Teaching Students About the World of Work

Teaching Students About the World of Work A Challenge to Postsecondary Educators

Edited by Nancy Hoffman and Michael Lawrence Collins, Foreword by Garrett Moran
paper, 264 Pages
Pub. Date: June 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-494-6
Price: $33.00

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Pub. Date: June 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-496-0

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Teaching Students About the World of Work argues that educational institutions—especially two-year and four-year public institutions serving low-income students—need to make the topic of employment a central element in their educational offerings. Indeed, the book demonstrates that a far greater emphasis on teaching students about the work world will be necessary if colleges are to give disadvantaged students a realistic chance for professional and economic success. The recommendation is a reconfiguration of postsecondary education that represents a paradigm shift in career preparation and learning.


Teaching Students About the World of Work offers a grounded, realistic overview of what it would mean to take work seriously as both a goal and as an object of study. It’s a welcome first step in a much larger project crucial to everyone in higher education: making the promise of equality come true. — Matthew Reed, vice president for Learning, Brookdale Community College

Focusing on community colleges, the authors make a convincing case that schools should better integrate the world of work into the college experience in order to help students develop the skills, confidence, and contacts to achieve professional and economic success. — Martha Ross, fellow, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

To ensure that all students, especially those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color, earn high-quality degrees and credentials, postsecondary leaders must do a better job connecting the dots between education and the workforce. This book superbly makes that case and highlights the important role of community colleges in preparing students for jobs that can put them on a path toward economic mobility and prosperity. — Michelle Asha Cooper, president, Institute for Higher Education Policy

Teaching Students About the World of Work addresses a topic that many postsecondary institutions seem to overlook...As the text's central theme is predicated on the idea that all students enroll in higher education to find work eventually and that in order for them to be successful when they do, work must be part of higher education curriculum. — Journal of Competency-Based Education

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About the Editors

Michael Lawrence Collins is vice president at JFF, a national nonprofit working to transform the workforce and education systems to accelerate economic advancement for all. For over a decade, he has led a multistate postsecondary reform network committed to increasing the success of students from low-income backgrounds through connecting colleges and state systems to evidence-based practices and policies and supporting their implementation through nationally recognized initiatives such as Achieving the Dream, Completion by Design, and the Student Success Center Initiative. He serves as Chair of the Board for the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and serves on the boards of the National Student Clearinghouse, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and the advisory board for Guttman Community College. He is the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. Michael is a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife, Dana, and son, Dashel.

Nancy Hoffman is senior advisor at JFF, a national nonprofit based in Boston. Nancy is the cofounder, with Bob Schwartz, of the Pathways to Prosperity State Network, a collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Education, JFF, sixteen states, and sixty economic regions with the goal of building pathways to careers for low-income young people. Nancy also led JFF’s work to develop early college high schools and expand opportunities for college-level work in high school to a wide range of students.

Nancy’s most recent book, coauthored with Bob Schwartz, is Learning for Careers: The Pathways to Prosperity Network (2017). She is also the author of Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life (2011). She edited three JFF books: Double the Numbers: Increasing Postsecondary Credentials for Underrepresented Youth; Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It; and Anytime, Anywhere: Student-Centered Learning for Schools and Teachers. Nancy is also the author of Women’s True Profession: Voices from the History of Teaching. These books are all published by the Harvard Education Press. Nancy serves on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education as well as the boards of North Bennet Street School, Adult and Continuing Education Martha’s Vineyard, and BuildUP Birmingham. She holds a BA and PhD in comparative literature from University of California, Berkeley, and has held teaching and administrative posts at Brown, Temple, Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere.