Academically Adrift

 Academically Adrift

Data on transcript analysis and general student surveys cited by the book by Arum and Roska, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses shows that academe is failing, if the aim of college is to really facilitate learning among students. According to the authors, many undergraduates are just passing through college without clear vision or purpose.

Most students have minimal class expectations and nearly half (45 %) demonstrate no significant academic improvement during their first two years in college, or over four years for others. Improvements, if any, are minimal. The authors conclude that students are not learning much in contemporary higher learning. They attribute this to lack of rigor. According to student surveys data, a relatively significant number of students do not take demanding courses as far as writing and reading are concerned. Also, most students do not devote their time to reading and when they do, it is in groups.

Those who spend more time reading by themselves gain more knowledge than those studying in groups. Those in fraternities and sororities gain little too. Those majoring in fields that reflect high expectations like liberal arts see higher gains, unlike those in less demanding disciplines like social work. The authors relate this to emphasis in reading and writing in those fields, as opposed to course content.

The authors stress the need to motivate students to work hard and not worry about non-academic experiences. They state that educational practices with academic rigor improve performance, unlike social engagement. They stress the need to value education itself as a process and not necessarily the grades. Improvements can be made by ensuring consistency across disciplines as regards the rigor of requirements. Arum emphasizes the need for creativity by faculty members in finding ways of assigning more work to students that involves reading and writing.