Crossover Pedagogy: A Rationale for a New Teaching Partnership Between Faculty and Student Affairs Leaders on College Campuses
reviewed by Brandon Childs & Laura Parson - March 27, 2017
Title: Crossover Pedagogy: A Rationale for a New Teaching Partnership Between Faculty and Student Affairs Leaders on College Campuses
Author(s): Robert J. Nash, Jennifer J. J. Jang, & Patricia C. Nguyen
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681235846, Pages: 175, Year: 2016
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As a musical term, crossover refers to collaborations across different genres when the artists come together to make a more powerful song with broader appeal. In Crossover Pedagogy: A Rationale for a New Teaching Partnership Between Faculty and Student Affairs Leaders on College Campuses, Robert J. Nash, Jennifer J. J. Jang, and Patricia C. Nguyen use the idea of crossover to compellingly describe how partnerships between faculty members and student affairs professionals could benefit students. These partnerships benefit learners inside of the classroom through co-teaching as equals. They could also benefit learners outside of the classroom through the student affairs context where faculty members research could influence policies and practices. Combining learning from both inside and outside of the classroom improves students meaning making. It also greatly enhances the learning process for students by increasing their connection to themselves, to other people, and to the world around them. Additionally, this improved sense of connection eliminates the knowledge creation process as being only an academic issue that is in a silo separate from other important processes. This allows meaning making to become a vital part of holistic student interaction with, and engagement in, life. In this book, Nash draws from his own experiences as a faculty member for 48 years to explain how student-faculty partnerships can lead to increased intellectual rigor and additional experiential vigor.
Nash is a tenured professor in the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont. He has published 17 books, authored over 100 scholarly articles, and created other academic writings. He is also the recipient of many awards for both research and teaching. Jang is the associate director of student diversity programs at Champlain College in Vermont. Finally, Nguyen is a senior director of diversity programs at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nash has worked with Jang and Nguyen to create and implement crossover pedagogy initiatives in Vermont. Additionally, Nguyen continues to use this approach at other institutions since leaving Vermont.
The content of Crossover Pedagogy is divided into four sections. The first section describes the need for, the theory behind, and the key aspects of this type of pedagogy. The second section is comprised of narratives from students and teachers who have experienced crossover pedagogy by emphasizing the underlying tenets of this approach. The first two sections are mainly written by Nash and include some input from Jang. They also weave in quotes from students and teachers who they have previously worked with. The third section explores the crossover pedagogy experiences of Jang and Nguyen from a student affairs perspective. Mika Nash wrote the fourth section that consists of only a single chapter. It discusses the application and importance of crossover pedagogy to adult learners in the context of an online program.
There are several things that this book does particularly well. First, it is written fluently and includes engaging stories that make readers desire more from its authors. Nash does much of the groundwork of exploring the meaning behind crossover pedagogy. His co-authors also provide clear examples of how to implement crossover pedagogy in multiple higher education settings. Second, Jang provides life advice in the midst of discussing how she relates to her students. The book is worth purchasing for these tidbits on life alone. However, none of this advice is revolutionary, but it is the first time we have seen so many of these types of ideas neatly organized in one place. Third, Nguyen provides emotionally impactful examples of how crossover pedagogy works in both classrooms and diversity offices to produce meaningful outcomes for students. Although her analysis falls short of an empirical study with generalizable results, one cannot help feeling excited by the evidence that she provides of the changes that crossover pedagogy has already produced for students and may also contribute to future learners. Her chapters were easily our favorite.
Our least favorite thing about the book is its unclear logic in organizing chapters and content. While each chapter contains valuable information, the volumes overall flow does not provide a cohesive argument in favor of crossover pedagogy. This is disappointing because its shared strategies and teaching methods hold strong potential for positively influencing higher education. A more logical flow of chapters, with each one building on the previous one, would help make the argument for using this pedagogy more compelling. The singular exception to this is when Nguyen seems to respond to a critique of student affairs that Nash makes in an earlier chapter. She discusses extremely practical issues concerning how crossover pedagogy is influenced by the tenure process and is dependent upon institutional regulations that define whether or not a person without a doctorate can teach in the classroom. This is one of the stronger sections.
Second, there is very little insight regarding working through implementation problems that might occur when an institution does not allow student affairs professionals without terminal degrees to teach. Third, the volume raises questions that it does not quite answer about curriculum design, boundaries between students and instructors, and the responsibility of gaining access to sensitive student information. Finally, there are moments where the text comes across as uncritically positive. For example, one chapter is comprised of student and faculty member quotations regarding positive experiences with crossover pedagogy. The feedback is not tempered with a broader sense of perspective or even negative criticism. Perhaps in earlier implementations of crossover pedagogy, this positive perspective alone led to improvement in practice.
Overall, Crossover Pedagogy introduces an excellent concept that has the potential to profoundly impact higher education. However, the utility of this pedagogy is obscured by the books organizational logic that lacks a clear flow. By spending more time defending the tenets of crossover pedagogy (e.g., being vulnerable, making meaning, and connecting with students), it fails to adequately discuss how and when to implement this exciting form of pedagogy. However, we see great potential for student affairs professionals and faculty members across many disciplines to come together in classrooms, even beyond colleges of education.
This potential raises several questions for us. Should this coming together happen in different colleges and across other academic fields? How could faculty members who are not tenured invest the sufficient time, energy, and resources necessary for this process? What impact does crossover pedagogy have on faculty members' research and program implementation in student affairs? Nguyen touches on some of these issues, but a much deeper exploration is warranted. Crossover pedagogy is a fantastic idea that we hope spreads to colleges across the country. However, these colleges, their faculty members, and their staff members will have questions regarding how to make it work. After reading this enjoyable and empowering book, so do we.