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Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on…

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

by Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Great book to stir up questions, but the lack of a clear section on limitations and drawing graduation implications from a study of first and second year students is reason for some caution. With clearly stated limitations and well-grounded implications it would have received at least four stars and maybe five. ( )
  tangentrider | Aug 27, 2015 |
This is a must read for any teacher -- or anyone who wants to comment on the state of education. Fixing our schools has absolutely nothing to do with privatizing them. (In fact, private schools oftentimes remove standards because they need customers who don't like doing the heavy lifting). Instead, we need to bring back rigor and standards to our classroom, demanding students put in the time and the work so they may think better! ( )
  thebradking | Feb 22, 2014 |
Not a book, but an extended study... very dry reading but very interesting findings ( )
  marcfitch | Feb 7, 2014 |
The statistics presented in Academically Adrift aren't surprising, but they are sobering. Throughout the short book, we find nuggets such as:

* Academically poor students rarely talk with their professors outside of class
* Even top-ranked students try to study the least possible amount of hours per week
* Many students try to avoid "hard" classes and will suffer gladly through boring (and often useless) ones if those result in "easy A"s
* Test scores appear to be negatively correlated with studying in groups (ie, group studying often does not help test scores)

Interestingly, the book does mention another side of student "failure" -- the lack of interest professors may take in teaching. For many professors, teaching is not as important in the tenure process as scholarship and service. One very interesting comment made by these authors suggest an implicit contract poor (or, really, most) students have with professors: the professor gives the least amount of work for a guaranteed passing grade in return for the students causing no problems and giving a decent classroom evaluation. (I know I'm guilty of taking classes like that with a few professors, and I made no complaints then.)

Of course, this is problematic, because students find themselves "academically adrift." These "drifting dreamers" have "high ambitions, but no clear life plans for reaching them" and have "limited knowledge about their chosen occupations, about educational requirements, or about future demand for these occupations." Much of the book discusses student test scores on a "critical thinking" test, which suggests many students flounder through college because they are completely unprepared to think analytically.

There is a "how to fix it" chapter, but doing so would require major changes in our current educational system, involving more than just throwing student support workers at students and emphasizing teaching more in tenure decisions. The book is weakest here, mostly due to the major policy decisions that would need to be made, which the authors only vaguely describe.

LT Haiku:
Major study of
College-age kids shows most can't
Think critically. ( )
2 vote legallypuzzled | Apr 7, 2013 |
Richard Arum argues, with data, that colleges are failing and need policing. He argues that the "college for all" mentality that begins in high school is a major factor. Students are not academically prepared, and colleges are catering to them by dumbing classes down. Teachers are not assigning enough work and many students do not put in enough time. Furthermore, colleges are being hit with massive tuition increases, causing students to take more loans, and students form minority or low-income families do worse than their peers. Arum finally argues that students' perception of college comes from media such as "Animal House," that college must be social, not intellectual or academic.

I found this to be a fascinating read. I begin my teaching career as a graduate teaching assistant in the 2012-2013 school year. I often found myself reflecting on my own collegiate time. I was academically ready, but not socially ready. I am the opposite of the students in Arum's data set: I saw (and still see) college as an intellectual and academic haven, opposed to the media-driven social network. ( )
  06nwingert | Jun 11, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Though ponderously stated (as is the whole book), the message again is that the university must be policed and regulated through outcomes testing.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Arumprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roksa, Josipamain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Colleges and universities, for all the benefits they bring, accomplish far less for their students than they should," the former president of Harvard University, Derek Bok, recently lamented.
Although it is not the focus of the remainder of this volume, gender parity in CLA performance is worthy of notice, as it stands out in contrast to the observed racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities.
Given that students are spending very little time studying or attending classes, in both absolute and relative terms, we should not be surprised that on average they are not learning much.
Policy makers and practitioners alike have focused on keeping students in college, assuming that it they stay they will learn. But the causal arrows do not seem to work in that direction. The simple act of staying enrolled does not ensure that students are learning much. If, on the other hand, students are learning and engaged, they will likely stay enrolled and graduate.
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Major study of

College-age kids shows most can't

Think critically.


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226028569, Paperback)

In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor's degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they're born.

Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there? For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa's answer to that question is a definitive "no."

Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, forty-five percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills - including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing - during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise - instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.

Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents - all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa's report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Are undergraduates really learning anything once they get to college? The answer is no. As troubling as their findings are, the authors argue that for many faculty and administrators this conclusion will come as no surprise and is the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.… (more)

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