 Diversity

experiences, they tend to have less trust in political
systems and industrial corporations than previous
generations. During their formative years, the Internet
was in place, so they are very comfortable with
technology and rely heavily on Google, YouTube,
Twitter, Snapchat, and HouseParty. They have come to

expect that their needs will be met immediately
through technology and aren’t threatened by the lack
of privacy associated with social networking. For these
reasons, they’re also referred to as the “digital

Reflection 10.9

Look back at the characteristics associated with your generation. Which of these
characteristics do you think accurately reflect your personal characteristics and those
of your closest friends? Which do not?

The Benefits of Experiencing Diversity
National surveys show that by the end of their first year in college, almost two-
thirds of students report having “stronger” or “much stronger” knowledge of peo-
ple from different races and cultures than they did before entering college. Most
first-year students also report becoming more open to experiencing diverse cul-
tures, viewpoints, and values than they had been previously. The diversity on col-
lege campuses today represents an unprecedented educational opportunity. After
college, students may never again be members of a community that includes so
many people from such a wide variety of backgrounds. Now is the time to reap the
benefits of the diversity that surrounds you.

“I am very happy with the diversity here, but it also frightens me. I have never been in a situation where I
have met people who are
Jewish, Muslim, atheist,
born-again, and many more.”
—First-year student (quoted in
Erickson, Peters, & Strommer,
Teaching First-Year College

Experiencing and appreciating diversity is not just a socially sensitive or
“politically correct” thing to do, it’s also an educationally effective thing to do.
Diversity will enrich the quality of your education and the education of the di-
verse students with whom you interact. Below is a summary of the key advan-
tages of experiencing diversity. Keep these benefits in mind and use them to
motivate yourself to capitalize on the power of diversity.

Diversity Increases Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge
Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds enables us to compare and con-
trast our life experiences with others whose experiences differ sharply from our
own. Seeing how our life experiences differ from others serves to deepen our
understanding of ourselves and how we got to be who we are; it helps us step
outside ourselves and gain a comparative perspective—a reference point that en-
ables us to see more clearly how our particular cultural background has shaped
our personal development and identity.

“Empirical evidence shows that the actual effects on student development of emphasizing diversity and of
student participation in
diversity activities are
overwhelmingly positive.”
—Alexander Astin, What Matters in

The more we learn about people different than ourselves, the more we learn about ourselves.

A comparative perspective also allows us to gain insight into how our cultural
background may have advantaged or disadvantaged us. For instance, learning about
cross-cultural differences in access to higher education can raise our awareness of
the more limited educational opportunities there are for people in other countries.

“It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.”—An old saying (author unknown)

Chapter 10 Diversity 225

By gaining this cross-cultural knowledge, we gain greater appreciation of how ad-
vantaged we are in America—where college is available to everyone—regardless of
race, gender, age, social class, or level of academic performance prior to college.

Diversity Deepens Learning
Research consistently shows that students learn more from students who are
different than themselves than they do from students who are similar to themselves.
Learning about different cultures and interacting with people from diverse cultural
groups supplies the brain with more varied routes or pathways through which to
connect (learn) new ideas. Experiencing diversity also “stretches” the brain be-
yond its normal “comfort zone” by pushing it to compare, contrast, and con-
nect something unfamiliar to something it already knows. This added expendi-
ture of mental energy results in the brain forming deeper and more durable
neurological connections. Simply stated: We learn more deeply from diversity
than we do from similarity or familiarity. In contrast, when we restrict the di-
versity of people with whom we interact (out of habit or prejudice), we limit the
breadth and depth of our learning.

Diversity Promotes Higher-Level Thinking
Studies show that college students who have more exposure to diversity—such as
enrolling in multicultural courses, participating in diversity programs on cam-
pus, and interacting with peers of different races and ethnicities—experience
greater gains in:

• thinking complexity—the ability to think about all parts of an issue and from
multiple perspectives

• reflective thinking—the ability to think deeply about personal and global issues
• critical thinking—the ability to evaluate the validity of one’s own reasoning

and the reasoning of others

These mental benefits of experiencing diversity stems from the fact that expo-
sure to perspectives different than our own creates cognitive dissonance—a state of
cognitive (mental) disequilibrium or imbalance. This tension “forces” our minds to
deal with different perspectives simultaneously, resulting in thinking that is less
simplistic, more nuanced, and more complex.

Diversity Stimulates Creative Thinking
In addition to promoting critical thinking, research reveals that diversity enhances
creativity. When ideas are exchanged among people from diverse cultures, a
“cross-stimulation” effect is generated in which ideas exchanged by people from
different cultural backgrounds stimulate creation of additional ideas, which can
“cross-fertilize” and give birth to new ideas and solutions for tackling old prob-
lems. Research also indicates that when people seek out alternative viewpoints
and diverse perspectives, it increases their openness to pursuing different goal
options and their willingness to try different goal-achievement strategies.

In contrast, when diverse cultural perspectives are dismissed or devalued,
the variety of lenses through which we can view issues and problems is reduced.
This restricts our ability to engage in divergent thinking (thinking that takes off
in different directions), which, in turn, restricts our capacity to think creatively.
By limiting our interactions to groups of people like us, our ideas are less likely

“What I look for in musicians is
generosity. There is so much to
learn from each other and
about each other’s culture.
Great creativity begins with
—Yo-Yo Ma, French-born, Chinese-
American virtuoso cellist, composer, and
winner of multiple Grammy Awards

226 Chapter 10 Diversity

to diverge; instead, they’re more likely to converge and merge into one cultural
channel—the cultural perspective of the same group of people doing the think-
ing. Thus, segregation not only separates people socially, it also segregates their
ideas and suppresses their collective creativity. This is well illustrated in the
book and movie Hidden Figures, which documents how a group of bright, tal-
ented African American female mathematicians—initially segregated from their
white male coworkers at NASA—were eventually integrated into the work
team and made crucial, creative contributions to the successful launching of
America’s first astronaut.

“The nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which
discovers truth out of a
multitude of tongues.”
—William J. Brennan, former
Supreme Court Justice

Drawing on the ideas of others from diverse backgrounds and bouncing our ideas off them
stimulates divergent (out-of-the-box) thinking, generates synergy (multiplication of ideas),
and creates serendipity (unexpected discoveries of innovative ideas).

Diversity Enhances Career Preparation and Career Success
Whatever line of work today’s college graduates decide to pursue, they’re likely to
find themselves working with employers, co-workers, customers, and clients from
diverse cultural backgrounds. America’s workforce is now more diverse than at any
time in history and will grow ever more diverse throughout the 21st century. By
2050, the proportion of American workers from minority ethnic and racial groups
will jump to 55%.

“The benefits that accrue to college students who are exposed to racial and ethnic diversity during their
education carry over in the
work environment. The
improved ability to think
critically, to understand
issues from different points
of view, and to collaborate
harmoniously with co-work-
ers from a range of cultural
backgrounds all enhance a
graduate’s ability to
contribute to his or her
company’s growth and
—Business/Higher Education Forum

National surveys show that policymakers, business leaders, and employers seek
college graduates who are more than just “aware” or “tolerant” of diversity. They
want graduates who have actual experience with diversity and can collaborate with
diverse co-workers, clients, and customers.

In addition to the growing domestic diversity within the United States, the
current “global economy” requires skills relating to international diversity. The
work world today if characterized by economic interdependence across nations,
international trading, multinational corporations, international travel, and in-
stantaneous worldwide communication (due to ongoing advances in electronic
technology). Even smaller companies and corporations are becoming more in-
ternational in nature. As a result, employers in all sectors of the economy are
seeking job candidates with the following skills and attributes: sensitivity to
human differences, ability to understand and relate to people from
different cultural backgrounds, international and intercultural knowledge, and
ability to communicate in a second language.

The growth in both domestic and international diversity has made intercul-
tural competence an essential 21st century skill. Intercultural competence may be
defined as the ability to appreciate and learn from human differences and to in-
teract effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It includes
knowledge of cultures and cultural practices (one’s own and others), complex
cognitive skills for decision making in intercultural contexts, social skills to
function effectively in diverse groups and such personal attributes flexibility and
openness to new ideas.

“Technology and advanced communications have transformed the world into a global community, with
business colleagues and
competitors as likely to live in
India as in Indianapolis. In
this environment, people
need a deeper understanding
of the thinking, motivations,
and actions of different
cultures, countries and
—Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Reflection 10.10

What intercultural skills do you think you already possess? What additional intercultural skills do
you think you need to develop to maximize your career readiness ?

Chapter 10 Diversity 227

Stereotyping: A Barrier to Diversity
The word “stereotype” derives from two roots: stereo—to look at in a fixed way, and
type— to categorize or group together (as in the word “typical”). Thus, to stereotype
is to view individuals of the same type (group) in the same (fixed) way. Stereotyping
overlooks or disregards individuality; instead, all individuals sharing the same group
characteristic (e.g., race or gender) are viewed as having similar personal characteris-
tics—as reflected in comments like: “You know how they are; they’re all alike.”

Stereotypes involve bias, meaning “slant.” This bias or slant can tilt toward the
positive or the negative, and be conscious or unconscious—referred to as implicit
bias. Positive bias results in favorable stereotypes (e.g., “Asians are great in science
and math”); negative bias leads to unfavorable stereotypes (e.g., “Asians are nerds
who do nothing but study”). Although most people would reject such blatant ste-
reotypes, humans can (and do) hold overgeneralized beliefs about members of cer-
tain groups. When these overgeneralizations are negative, they malign a group’s
reputation, rob its members of their individuality, and can damage their self-esteem
or self- confidence—as is illustrated in the following story.

When I was six years old, a six-year-old girl from a different racial group told me that
people of my race could not swim. Because I couldn’t swim at that time and she could, I
assumed she was correct. I asked a boy (a member of the same racial group as the girl)
whether her statement was true. He responded emphatically: “Yes, it’s definitely
true!” Since I grew up in an area where few other African Americans were around to
counteract this belief about my racial group, I continued to buy into this stereotype
until I finally took swimming lessons as an adult. After many lessons, I am now a
lousy swimmer because I didn’t even attempt to swim until I was an adult. Moral of
this story: Group stereotypes can limit the personal confidence and performance po-
tential of members of the stereotyped group.

—Aaron Thompson

Gender stereotypes continue to impair women’s potential to pursue leadership
opportunities. Although significantly more women today hold management posi-
tions, they hold a very small percentage of high-level leadership positions in Ameri-
ca’s top (Fortune 500) companies, and compared to other countries, American
women hold fewer political leadership positions in our nation’s legislature. A key
factor contributing to the high-level leadership position gap between men and
women is the long-held gender stereotype that “women take care and men take
charge.” Women continue to be responsible for the majority of childcare responsi-
bilities, and when working women take time off from their careers to bear and care
for children, their lost work time is often held against them when they are evaluated
for promotion to high-level leadership positions.

The adverse effects of gender stereotyping on women’s career advancement is
compounded further by a phenomenon known as homosocial reproduction—the ten-
dency for organizations to replace departing members with candidates whose char-
acteristics are similar to the departing members or similar to the characteristics of
the person hiring the departing members’ replacements. In elite organizations,
males dominate high-level leadership positions, so when it’s time to hire or advance
another member, their tendency (sometimes unconscious) is to select another male.

Even when female leaders manage to rise to high-level leadership positions,
they often encounter a double standard: They’re likely to be expected to display
traditional, masculine-like leadership traits while still remaining “feminine.” For

228 Chapter 10 Diversity

instance, being assertive and task-oriented are considered positive leadership quali-
ties in men, but if women display these traits, they may be viewed as being unfemi-
nine and lacking warmth. Such gender bias not only limits leadership opportunities
for women, it also limits the diversity of the pool of leadership candidates an orga-
nization can choose from, which, in turn, can limit an organization’s overall

Reflection 10.11

1. Have you ever been stereotyped based on your appearance or group membership? If so,
what was the stereotype and how did it make you feel?

2. Do you think there are certain groups on your campus that may be especially vulnerable
to stereotyping? If yes, what are these groups and what type of stereotypes do you think
they encounter?

Neither males nor females should let gender stereotypes limit their career options.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Chapter 10 Diversity 229

If members of a stereotyped group are judged and evaluated in a negative way, the
result is prejudice. Typically, prejudice involves stigmatizing—ascribing inferior or
unfavorable traits to people who belong to the same group. The word “prejudice”
means to “pre-judge.” Thus, prejudice may be defined as a negative stereotype
about a group of people that’s formed before the facts are known.

“See that man over there? Yes.
Well, I hate him.
But you don’t know him.
That’s why I hate him.
—Gordon Allport, influential social
psychologist and author of The Nature
of Prejudice

A person who holds a group prejudice typically avoids contact with mem-
bers of the stigmatized group. This avoidance leaves little or no opportunity for
the prejudiced person to have positive experiences with members of the stigma-
tized group that could contradict or disprove the prejudice. The result is a vi-
cious cycle whereby the prejudiced person continues to avoid contact with
members of the stigmatized group, which, in turn, continues to maintain and
reinforce the prejudice.

Another way in which prejudice remains intact after it’s formed is through a
psychological process known as selective perception—the tendency for biased (prej-
udiced) people to see what they expect to see and fail to see what contradicts their
bias. Have you ever noticed how fans rooting for their favorite sports team tend
to focus on and “see” the referees’ calls that go against their own team, but don’t
seem to react (or even notice) the calls that go against the opposing team? This is
a classic example of selective perception. In effect, selective perception takes the
adage, “seeing is believing” and turns it into “believing is seeing.” It leads preju-
diced people to continue “seeing” things that are consistent with their prejudicial
belief while remaining “blind” to things that refute or contradict it. ”

“We see what is behind our
—Chinese proverb

Making matters worse, selective perception is often accompanied by selective
memory—the tendency for prejudiced people to remember information that sup-
ports their prejudicial belief and forget information that contradicts it. The two
prejudice-preserving processes of selective perception and selective memory work
together, and often unconsciously. As a result, people may not even be aware that they
are using these processes and that their use of them is holding their prejudice in
place and preventing it from being challenged or changed.

Reflection 10.12

Have you ever witnessed selective perception or selective memory—people seeing or
recalling what they believe to be true (due to bias) rather than what’s actually true?

If yes, what bias was involved and how was selective perception or selective memory
used to support the bias?

The term “discriminate” means to “divide” or “separate.” In contrast to prejudice,
which is a belief, attitude, or opinion, discrimination is an action. Technically, dis-
crimination can be either negative or positive—for example, a discriminating eater
may be careful about eating only healthy foods. However, the term is most often as-
sociated with a harmful act that results in a prejudiced person engaging in unfair or
unjust action toward another person or group. For instance, the action of firing or
not hiring people based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation is an act of dis-
crimination. Thus, discrimination could be described as prejudice put into action.

230 Chapter 10 Diversity

Box 10.4 contains a summary of biases, prejudicial beliefs, and discriminatory
behaviors that have plagued humankind and interfered with acceptance and appre-
ciation of human diversity. As you read through the list, place a checkmark next to
any form of prejudice that you, a family member, or a friend has experienced.

Box 10.4
Barriers to Diversity Acceptance and
Appreciation: Biases, Prejudices, and
Discriminatory Behaviors
• Ethnocentrism: viewing one’s own culture or ethnic

group as “normal” or “superior” while viewing other
cultures as “deficient” or “inferior.”
Example: Viewing another culture as “abnormal” or
“uncivilized” because its members eat animals that our
culture views unacceptable to eat, although we eat
animals their culture views unacceptable to eat.

• Stereotyping: viewing all (or virtually all) members of
the same group in the same way—as having the same
personal qualities or characteristics.
Example: “If you’re Italian, you must be in the Mafia, or
have a family member who is.”

• Prejudice: negative pre-judgment about another group
of people.
Example: Women can’t be effective leaders because
they’re too emotional.

• Discrimination: unequal and unfair treatment of a
person or group of people that puts prejudice into
Example: Paying women less than men for performing
the same job, even though they have the same level of
education and job qualifications.

• Segregation: intentional decision made by a group to
separate itself (socially or physically) from another
Example: “White flight”—white people moving out of
neighborhoods when people of color move in.

• Racism: belief that one’s racial group is superior to
another group and expressing that belief in attitude
(prejudice) or action (discrimination).
Example: Confiscating land from American Indians
based on the unfounded belief that they are “uncivi-
lized” or “savages.”

• Institutional Racism: racial discrimination rooted in
organizational policies and practices that disadvantage
certain racial groups.
Example: Race-based discrimination that denies or
restricts mortgage lending, bank loans, and housing
opportunities to members of certain racial groups.

• Racial Profiling: investigating or arresting someone
solely based on the person’s race, ethnicity, or national

origin, without sufficient evidence of criminal behavior.
Example: Police making a traffic stop or conducting a
personal search based solely on an individual’s racial

• Slavery: forced labor in which people are viewed as
property, held against their will, and deprived of the
right to receive wages.
Example: The legal enslavement of blacks in the United
States until 1865.

• “Jim Crow” Laws: formal and informal laws created by
whites to segregate blacks after the abolition of slavery.
Example: laws in certain parts of the US that required
blacks to use separate bathrooms and be educated in
separate schools.

• Colorism: a form of racism that is biased against
darker-skinned people of color.
Example: Darker-skinned Mexican Americans are more
likely to be singled out and targeted with “go back to
Mexico” chants than lighter-skinned Mexican

• Apartheid: an institutionalized system of “legal
racism” supported by a nation’s government. (Apart-
heid derives from a word in the Afrikaan language,
meaning “apartness.”)
Example: South Africa’s nationalized system of racial
segregation and discrimination that was in place from
1948 to 1994.

“Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” —Nelson Mandela, anti-apartheid revolutionary, first black president of
South Africa after Apartheid, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize


• Hate Crimes: criminal action motivated solely by
prejudice toward the crime victim.
Example: Acts of vandalism or assault that explicitly
target members of a particular ethnic group or persons
of a particular sexual orientation.

• Hate Groups: organizations whose primary purpose is
to promote prejudice, discrimination, or aggression
toward certain groups of people based on their ethnic-
ity, race, religion, etc.

Chapter 10 Diversity 231

Example: The Ku Klux Klan—an American hate group
that harbors and perpetrates prejudice against all
non-white races.

• Genocide: mass murdering of a particular ethnic or
racial group.
Example: The Holocaust, in which millions of Jews
were systematically murdered during Germany’s Nazi
regime. Other examples include the mass murdering of
Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge regime, the mass
murdering of Bosnian Muslims in the former country of
Yugoslavia, and the systematic slaughter of the Tutsi
minority by the Hutu majority in Rwanda.

• Classism: prejudice or discrimination based on social
class, particularly toward people of lower socioeco-
nomic status.
Example: Acknowledging the contributions made by
politicians and wealthy industrialists to America, while
ignoring the contributions of poor immigrants, farmers,
slaves, and pioneer women.

• Religious Intolerance: denying the fundamental
human right of people to hold religious beliefs, or to
hold religious beliefs different from one’s own.
Example: An atheist who forces non-religious (secular)
beliefs on others, or a member of a religious group who
believes that other groups holding different religious
beliefs are infidels or “sinners.”


“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams— they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do— they all contain truths.” —Muhammad Ali, three-time world heavyweight boxing champion,
member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and recipient of the
Spirit of America Award as the most recognized American in the world

• Anti-Semitism: prejudice or discrimination toward

Jews and other people who practice the religion of
Example: Disliking or discriminating against Jews
because they’re the ones who “killed Christ.”

• Xenophobia: fear or hatred of foreigners, outsiders, or
Example: Believing (without evidence) that certain
immigrant groups should be banned from entering the
country because they’ll undermine the nation’s
economy and increase its crime rate.

• Nativism: a political policy of preserving or advancing
the interests of native inhabitants against those
of immigrants, including opposition to immigration
based on fears that immigrants (particularly those of
certain nations) will distort or displace the nation’s
existing cultural norms and values. (Note: People who

hold this political position, however, do not view it as a
form of prejudice, but as a form of patriotism.) Exam-
ple: The Chinese Exclusion Act—a federal law passed in
1882 that banned all Chinese immigrants from entering
the United States, based on the belief that Chinese
workers were hurting the American economy. It was the
first law implemented in America that prohibited all
members of a specific ethnic or national group from
entering the country.

• Regional Bias: prejudice or discrimination based on the
geographical region in which an individual is born and
Example: A northerner who thinks that all southerners
are racists.

• Nationalism: extreme identification with one’s own
nation, to the point of overlooking any of its flaws and
neglecting the needs of other nations or the common
needs of all nations.
Example: “Blind patriotism”—failing to see the short-
comings of one’s own nation and viewing anyone who
questions or criticizes one’s own nation as being
disloyal or “unpatriotic.” (As in the slogan, “America:
right or wrong” or “America: love it or leave it!”) Note:
Jingoism is an extreme form of nationalism character-
ized by an aggressive foreign policy that advocates for
use of threat and military force (rather than peaceful
relations and negotiation) to preserve or advance the
interests of one’s own nation, often without regard for
the needs and interests of other nations.

“Above all nations is humanity.” —Motto of the University of Hawaii
• Terrorism: intentional acts of violence committed

against civilians that are motivated by political or
religious prejudice.
Example: The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United

• Sexism: prejudice or discrimination based on sex or
Example: Believing that women should not pursue
careers in fields traditionally occupied by men (e.g.,
engineering or politics) because they lack the innate
qualities or natural skills to succeed.

• Heterosexism: belief that heterosexuality is the only
acceptable sexual orientation.
Example: Believing gays should not have the same
legal rights and career opportunities as heterosexuals.

• Homophobia: extreme fear or hatred of homosexuals.
Example: Creating and contributing to anti-gay

232 Chapter 10 Diversity

websites, or “gay bashing” (physical acts of violence
toward gays).

• Ageism: prejudice or discrimination toward certain age
groups, particularly the elderly.

Example: believing that “old” people are too frail or
demented to drive or make important decisions.

• Ableism: prejudice or discrimination toward people
who are disabled or handicapped (physically, mentally,
or emotionally).
Example: Intentionally avoiding social contact with
people in wheelchairs.

Reflection 10.13

As you read through the above list, were there any forms of prejudice that you, a
family member, or a friend experienced?

What happened in these instances and why do you think it happened?

Strategies for Overcoming Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
People often hold prejudices, stereotypes, or subtle biases without being fully aware
that they hold them. The following strategies may be used to remain aware of our
unconscious biases and reduce our risk of developing them in the first place.

Consciously avoid preoccupation with physical appearances. Remember the old
proverb: “It’s what’s inside that counts.” Judge others not by the familiarity of
their outer features, but by the merits of their inner qualities.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”—Bible, John 7:24 Form impressions of others on a person-to-person basis, not according to
their group membership. This may seem like a simple and obvious thing to do,
but research shows that humans have a natural tendency to perceive individuals
from unfamiliar groups as being more alike than individuals of their own group. We
need to remain mindful of this tendency and make a conscious effort to avoid per-
ceiving and treating members of unfamiliar groups in terms of some general (ste-
reotypical) rule of thumb, but as unique individuals.

“You can’t judge a book by the cover.”—1962 hit song by Ellas McDaniel,a.k.a. Bo Diddley (Note: a “bo diddley” is a one-stringed African

Take a stand against prejudice and discrimination by constructively disagreeing
with others who make stereotypical statements and prejudicial remarks. By say-
ing nothing, you may avoid conflict, but silence can send the message that you tac-
itly agree with the person making a prejudicial remark. Studies show that when
members of the same group observe one of its own members making a prejudicial
comment about a member of another group, prejudice increases among other
members of the prejudiced member’s group—probably due to peer pressure and
group conformity. However, if the group member’s prejudicial remark is challenged
by a member of his or her own group, particularly a member who is liked and re-
spected by other group members, it reduces the prejudice of the person making the
remark as well any similar prejudice held by other members of the group. Thus, by
taking a leadership role and challenging a peer who makes prejudicial comments,
you’re not only likely to reduce the prejudice of the person making the comments,
but also the prejudice of others who may have heard the prejudicial remark.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
—Martin Luther King, civil rights
leader and winner of the Nobel
Peace Prize

Chapter 10 Diversity 233

By actively opposing prejudice on campus, you demonstrate leadership qualities and personal
character, and you send a clear message to other members of the campus community that valuing
diversity is not just the “politically correct” thing to do, but the morally right thing to do.

Reflection 10.14

Would you say your campus climate or culture supports and facilitates intercultural interaction
among students from different racial and cultural backgrounds? Is there anything you could
do to try to improve your campus climate so that it’s more supportive of, or conducive to,
intercultural interaction?

(Review your results from our AchieveWORKS Personality assessment report.
How might the recommendations you received about your interpersonal skills en-
able you to become more adept at connecting with people from cultural back-
grounds that are different from your own?)

Strategies for Increasing Personal Contact and Interpersonal
Interaction with Members of Diverse Groups
Research shows that humans display a strong tendency to associate and develop
relationships with others with whom they share similar backgrounds, beliefs,
and interests. Scholars refer to this phenomenon as the “self-similarity princi-
ple.” To experience diversity and its benefits, we need to resist falling prey to
the self-similarity principle by stepping out of our comfort zone and seeking
opportunities to interact with others whose physical and cultural characteristics
differ from our own. Distancing ourselves from diversity ensures we’ll never ex-
perience it and benefit from it. The following practices increase your access to
and interaction with members of diverse groups.

Place yourself in situations and locations on campus where you’re most likely
to encounter and experience diversity. Research in social psychology confirms
what we’d expect: People who regularly find themselves in the same place at the
same time are more likely to communicate and form relationships with one an-
other. Research also shows that if regular contact takes place between members
of different racial or ethnic groups, stereotyping is sharply reduced and inter-
cultural friendships are more likely to form. You can create these conditions by
making an intentional attempt to position yourself near diverse students in
class, the library, or student café, and by teaming up with them for group dis-
cussions, study groups, and group projects. Also, consider spending time at the
multicultural center on campus or become a member of a campus club or orga-
nization whose purpose is to promote diversity awareness, interaction, and ap-
preciation (e.g., multicultural or international club). Putting yourself in these
social contexts will enable you to make regular contact with members of unfa-
miliar cultural groups, and by taking the initiative to visit with them on “their
turf,” you send a clear message that you value them and are ready to learn with
and from them.

234 Chapter 10 Diversity

Reflection 10.15

Your comfort level seeking out diversity is likely to depend on how much prior experi-
ence you’ve had with diverse groups. Rate the amount of diversity you have experi-
enced in the following settings:

1. The high school you attended high moderate low

2. The college or university you now attend high moderate low

3. The neighborhood in which you grew up high moderate low

4. Places where you have been employed high moderate low

Which one of these settings had the most and least diversity? What do you think
accounted for, or contributed to, this discrepancy?

Take advantage of social media to “chat” virtually with students from diverse
groups. Electronic communication can be a convenient and comfortable way
to initiate contact with members of groups with whom you’ve had little prior
experience. Interacting online can also serve to “break the ice” and lead to future
interaction in person.

Engage in co-curricular diversity programs. Studies indicate that student partici-
pation in co-curricular experiences relating to diversity improves critical thinking
and reduces unconscious prejudice. Review your student handbook to identify
co-curricular programs, student activities, student clubs, and campus organiza-
tions that emphasize diversity awareness and intercultural interaction. If your
campus sponsors multicultural or cross-cultural retreats, strongly consider par-
ticipating in them. A retreat setting provides an intimate and comfortable off-
campus environment in which personal interaction with diverse students can take
place without the distractions of familiar friends and regular routines.

Seek out the views and opinions of classmates from diverse backgrounds.
Group discussions among students of different cultures can reduce prejudice and
promote intercultural appreciation, but only if each member’s cultural identity
and perspective is sought out and valued by members of the discussion group.

During group discussions in class, you can demonstrate leadership by seek-
ing out the views and opinions of classmates from diverse backgrounds and en-
suring their ideas are heard. After class discussions have ended, you can also ask
students from different backgrounds if there were points made or positions
taken in class that they would strongly question or challenge but didn’t get the
chance or opportunity to do so.

In classes where there’s little or no student diversity, encourage your class-
mates to approach course topics and issues from diverse perspectives. For in-
stance, you might ask: “If there were international students here, what might they
be adding to our discussion?” Or, you could ask: “If members of certain minority
groups were here, would they be offering a different viewpoint?”

Be a community builder who identifies similarities and recurring themes that unite
the ideas and experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. Look for the com-
mon denominators—themes of unity that co-exist with or cut across. As you discuss
issues relating to diversity, look to discover and discuss commonalities that traverse

Chapter 10 Diversity 235

or transcend group differences, and use these commonalities to create a sense of
community among members of diverse groups. For instance, individuals from differ-
ent ethnic and racial groups are likely to have shared experiences as citizens of the
same country, persons of the same gender, or members of the same generation.

When discussions of diversity focus exclusively on intergroup differences without
also attending to intergroup commonalities, it can heighten divisiveness between
groups and cause members of minority groups to feel further isolated or alienated.
To minimize this risk, dig below the surface of group differences and unearth com-
mon ground on which all groups stand. One way to do so is by calling students’ at-
tention to the universal experiences shared by all human groups. For instance, before
immediately launching into a discussion of diversity, first discuss the common ele-
ments of all cultures (see Box 10.1, p. 214), or common components of the human
self and development (described in Chapter 2, pp, 42-43). Taking time to raise aware-
ness of what different groups have in common can help defuse feelings of divisiveness
and supply a solid foundation on which open and honest discussions of group differ-
ences can be built.

If you are given the opportunity to form your own discussion groups and group-
project teams, join or create groups of students from diverse backgrounds. You
can gain greater exposure to diverse perspectives by intentionally joining or form-
ing learning groups with students that differ in terms of their members’ gender,
age, race, or ethnicity. Including diversity in your discussion groups not only cre-
ates social variety, it also enhances the quality of the group’s discussion by allowing
members to gain access to and learn from multiple perspectives. For instance, if a
group is composed of members who are diverse with respect to age, older students
will bring a broad range of practical life experiences to the group discussion that
younger students can draw on and learn from, while younger students will bring a
more contemporary and idealistic perspective that can enrich the intergenerational
group discussion.

Intentionally incorporating gender diversity into your group discussions can ex-
pose group members to different learning approaches and ways of understanding
issues exhibited by males and females. Studies show that males are more likely to be
“separate knowers”—they tend to “detach” themselves from the concept or issue
being discussed so they can analyze it. In contrast, females are more likely to be
“connected knowers”—they tend to relate personally to concepts and connect them
with their own experiences and the experiences of others. For example, when inter-
preting a poem, males are more likely to ask: “What techniques can I use to analyze
it?” In contrast, females are more likely to ask: “What is the poet trying to say to
me?” Both learning approaches are valuable, and you can capitalize on the benefits
of both approaches by forming gender-diverse discussion groups.

It’s also been found that during group discussions females are more likely to
work collaboratively, sharing their ideas with others and collecting ideas from oth-
ers. In contrast, males are more likely to adopt a competitive approach and debate
the ideas of others. Consistent with these results are studies of females in leadership
positions, which reveal that women are more likely to adopt a democratic or partic-
ipative style of leadership than men.

Form and facilitate collaborative learning teams composed of students from diverse
backgrounds. A learning team is much more than a discussion group. A discussion
group simply discusses (tosses around) ideas. A learning team moves beyond discus-
sion to collaboration—its members “co-labor” (work together) to reach the same
goal. Research from kindergarten to college indicates that when students’ academic
performance and interpersonal skills are strengthened when they work collabora-

236 Chapter 10 Diversity

tively in teams. Also, when individuals from different racial groups work in teams
toward the same goal, racial prejudice decreases and interracial friendships increase.
These positive developments may be explained, in part, by the fact that when mem-
bers of diverse groups join together on the same team, nobody belongs to an “out”
group (“them”); instead, everybody belongs to the same “in” group (“us”).

The physical environment or location where teamwork takes place can also
influence the nature and quality of the team’s work. Teammates are more likely
to interact openly and work collaboratively if their work takes place in a
friendly, informal environment that’s conducive to relationship building. If pos-
sible, have your team come together in a living room or a lounge area. Com-
pared with a sterile classroom, these environments supply a warmer atmosphere
that’s more conducive to collaboration.

After engaging in group work, take time to reflect on the experience. The final
step in any learning process, whether it be learning from a professor or learning
from a group discussion, is to step back from what’s taken place and thoughtfully
review it. Deep learning requires not only effortful action but also thoughtful re-
flection. You can reflect on and learn from learning experiences that take place in
diverse groups by asking yourself (and your group) the following questions:
• What major similarities in viewpoints did all group members share? (What

common themes emerged?)
• What major differences of opinion were expressed by diverse members of the

group? (What were the variations on the themes?)
• Were there particular topics or issues raised that provoked intense discussion or

passionate reaction from certain members of the group?
• Did the group discussion cause individuals to change their mind about an idea

or position they originally held?

Reflection 10.16

Do you think you will you have opportunities to form diverse discussion groups or learning
teams? If yes, what types of diversity would you seek to include?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information related to the ideas discussed in this chapter, consult the
following websites:

Cross-cultural communication:
Understanding Privilege:
Combating stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination:
LGBTQ Acceptance and Support:
“It Gets Better Project,” at
Preservation of human rights worldwide:



Chapter 10 Exercises
10.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation of why you chose it.

10.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the practices suggested for increasing personal contact and interpersonal interaction with members of diverse
groups on pp. 233–236. Select two that you think are most important and intend to put into practice.

10.3 Reality Bite
Hate Crime: A Racially Motivated Murder
Jasper County, Texas, has a population of approximately 31,000 people. In this county, 80% of the people are white, 18% are
black, and 2% are of other races. The county’s poverty rate is considerably higher than the national average, as its average
household income. In 1998, the mayor, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and two councilmen were black. From
the outside, Jasper appeared to be a town with racial harmony, and its black and white leaders were quick to state that there
was no racial tension in Jasper.

However, one evening in Jasper, James Byrd Jr.—a 49-year-old African American man—was walking home along a road and
was offered a ride by three white males. Rather than taking Byrd home, Lawrence Brewer (age 31), John King (age 23), and
Shawn Berry (age 23)—three men linked to white-supremacist groups—took Byrd to an isolated area and began beating him.
They then dropped his pants to his ankles, painted his face black, chained Byrd to their truck, and dragged him for
approximately three miles. The truck was driven in a zigzag fashion to inflict maximum pain on the victim. Byrd was
decapitated after his body collided with a culvert in a ditch alongside the road. His skin, arms, genitalia, and other body parts
were strewn along the road, and his torso was found dumped in front of a black cemetery. Medical examiners testified that
Byrd was alive for much of the dragging incident.

When the three assailants were brought to trial, their bodies were covered with racist tattoos. As a result of the murder,
Byrd’s family created the James Byrd Foundation for Racial Healing. A wrought iron fence that separated black and white
graves for more than 150 years in Jasper Cemetery was removed in a special unity service. Members of the racist Ku Klux Klan
have since visited the gravesite of Byrd several times, leaving racist stickers and other marks that angered the Jasper
community and Byrd’s family.

Reflection Questions
1. What factors do you think were responsible for this incident?

2. Could this incident have been prevented? If yes, how? If no, why not?

3. How likely do you think an incident like this could take place in your hometown or in the community near your campus?

4. If this event happened to take place in your hometown, how do you think members of the community would react?


10.4 Reality Bite
Hate Crime: Homophobic Murder
In October 1998, Matthew Shepard—a 21-year-old University of Wyoming freshman— was fatally beaten a few hours after
attending a planning of a Gay Awareness Week meeting on campus. Following the meeting, Matthew went to local bar
where he met two individuals, Aaron James McKinney and Russell Henderson, who pretended to be gay and lured Matthew
to their truck, where McKinney said: “Guess what, we’re not gay. You’re going to get jacked. It’s Gay Awareness Week!”
McKinney and Henderson began beating Shepard inside the truck and drove him to an isolated place in the countryside. They
tied him to a fence and pistol whipped him with a handgun. The assailants then stole Shepard’s wallet and shoes, tied him to
a fence, and left him to die. Matthew Shepard died five days after the attack. An autopsy revealed that he had been hit in the
head 18 times. He also sustained bruises on the back of his hands while trying to protect himself as well as bruises around his
groin—indicating that he’d been kicked numerous times. After the incident, one of the assailants explained his actions to his
girlfriend, by saying: “Well you know how I feel about gays.”

Russell Henderson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. McKinney was about to begin trial to determine
whether he should be put to death, but Matthew Shepard’s parents persuaded the prosecution not to pursue the death
penalty and allow him to be sentenced to life in prison instead.

In October 2018—20 years after his slaying—a service and celebration of Matthew Shepard’s life was conducted and attended
by more than 2,000 people; many others watched online. The service was led by Gene Robinson—the first openly gay bishop
of the Episcopal Church. For Shepard’s family and friends, the 2018 service was their first opportunity to publicly celebrate
Matthew’s life because at the time of his 1998 slaying, anti-gay protesters disrupted his funeral service by confronting and
screaming at the funeral-goers. The hostility at the first service was so intense, that Matthew’s father was advised to wear a
bulletproof vest under his suit.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1. Why or how do you think the attackers developed such an intense hatred of gay men?

2. What, if anything, could have been done to prevent the attackers’ hatred toward gays from developing in the first place?

3. Do you think the attackers could ever be successfully rehabilitated, educated, or treated for their homophobia?

4. Would you say that homophobia and hatred of gays is currently decreasing or increasing? Why?

10.5 Gaining Awareness of Your Group Identities
An individual is likely to be a member of multiple groups at the same
time and membership in these overlapping groups is likely to have a
combined effect on that individual’s development and personal identity.
In the adjacent figure, consider the shaded center circle to be yourself
and the six non-shaded circles to be six different groups of which you are
a member. You can use the diversity spectrum on p. 210 to identify
different group memberships that apply to you.

Fill in the non-shaded circles with the names of groups to which you
belong that have had the most influence on your personal development
and identity. Don’t feel compelled to fill in all six circles; more important
than filling in all the circles is identifying those groups to which you
belong that have most influenced your life.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company


Self-Assessment Questions:
1. Which one of your groups has had the greatest influence on your development or identity? Why?

2. Have you ever felt limited or disadvantaged by being a member of any group(s) to which you belong? Why?

3. Have you experienced advantages or privileges as a result of being a member of any group(s) to which you belong?

10.6 Intercultural Interview
1. Find a person on campus from a cultural group with which you’ve had little previous contact. Ask that person for an

interview, and during the interview, ask the following questions.

• What does “diversity” mean to you?

• What prior experiences have affected your current viewpoints or attitudes about diversity?

• What would you say have been the major influences and turning points in your life?

• Who would are your role models, heroes, or sources of inspiration?

• What societal or national contributions made by your cultural group are you most proud of and think should be

• What is something that you hope will never again be said about your cultural group?

2. Answer the above questions as If you were the interviewee instead of the interviewer.

10.7 Hidden Bias Test
Go to and take one or more of the hidden bias tests on this website.
These tests assess subtle or unconscious biases a person may have with respect to gender, age, ethnic minority groups,
religious denominations, sexual orientations, disabilities, and body weight.

After completing the test, answer the following questions:

1. Do you think your results were accurate?

2. Did the results suggest that you had a bias of which you were unaware?

3. If your answer to the previous question was “yes,” what do you think may have caused or contributed to this bias?

4. If your closest family member and best friend took the test, how do you think their results would compare with yours?



Financial Literacy

Chapter Purpose & PreviewResearch shows that students who accumulate high amounts of debt in college are more
likely to experience higher levels of personal stress, lower levels of academic performance,
and higher risk of withdrawing from college. However, research also shows that students who
use effective money-borrowing and money-management strategies are able to minimize
debt, save money while in college, and increase the likelihood they will complete college and
enter a productive career. This chapter identifies research-based strategies for making wise
decisions about student loans and managing debt, tracking personal income and expenses,
and striking a healthy balance between working for grades and working for pay.

Learning GoalGain greater fiscal self-awareness and knowledge of effective strategies for managing
money, financing your college education, and planning your financial future.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 11.1

When it comes to managing money or financial planning, would you rate yourself
as: good, adequate, or poor?

What would be one thing about your money-management or financial planning
skills that you think needs the most improvement?

For many students, starting college marks the start of greater personal indepen-
dence and greater responsibilities for financial self-management and fiscal plan-
ning. College students’ ability to manage money is growing in importance for a
number of reasons. One reason is that the rising cost of a college education has re-
sulted in students working more hours while in college and trying to save enough
money to pay for college. The higher cost of a college education also requires more
difficult fiscal decisions about what options (or combination of options) to use to
meet college expenses. Unfortunately, research indicates that many students today
make decisions about financing their college education that are not most the effec-
tive way to promote their academic success and make steady progress to graduation.

Another reason why money management is growing in importance for college
students is the availability and convenience of credit cards. It’s never been easier to

242 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

access, use, and abuse credit cards. Credit agencies and bureaus now closely moni-
tor college students’ credit card payments and routinely report their “credit score”
to credit card companies and banks. There is a statistical relationship between using
credit cards responsibly and being a responsible employee, so employers are check-
ing a student’s credit score and using it as an indicator or predictor of how responsi-
ble that student is likely to be as an employee. Thus, using credit irresponsibly
while in college can affect a student’s ability to land a job after (or during) college.
In addition, students’ credit scores affect their likelihood of qualifying for car and
home loans as well as their ability to rent an apartment.

College graduates today can do everything right while they were in college,
such as get good grades, get involved on campus, and get work experience before
graduating, but a poor credit history while in college can harm them after college,
reducing their opportunities to obtain future credit and their prospects for future
employment. Furthermore, accumulating high levels of debt while in college is as-
sociated with higher levels of stress, lower academic performance, and greater risk
of withdrawing from college.

On the positive side of the ledger, studies show that when college students learn
to use effective money-management and financial-planning strategies (such as
those discussed in this chapter), they can reduce unnecessary spending, minimize
accumulation of debt, and lower their level of stress.

Sources of Income for Financing a College Education
College students’ income typically comes from three sources:

• Loans that are to be repaid
• Scholarships or grants that are not repaid
• Salaries earned from part-time or full-time work

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the application used by the
US Department of Education to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility. It asks
for personal and family financial information to assess whether the student qualifies for
federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-
study employment. To make this assessment, the government uses a formula to calcu-
late the student’s estimated family contribution (EFC)—the amount of money the stu-
dent’s family should be able to contribute to the cost of the student’s college education.

No fee is charged to complete the FAFSA application, so if you think you are
eligible, or might be eligible for financial aid, you should complete an application.
(See the Financial Aid Office on your campus for a copy of the FAFSA form and for
help completing it.)

Student Loans
One financial aid option for footing the cost of college are student loans that need
to be eventually repaid. Listed below are some of the more well-known, federally-
funded student loan programs.
• The Federal Perkins Loan: a low-interest loan awarded to exceptionally needy

students. Repayment of the loan begins nine months after a student is no longer
enrolled in college at least half-time.

• The Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan: a loan available to students who are en-
rolled at least half-time that has a fixed interest rate established each year on
July 1. The federal government pays the interest on the loan during the time
that the student is enrolled in college. Repayment for this loan begins six
months after a student is no longer enrolled at least half-time.

“Anecdotes about former students struggling with large amounts of student debt and low earnings get a
lot of press coverage [yet] we
rarely hear about ways in
which the student loan
system increases opportuni-
ties for students.”
—Sandy Baum, research professor,
George Washington University and
a national expert in college
education finance

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 243

• The Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: a loan not based on need that has the
same interest rate as the Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan. Students are re-
sponsible for paying the interest on this loan while they are enrolled in college.

Keep in mind that federal loans and private loans differ in two important ways:

• Federal loans have fixed interest rates that are comparatively low and cannot go

• Private loans have variable interest rates that are very high (often more than
twice that of federal loans) and can go higher at any time. ”

“Apply for as much grant aid as
possible before borrowing, and
then seek lower-interest
federal student loans before
tapping private ones. There is a
lot of student aid that can help
make the expense [of college]
more manageable.
—Sandy Baum, senior policy analyst,
College Board

Despite the much higher interest rate of private loans, they’re the fastest grow-
ing type of loans being used by college students—largely because of aggressive and
sometimes misleading or unethical advertising on loan-shopping websites. Students
sometimes think that they’re getting a federal loan only to find out later that
they’ve taken on a more expensive private loan.

Keep in mind that not all loans are created equal. Compared with private loans,
federally guaranteed student loans are relatively low-cost and may be paid off
slowly after graduation. On the other hand, private lenders of student loans are like
credit-card companies; they charge extremely high interest rates (that can go even
higher at any time) and the loans must be paid off quickly. Private loans should not
be used as a primary loan to help pay for college and they should only be used as a
last resort—when no other option is available for covering college expenses.

Also, keep in mind that federal and state regulations require that students re-
ceiving financial aid must maintain “satisfactory academic progress.” In most cases
this means that these students must:

1. Maintain a satisfactory grade point average (e.g., 2.0 or above) for all college
courses they have taken, even if they have paid for some of these classes with
their own resources.

2. Make satisfactory academic progress (e.g., 12 to 15 units per semester). Their
academic progress will be evaluated at least once per year, usually at the end of
the spring semester to determine if they have earned at least 67% of their at-
tempted credits.

3. Complete a degree or certificate program within a certain period of time.
(Check with your institution’s Financial Aid Office for details.)

If you happen to find yourself temporarily short of funds and need just a small loan
to stay enrolled, your college may offer an emergency student loan program, which pro-
vides students with an immediate, interest-free loan to help them cover short-term ex-
penses (e.g., cost of textbooks) or deal with financial emergencies (e.g., accidents or ill-
nesses). Emergency student loans are typically granted within 24–48 hours, sometimes
even the same day, and usually need to be repaid within two months.

Typically, scholarships are awarded to students at the time they are admitted to col-
lege, but some scholarships may be awarded at a later point in the college experi-
ence. Scholarships tend to fall into two general categories:

• Merit-based scholarships—awarded on the basis of academic performance or

• Need-based scholarships—awarded on the basis of fi nancial need

244 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

To see if there are merit-based or need-based scholarships that you may still be
eligible to receive, check with your Financial Aid Office. Scholarships are also avail-
able from organizations other than your college. To find them, just conduct an In-
ternet search using the term “college scholarships.” Keep in mind that scholarships
are very competitive and deadlines are strictly enforced.

Grants are considered to be “gift” aid because, unlike loans, they don’t have to be
repaid. Grants vary in amount, depending on such factors as: (a) the anticipated
contribution of the family to the student’s education (EFC), (b) the cost of the col-
lege or university the student is attending, and (c) the enrollment status of the stu-
dent (part-time or full-time).

The Federal Pell Grant is the largest grant program; it provides need-based aid
to low-income students. If you think you may be eligible, do not hesitate to contact
the Financial Aid Office on your campus.

Veterans Benefits
If you are currently a veteran, you may be eligible for GI Bill benefits. The Mont-
gomery GI Bill (MGIB) provides educational benefits for eligible veterans that in-
clude (but are not limited to) tuition and fees, housing allowance, and stipends for
books or supplies. To receive these benefits, veterans need to maintain certain aca-
demic standards. For details, see if your campus has an office for veteran affairs, or
consult the following website:

Salary Earnings
If you’re relying on salary from off-campus work to pay for college tuition, check to
see if the company that employs you offers tuition reimbursement. Also, check with
the Student Accounts Office on your campus to see if your college offers tuition-
payment plans that allow you to pay tuition on an installment schedule that aligns
with the timing of your paychecks. Tuition-payment plans may also be available on
your campus that allow you flexibility in terms of (a) the amount due per payment,
(b) deadline for payments, and (c) how remaining debt owed to the institution is
dealt with at the end of the term. (Keep in mind that you may not be allowed to
register for the following term until tuition for the previous term has been com-
pletely paid.)

If possible, try to find work on campus rather than off campus. Research shows
that students who work on campus are more likely to succeed in college. This is
probably due to the fact that these students become more connected to the college
and because on-campus employers are more flexible than off-campus employers in
allowing them to work around their academic commitments. For instance, on-cam-
pus employers will arrange students’ work schedule around their class schedule and
allow students to reduce their work hours during midterms and finals. Thus, if at all
possible, rather than working off campus, seek employment on campus.

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 245

Reflection 11.2

Circle any of the following financial resources that you’re currently using to help pay
for your college education: loans, grants, scholarships, salary earnings, savings,
monetary support from parents or other family members, other resources (please

Right now, do you think you have sufficient fiscal resources to complete college? If
yes, why? If no, why not?

Developing Financial Self-Awareness
Developing any good habit begins with the critical first step of self-awareness. De-
veloping effective money-management habits starts with self-awareness of your cash
flow—the amount of money you have coming in and going out. As illustrated in
Figure 11.1, cash flow is monitored by tracking:

• Income—the amount of money you have coming in versus the amount
going out (expenses or expenditures)

• Savings—the amount of money you have earned and not spent (saved)
versus the amount you have borrowed and haven’t paid back (debt)

FIGURE 11.1: The Two-Way
Street of Cash Flow

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Income Expenses

Savings Debt
Once you’re aware of the amount of money you have coming in (and

from what sources) and the amount of money you’re spending (and on what),
you’re positioned to develop a plan for managing your cash flow. The bot-
tom line is simple: Ensure that the sum of money you have coming in (income) is
equal to or greater than the sum of money going out (expenses). If the amount of
money going out exceeds the amount coming in, you’re “in the red” or have “nega-
tive cash flow.”

“Never spend your money
before you have it. ”—Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia

Tracking Cash Flow
You can track your cash flow by using any of the following tools:

• Checking accounts
• Credit cards
• Charge cards
• Debit cards

Checking Accounts
Long before credit cards were created, a checking account was the method most
people used to keep track of their money. Many people still use checking accounts
in addition to (or instead of) credit cards. A checking account may be obtained from
a bank or credit union; its typical costs include a deposit ($20–$25) to open the ac-
count, a monthly service fee (e.g., $10), and small fees for checks. Some banks
charge customers a service fee based on the number of checks written; this is a good
option if you do not plan to write many checks each month. Look for a checking ac-
count that doesn’t charge you if your balance drops below a certain minimum fig-
ure. If you maintain a high enough balance (amount of money deposited in your
account), the bank may not charge any extra fees; if you’re able to maintain an even
higher balance, some banks may also pay you interest—known as an interest-
bearing checking account.

246 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Along with your checking account, banks usually provide you with an automatic
teller machine (ATM) card that you can use to get cash. Look for a checking ac-
count that offers free ATM service along with your checking account, rather than
one that charges a separate fee for ATM transactions.

A checking account has several advantages:
• You can carry checks and use them instead of cash for some purchases.
• You have access to cash at almost any time through an ATM.
• You can keep a visible track record of your income and expenses in your check-

ing account.
• If you manage a checking account responsibly, it can serve as a good credit ref-

erence for future loans and purchases.

To make the most effective use of a checking account, apply the following strategies:
• Whenever you write a check or make an ATM withdrawal, immediately sub-

tract its amount from your balance (the amount of money remaining in your ac-
count) and determine your new balance.

• Keep a running balance in your checking account. This will ensure you always
know exactly how much money you have in your account and your risk of
bouncing a check—writing a check for an amount that exceeds the total amount
you have in your account. (If you bounce a check, you’ll probably have to pay a
charge to the bank and possibly to the business that attempted to cash your
bounced check.)

• Double-check the balance in your checking account after each monthly state-
ment you receive from the bank. Be sure to include the service charges your
bank makes to your account; these charges will appear on your monthly state-
ment. Reviewing your checking account on a regular basis will enable you to
catch errors that you or the bank may have made. (Banks can and do occasion-
ally make mistakes.) Also, track your monthly statements to ensure the charges
that appear on your account were not the result of identity theft. (For more in-
formation on identity theft, see Box 11.1, p. 249.)

Credit Cards
A credit card is basically a tool for getting money loaned to you by the company is-
suing the card, which must be paid back to the company on a monthly basis. You
can pay the whole bill or a portion of the bill each month—as long as some mini-
mum payment is made. However, for any remaining (unpaid) portion of your
monthly bill, you are charged a high interest rate—which can be as much as 30%.
Consequently, if you decide to use a credit card, be sure you’re able to pay off your
whole bill (loan) each month.

Also, pay attention to its annual percentage rate (APR)—the interest rate you
must pay for previously unpaid monthly balances. This rate can vary from one
credit card company to the next. Credit card companies also vary in terms of their
annual service fee. You’ll find that companies charging higher interest rates also
charge lower annual fees, and vice versa. As a general rule, if you expect to pay the
full balance every month, you’re probably better off choosing a credit card that
doesn’t charge you an annual service fee. On the other hand, if you think you’ll
need more time to make the full monthly payments, you’re probably better off with
a credit card company that offers a low interest rate.

Credit card companies also differ from one another in terms of whether they
allow a grace period—a period of time after you receive your monthly statement to
pay back the company without paying additional interest fees. Some companies will

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 247

allow you a grace period of a full month, while others may allow you any grace (for-
giveness) period and begin charging interest immediately after they don’t receive
payment on the bill’s due date.

Credit cards also differ in terms of their credit limit (also known as a “credit
line” or “line of credit”)—the maximum amount of money the credit card company
will make available to you. If you’re a new customer, most companies will set a
credit limit beyond which no additional credit will be granted.

If used responsibly, a credit card has the following benefits:
• Because the credit card company sends you a monthly statement with an item-

ized list of all your card-related purchases, a credit-card account can be an ef-
fective and convenient way to track your spending habits. The itemized list of
purchases included in your monthly statement supplies you with a “paper trail”
of what you spent each month and when you spent it.

• A credit card allows you to make purchases online, which can save you time and
money that would otherwise be spent traveling to and from stores.

• A credit card gives you access to cash whenever and wherever you need it. Any
bank or ATM that displays your credit card’s symbol will advance you cash up
to a certain limit (usually for a small transaction fee). However, keep in mind
that some credit card companies charge a higher interest rate for cash advances
than credit card purchases.

• A credit card enables you to establish a personal credit record. If you use a
credit card responsibly, you can establish a good credit history that can be used
later in life for big ticket purchases—such as a car or home. A history of respon-
sible credit-card use shows others from whom you wish to seek credit (or bor-
row money) that you will pay it back. However, don’t buy into the common be-
lief that the only way you can establish a good credit history is by using a credit
card. It’s not your only option; you can also establish a good credit history by
responsible use of a checking account and by always paying your bills on time.

The advantages of a credit card are only gained only if the card is used strategi-
cally. If not, its advantages are quickly and greatly outweighed by its disadvantages.
Listed below are some strategies for using a credit card in ways that maximize its
advantages and minimize its potential disadvantages.

Do not use a credit card to obtain a long-term loan. The credit provided by a
credit card should be seen simply as a short-term loan that must be paid back at the end
of every month. Don’t use credit cards for long-term credit or a long-term loan because
their interest rates are outrageously high. Paying such an exorbitantly high rate of in-
terest for a loan is an ineffective (and irresponsible) money-management practice.

Limit yourself to one credit card. Having more than one credit card means having
more accounts to keep track of and more opportunities to accumulate debt. You don’t
need additional credit cards from department stores, gas stations, or any other profit-
making business because they duplicate what your personal credit card already does
(plus these other cards often charge very high interest rates for late payments).

Make sure you know the specific terms of the credit card agreement. Credit
card companies vary in terms of what they charge you for not paying your full bill
on time and what restrictions they will impose on your use of the card if you accu-
mulate debt. Be sure to read the fine print on your contract; if you have any doubts
or questions, contact a representative of the credit card company.

248 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Pay off your credit-card balance each month in full and on time. If you pay the
full amount of your bill each month, this means you’re using your credit card effec-
tively to obtain an interest-free, short-term (one-month) loan. It means that you’re
just paying the principal—the total amount of money borrowed and nothing more.
However, if your payment is late and you end up paying interest, then you end up
paying more for the items you purchased than their actual ticket price. For in-
stance, if you have an unpaid balance of $500 on your monthly credit bill for mer-
chandise purchased the previous month and you’re charged the typical 18% credit
card interest rate for late payment, you end up paying $590: $500 (merchandise) +
$90 (18% interest to the credit card company).

“What I don’t do that I know I should do is pay my bills on time, like my cell phone and credit cards.”
—First-year student

Credit card companies make their profit by the interest they collect from card-
holders who don’t pay back their credit on time. Just as procrastinating about com-
pleting schoolwork is a poor time-management habit that can hurt students’ grades,
procrastinating about paying credit card bills is a poor money-management habit
that can hurt students’ pocketbook by forcing them to pay high interest rates.

Don’t allow credit card companies to make profit at your expense. Pay your total
balance on time and avoid paying exorbitantly high interest rates. If you cannot pay the
total amount owed at the end of the month, don’t just make the minimum monthly
payment, pay as much as you possibly can. If you only make the minimum credit-card
payment each month, you will gradually accumulate a huge amount of credit-card debt.

If you keep making charges on your credit card while you have an unpaid balance (debt), you
no longer have a grace period to pay back your charges; instead, interest is charged immedi-
ately on all your purchases.

“You’ll never get your credit card debt paid off if you keep charging on your card and make only the minimum
monthly payment. Paying
only the minimum is like
using a Dixie cup to bail
water from a sinking boat.”

—Eric Tyson, financial counselor and
national best-selling author of
Personal Finance for Dummies

Reflection 11.3
If you have a credit card, do you pay off the entire balance each month? If you don’t:

a) What’s your average unpaid balance per month?

b) What changes could you make in your money-management habits that would
enable you to pay off your entire balance each month?

Do you have more than one credit card? Why?

Charge Cards
A charge card works similar to a credit card in that you’re given a short-term loan for
one month; the only difference is that you must pay your bill in full at the end of each
month and you cannot carry over any debt from one month to the next. Compared to a
credit card, the major disadvantage of a charge card is that it has less flexibility—no
matter what your expenses may be for a particular month, you must still pay up or lose
your ability to obtain credit for the following month. However, the key advantage of
charge card is that if you’re someone who consistently has trouble paying your monthly
credit-card bill on time, it will prevent you from accumulating debt.

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 249

Debit Cards
A debit card looks almost identical to a credit card (e.g., it has a MasterCard or Visa
logo), but it works differently. When you use a debit card, money is immediately
taken out of (subtracted from) your checking account. Like a check or ATM with-
drawal, any purchase you make with a debit card is immediately subtracted from
your balance. Thus, rather than borrowing money, you can only use money that’s
already in your account. At the end of the month, unlike a credit card, you don’t re-
ceive a bill; instead, you get a statement with information about checks you depos-
ited and cashed as well as your debit card transactions. If you attempt to purchase
something with a debit card that costs more than the amount of money you have in
your account, your card will not allow you to do so. Similar to a bounced check, a
debit card will not permit you to pay out any money that’s not in your account.

Like a credit card, a major advantage of a debit card is that it provides you with the
convenience of plastic; however, unlike a credit card, it will not allow you to spend be-
yond your means and accumulate debt. For this reason, many financial advisors rec-
ommend to abusers of credit cards that they use a debit card instead of a credit card.

Box 11.1

Minimizing Risk of Identity Theft
Another key element of effective money management is
being strategic about reducing the risk of financial loss
due to identity theft. Identity thieves steal your personal
information to make transactions or purchases in your
name. This can damage your credit status and cost you
time and money to restore your financial credibility.
Listed below are key strategies for reducing your risk of
identity theft.

• Don’t share information about your personal identity
over the phone, especially your social security or credit
card number, with anyone you don’t know or trust.

• Don’t share identity information over the phone with
anyone who claims to be an Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) agent and threatens you with arrest or deporta-
tion, or who requests personal information for the
purpose of sending you a refund. The IRS will contact
you in writing if it needs anything.

• Don’t respond to e-mails from anyone claiming to be
from the IRS. This is always a scam because the IRS
doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail or
social media to request personal or financial informa-
tion. (The only legitimate communication you will
receive from the IRS is through postal mail.)

• Don’t click on links or open e-mail attachments from
anyone unfamiliar to you. Scam artists create fake
websites and send “phishing” e-mails that use the
names of trustworthy electronic sources (e.g., an
Internet service provider) to get personal information

from you, such as usernames, passwords, and credit
card details.

• Don’t enter your credit card or bank account informa-
tion on any websites.

• Install firewalls and virus detection software on your
computer to protect yourself from being a victim of

• When using your laptop in public, shield your screen
from “shoulder surfers.”

• Don’t carry your Social Security (SSN) card in your
wallet or write it on your checks or emails. Only give
out your SSN to people you know and trust.

• Conceal your personal identification number (PIN). Don’t
supply it to anyone and don’t keep it in your wallet.

• Shred documents containing personal information you
no longer need. (Some identity thieves are “dumpster
divers” who go through garbage to get personal

• Compare your receipts with your account statements
and credit card statements to be sure there are no
transactions you didn’t authorize. If you have an
online account, you can check your account at any
time. It’s a good idea to check your account regularly
(e.g., on a weekly basis).

• If you believe you’ve been victimized by identity theft,
contact your local police department and alert one of
the following credit reporting companies:

Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

250 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Developing a Plan for Managing Money and Minimizing Debt
The ultimate goal of money management is to save money and steer clear of debt.
Here are some strategies for accomplishing both of these goals.

Prepare a personal budget. A budget is simply a plan for coordinating income
and expenses in a way that ensures you’re left with sufficient money to cover your
expenses. A budget enables you to be your own accountant and keep an accurate ac-
count of your expenses. Personal expenses for college students typically fall into
three categories:

“My money management skills are poor. If I have money, I will spend it unless somebody takes it away from
me. I am the kind of person
who lives from paycheck to
—First-year student 1. Basic needs or essential necessities—these are “fixed” expenses because you

can’t live without them—such as, expenditures for food, housing, tuition, text-
books, phone, transportation to and from school, and health-related costs

2. Incidentals or extras—these are “flexible” expenses that are optional or dis-
cretionary—you choose whether or not to purchase them. These expenditures

• money spent on entertainment, enjoyment, or pleasure (e.g., music, movies,
and vacations)

• money spent on promoting personal status or self-image (e.g., buying the
latest gadgets, brand name products, fashionable clothes, jewelry, and other
personal accessories)

3. Emergency expenses—unforeseen or unexpected expenditures (e.g., money
spent to cover unanticipated car repairs or medical services)

Reflection 11.4

What are your most expensive incidentals (optional purchases)?

What could you do to reduce some of these expenses?

Similar to managing time effectively, the first step to managing money effec-
tively is identifying your priorities. First, determine your most important ex-
penses—the indispensable necessities you can’t live without and separate them from
incidentals—dispensable luxuries you can live without or that can be purchased at a
later time. People often confuse essentials (things they really need or must have) with
desirables (stuff they just want or like to have). For instance, some people will see a
piece of merchandise on sale that’s desirable to purchase because it’s such a great
deal and immediately buy it, even though it’s not an essential purchase—they don’t
really need it or don’t need it at that time.

“I shouldn’t buy random stuff (like hair dye) and other stuff when I don’t need it.” —First-year student
Remaining aware of the distinction between essentials that need to be purchased and inciden-
tals that are desirable (but not essential) to purchase is an important first step toward money

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 251

It’s clearly logical that postponing short-term material satisfaction contributes
to long-term financial success. Unfortunately, however, research shows that hu-
mans are often more motivated by short-term rewards that provide immediate grat-
ification. One simple reason why so many people pile up so much debt is because
the short-term satisfaction of an immediate purchase trumps the delayed gratifica-
tion of long-term saving.

We need to offset impulsive spending on what we want with reflective thinking
about what we need. The truth is that humans spend money for a host of psychologi-
cal reasons (conscious or subconscious) that has nothing to do with meeting their
basic needs. For instance, research reveals that people buy things for themselves to:
(a) build up (or restore) their self-esteem or self-image, (b) because they’re bored, or
(c) because shopping gives them an emotional rush or “high.” For others, spending is
an addiction: they do it because they’re obsessed with shopping and do it compul-
sively. It was this type of addiction that led to the creation of Debt ors Anonymous
(DA)—a self-help group for compulsive spenders or “shopaholics” that employs a 12-
step recovery program similar to that used by Alco holics Anonymous (AA).

”“I need to save money and not shop so much and impulse buy.—First-year student
What you’re willing to sacrifice and save for, and what you’re willing to spend on and go into
debt for, says a lot about who you are and what you value.

Make all your bills visible and, if possible, pay them as soon as you see (get)
them. What’s in our sight stays on our mind. If we keep our bills in sight, we’re less
likely to forget about paying them, or forget to pay them on time. If you have the
money needed to pay a bill when you first receive it and see it, pay it then and there,
rather than setting it aside and running the risk of forgetting to pay it (or losing it

You can increase the visibility of your bills and their due dates by posting a fi-
nancial calendar in full view on which you record all fiscal deadlines related to col-
lege (e.g., due dates for tuition payments and financial aid applications). Also, con-
sider setting up an online banking program that will enable you to visually track
your transactions and make credit card payments automatically. The advantage of
an online account is that it’s paperless and you don’t have to deal with bills sent to
you through postal mail. Its disadvantage, however, is that the bills don’t appear in
tangible form in your mailbox, thus you don’t get a visual reminder to pay them. So,
if you set up an online account, be sure to get into the habit of checking it regularly.
Otherwise, bills that stay out of your sight may stay out of your mind and not get
paid on time.

Live within your means. Simply stated: we shouldn’t buy what we can’t afford. If
we’re spending more money than we’re taking in, it means we’re living beyond our
means. To begin living within our means, we have two options: (a) decrease our ex-
penses (reduce our spending) or (b) increase our income (earn more money).

“We choose to spend more
money than we have today.
Choose debt, or choose
freedom, it’s your choice. ”—Bill Pratt, in Extra Credit: The 7 Things
Every College Student Needs to Know
About Credit, Debt & Cash

Most college students work while attending college and work so many hours
that it interferes with their academic performance and educational progress. For
college students who find themselves in debt, their best option is not to work more
hours for more spending money but to reduce spending on nonessentials and begin
living within their means.

252 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

When I was a 4-year-old boy living in the mountains of Kentucky, it was safe for a young
lad to walk the roads and railroad tracks alone. Knowing this, my mother would send me
on long walks to the general store to buy a variety of small items we needed for our
household. Since we had very little money, she was very aware that money should be
spent money only on the most basic necessities. I could only buy items from the general
store that my mother strictly ordered me to purchase. In the early 1960s, most of these
items cost less than a dollar and many times you could buy multiple items for a dollar. At
the store’s checkout counter, there were jars with different kinds of candy or gum. Since
you could buy two pieces for one cent, I didn’t think there would be any harm in reward-
ing myself for completing my shopping errand with just two pieces of candy. I could even
devour the evidence of my disobedience on my slow walk home. When I returned home
from the store, my mother—being the protector of the vault and the sergeant-of-arms in
our household—would count each item I bought to make sure I had been charged cor-
rectly. She never failed to notice if the total was off by a single cent. After discovering
that I had spent an extra cent on something unessential, she scolded me and said in no
uncertain terms: “Boy, you better learn how to count your money if you’re ever going to
be successful in life!” Needless to say, I learned the value of living within my means at a
very early age.

—Aaron Thompson

Reflection 11.5

1. Are you working while attending college?

2. If you are:

a) How many hours per week do you currently work?

b) Do you think that the number of hours you’re working is interfering with your
academic performance or educational progress?

c) Are you working for things you need or for things you want?

Economize. Intelligent consumers use critical thinking skills when making purchases.
For example, they don’t pay more for brand name products that are exactly the same as
less expensive products. Why pay 33% more for Advil or Tylenol when the very same
pain-relieving ingredient (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) is found in a less-expense ge-
neric brand? People can be thrifty without compromising the quality or effectiveness of
the products they use. When we buy a brand name product, what we’re often paying
for is all the advertising that the company making the product pays the media and ce-
lebrities to promote the product and give it a brand (familiar) “name.”

Advertising increases product familiarity, not product quality. The more money manufacturers
pay for advertising to create a well-known brand name, the more money we pay for the product
with that name.

Downsize. Cut down or cut out spending for products you don’t need. Avoid con-
spicuous consumption or exhibitionistic (look-at-me) spending just to keep up with
(or show off to) others. We shouldn’t allow peer pressure to determine our spend-

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 253

ing habits; instead, our consumer decisions should reflect our ability to think criti-
cally, not our desire to conform socially. “It is preoccupation with

possessions, more than
anything else, that prevents us
from living freely and nobly. ”—Bertrand Russell, British philosopher
and mathematician

Save money by living with others rather than living alone. You lose some privacy
when you share living quarters, but you also save a substantial amount of money. If
you can find roommates or housemates with whom you’re compatible and whose
company you enjoy, living with them will have both fiscal and social benefits.

Give gifts of time instead of money. Spending money on gifts for family, friends,
and romantic partners isn’t the only way to show love or affection. The point of gift
giving isn’t to show others that you have money or aren’t cheap, but to show that
you care. You can demonstrate this by making or doing something nice for those
you care about. Compared with store-bought gifts, gifts of time and kindness are
not only more economical, they’re often more personal and special—as illustrated
in the story below.

When my wife (Mary) and I were first dating, I was trying to gain weight because I was
on the thin side. One day when I came home from school, I found this hand-delivered
package in front of my apartment door. I opened it up and there was a homemade loaf of
whole-wheat bread made from scratch by Mary. That gift didn’t cost her much money,
but she took the time to do it and she remembered to do something that was important
to me (gaining weight). That gift really touched me; it’s a gift I’ve never forgotten. Since
I eventually married her and we’re still happily married, I guess I could say that inexpen-
sive loaf of bread was a “gift that kept on giving.”

—Joe Cuseo

Develop your own money-saving strategies and habits. Doing things on daily
basis to save a little money can add up to saving a lot of money in the long run. The
following money-saving strategies were shared by students in a first-year experi-
ence course. Some of these strategies may work for you as well.

• Don’t carry a lot of extra money in your wallet. (It’s just like food; if it’s easy to
get to, you’re more likely to eat it up.)

• Shop with a list—get in, get just what you need, and get out before you spend
money on anything else.

• Put all your extra change in a jar.
• Put extra cash in a piggy bank that requires you to smash the piggy to get at it.
• Seal your savings in an envelope.
• When you get extra money, get it immediately into the bank (and out of your

• Bring (don’t buy) your lunch.
• Take full advantage of your meal plan—you’ve already paid for it, so don’t pay

twice for your meals by buying food elsewhere.
• Use e-mail instead of the phone.
• Hide your credit card or put it in the freezer so that you don’t use it on impulse.
• Use cash (instead of credit cards) because you can easily set aside a certain

amount of it for yourself each week and can clearly see how much of it you have
at the start of a week and how much you have left at any point during the week.

”“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.—Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century inventor, newspaper writer, and cosigner of the Declaration of Independence

254 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Reflection 11.6

Do you use any of the money-saving strategies mentioned on the above list?

Have you found any money-saving strategies of your own that could be added to the
above list?

There is a large jug in my house that my husband and I use to collect change we receive
from our cash purchases. When we shop, we sometimes pay in cash just to get the change
in coins to put in our jug. For example, if a bill comes to $3.02, I will pay the cashier
$4.00 and deposit the 98 cents into the jug when I get home. Over time, our jug really
fills up! By each of us adding a dollar a week to the jar, we can save over $200 a year,
which is cash that certainly comes in handy.

—Michelle Campagna

When making a purchase, consider not only the initial cost, but also the
long-term cost. Short-term thinking leads to poor long-term money management
and financial planning. Short-term (e.g., monthly) installment plans that businesses
offer to entice you to buy expensive products make the initial purchase of those
products appear attractively affordable. However, when you factor in the interest
rates you pay on monthly installment plans, plus the length of time (number of
months) you’re making installment payments, you get a more accurate picture of
the product’s total cost. Taking this long-range perspective on potential purchases
can keep you aware of the reality that a product’s sticker price often represents a
partial short-term cost; its total long-term cost is the true indicator of its

Furthermore, the total long-term cost for purchases sometimes involves addi-
tional “hidden costs” that that are not included in the product’s initial price but
must be paid in order for you to continue using the product. For example, the
sticker price paid for clothes doesn’t include the hidden, long-term costs of having
those clothes dry-cleaned. By just taking just a moment to check the inside label on
a clothing item, you can save yourself this hidden, long-term cost by purchasing
clothes that are machine washable. Similarly, deciding to buy a new car instead of a
used car brings with it not only the cost of a higher sticker price, but also the higher
hidden costs of licensing and insuring the new car (plus any interest fees that must
be paid if the new car was purchased on an installment plan). When you add in
these hidden, long-term payments to a new car’s total cost, buying a good used car
is clearly a much more effective money-management strategy.

Long-Range Fiscal Planning: Financing Your College Education
Thus far, this chapter has focused primarily on short-range and mid-range financial
planning strategies. We turn now to long-term strategies for financing your entire
college education. Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” method for handling the
cost of college, research suggests that the following strategies are usually the most

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 255

Go to college full-time and limit part-time work to no more than 15-20 hours a
week. Studies show that paying for college by obtaining a student loan and working
no more than 15-20 hours per week is a long-range financial strategy that works best
for the vast majority of students. Students who use this strategy are more likely to
graduate from college, graduate in a more timely manner, and graduate with higher
grades than students who go to college full-time and work part-time for more than
15-20 hours per week, or students who work full-time and go to college part-time.

Unfortunately, less than 10% of first-year students use the most effective college-
financing strategy, which is to borrow money in the form of a student loan, attend
college full-time, and work part time for 20 or fewer hours a week. Instead, almost
50% of first-year students choose a strategy that research indicates is the least likely
to be associated with college success: borrowing nothing and trying to work as much
as 30 hours a week. Students who use this strategy earn poorer grades because they
underestimate the amount of time that college students need to spend on academic
work outside of class. As a result, some of these students switch from being a full-
time to a part-time student, which delays their time to graduation and increases their
risk of not graduating at all.

”“People don’t realize how much work it is to stay in college. It’s its own job in itself, plus if you’ve got another job you go to, too. I mean, it’s just a lot.
—First-generation college student

Students who decide to finance their college education by working full-time
and attending college part-time believe it will be less expensive in the long run be-
cause they can avoid or minimize student loans. However, research indicates that
when students use this strategy, it lengthens their time to college completion and
increases their risk of not even completing college. Studies also show that students
who are most likely to default on their loan are students who take out the smallest
loan amount; these students try to work full-time while attending college to mini-
mize their loans, but end up dropping out before earning a degree that would en-
able them to pay back their loans. Even if these full-time working students manage
to complete a college degree, it takes them longer to do so, which costs them more
money in the long run because the hourly pay that students earn from the part-
time jobs they hold while attending college is less than half what they would earn in
full-time positions after college graduation. Thus, the longer it takes students to
graduate from college, the longer they must wait to enter higher-paying, full-time
positions that require a college degree. This delays their opportunity to “cash in”
on the monetary benefits of a college diploma.

The bottom line: Going to college full-time and working part-time for no more than 15-20 hours
per week is the best way to balance earning grades with earning money.

You may have heard the expression: “Time is money.” One way to interpret this
expression is that the more money we spend, the more time we need to spend mak-
ing money. College students who spend more time earning money to pay for mate-
rial things that they want but don’t need, end up spending less time studying,
complete fewer classes, and earn lower grades. You can avoid this negative cycle by
viewing academic work as work that “pays” you in terms of earned credits and
higher grades. By putting in more academic time to earn more course credits and
graduate in less time, you’re paid back by earning a college degree sooner and earn-
ing sooner the full-time salary of a college graduate—which will pay you about
twice as much per hour than part-time work done without a college degree (plus
additional “fringe benefits” such as health insurance and paid vacation time). Fur-
thermore, the time you put into earning higher college grades will likely earn you a
higher starting salary in your first full-time position after college. Research shows
that for students graduating with the same major, those with higher grades earn
higher starting salaries.

”“If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An invest-ment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
—Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century
scientist, inventor, and a founding
father of the United States

256 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Reflection 11.7
Do you need to work part-time to meet your college expenses?

If you answered “yes” to the above question, are you working more than 15 hours per

If you answered “yes” to the above question, are you working these many hours
because you have to, or because you want to?

If you need loans to finance your college education, rely on federally-funded
student loans and avoid credit-card loans. Studies show that two out of three
college students have at least one credit card and nearly one-half of students with
credit cards have an average balance of more than $2,000 per month. A debt level
this high is likely to force many students into working more than 15 hours a week
to pay it off. (As the saying goes, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”) To pay off
their credit card debt, students often end up taking fewer courses per term so they
can work more hours, which results in taking longer to complete a college degree
and to start earning the salary of a college graduate.

Instead of paying almost 20% interest to credit card companies for their
monthly debt, these students would be better off obtaining a student loan with a
much lower interest rate that they don’t have to begin paying back until six months
after graduation—when they will be college graduates making more money in full-
time positions. Despite this clear advantage of student loans compared to credit
card loans, studies show that only about 25% of college students with credit cards
take out student loans.

Student loans are provided by the American government with the intention of helping its
citizens become better educated. In contrast, for-profit businesses (such as credit card compa-
nies) lend students money with the intention of helping themselves make money—from the
high rates of interest they collect from students who fail to pay off their debt in full at the end
of each month.

Keep in mind that not all debt is bad. Debt can be good if it represents an in-
vestment in something that will appreciate—gain in value over time and eventually
turn into profit for the investor. Purchasing a college education on credit is a good
investment because it’s an investment in your future that appreciates in the form of
higher income and benefits accumulated over the course of your life. One study es-
timates that, on average, the fiscal benefits of a college degree are equivalent to an
investment that returns 15.2% per year—which is more than twice the average re-
turn from stock market investments and more than five times the average returns
on investments in bonds, gold, or home ownership.

The long-term fiscal rewards reaped from a college degree clearly offset and
outweigh the debt initially taken on by investing in a college education. In contrast,
purchasing a new car is a poor long-term investment because that investment be-
gins to depreciate or lose monetary value immediately after it’s purchased. The in-
stant you drive that new car off the dealer’s lot, you become the proud owner of a
used car that’s worth much less than what you just paid for and will continue to lose
monetary value over time.

“Unlike a car that depreciates in value each year that you drive it, an investment in education yields monetary,
social, and intellectual profit.
A car is more tangible in the
short term, but an invest-
ment in education (even if it
means borrowing money)
gives you more bang for the
buck in the long run.”
—Eric Tyson, financial counselor and
national best-selling author of
Personal Finance for Dummies

Chapter 11 Financial Literacy 257

Box 11.2

Financial Literacy: Understanding the
Language of Money Management
As you can tell from the number of financial terms used
in this chapter, there’s an entire language that must be
learned to be financially literate. As you read the finan-
cial terms listed below, place a checkmark next to any
term you didn’t know.

Account. A formal business arrangement in which a bank
provides financial services to a customer (e.g., checking
account or savings account).

Annual Fee. Yearly fee paid a credit-card holder pays to
a company to cover the cost of maintaining an account.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Interest rate that must be
paid when monthly credit card balances aren’t paid in full.

Balance. Amount of money in a person’s account, or the
amount of unpaid debt the person owes.

Bounced Check. A check written for a greater amount of
money than the amount contained in a personal check-
ing account, which often requires the account holder to
pay a charge to the bank and possibly to the business that
attempted to cash the bounced check.

Budget. A plan for balancing income and expenses to
ensure that sufficient money is available to cover
personal expenses.

Cash Flow. Amount of money flowing in (income) and
flowing out (expenses); “negative cash flow” occurs
when the amount of money going out exceeds the
amount coming in.

Credit. Money obtained with the understanding that it
will be paid back.

Credit History. Record of how timely and completely a
person has paid off credit in the past.

Credit Line (a.k.a. Credit Limit). The maximum amount
of money (credit) made available to a borrower.

Credit Score. Measure used by credit card companies to
determine if someone applying for a credit card is
“credit worthy” (likely to repay). An applicant with a
low credit score may be denied credit.

Debt. Amount of money owed.

Default. Failure to meet a financial obligation (e.g., a
student who fails to repay a college loan “defaults” on
that loan).

Emergency Student Loan. An immediate, interest-free loan
provided by a college or university to help financially
strapped students cover short-term expenses (e.g., cost of
textbooks) or deal with financial emergencies (e.g., acci-
dents and illnesses). Emergency student loans are typically
granted within 24–48 hours (sometimes even the same day)
and usually need to be repaid within two months.

Deferred Student Payment Plan. A plan that allows
student borrowers to temporarily defer or postpone loan
payments for an acceptable reason (e.g., to pursue an
internship or do volunteer work after college).

Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Amount of
money the government determines a family can contrib-
ute to the educational costs of a family member who
wants to enroll in college.

Fixed Interest Rate. A loan with an interest rate that
remains the same for the entire term of the loan.

Free Ap plication for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Free
application that asks a student for personal and family
financial information to determine eligibility for federal,
state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including
grants, loans, and work-study employment.

Grace Period. Amount of time given to a credit-card
holder to pay back the company without paying added
interest fees.

Grant. Financial aid received that doesn’t have to be

Gross Income. Income generated before taxes and other
expenses are deducted.

Identity Theft. A crime committed by stealing stealing
another person’s identity information, assuming that
person’s identity, and using that stolen identity to make
financial transactions.

Insurance Premium. Amount of money paid in regular
installments to an insurance company to remain insured.

Interest. Amount of money paid to a customer for
deposited money (as in a bank account) or paid by a
customer for borrowed money (e.g., interest on a loan).
Interest is usually calculated as a percentage of the total
amount of money deposited or borrowed.

Interest-Bearing Account. A bank account that earns
interest if the customer keeps a minimum amount of
money in the bank.


258 Chapter 11 Financial Literacy

Loan Consolidation. Consolidating (combining) separate
smaller student loans into a single larger loan to make
the process of tracking and repaying the loan easier. Loan
consolidation typically requires the borrower to pay
slightly more interest.

Loan Premium. The amount of money loaned without

Merit-Based Scholarship. Money awarded to a student
on the basis of performance or achievement, which does
not have to be repaid.

Need-Based Scholarship. Money awarded to a student
on the basis of financial need, which does not have to be

Net Income. Money earned after all expenses and taxes
have been paid.

Principal. Total amount of money borrowed or deposited,
not counting interest.

Variable Interest Rate. An interest rate on a loan that can
vary (go up or down) over the term of the loan.

Work Study. A program funded by the federal govern-
ment that enables college students to earn money while
working on campus.

Yield. Amount of revenue gained that exceeds the amount
invested or paid. (For example, amount of revenue gained
by college graduates through higher lifetime salaries and
benefits that exceeds the amount of money invested in a
college education.)

Reflection 11.8

Which terms in Box 11.2 were you not familiar with?

Which of these unfamiliar terms apply to your current financial decisions or money
management plans?

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on fiscal literacy, money management, and financial
planning, see the following websites.

Fiscal Literacy and Money Management:

Financial Aid and Federal Funding Sources for a College Education:

Student Loan Management Strategies:


Chapter 11 Exercises
11.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation why you chose it.

11.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the practices suggested for developing a plan for managing money and minimizing debt on pp. 250-254. Select
three that you think are most important and intend to put into practice.

11.3 Reality Bite
Problems Paying for College
A college student once posted the following message on the Internet:

“I went to college for one semester, failed some of my classes, and ended with $900 in student loans. Now I can’t even get
financial aid or a loan because of some stupid thing that says if you fail a certain amount of classes you can’t get aid or a
loan. And now since I couldn’t go to college this semester they want me to pay for my loans already, and I don’t even have a

Any suggestions?

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. What would you suggest this student do right away and in the future?

2. What should the student have done to prevent this from happening in the first place?

3. Do you know of any students who are in a similar predicament or soon could be? What would you recommend they do?

11.4 Connecting Financial and Career Goals
1. Using the AchieveWORKS Careers Summary, review your saved careers and the potential earnings associated with your

career interest(s).

2. For the career(s) that interest you:

a) Are the earnings what you expected?

b) Would you be satisfied with these salaries? If not, would this information cause you to reconsider your career
interests? What other related careers might allow you to earn the salary you desire?


11.5 Self-Assessment of Financial Attitudes and Habits
Answer the following questions about yourself as accurately and honestly as possible.

Agree Disagree

1. I pay my rent or mortgage on time each month. ______ ______

2. I avoid maxing out or going over the limit on my credit cards. ______ ______

3. I balance my checking account each month. ______ ______

4. I set aside money each month for savings. ______ ______

5. I pay my phone and utility bills on time each month. ______ ______

6. I pay my credit card bills in full each month to avoid interest charges. ______ ______

7. I believe it’s important to buy the things I want when I want them. ______ ______

8. Borrowing money to pay for college is a smart thing to do. ______ ______

9. I have a monthly or weekly budget that I follow faithfully. ______ ______

10. The thing I enjoy most about making money is spending money. ______ ______

11. I limit myself to one credit card. ______ ______

12. Getting a degree will get me a good job and a good income. ______ ______

Give yourself one point for each item you marked “agree”—except for items 7, 9, and 10—for these items, give yourself a
point if you marked “disagree.”

A perfect score on this short survey would be 12.

Reflection Questions
1. What was your total score?

2. Which items lowered your score?

3. Do you detect any pattern across the items that lowered your score?

4. What’s one thing you could do to improve your score on this test?

11.6 Financial Self-Awareness: Monitoring Money and Tracking Cash Flow
Step 1. Use the “Financial Self-Awareness” worksheet below to estimate your income and expenses per month, and enter
them in column 2.

Step 2. Track your actual income and expenses for a month and enter them in column 3. To do this accurately, save your cash
receipts, bills paid, and credit card or checking account records for one month.

Step 3. After a month of tracking your cash flow, answer the following questions.

a) Were your estimates generally accurate?

b) Where were there the largest discrepancies between your estimated cost and actual cost?

c) Comparing your bottom-line total for monthly expenses with your monthly income. Are you satisfied with your monthly
cash flow?

d) What changes could you make to create more positive cash flow (to increase your income or savings and reduce your
expenses or debt)?

e) How likely is it that you will make the changes you mentioned in the previous question?


Financial Self-Awareness Worksheet
Estimate Actual

Income Sources








Essentials (Fixed Expenses)
Living Expenses:

Rent/Room and Board

Utilities (gas/electric)


Laundry/Dry Cleaning



Household Items (dishes, etc.)

Medical Insurance Expenses

Debt Payments (loans/credit cards)


School Expenses:


Supplies (print cartridges, etc.)

Special Fees (lab fees, etc.)


Public Transportation (bus fees, etc.)

Car Insurance

Car Maintenance

Fuel (gas)

Car Payments


Incidentals (Variable Expenses)


Restaurants (eating out)



Financial Self-Awareness Worksheet (continued)
Estimate Actual

Personal Appearance/Accessories:


Fashionable Clothes



Travel (trips home, vacations)






Physical Wellness

Chapter Purpose & PreviewAchieving peak levels of performance, including academic performance, cannot be attained
until physical wellness is maintained, which involves being mindful of what we put into our
body (healthy food), what we keep out of it (unhealthy substances), how we move it (regular
exercise), and how well we restore and rejuvenate it (quality sleep). This chapter identifies
strategies for attaining optimal physical wellness by (a) maintaining a balanced, perfor-
mance-enhancing diet, (b) getting high-quality sleep, (c) exercising for total fitness, and
(d) avoiding risky behaviors that undermine personal health, threaten physical safety, and
impair human performance.

Learning GoalAcquire strategies for enhancing physical wellness to promote peak personal perfor-
mance during the first year of college, throughout the college experience, and in life
beyond college.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 12.1

What would you say are the three most important things that students should do
to preserve their health and promote peak performance?




What is Wellness?
Wellness may be defined as a high-quality state of health in which risk of illness is
minimized and the quality of personal performance is maximized. During any
major life transition, such as the transition to college, unhealthy habits add to a per-
son’s level of transitional stress. In contrast, engaging in healthy habits reduces
stress at all stages of life—especially during stages of transition. ”“Wellness is an integrated method of functioning, which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of the individual.—H. Joseph Dunn, originator of the term,

“wellness”There is still some debate among scholars about the key components of total
wellness. However, the following dimensions of holistic (whole person) develop-
ment are commonly cited as key elements of the “wellness wheel.”

264 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

1. Physical Wellness: adopting a healthy lifestyle (e.g., balanced diet and regular
exercise) and avoiding health-threatening habits (e.g., smoking and drug abuse).

2. Intellectual Wellness: openness to new ideas, learning from new experiences,
and willingness to continue learning throughout life.

3. Emotional Wellness: awareness of personal feelings, effectively expressing
feelings, and handling stress constructively.

4. Social Wellness: interacting harmoniously with others and maintaining healthy
relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.

5. Occupational (Vocational) Wellness: finding personal fulfillment in a job or ca-
reer and having positive, productive experiences with employers and coworkers.

6. Environmental Wellness: preserving the ecological health of the planet that
humans depend on to maintain their own health (i.e., the quality of the earth’s
air, land, and water).

7. Spiritual Wellness: finding meaning, purpose, and peace in life.

Physical Wellness
The physical component of wellness is the primary focus of this chapter. It could be
said that physical health is a precondition or prerequisite that enables all other ele-
ments of wellness can be experienced. It’s hard to grow intellectually and emotion-
ally if you’re not well physically, and it’s hard to become wealthy and wise without
first being healthy. Wellness starts with, but goes beyond, maintaining physical
health to attain a higher quality of life that includes increased vitality (energy and
vigor), longevity (longer life span), and life satisfaction (personal happiness).

“Buono salute é la veraricche-zza” (“Good health is true wealth.”) —Italian proverb
Promoting physical wellness involves more than reacting to and treating illness

or disease after it occurs. It includes engaging in health-promoting behaviors that
proactively prevent illness from happening in the first place. Wellness puts into
practice two classic proverbs: “Prevention is the best medicine” and “An ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure.”“Health is a state of complete well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

—World Health Organization

As depicted in Figure 12.1, there are three key points along a timeline for pre-

venting illness, preserving health, and promoting peak performance; they range
from reactive (after illness) to proactive (before illness).

FIGURE 12.1: Key Timeline for Preventing Illness, Preserving Health, and Promoting
Peak Performance

Proactive Reactive

Feeling great and

attaining peak levels
of performance

Not sick, but could be

feeling better and performing
at a higher level

Sick, unable to

perform, and trying
to regain health

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 265

Reflection 12.2

If you could single out one thing about your physical health right now that you’d like
to improve or learn more about, what would it be?

A healthy physical lifestyle includes three key elements:

1. Supplying our body with effective fuel (nutrition) to generate energy
2. Resting our body (sleep) so it can recover and replenish the energy it has

3. Avoiding risky behaviors that can threaten our bodily health and safety

Reflection 12.3
Have your eating habits changed since you’ve begun college? If yes, in what way(s)?

Nutrition Management Strategies
In addition to eating for taste and convenience, we should “eat to win” by inten-
tionally consuming foods that promote optimal health and peak performance. Un-
fortunately, national surveys reveal that less than 40% of college students report
having a healthy diet; additional studies confirm these survey findings, indicating
that college students’ diets include too much fat and too little fruits and vegetables.
To maintain wellness and maximize performance in college, students need to eat in
a more thoughtful, nutritionally conscious way. The following nutrition-manage-
ment strategies can be used as guidelines for eating in a way that preserves health
and promotes peak performance.

”“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are.—Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French gastronomist
” “If we are what we eat, thenI’m cheap, fast, and easy.—Steven Wright, award-winning comedianFollow a dietary plan that supplies nutritional variety and balance. Doing just

a little advanced planning about the foods we’re going to eat can prevent us from
falling into the mindless habit of just grabbing what’s available, quick, and
convenient—such as “fast food” and pre-packaged or processed food—which are
the least healthy eating options.

Because different foods contain different types of nutrients (carbohydrates, pro-
tein, and fat) and in different amounts, no single food group can supply all the nu-
trients we need. Thus, consuming a balanced blend of different food groups is the
best way to ensure that the human body functions at maximum capacity. Figure
12.2 depicts the American Dietetic Association’s MyPlate chart, an updated version
of what was formerly called the “Food Guide Pyramid.” To find the daily amount of
food from each of the major food groups that should be consumed for your age and
gender, see either of the following websites: www.ChooseMyPlate or https://www. You can use the guidelines
supplied at these sites to develop and follow a personal nutritional plan that ensures
you consume each of these key food groups on a consistent basis.



266 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

FIGURE 12.2: MyPlate

Source: USDA

Another effective nutrition-management strategy is to “eat the rainbow”—
consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. This is a simple but surefire
way to get an ample number of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting
nutrients. The external color of fruits and vegetables provides clues to the spe-
cific nutrients found within them. Fruits and vegetables that are:

• Orange and Yellow (e.g., carrots, squash, melons) contain high amounts of vitamins
A and C as well as nutrients that prevent cataracts and other types of eye disease

• Green (e.g., spinach, broccoli, avocado) contain high levels of vitamins B, E,
and K, as well as anti-cancer agents

• Red (e.g., tomatoes, strawberries, cherries) contain an antioxidant that reduces
the risk of cancer and heart disease

• Purple and Blue (e.g., grapes, eggplant, red cabbage) contain abundant amounts
of vitamins C and K as well as antioxidants that reduce the risk of cancer and
cardiovascular disease

• Brown and White (e.g., cauliflower, mushrooms, bananas) contain chemicals
that attack viruses and bacteria, reducing the risk of infectious diseases

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 267

Reflection 12.4
Do you regularly eat fruits and vegetables that fall into each of the above five color
categories? What are your weakest categories? To strengthen your weakest color category,
what could you eat that you would be willing to eat?

Maintain self-awareness of your eating habits. In addition to planning our diet,
effective nutrition management requires conscious awareness of what’s in the foods
we consume. We can monitor our eating habits by simply taking a little time to read
the labels on food products to determine what healthy nutrients (vitamins and
minerals) and unhealthy ingredients (fats, sugar, and sodium) they contain. Keep-
ing a nutritional log or journal of what we eat in a typical week can be an effective
way to gain awareness of the nutrients and caloric content of foods we typically con-
sume. (You can use the following website to evaluate the nutrient labels on pack-
aged food products:

Minimize consumption of foods that have low (or zero) nutritional value and
increase risk for heart disease and cancer. Fried and fatty foods such as pizza,
hamburgers, French fries, donuts, butter, and margarine not only contain lots of
calories, they also increase risk of heart disease because they contain substantial
amounts of saturated fats and trans fats—“bad” fats that tend to stick to blood vessel
walls and block normal blood flow. These types of fats also increase the risk of cer-
tain forms of cancer, such as breast and bowel cancer.

Saturated fats should comprise less than one-tenth of the total number of calo-
ries we consume. Even if we exercise regularly and are physically active, we still
must be conscious of the food we put into our body. Well-conditioned athletes still
can be at risk for heart disease and cancer if they consume too much food contain-
ing high amounts of saturated fat.

Reduce consumption of high-fat dairy products (e.g., cheese, butter, marga-
rine, cream, and whole milk). High-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat
and sodium, both of which increase the risk of heart disease. The calcium contained
in dairy products is good for you, but you’re better off getting that calcium from
low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Minimize consumption of animal meat, particularly red meat such as ham-
burger and steak. Meat typically contains a large amount of saturated fat, which
poses a major risk for heart disease. Many people believe they must consume a sub-
stantial amount of meat because the body needs protein. It’s true that meat provides
large amounts of protein, but protein should make up only 15% of our daily calo-
ries. Americans tend to consume about twice as much protein as the body needs.
Consequently, most people can (and should) decrease the amount of protein they
get from meat and increase the amount they get from sources that are low in satu-
rated fat, such as plants (e.g., beans and peas), nuts (e.g., walnuts and almonds), and
low-fat dairy products (e.g., low-fat milk and yogurt).

The health risk associated with meat consumption can be minimized by eating
lean meat that’s less fatty and by removing fatty skin from the meat we eat (e.g.,
the outer layer of skin from chicken and turkey). Meat’s unhealthy effects can also

268 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

be reduced by not frying it, because the oils used in the frying process increase the
concentration of saturated fat contained in the meat. Instead of frying the meat we
eat, it’s healthier to roast, grill, bake, or broil it.

Manage body weight by minimizing or eliminating junk-food snacks. Replace
sugary and salty snacks with healthier munchies, such as fruits, nuts, seeds, and raw
vegetables. Many healthier snacks are just as sweet, crispy, and crunchy as junk-
food snacks. Natural fruits, for example, provide sweetness with more nutrients and
fewer calories than processed sweets, such as candy bars and blended coffee drinks.
(Unfortunately, advertisers spend millions of dollars convincing consumers that
processed sweets are the only ones that are “indescribably delicious.”) Also, from an
economic standpoint, nutritious snacks represent a better financial investment be-
cause you get a bigger bang for your buck—more nutrients (and less empty calo-
ries) for your snacking dollar.

Weight can also be controlled by downsizing or downright abstaining from
downing sodas, which typically contain plenty of sugar and no nutrients. Drinking
juices is a much healthier alternative, but not to excess, because they also contain a
significant number of calories.

Reflection 12.5

What type of junk food (if any) do you currently eat? Why?

If you eat junk food, do you think you could down on the amount you consume, or cut
out junk food altogether? Why?

Don’t pack most the calories you consume during the day into one or two
large meals. Most nutritionists recommend that we should eat large meals less
often and small meals more often. No research evidence or dietary rule supports
the American habit of eating three times a day as the best nutritional practice. Six
smaller meals or healthy snacks per day may be a more effective way to fuel the
body than three full-sized meals. When our ancient ancestors foraged for food, it’s
unlikely they consumed large meals; they probably ate in smaller portions, which
provided them with a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

Ideally, the meal eaten closest to bedtime should be our lightest meal containing
the fewest calories because it will be followed by an extended period of sleep, during
which time the body will be inactive and not in need of fuel. Consuming lots of calo-
ries in the evening and then lying down and sleeping soon thereafter means those
evening calories don’t get burned as physical energy but are stored as body fat. Re-
member that calories are measures of the amount of energy contained in food. (One
calorie may be described as one unit or degree of energy.) If we consume a unit of en-
ergy and don’t use it, we don’t lose it; instead, we save it or store it—as fat.

Don’t skip or skimp on breakfast. As the origin of the word “breakfast” suggests,
a good breakfast provides energy that enables us to “break our nighttime fast” and
fuel the body with energy for the upcoming day. The first meal of the day should be
the one during which we consume most of our daily calories because we need en-
ergy for the next 16 hours of awake time and activity. Unfortunately, Americans
tend to do it backward by skipping or skimping on breakfast and piling on calories
at dinner—a time when the day has wound down and they’ll soon be lying down to
go to sleep.

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 269

Reduce consumption of processed foods. Processed foods were originally natu-
ral foods, but synthetic ingredients have been added to them so they can be pre-
served, packaged, jarred, canned, or bottled and sold later to the public in bulk
quantities. Additives are also contained in processed foods to preserve their shelf
life, which have no nutritional value and possibly unhealthy effects on the body.

Salt and sugar are often added to processed foods just to increase their taste ap-
peal (and sales appeal), but which also increase weight gain and elevate blood pres-
sure, respectively. Why do humans often find sweeter and saltier processed foods
tastier than natural foods? One theory is that processed foods haven’t been around
as long as unprocessed “natural” foods that have been available for millions of years
and were the only foods available to and consumed by our ancient ancestors. Be-
cause processed foods provided humans with a historical break from the “old” natu-
ral foods they consumed (and adapted to) over the course of millions of years,
human taste buds may find these “newer” processed foods to be more stimulating
and flavorful. So, ironically, humans may have developed or evolved a taste prefer-
ence for the very foods that have the lowest nutritional value and the highest num-
ber of calories. The unfortunate consequence of this double whammy is that the
foods most likely to stimulate our taste buds are the ones also most likely to inflate
our fat cells. As a rule, the food that was good for our ancient ancestors and ensured
the survival of our species is good for us now. These foods supply the most nutri-
tion and the best protection against our two leading killers: heart disease and can-
cer. The following natural (non-processed) foods have been available to, and con-
sumed by, humans for thousands of years and should appear regularly in our diet.

• Fruit. Fresh fruit has multiple healthy nutrients, including substantial amounts
of vitamins (especially A and C) and minerals. Many fruits also contain fiber,
which helps to purify the bloodstream, lower the bad type of cholesterol that
causes heart disease, and rid the body of toxins found in the intestine. Other
fruits, such as berries, are rich in antioxidants—substances that lower the risk of
cancer by attacking oxidants (toxins) in the body that damage genetic DNA and
weaken the immune system. (Blueberries are thought to contain the most anti-
oxidants, followed by blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.) Keep in mind
that fresh fruit is superior to canned fruit, which has been processed and artifi-
cially preserved. Also, to manage weight, fresh fruit is superior to dried fruit,
which contains more calories.

• Vegetables. The natural oils in certain vegetables (e.g., olive, corn, avocado,
and soy) are rich sources of unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats, also known as es-
sential fatty acids, are “good” fats because they remain in liquid form in the
body so they don’t coagulate in the bloodstream and congregate as solid fat
along the walls of our blood vessels. Unsaturated fats also help wash away and
flush out bad fats from the bloodstream. In addition to containing good (unsat-
urated) fats, many vegetables—such as raw carrots and green beans—also con-
tain fiber that reduces the risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
(Like fruit, vegetables that are fresh or frozen are superior to those that are
canned and processed.)

Reflection 12.6
Do you eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily? Why or why not?

270 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

• Grains. Natural grains contain complex carbohydrates, which the body uses to
generate steady, sustained energy. These carbohydrates are called “complex”
because their molecular structure is harder for the body to digest and break
down into blood sugar. Their more complex molecular structure slows the di-
gestion process, causing them to be absorbed into the bloodstream more gradu-
ally and allows them to deliver energy to the body more evenly over an ex-
tended period (similar to a coated pill or time-released capsule). Thus, grains
are an excellent source of food for producing the steady, long-term energy nec-
essary for athletic activities that require endurance and stamina. Grains are also
high in fiber, which helps fight heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Lastly,
many complex carbohydrates contain an amino acid that helps manufacture se-
rotonin—a brain chemical associated with relaxation and feelings of emotional

Whole-wheat bread and pasta, whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, and bran are
good sources of healthy grains. Be sure to look for the term whole in the prod-
uct’s name (e.g., “whole-wheat bread” or “whole-grain cereal”). The word
“whole” indicates that the grain is natural and not processed. For example,
whole-wheat bread is made from a natural grain, but wheat bread and white
bread have been processed.

• Fish. In addition to being high in protein, the natural oils found in fish are rich
in unsaturated fat, which flush out and wash away cholesterol-forming fat from
the bloodstream. Thus, a diet high in unsaturated fats (and low in saturated fats)
reduces the risk for cardiovascular ailments, such as high blood pressure, heart
attacks, and strokes. This explains why fish-eating Eskimos have a significantly
lower rate of cardiovascular disease.

• Legumes. The word “legumes” derives from the Latin root “legumend,”
meaning “to gather.” This food group includes plants and seeds, such as beans
(black, red, and navy), lentils, Brussels sprouts, peas, and peanuts. Such foods
are great sources of fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins; plus, they’re naturally
cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. The natural oil found in legumes con-
tains unsaturated fats—good fats that reduce buildup of bad cholesterol in the
bloodstream. It’s interesting to note that in developing countries, which are less
affluent than the United States, people eat mainly legumes, grains, fruits, and
vegetables. Despite having less income and poorer medical care, people living
in many of these underdeveloped countries have significantly lower rates of
heart disease and diet-related cancers than people living (and eating) in the
United States.

Drink plenty of water. Most people do not consume the recommended amount of
water (seven 8-ounce glasses per day). Simply stated, the human body needs to be
hydrated. Similar to how a car uses motor oil and transmission fluid, the body uses
water to drive nutrients (fuel) to their proper destinations and drive waste products
out of the system. Water also improves the human nervous system’s ability to con-
duct electrochemical signals, which improves the brain’s ability to process informa-
tion. In addition to these internal benefits, water has a cosmetic benefit—it im-
proves the appearance of our skin. Given the multiple health benefits of water, we
should drink water only when we feel thirsty, but regularly throughout the day.

Don’t forget to hydrate. Even mild dehydration can drain our physical energy and create
feelings of fatigue. Men should drink about 15.5 cups of fluids per day and women about 11.5

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 271

Women should make a conscious effort to consume more calcium. Females
should take in at least 1,200 mg of calcium per day to reduce their risk of osteoporo-
sis (thinning of bones and loss of bone mass or density), which, in turn, reduces their
risk of experiencing bone fractures and curvature of the upper spine. Although osteo-
porosis can happen in men as well as women, it’s much more likely to afflict females.
It’s estimated that one of three women over the age of 40 will develop osteoporosis.

In Western cultures, there is considerable pressure on females to remain thin. This
societal pressure often causes women to avoid high-calcium dairy products because
these high-calcium products are also high in calories, thus women end up consuming
less calcium than their body needs. However, women can still minimize their consump-
tion of high-calorie dairy products and still get plenty of calcium by consuming low-fat,
low-calorie dairy products (e.g., cottage cheese and low-fat yogurt). Other low-calorie
foods that contain sizable amounts of calcium include certain fish (e.g., salmon), vege-
tables (e.g., broccoli), and fruit (e.g., oranges). In addition, women can ensure they’re
getting sufficient amounts of calcium by taking a daily calcium supplement.

Reflection 12.7
Is there any disease or illness that tends to run in your family?

Can you reduce your risk of experiencing it through your diet? If yes, how?

Exercise and Fitness
Physical wellness not only involves fueling the body with balanced nutrition but also
using that fuel to move the body. As previously mentioned, consuming natural (unpro-
cessed) foods is better for our health because those foods were consumed by our an-
cient ancestors and were instrumental to ensuring the survival of the human species.
Similarly, exercise is another “natural” health-promoting activity that’s deeply rooted in
human history and has been instrumental to the survival of our species. Our ancient an-
cestors did not have the luxury of motorized vehicles to get them from point A to point
B, nor could they stroll up leisurely to grocery stores and purchase food or have food
served to them while sitting in restaurants. Instead, they had to roam and rummage for
fruit, nuts, and vegetables, or chase down animals for meat to eat. Exercise was natu-
rally built into their daily routine. This may explain why exercise is the most effective
“medicine” available to humans for preventing disease and preserving lifelong health.

The benefits of physical exercise for preserving human health and the longevity
of human life are extraordinary. The extensive bodily benefits of exercise are de-
scribed below. (Its multiple mental benefits are discussed in the next chapter.)

”“If exercise could be packaged into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.
—Robert N. Butler, former director of the
National Institute of Aging

Physical Benefits of Exercise
Exercise promotes cardiovascular health. Simply stated, exercise makes the
heart stronger. Because the heart is a muscle, like any other muscle in the body, its
size and strength are increased though exercise. A bigger and stronger heart pumps
more blood per beat, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke (loss of oxygen
to the brain) by increasing circulation of oxygen-carrying blood throughout the
body and by increasing the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots.

Exercise further reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by: (a) decreasing blood
levels of triglycerides (clot-forming fats), (b) increasing blood levels of “good” cho-

272 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

lesterol (high-density lipoproteins), and (c) preventing “bad” cholesterol (low-den-
sity lipoproteins) from sticking to and clogging up blood vessels.

Exercise stimulates the immune system. Exercise enables us to better fight off
infectious diseases (e.g., colds and the flu) because it:

• Reduces stress—which normally weakens the immune system
• Increases blood flow throughout the body—which increases circulation of anti-

bodies that flush germs out of our system
• Increases body temperature—which helps kill germs similar to what a low-

grade fever does to kill germs when we have a cold or flu

Exercise strengthens muscles and bones. Exercise helps prevent muscle strain
and pain; for example, exercise that strengthens our abdominal muscles reduces our
risk of developing lower back pain. Exercise also maintains bone density and re-
duces the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones that bend and break easily). It’s note-
worthy that our bone density before age 20 affects our bone density throughout
life. Thus, by engaging in regular exercise early in life, we minimize risk of bone
deterioration throughout life.

Reflection 12.8

Have your exercise habits changed (for better or worse) since you’ve begun college?
If yes, why?

“I’m less active now than before college because I’m having trouble learning how to manage my time.”
—First-year student

Exercise promotes weight loss and weight management. In a study of 188
countries, the highest proportion of overweight and obese people was found to live
in the United States, and our obesity rates are rising. America’s overweight issue is
not only due to its citizens’ consuming higher numbers of calories, but also to lower
levels of physical exertion. Americans are now playing double jeopardy with their
health by eating more and moving less.

The reduced level of physical activity among people today can be attributed, in
part, to the emergence of modern technological conveniences that make it easier
for us to go about our daily business without exerting ourselves in the slightest. Un-
like decades past, TVs now come with remote controls so we don’t have to move an
inch to change channels, change volume, or turn them on and off. Kids today now
have access to all sorts of video games that they can play “virtually” without having
to run, jump, walk, or even get off their derriere.

“Video games have displaced a major activity in the lives of teenage boys, but that activity isn’t reading; it’s
playing outdoors. That may
be one reason why boys
today are four times more
likely to be obese compared
with boys a generation ago.”
—Leonard Sax, psychologist,
physician, and author of Boys Adrift

The best antidote to overcoming the increasing inactivity built into modern-
day life is to offset it with an exercise plan that includes regular physical activity. As
a weight-control strategy, exercise is more effective than dieting in one key respect:
It raises the body’s rate of metabolism—the rate at which consumed calories are
burned as energy rather than stored as fat. In contrast, dieting lowers the body’s
rate of metabolism and the rate at which calories are burned. Studies show that
after two or three weeks of low-calorie dieting without exercising, the body
“thinks” it’s starving and compensates by saving more calories as fat so that the
saved fat can be used as a source of future energy. In contrast, exercise speeds up
basal metabolism—the body’s rate of metabolism while resting. Thus, exercise does
double-duty to burn body fat: it burns fat while we’re exercising by using calories to

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 273

fuel the physical activity we’re engaging in, and it burns calories when we’re resting
after exercising—by speeding up our body’s basal (resting) rate of metabolism.

Strategies for Maximizing the Physical Benefits of Exercise
Different types of exercise benefit the body in different ways. However, there are
general guidelines that can be followed to maximize the impact of any exercise rou-
tine or fitness program. These guidelines are provided below.

Before exercising, warm up; after exercising, cool down. Start with a 10-min-
ute warm up of low-intensity movements that are similar to the movements you will
use once you begin exercising. This warm-up activity increases circulation of blood
to the muscles that will be exercised, which, in turn, will reduce muscle soreness
and risk of muscle pulls.

Finish your exercise routine with a 10-minute cool down that involves stretching
the muscles used during the exercise; stretch these muscles until they burn a little bit,
then release them. This cooling down routine after exercise improves circulation to
the exercised muscles, enabling them to return more gradually to a tension-free state,
which minimizes the risk of muscle tightness, cramps, pulls, and tears.

Engage in cross-training for total body fitness. A balanced, well-rounded fitness
program includes cross-training—a combination of different exercises to achieve
total-body fitness. Combining different exercise benefits the body by increasing:

• Endurance and weight control (e.g., running, cycling, or swimming);
• Muscle strength and tone (e.g., weight training, push-ups, or sit-ups); and
• Flexibility (e.g., yoga, Pilates, or tai chi).

Cross-training also involves rotating exercise across different muscle groups
(e.g., upper body muscles one day, lower body muscles the next day). This gives
each set of muscles extra time to rest, repair, and recover before being exercised

Include interval training as part of your exercise plan. Interval training involves
alternating high-intensity physical activities with low-intensity activities or short
rest periods (e.g., alternating between running and walking). Research indicates
that switching back-and-forth between higher- and lower-intensity exercises effec-
tively strengthens the heart muscle and increases its oxygen-carrying capacity; it
also burns calories faster and enables us to exercise longer and more vigorously.

Exercise according to a schedule that allows you to build up strength and
stamina gradually. Fitness is attained and wellness is maintained through physical
training, not physical straining. One simple strategy that can be used to ensure that
you’re training rather than straining your body is to see if you can talk while exer-
cising. If you cannot continue speaking without stopping to catch your breath, this
may indicate you’re overdoing it and need to drop it down a notch to a less strenu-
ous level. After continuing at this lower level for a while, try again at a higher level
and try to talk while you exercise. If you can do both, you’re ready to continue at
that level for some time. By using this strategy, you can gradually increase the in-
tensity, frequency, or duration of your exercise routine to an optimal level that max-
imizes its benefits and minimizes post-exercise discomfort and recovery time.

274 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

I had a habit of exercising too strenuously—to the point where my body felt sore for days
after I worked out. I eventually discovered a way to avoid overdoing it. I began listening
to music through headphones while exercising to see if I could sing along without having
to stop and catch my breath. If I could, I knew I wasn’t overextending myself. This strat-
egy helped me manage my exercise intensity level and minimize post-exercise soreness.
(Plus, I gained more confidence as a vocalist—my singing sounded a lot better to me
when hearing it while my ears were covered with headphones!)

—Joe Cuseo

Take advantage of exercise and fitness resources on your campus. The tuition
you’re paying for college pays for use of the campus gym or recreation center, so
take advantage of it. If exercise groups or clubs meet on campus, join them; they
can serve as a motivational support group that converts exercise from a solitary en-
deavor into an interactive experience. (It’s also a good way to meet people.) In addi-
tion, consider taking physical education courses that may be offered on your cam-
pus. They count toward your college degree and typically carry one unit of credit so
that they can be easily added to your course schedule.

Take advantage of natural opportunities for physical activity that present
themselves during the day. Exercise can take place in places other than gyms or
fitness centers and at times other than scheduled workout times. As you go about
your daily routines, look for opportunities to build in some physical activity. If you
can walk or ride a bike to class, do that instead of driving a car or riding a bus. If you
can climb some stairs instead of taking an elevator, take the path of more resis-
tance—the one that requires more physical exertion.

Reflection 12.9
Do you have a regular exercise routine?

If yes, what do you do and how often do you do it? If no, why not?

What more could you do to improve your:

a) Endurance?

b) Strength?

c) Flexibility?

Rest and Sleep
In addition to eating well and exercising regularly, getting high-quality sleep is an-
other key component of wellness. The quantity and quality of our sleep plays a piv-
otal role in preserving our health and enhancing our performance. Sleep research-
ers agree that in today’s information-loaded, multi-tasking world, humans are not
getting the quantity and quality of sleep they need to perform at their highest lev-
els. College students in particular tend to have poorer sleep habits and experience
more sleep problems than people in general. Because they’re in an environment

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 275

that provides them with many opportunities for late-night socializing, requires
heavier academic workloads than high school and more late-night (or all-night)
study sessions, college students often develop irregular sleep schedules and are
more likely to experience sleep deprivation. It’s estimated that 60% of college stu-
dents get an insufficient amount of sleep—a rate twice that of the general

”“Sleep deprivation is a major epidemic in our society. Americans spend so much time and energy chasing the American dream that they
don’t have much time left for
actual dreaming.
—William Dement, pioneering sleep
researcher and founder of the American
Sleep Disorders Association

How much sleep do we need and should we get? The answer lies in our genes
and varies from person to person. On average, adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep
each day and teenagers need slightly more—about 9 hours. Research shows that
college students get an average of less than 7 hours of sleep per night, which means
they’re not getting the amount of sleep they need to perform at optimal levels.

Attempting to train ourselves to sleep less is attempting to do something that
our body is not genetically “hard-wired” to do. When we deprive our body of the
amount of sleep it’s genetically designed to receive, it accumulates “sleep debt,”
which, like financial debt, must be paid back. If our sleep debt isn’t repaid, it catches
up with us and we pay for it with lower energy, lower mood, poorer health, and im-
paired mental and physical performance. For example, studies show that sleep de-
privation impairs one’s ability to drive a car in ways similar to alcohol intoxication.
Studies also show that sleep-deprived college students exhibit poorer academic per-
formance than students who get sufficient sleep.

”“I’m not getting enough sleep. I’ve been getting roughly 6–7 hours of sleep on weekdays. In high school, I would get 8–9 hours of sleep.
—First-year student

”“First of all, you should probably know that your body will not function without sleep. I learned that the hard way.—Words written by a first-year student
in a letter of advice to incoming college

Reflection 12.10

How many hours of sleep per night do you need to perform at your highest level, both
mentally and physically?

Do you typically get this amount of sleep each night? If not, why not?

How do you think most students would answer the above two questions?

The Value and Purposes of Sleep
Resting and reenergizing the body are the most obvious purposes of sleep. Other
benefits of sleep are less well known but are equally important, including the three
key benefits below.

Sleep restores and preserves the power of our immune system. Studies show
that when humans lose sleep, it lowers their production of disease-fighting antibod-
ies, rendering them more susceptible to illness, such as common colds and flu.

Sleep helps humans cope with daily stress. Sleep research shows that when we’re
experiencing stress, we spend more time in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of
sleep, which is the stage when most dreaming takes place. This suggests that dreaming
is our brain’s natural way of coping with stress. When we lose dream sleep, emotional
problems—such as anxiety and depression—worsen. Researchers suspect that the
biochemical changes that take place in the brain during dream sleep help restore imbal-
ances in brain chemistry that are triggered by anxiety or depression experienced during
the day. Thus, getting high-quality sleep (especially high-quality dream sleep) helps us
maintain emotional stability and keeps us in a positive frame of mind. Indeed, surveys
reveal that people who report sleeping well also report feeling happier.

276 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

Sleep helps the brain form and retain memories. When we’re sleeping, the
brain isn’t bombarded with sensory input from the outside world. Thus, while
sleeping, our brain is free to expend more of its energy (metabolism) on processing
and storing information taken in during the day. If we get less sleep than we need
(especially REM-stage sleep), our ability to learn and retain information is im-
paired. Studies show that loss of dream sleep at night results in poorer memory for
information learned during the day. For instance, teenagers who get less than ade-
quate amounts of sleep have more difficulty retaining information they learn in
school. Studies also show that increasing sleep time from six or fewer hours per
night to eight hours can increase memory by as much as 25%. Additional research
indicates that when students study before going to bed and stop studying when they
begin to feel drowsy (rather than trying to continue studying and losing sleep), they
display superior memory for the material that was studied.

Studies show that dreaming
during the REM stage of
sleep helps us cope with stress
and retain memories.

Allan Hobson / Science Source.

Strategies for Improving Sleep Quality
Because sleep has powerful benefits for both the body and mind, if we can improve
the quality of our sleep, we can improve our physical and mental wellness. Listed
below are specific strategies for improving the quality of your sleep, which, in turn,
should improve your overall health and performance.

Gain greater awareness of your sleep habits by keeping a sleep log or jour-
nal. Tracking your sleep experiences in a journal may enable you to discover
patterns in the things you do (or don’t do) before going to bed on nights you
sleep well and nights when you sleep poorly. If you discover a pattern, you can
use this information to get into a pre-bedtime routine that gets you a good
night’s sleep on a more consistent basis.

Try to get into a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at
about the same time every day. The human body functions best when it gets
into a rhythm of set cycles. If you can get your body on a regular sleep cycle,
you can establish a biological rhythm that makes it easier for you to fall asleep,
stay asleep, and wake up naturally according to your own “internal alarm

Getting on a regular sleep schedule is particularly important for students to do
at times during the academic term when they need to perform at peak levels, such
as midterms and finals. Sleep research shows that to be at their physical and mental
best for upcoming exams, students should get on a regular schedule of going to
sleep and waking up at about the same time at least one week before major exams
are to be taken. Unfortunately, for many college students, the opposite happens.
Midterms and finals are the times during the term when their regular sleep cycles
are likely to be disrupted by the need to stay up later to cram for exams, get up ear-
lier to squeeze in extra study time, or pull all-nighters and not sleep at all. Make
every effort to avoid this sleep-disruptive pattern of cramming by getting into a
regular, more productive sleep schedule near midterms and finals. (This could be
done by avoiding last-minute, late-night cramming through use of the “distributed
practice” and “part-to-whole” study methods described in chapter 5, pp. 107-108.)

Attempt to get into a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual. Taking a hot bath or shower,
consuming a hot (non-caffeinated) beverage, or listening to relaxing music are
activities that can get us into a worry-free state before sleep and help us fall
asleep sooner. Also, making a list of things that need to be done the next day be-

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 277

fore going to bed may help us relax and fall asleep because we know that we’re
all set and ready to handle the tasks we need to do the following day.

Because sleep helps the brain retain what it takes in just before falling asleep, a
light review of class notes or reading highlights just before bedtime might be an-
other good pre-bedtime practice. Many years of research indicates that the best
thing to do to remember information other than studying it some more is to “sleep
on it.” Sleep gives the brain time to process and store studied information without
having to deal with external stimulation or outside distractions.

Try using a sleep app. You can download apps to your phone or tablet that are de-
signed to help you relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep by playing soothing sounds and
melodies which drown out external sounds and ease you into a restful state. Some
apps also monitor and evaluate your sleep cycles and will wake you at a time in the
morning when you’re least likely to be groggy. (Best of all, many of these apps can
be downloaded for free.)

”“People don’t realize how much work it is to stay in college. It’s its own job in itself, plus if you’ve got another job you go to, too. I mean, it’s just a lot.
—First-generation college student

Reflection 12.11

Just before going to bed at night, what do you typically do? Do you think this helps or
hinders the quality of your sleep?

Avoid intense mental activity just before going to bed. Light school work or
list-making may serve as a relaxing pre-sleep ritual, but intense reading, writing, or
complex thinking before bedtime can induce a heightened state of mental
arousal that interferes with your ability to wind down and fall asleep.

Avoid intense physical exercise before bedtime. Vigorous physical activity ele-
vates muscle tension and increases oxygen flow to the brain, both of which can
hinder your ability to fall asleep. If you like to exercise in the evening, do it at
least three hours before bedtime.

Avoid consumption of sleep-interfering foods, beverages, or drugs in the late af-
ternoon or evening. In particular, avoid the following sleep-disruptive substances
near bedtime:

• Caffeine. It’s a stimulant drug; for most people, it stimulates the nervous sys-
tem and keeps them awake.

• Nicotine. It’s another stimulant that’s likely to reduce the depth and quality of
sleep. (Note: Smoking hookah through a water pipe delivers the same amount
of nicotine as a cigarette.)

• Alcohol. It’s a depressant (sedative) substance that induces drowsiness in larger
doses; however, in smaller doses, it can have a stimulating effect. Furthermore,
when alcohol induces sleep, it interferes with the quality of sleep by reducing
the amount of time spent in dream-stage sleep. (Marijuana does the same.)

• High-fat foods. Eating just before bedtime (or during the night) increases di-
gestive activity in the stomach. This “internal noise” can interfere with the
depth and quality of sleep. In particular, high-fat foods such as peanuts, beans,
fruits, raw vegetables, and high-fat snacks should be avoided before bedtime be-
cause these foods require the stomach to engage in more digestive effort and

278 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

Alcohol and marijuana are substances that make us feel sleepy but that doesn’t mean they
enhance sleep quality. In fact, they typically reduce the quality of sleep by interfering with
dream-stage sleep.

Keep the temperature in the room where you sleep no higher than 70 degrees
Fahrenheit. Warm temperatures often make us feel sleepy, but they usually don’t
help us stay asleep or sleep deeply. This is why people have more trouble sleeping
on hot summer evenings. High-quality, uninterrupted sleep is more likely to take
place at cooler room temperatures that don’t exceed 70 degrees.

Keep your electronic devices turned off in the room where you’re sleeping.
The screens on cell phones, computers, and tablets can make it harder to fall asleep
and stay asleep because they emit a certain form of light that suppresses the brain’s
production of melatonin—a neurochemical that promotes sleep. Sleep researchers
recommend that we stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going
to bed.

Wellness is built on a balanced foundation of
nutrition, exercise, and rest.

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Adjusting Academic Work Tasks to Your Biological Rhythms
When planning your daily work schedule, be mindful of your “biological
rhythms”—your natural peak periods and down times. Studies show that humans
differ in terms of when they naturally prefer to fall asleep and wake up; some are
“early birds” who prefer to go to sleep early at night and wake up early in the morn-
ing; others are “night owls” who prefer to stay up late at night and get up late in the
morning. As a result of these differences in sleep patterns, individuals differ with re-
spect to the time during the day when they experience their highest and lowest lev-
els of energy. Naturally, early birds are more likely to be “morning people” whose
peak energy period takes place before noon; night owls are likely to be more pro-
ductive in the late afternoon and evening. Most people, whether they’re night owls
or early birds, tend to experience a “post-lunch dip” in energy in the early

Listed below are a few key strategies for adjusting your work schedule and tasks
in ways that align with your daily biological rhythms.

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 279

• When creating daily to-do lists, tackle your highest priority and most urgent
tasks at times during the day when you tend to work at peak effectiveness.

• When scheduling courses, be mindful of your natural peak and down times. Try
to arrange your schedule in such a way that you’re sitting in your most chal-
lenging courses at times of the day when your body and mind are most ready to
rise to those challenges.

• Schedule out-of-class academic work so that you tackle tasks requiring the most
intense thinking (e.g., technical writing or complex problem-solving) at times of
the day when you tend to be most productive; schedule lighter work (e.g., light
reading or routine tasks) at times when your energy level tends to be lower.

(Exercise 12.6 at the end of this chapter can help you identify your peak perfor-
mance times.)

Alcohol Use among College Students
Research indicates that first-year college students drink more than they did in high
school and have higher rates of alcohol abuse than high school students and stu-
dents at more advanced stages of the college experience. Beginning college students
think that most of their college peers drink and report that the number-one reason
why they choose to drink is to “fit in” and feel socially accepted. However, research
shows college students overestimate how many of their peers drink and how much
drinking they actually do. This overestimation can lead first-year students to try to
conform to what they perceive to be the norm (average), and if they don’t, they
won’t be “normal.”

Whatever the legal age for drinking may be, the reality is that first-year col-
lege students are confronted with the following choices:

1. To drink or not to drink.
2. To drink responsibly or irresponsibly.

If you choose to drink, it should be your choice, not a choice imposed on you by
social pressure or peer conformity. If you decide to drink, listed below are some
quick tips for drinking safely and responsibly. These are offered to you as recom-
mended health-promoting practices, not as pious platitudes or preachy warnings.

• Don’t feel pressured to drink to an excessive degree. Remember that col-
lege students overestimate how many of their peers drink and how much
they drink. So, you shouldn’t feel “uncool,” unusual, or abnormal if you
prefer to drink only occasionally and in moderation, rather than consis-
tently or to the point of inebriation.

• Don’t drink with the intention of getting intoxicated; set a limit about how
much you will drink. Use alcohol as a beverage, not as a mind-altering

• Eat well before drinking and snack while drinking. This helps lower the
peak level of alcohol in the bloodstream.

• Drink slowly. Sip, don’t gulp; avoid “shot-gunning” or “chug-a-lugging”

• Spread out drinking over time so that drinks are consumed intermit-
tently, not consecutively. If you’re having more than one drink during the
course of an evening, space them out across time. This gives your body time to
metabolize the alcohol consumed and keeps the percentage of alcohol in your
bloodstream at lower, more manageable levels.

280 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

• Monitor your physical and mental state while drinking. Don’t continue to
drink after you’ve reached a state of moderate relaxation or a mild loss of in-
hibition. Drinking to the point of borderline intoxication or a drunken state
will not improve one’s physical health or social life. Slurring speech, nod-
ding out, or vomiting in the restroom isn’t likely to make a partying student
the life of the party.

Alcohol can be costly, in terms of both dollars and calories. Limiting the amount of alcohol
consumed is not only an effective way to preserve health and safety, it’s also a good money-
and weight-management strategy.

Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is a legal substance (at least for people who have reached the legal drinking
age), and unlike most other mind-altering substances, it’s ingested as a beverage,
rather than being injected, smoked, or snorted. That being said, alcohol is still a
drug, particularly when consumed in large quantities (doses). In moderate amounts,
alcohol could be described as a relaxing beverage; however, in larger doses, it’s a
mind-altering substance with a mind-altering ingredient: ethyl alcohol (see Figure
12.3). The average percentage (“dose”) of ethyl alcohol in beer is about 4% to 6%;
in wine, it’s 12% to 14%; and in “hard liquor” (distilled spirits), such as vodka,
whiskey, gin, and rum, it’s 40%.

FIGURE 12.3: Ethyl
Alcohol: The Mind-
Altering Ingredient
Contained in Alcohol




©Kendall Hunt Publishing

Also, like any other mind-altering drug, alcohol has the potential to be addic-
tive; approximately 7% to 8% of people who drink experience alcohol dependency
(alcoholism). Alcohol dependency has genetic roots, so if there is a history of alco-
hol abuse in a person’s family, that person should be especially cautious about his or
her drinking habits.

Although alcohol dependency is the most talked about form of alcohol abuse,
the number one alcohol and drug abuse problem on college campuses is binge
drinking—episodes during which large amounts of alcohol (4-5 or more drinks) are
consumed in a short period of time, resulting in an acute state of intoxication—
more commonly referred to as a “drunken state.”

Although binge drinking isn’t necessarily a form of alcohol dependency, it’s still
a form of alcohol abuse because it has direct, negative effects on the physical or
mental well-being of the drinker. Research indicates that whenever a person drinks
to the point of drunkenness, it reduces the size and effectiveness of the part of the
brain involved with memory formation. This finding has led alcohol-abuse re-
searchers to a simple but disturbing conclusion: Each time a person gets drunk, the
dumber that person gets.

Binge drinking also reduces students’ inhibitions about engaging in risk-
taking behavior, which puts them at greater risk for accidents and injuries.
When drinkers consume a substantial amount of alcohol in a short period of time,
they become much less cautious about doing things they normally would be
hesitant or reluctant to do. This chemically induced sense of self-confidence (collo-
quially referred to as “liquid courage”) overrides logical thinking and rational
decision-making and increases the likelihood that the drinker will engage in irratio-
nal, risk-taking behavior—such as fighting or destroying property. Binge drinkers
are also more willing to risk unprotected sex—increasing their risk of pregnancy
and contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and are more likely to en-
gage in reckless driving—increasing their risk of serious injury or death. It’s note-
worthy that the legal age for consuming alcohol was once lowered to 18 years, “ If you drink, don’t park. Accidents cause people.”—Steven Wright, American comedian

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 281

but it was raised back to 21 because the number of drunk-driving accidents and
deaths among teenage drinkers increased dramatically after the legal age for
drinking was lowered. Traffic accidents still account for more deaths of Ameri-
cans between the ages of 15 and 24 than any other cause.

Arguably, no other chemical substance has the capacity to lower a person’s inhi-
bitions as dramatically as alcohol. It’s been said that binge drinking can lower inhi-
bitions so much that it deludes drinkers into thinking they’re “invincible, immortal,
and infertile.” The dramatic loss of inhibition that takes place during binge-drink-
ing episodes stems biologically from the fact that alcohol is a depressant drug that
depresses (slows down) the upper, front part of the brain (the “human brain”) which
is responsible for rational thinking and controlling or inhibiting the lower, middle
part of the brain (the “animal brain”)—which is responsible for basic animal drives,
such as sex and aggression. When the upper (rational) brain is slowed down by alco-
hol, the animal brain is freed from the signals that normally restrain or inhibit it,
thus allowing basic drives to be released and expressed (see Figure 12.4).This is the
underlying biochemical reason why binge drinking increases the drinker’s risk of
engaging in aggressive and sexually aggressive behavior, such as sexual harassment,
sexual abuse, and relationship violence.

FIGURE 12.4: How Alcohol Works in the Brain to Decrease Personal Inhibitions and
Increase Risk-taking Behavior

Alcohol slows down or suppresses
signals sent from the upper
“human” brain that normally

“Human Brain”
control or inhibit the lower ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• •••“animal” brain. ••• ••• ••••••

•••••• = controlling (inhibiting) signals

= slows down (suppresses) inhibiting signals “Animal Brain”

©Kendall Hunt Publishing Company

Reflection 12.12

Do you drink alcohol?

If yes, why? If no, why not?

How do you think most students on your campus would answer these questions?

Use and Abuse of Illegal Drugs
In the United States, alcohol is a substance that citizens can use legally once they
reach a certain age. Other chemical substances cannot be used legally at any age.
Although the college years are often a time for exploring and experimenting with
different ideas, feelings, and experiences, experimenting with illegal drugs can be

282 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

risky business. Unlike legal drugs, which must pass through rigorous testing by the
Federal Drug Administration before being approved for public consumption, simi-
lar safeguards are not in place for the production, packaging, and distribution of il-
legal drugs. We don’t know if or what substances have been “cut” (mixed into) an il-
legal drug during its production process. Thus, consuming an illegal drug is not
only a criminal risk, it’s also a health risk because it involves consumption of an un-
regulated and potentially unhealthy substance. For these reasons, the best rule to
follow about using illegal drugs is this: When in doubt, keep it out. Don’t put any-
thing into your body that’s totally unregulated, possibly adulterated, and potentially

Listed below are the major types of illegal drugs in circulation, accompanied by
a short description of their primary physical and psychological effects.

• Cocaine (coke, crack). A stimulant that’s typically snorted or smoked, which
produces a strong “rush” (intense feeling of euphoria)

• Amphetamine (speed, meth). A strong stimulant that increases energy and
general arousal; it’s usually taken in pill form but may also be smoked or

• Ecstasy (X). A stimulant typically taken in pill form that speeds up the nervous
system and reduces social inhibitions

• Hallucinogens (psychedelics). Drugs that alter or distort perception—e.g.,
LSD (“acid”) and hallucinogenic mushrooms (“shrooms”)

• Narcotics (Opioids). Sedative drugs that slow down the nervous system and
produce feelings of relaxation. Heroin is a particularly powerful narcotic
that’s typically injected or smoked and produces an intense “rush” of eupho-
ria. Also falling into this category of narcotics or opioids are prescription pain
medications (e.g., OxyContin and Hydrocodone); although legal, these drugs
have the potential to be abused and addictive—in fact, most people addicted
to opioids today started using them as prescribed pain medication.

• Marijuana (weed, pot). A legal drug in some states, but still illegal in others; it
works primarily as a depressant or sedative, slowing down the nervous system
and producing feelings of relaxation.

• Date Rape Drugs. Depressant (sedative) drugs that induce sleepiness, memory
loss, and possible loss of consciousness, thus rendering the drinker vulnerable
to rape or other forms of sexual assault. These drugs are typically colorless,
tasteless, and odorless; thus, they can be easily mixed into a drink without the
drinker noticing it. Common date-rape drugs include Rohypnol (“roofies”) and
GHB (“liquid E”).

Reflection 12.13

What illegal drugs (if any) have you seen students use in high school or college?

Have you witnessed use of any illegal drugs that do not appear on the above list?

Motives (Reasons) for Drug Use
People use drugs for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are listed
below. Increasing awareness of the motives behind drug use can help reduce one’s
tendency to do drugs for unconscious or subconscious reasons.

Chapter 12 Physical Wellness 283

• Social Pressure. To “fit in” or feel socially accepted (e.g., drinking alcohol be-
cause everyone else seems to be doing it)

• Recreational (Party) Use. For fun, stimulation, or pleasure (e.g., smoking
marijuana at parties to relax, loosen inhibitions, and have a “good time”)

• Experimental Use. Doing drugs out of curiosity—to test out their effects
(e.g., experimenting with LSD to see what it’s like to have a psychedelic or
hallucinogenic experience)

• Therapeutic Use. Using prescription or over-the-counter drugs for medical
purposes (e.g., taking Prozac for depression, Adderall to treat attention deficit
disorder, or Fentanyl to treat pain)

• Performance Enhancement. To improve physical or mental performance
(e.g., taking steroids to improve athletic performance or stimulants to stay
awake and study longer for exams)

• Escapism. To escape a personal problem or an unpleasant emotional state (e.g.,
taking Ecstasy to escape depression or boredom)

• Addiction. Because of physical or psychological dependence (e.g., habitually
using cocaine or prescription drugs because stopping use of them triggers un-
comfortable withdrawal symptoms)

”“For fun.” “To party.” “To fit in.” “To become more talkative, outgoing, and flirtatious.” “To try anything once.” “To become numb.” “To forget
problems.” “Being bored.”
—Responses of freshmen and
sophomores to the question, “Why do
college students take drugs?”

Reflection 12.14

What motives for drug use listed above would you say are the most common reasons
for drug use by students?

Do you think students’ common motivations (reasons) for using drugs could be
satisfied by substituting alternative drug-free experiences? If yes, what might those
alternative experiences be?

Sexually T ransmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs represent a group of contagious infections spread through sexual intercourse
that can threaten a person’s health and well-being. More than 25 types of STIs have
been identified and virtually all of them are effectively treated if detected early.
However, if ignored, some STIs can progress to the point where they result in seri-
ous infection and possible infertility.

Common early symptoms of STI are experiencing pain during or after urina-
tion, or unusual discharge from the penis or vagina. Sometimes, however, symp-
toms can be subtle and undetectable. If there’s any doubt, it’s best to play it safe and
get it checked. If you discover that you have a STI, immediately inform anyone
you’ve had sex with so that he or she can receive early treatment before the disease
progresses. This is not just the polite thing to do; it’s the right (ethical) thing to do.

Latex condoms provide the best protection against STIs. Also, having sex with
fewer partners reduces the risk of contracting an STI. Obviously, not engaging in
sexual intercourse is the most foolproof way to eliminate the risk of an STI (and un-
wanted pregnancy). When making decisions about sexual intercourse, college stu-
dents have three basic options: Do it recklessly and run a high risk of contracting an
STI, do it safely and minimize risk of an STI, or don’t do it at all. Students who
choose abstinence shouldn’t be perceived as being cold or prudish. It just means
they prefer not to have sexual intercourse at this time or stage of their life.

284 Chapter 12 Physical Wellness

Campus Safety
College campuses are generally safe places; crimes are not more likely to take place
on campuses than in other places. However, crimes can and do occur on campus, and
one aspect of maintaining wellness for college students is avoiding behavior that puts
them at risk of experiencing crime, particularly crime that threatens their personal
safety and physical well-being. Listed below are some top tips for doing so.

• After dark, don’t walk alone; use a buddy system.
• Check if your campus has an escort service at night; if it does, take advantage

of it.
• If you’re walking alone, don’t get so absorbed in texting or listening to iTunes

that you tune out or block out what’s going on around you.
• If you’re carrying valuable electronics, keep them concealed.
• Call ahead for campus shuttles and escort services to reduce the amount of time

you wait for a ride.
• Have your keys out and ready to use when entering your building or your car,

and double-check to be sure the door locks behind you.
• Be aware of the location of emergency phones in campus buildings.
• Know the phone number and location of the office for campus safety.
• Include emergency numbers in your cell phone.

You can also take advantage of mobile apps to enhance safety. For instance,
“Circle of 6” ( is a free mobile map that allows you to
choose a network of six friends whom you can contact with emergency text mes-
sages, such as: “Call me immediately,” “Come and get me,” or “I need help getting
home safely.” When you text a message, your GPS location is included. This app
won the national “Apps Against Abuse Challenge” sponsored by the White House.
“ArcAngel” ( is another mobile safety
app that notifies you within seconds of an emergency or if you’re near danger (e.g.,
a crime scene, fire, or flood). It also provides ongoing status reports throughout the
emergency and recommends evacuation routes as needed. If you need help, you can
click a button that informs local authorities, campus security teams, and family
members of your exact location.

Take advantage of these new safety technologies to reduce your risk of being
victimized by crime, both on or off campus.

Internet-Based Resources
For additional information on promoting physical wellness, consult the following
Web sites.

Physical Activities and Fitness:



Alcohol and Drugs:




Chapter 12 Exercises
12.1 Quote Reflections
Review the sidebar quotes contained in this chapter and select two that you found to be especially meaningful or

For each quote you selected, provide an explanation why you chose it.

12.2 Strategy Reflections
Review the strategies suggested for improving the quality of sleep on pp. 276-278. Select three you think are most important
and intend to put into practice.

12.3 Reality Bite
Drinking to Death: College Partying Gone Wild
It’s estimated that at least 50 college students nationwide die each year as a result of drinking incidents on or near campus.
During a single month in the fall, three college students died as a result of binge drinking at college parties. The first incident
involved an 18-year-old freshman at a private university who collapsed after drinking a mixture of beer and rum, fell into a
coma at his fraternity house, and died three days later. He had a blood-alcohol level of more than .40, which would be
equivalent to gulping down about 20 shots in one hour. The second incident involved a student from a public university in
the South who died of alcohol poisoning (overdose). The third student died at another public university in the Northeast
after an evening of partying and heavy drinking; he accidentally fell off a building in the middle of the night and fell
through the roof of a greenhouse. Some colleges in the Northeast now have student volunteers roaming the campus on cold
winter nights to make sure that no students freeze to death after passing out from an intense episode of binge drinking.

More recently, a student at a university on the East Coast guzzled an excessive amount of vodka and beer at a fraternity
hazing party, staggered around repeatedly during the night, and eventually fell (head first) down a flight of stairs. He died of
a fractured skull and damaged spleen.

Listed below are strategies that have been suggested or enacted by politicians and university officials to reduce the problem
of dangerous binge drinking:

1. A state governor announced he was going to launch a series of radio ads designed to discourage underage drinking.

2. A senator filed a bill to toughen penalties for those who violate underage drinking laws, such as producing and using
fake identification cards.

3. A group of city council members considered stiffening penalties for liquor stores that deliver directly to fraternity houses.

4. A university banned the drinking of hard liquor at college parties.

5. Six states enacted laws that make fraternity hazing a criminal offense.

Reflection and Discussion Questions
1. Rank the above strategies in terms of how effective you think they’d be for reducing the problem of binge drinking

(1 = the most effective strategy to 3 = the least effective).

2. Comparing your highest ranked and lowest ranked choices, why do you think:

(a) your highest-ranked choice would be most effective?

(b) your lowest-ranked choice would be least effective?

3. What additional strategies would you suggest that might effectively reduce the number of dangerous binge-drinking


12.4 Wellness Self-Assessment
For each aspect of wellness listed below, rate yourself in terms of how close you are to doing what you should be doing.

Nowhere Close to What
I Should Be Doing

Not Bad but Should
Be Better

Right Where I Should Be

1 2 3 4 5

Nutrition 1 2 3 4 5

Exercise 1 2 3 4 5

Sleep 1 2 3 4 5

Alcohol and Drugs 1 2 3 4 5

For each area in which there’s a gap between where you are and where you should be, identify the best action step you could
take right now to reduce or eliminate this gap.

Do you think the ratings of most college students would be like yours? Why?

12.5 Nutritional Self-Assessment and Self-Improvement
1. Go to:

2. For each of the five food groups listed at this site, use the grid below to record in the first column the amount you
should consume on a daily basis. In the second column, estimate the amount you do consume on a daily basis.

Basic Food Type Amount Recommended Amount Consumed



Protein Foods


3. For any food group that you’re consuming in less than the recommended amount, use the website to find foods that
would enable you to meet the recommended daily amount. Make note of these foods, and answer the following
questions about each of them:

(a) How likely is it that you will add these food items to your regular diet?

Very Likely Possibly Very Unlikely

(b) For those food items you identified as “very unlikely,” why would is it very unlikely that you would add these items
to your regular diet?

12.6 Biological Rhythms
Refer to the results of your AchieveWORKS Learning and Productivity report, under the Environmental Preferences
section. What do the results suggest about times during the day when you’re at your best and when it would be best to
schedule your most challenging academic work?

How could you set up a study schedule that enables you to make effective use of your most productive time while still
allowing time for your other responsibilities?



Psychological Wellness

Chapter Purpose & PreviewPhysical and mental health represent the “twin towers” of personal wellness; this chapter
focuses on the latter tower—psychological well-being. Academic achievement in college and
the ability to persist to college completion depend on students’ ability to maintain their
mental health and cope effectively with psychological stressors, particularly anxiety, depres-
sion, unhealthy relationships, and substance abuse. This chapter supplies specific strategies
for preserving self-esteem, coping with college stressors, maintaining mental health, and
attaining optimal psychological wellness.

Learning GoalAcquire knowledge of strategies and resources for strengthening self-esteem, maintain-
ing stress at moderate, performance-enhancing levels, and coping with anxiety, depres-
sion, unhealthy social relationships, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

Ignite Your Thinking
Reflection 13.1

How would you rate your overall sense of self-esteem?

In what situations or circumstances would you say your self-esteem tends to be
highest and lowest? Why?

“I think there should be a
mental health and wellness
course that is mandatory for
the first semester of all
incoming students. ”
—College student responding to a
national survey on mental health

Mental Health and Self-Esteem
Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth; it’s a value judgment about ourselves
that affects how we feel about ourselves. If that value judgment is positive, it contrib-
utes positively to our mental health; if it’s negative, it detracts from it. Self-
esteem can vary across time and circumstances, even if we have a generally positive
sense of self-esteem, there are likely to be certain times and situations when we don’t
feel good about ourselves. It’s at these times that we need to intentionally restore our
self-esteem and preserve our mental health. Here are some strategies for doing so.

Strategies for Improving and Preserving Self-Esteem
Be mindful of negative self-talk. Research shows that how we think affects how we
feel, and if we think positive thoughts about ourselves, we’re more likely to reduce

288 Chapter 13 Psychological Wellness

stress and strengthen our self-esteem. Thinking often involves talking silently to our-
selves silently and our inner voice can sometimes speak self-critical words. If we hear
these words repeatedly, they can lower our self-esteem, often without our full conscious
awareness. By remaining self-aware of the critic within us, we can combat these nega-
tive verbal messages through thought stopping (e.g., responding to the negative self-talk-
ing by saying: “shut up!”) and thought substitution (e.g., replacing negative self-state-
ments like: “I’m an idiot” with positive self-talk such as: “I’m not understanding this
right now, but by keeping at, I soon will.”) Psychologists refer to such positive self-
statements as affirmations, and research indicates that when people practice making af-
firmations (for example, writing down as many different positive things they can think
about themselves in a minute), it decreases negative self-talk and increases self-esteem.

Avoid comparing yourself to others; focus on your own special gifts and tal-
ents. A healthy sense of self-esteem involves a realistic, appreciative view of the self
that doesn’t depend on external forms of self-validation, such as wealth or social sta-
tus. In the words of a renowned humanistic psychologist, healthy self-esteem is
built on “unconditional positive regard”—the belief that all human beings are to be
valued (positively regarded) for who they are, not by what they have or haven’t
done, a