Monday, October 3, 2011
A New Study of Problems in Colleges and Universities
A new book called "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, identifies some important problems in America's colleges and universities, as you can see in this column by Kathleen Parker. The main problem is not that there are too few climbing walls or flat screen TVs or even the high cost. It has to do with what is being taught and the quality of the teaching. One finding is that gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills are either "exceedingly small or nonexistent for a larger proportion of students." And interestingly for us, the report notes disaprovingly that less than 20 percent of colleges have a core curriculum in which U.S. government or history are required, an omission that contributes to students being unprepared for the job market. Arum thinks that dumbed down curricula are such a big problem that he co-authored a letter to the nation's 10,000 college and university trustees saying that institutions not demanding a rigorous curriculum "are actively contributing to the degradation of teaching and learning. They are putting these students and our country's future at risk." For more, see the Parker article or even read the book.