Chronicle of Higher Education: “New Book Lays Failure to Learn on Colleges’ Doorsteps”
At Amazon.com, even though only the hardcover (for $66) is offered, Academically Adrift, released three days ago, is already selling in the site’s top 5,000 books. The publisher, Chicago University Press also offers a $25 paperback.
Why the big interest? The pie chart from the book (and USA Today) breaks down how students spend their time. The USA Today story begins with this summary of the results of what kids are actually accomplishing academically on campus:
Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.
How long could it be before colleges could address this situation and truly change it? Who knows? And can we really expect education as served up at colleges to get better?
Yet an individual student’s mobile web browser — smartphone, iPad, laptop — offers immediate access to anything he or she would want to learn. Shall we fix the colleges? Sure — but what about the current generation of students?
While the colleges are figuring out 21st century education, current students can go ahead and learn using the new great source of knowledge that they already have in their hands.
And if you are thinking: Gosh, will the kids really do that? My answer is individually many, many of them will. Handschooling is the great future port for academic knowledge, and it is reachable now for today’s students who want to go there. We can be certain students will stay academically adrift if we perpetuate the myth that the way colleges are doing academics now will somehow deliver to them the knowledge they want to learn.
UPDATE: I posted the above text at 10AM. By 5PM, as I add this update, Academically Adrift is #34 on the Amazon list of best-selling books. Amazon is now selling the paperback version for $18.