ERIC Number: EJ926396
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: N/A
How Robust Are the Findings of "Academically Adrift"?
Pascarella, Ernest T.; Blaich, Charles; Martin, Georgianna L.; Hanson, Jana M.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v43 n3 p20-24 2011
The publication of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa's influential new book, "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," the findings of which were summarized in an article by the same authors in the March/April "Change," has caused a national furor centering around their multi-institutional findings that the general impact of college on student intellectual development is considerably less than stellar. The book's core conclusion that postsecondary education has little effect on student learning is based largely on three major outcomes: (1) small average gains during college on a standardized measure of critical thinking and complex reasoning (the Collegiate Learning Assessment, or CLA); (2) a large percentage of students failing to make individually significant gains on the CLA during college; and (3) low levels of engagement in serious academic work such as studying and writing. Whether or not they intended to, Arum and Roksa have thrown down a sizable gauntlet. If their findings are robust or broadly generalizable, American postsecondary education may be facing a period of considerable soul searching. But just how robust are the findings of "Academically Adrift" ("AcAd") and the other related reports released by Arum and Roksa? The authors of this article--researchers at the Center of Inquiry (COI) at Wabash College and the Center for Research on Undergraduate Education (CRUE) at the University of Iowa who jointly conducted the quantitative component of the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (WNS)--think that because of its national visibility, "AcAd" is undoubtedly worth replicating. And because Arum and Roksa were transparent about their research methods, conducting such analyses with the WNS was reasonably straightforward. The WNS had a design closely paralleling that of the study on which "AcAd" is based. Because it administered standardized measures of such outcomes as critical thinking and moral reasoning, the WNS presented a unique opportunity to determine the generalizability of the "AcAd" findings with a different sample of institutions and students and with somewhat different measures of student intellectual development. This article reports the first of the authors' findings. (Contains 1 figure and 7 resources.)
Descriptors: Undergraduate Study, Postsecondary Education, College Students, Campuses, Critical Thinking, Liberal Arts, Intellectual Development, Higher Education, Academic Achievement, Control Groups
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Indiana; Iowa
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Survey of Student Engagement