I managed to finish the book, Academically Adrift, during Spring Break (by finishing at 9:17 PM EST Sunday, March 20).
I am wondering how many of you did as well? Would you like to start a conversation now?
I’ll start the ball rolling:
Initially I feel that things are not at a crisis point (that they admit in the last chapter). Yet things aren’t good, either! I believe that the students bear much of the responsibility. Yet so do faculty. And so do administrators who added programs (and financial resources) to help “keep them here.” Retention is important for our financial viability. But we have to think about the implications for student learning. There was an assumption (hubristic in my mind) that if they stayed (i.e., we retained them), they would learn. But are we sure they do? How do we know? I think our priorities need a bit of shifting. Yes, retention is a real issue, but what they do when we keep them here has to have the same level of support as keeping them here.
I *really* want to know if my students are learning. I do not want to assume that they are. This means that I do value assessment. It also means that I am not sure how to do it effectively. As a graduate student, I did not get any training on how to teach and *certainly* did not get any on how to assess whether or not my students were learning anything!
I’d love to know the best ways to assess the things I want to know.
And, as an aside (and maybe this is addressed in their methodological appendix which I did not fully understand and must re-read), who decided that 40 pages of reading helps learning? Or 20 pages of writing? My students read art historical scholarship – published stuff that is difficult to think about. But it’s not 40 pages a week. They do write quite a bit – but I’d have to count to see how close I am to this 20 page minimum. This book is making me rethink that and up the page limits. But why these particular numbers?
Any thoughts on these or other issues in the book?