If the purpose of a college education is for students to learn, academe is failing, according to Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, a book released by University of Chicago Press. The research finds a direct relationship between rigor and gains in learning:
- Students who study by themselves for more hours each week gain more knowledge -- while those who spend more time studying in peer groups see diminishing gains.
- Students whose classes reflect high expectations (more than 40 pages of reading a week and more than 20 pages of writing a semester) gained more than other students.
- Students who spend more time in fraternities and sororities show smaller gains than other students.
- Students who engage in off-campus or extracurricular activities (including clubs and volunteer opportunities) have no notable gains or losses in learning.
- Students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study." Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the smallest gains. (The authors note that this could be more a reflection of more-demanding reading and writing assignments, on average, in the liberal arts courses than of the substance of the material.)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A colleague, who teaches some of the elementary ed math classes that I teach, forwarded me this email from her husband, a probability and statistics expert. For those of you in college or with children in/going to go to college, here is some food for thought: