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New book on success, failure, and resilience in higher education

Published: 27th November 2020 Last updated: 27th November 2020

We can all learn from our mistakes, but it seems that there is a taboo on sharing failures. These times are dominated by a ‘religion of success’. The existing culture of success has also impacted our educational landscape. Universities strive to achieve high scores in rankings. Study success is defined in terms of study progress and grades. How does this striving for excellence impact students? And how do we promote students’ resilience against performance pressure? A diverse range of authors from the academic world have shed light on this subject in a recently published book, Success and Failure in Higher Education: Building Resilience in Students, edited by Dr. Tessa Leesen and Professor Alkeline van Lenning.

Whereas some students thrive in a competitive environment, because it encourages them to push their boundaries and bring out the best in themselves, others cannot keep up with the pace. They are unable to meet the expectations they set for themselves and society sets for them. The pressure to perform is high, sometimes too high, and is fueled by social media, tempting students to share success stories only. As a result, students tend to struggle with fear of failure and other mental health issues.

The essays in this book critically reflect on the current discourse on failure, success, and excellence within higher education and society at large and suggest integrated definitions that acknowledge the multifaceted character of the concepts. The book also presents and discusses more practically oriented (educational) initiatives that intend to increase students’ well-being. The concept of resilience is a means to increase a students' ability to cope with and bounce back from adversity and to stand ground in the competitive environment of higher education.

The chapters of this volume are thematically interlinked:

  • Society and Success
  • Success in Higher Education
  • Higher Education: Failure and Resilience
  • Empowering the Resilient Society.

Book presentation during Failing Forward event

The book will be presented during the online Failing Forward Event on November 27, 2020. The event wants to break the taboo on failure. Three speakers, a professor, an alumnus, and a student, will share their failures with the audience. Wim van de Donk, Rector Magnificus of Tilburg University, will be presented with the first copy of the book by Dr. Tessa Leesen.

Due to a high demand, the hardcopy of the book is available to order for free, in limited numbers. It will be available from November 27. Get your free copy here.

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