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, 45 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.
Few books have ever made their presence felt on college campuses—and newspaper opinion pages—as quickly and thoroughly as Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s 2011 landmark study of undergraduates’ learning, socialization, and study habits, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. From the moment it was published, one thing was clear: no university could afford to ignore its well-documented and disturbing findings about the failings of undergraduate education.
Now Arum and Roksa are back, and their new book follows the same cohort of undergraduates through the rest of their college careers and out into the working world. Built on interviews and detailed surveys of almost a thousand recent college graduates from a diverse range of colleges and universities, Aspiring Adults Adrift reveals a generation facing a difficult transition to adulthood. Recent graduates report trouble finding decent jobs and developing stable romantic relationships, as well as assuming civic and financial responsibility—yet at the same time, they remain surprisingly hopeful and upbeat about their prospects.
Analyzing these findings in light of students’ performance on standardized tests of general collegiate skills, selectivity of institutions attended, and choice of major, Arum and Roksa not only map out the current state of a generation too often adrift, but enable us to examine the relationship between college experiences and tentative transitions to adulthood. Sure to be widely discussed, Aspiring Adults Adrift will compel us once again to re-examine the aims, approaches, and achievements of higher education.
Judging School Discipline
Richard. ARUM Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress LC311.A78 2003 | Dewey Decimal 370.114
Reprimand a class comic, restrain a bully, dismiss a student for brazen attire--and you may be facing a lawsuit, costly regardless of the result. This reality for today's teachers and administrators has made the issue of school discipline more difficult than ever before--and public education thus more precarious. This is the troubling message delivered in Judging School Discipline, a powerfully reasoned account of how decades of mostly well-intended litigation have eroded the moral authority of teachers and principals and degraded the quality of American education.
Judging School Discipline casts a backward glance at the roots of this dilemma to show how a laudable concern for civil liberties forty years ago has resulted in oppressive abnegation of adult responsibility now. In a rigorous analysis enriched by vivid descriptions of individual cases, the book explores 1,200 cases in which a school's right to control students was contested.
Richard Arum and his colleagues also examine several decades of data on schools to show striking and widespread relationships among court leanings, disciplinary practices, and student outcomes; they argue that the threat of lawsuits restrains teachers and administrators from taking control of disorderly and even dangerous situations in ways the public would support.
Table of Contents:
1. Questioning School Authority 2. Student Rights versus School Rules With Irenee R. Beattie 3. How Judges Rule With Irenee R. Beattie 4. From the Bench to the Paddle With Richard Pitt and Jennifer Thompson 5. School Discipline and Youth Socialization With Sandra Way 6. Restoring Moral Authority in American Schools
Appendix: Tables Notes Index
Reviews of this book: This interesting study casts a critical eye on the American legal system, which [Arum] sees as having undermined the ability of teachers and administrators to socialize teenagers...Arum, it must be pointed out, is adamantly opposed to such measures as zero tolerance, which, he insists, often results in unfair and excessive punishment. What he wisely calls for is not authoritarianism, but for school folks to regain a sense of moral authority so that they can act decisively in matters of school discipline without having to look over their shoulders. --David Ruenzel, Teacher Magazine
Reviews of this book: Arum's book should be compulsory reading for the legal profession; they need to recognise the long-term effects of their judgments on the climate of schools and the way in which judgments in favour of individual rights can reduce the moral authority of schools in disciplining errant students. But the author is no copybook conservative, and he is as critical of the Right's get-tough, zero-tolerance authoritarianism as he is of what he eloquently describes as the 'marshmallow effect' of liberal reformers, pushing the rules to their limits and tolerating increased misconduct. --John Dunford, Times Educational Supplement [UK]
Reviews of this book: [Arum] argues that discipline is often ineffective because schools' legitimacy and moral authority have been eroded. He holds the courts responsible, because they have challenged schools' legal and moral authority, supporting this claim by examining over 6,200 state and federal appellate court decisions from 1960 to 1992. In describing the structure of these decisions, Arum provides interesting insights into school disciplinary practices and the law. --P. M. Socoski, Choice
Reviews of this book: Arum's careful analysis of school discipline becomes so focused and revealing that the ideological boundaries of the debate seem almost to have been suspended. The result is a rich and original book, bold, important, useful, and--as this combination of attributes might suggest--surprising...Many years in the making, Judging School Discipline weds historical, theoretical, and statistical research within the problem-solving stance of a teacher working to piece together solutions in the interest of his students. The result is a book that promises to shape research as well as practice through its demonstration that students are liberated, as well as oppressed, by school discipline. --Steven L. VanderStaay, Urban Education
Reviews of this book: [Arum's] break with education-school dogma on student rights is powerful and goes far toward explaining why so many teachers dread their students--when they are not actually fighting them off. --Heather MacDonald, Wall Street Journal
In 1987, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind was published; a wildly popular book that drew attention to the shift in American culture away from the tenants that made America—and Americans—unique. Bloom focused on a breakdown in the American curriculum, but many sensed that the issue affected more than education. The very essence of what it meant to be an American was disappearing.
That was over twenty years ago. Since then, the United States has experienced unprecedented wealth, more youth enrolling in higher education than ever before, and technology advancements far beyond what many in the 1980s dreamed possible. And yet, the state of the American mind seems to have deteriorated further. Benjamin Franklin’s “self-made man” has become a man dependent on the state. Independence has turned into self-absorption. Liberty has been curtailed in the defense of multiculturalism.
In order to fully grasp the underpinnings of this shift away from the self-reliant, well-informed American, editors Mark Bauerlein and Adam Bellow have brought together a group of cultural and educational experts to discuss the root causes of the decline of the American mind. The writers of these fifteen original essays include E. D. Hirsch, Nicholas Eberstadt, and Dennis Prager, as well as Daniel Dreisbach, Gerald Graff, Richard Arum, Robert Whitaker, David T. Z. Mindich, Maggie Jackson, Jean Twenge, Jonathan Kay, Ilya Somin, Steve Wasserman, Greg Lukianoff, and R. R. Reno. Their essays are compiled into three main categories:
· States of Mind: Indicators of Intellectual and Cognitive Decline
These essays broach specific mental deficiencies among the population, including lagging cultural IQ, low Biblical literacy, poor writing skills, and over-medication.
· Personal and Cognitive Habits/Interests
These essays turn to specific mental behaviors and interests, including avoidance of the news, short attention spans, narcissism, and conspiracy obsessions.
· National Consequences
These essays examine broader trends affecting populations and institutions, including rates of entitlement claims, voting habits, and a low-performing higher education system.
The State of the American Mind is both an assessment of our current state as well as a warning, foretelling what we may yet become. For anyone interested in the intellectual fate of America, The State of the American Mind offers an accessible and critical look at life in America and how our collective mind is faring.