Learning on College Campuses
While socializing and community building is a significant part of the college life, education, as most undergraduate institutions would boast, is the most important and time-consuming part of student life in college. On the other hand, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa would disagree in their book, Academically Adrift. In their work about the “limited learning” occurring on college campuses, Arum and Roksa point out that colleges are becoming less concerned with academics, and that focus has shifted from learning to socializing. The myriad statistical examples and standardized test analyses in Academically Adrift support that undergraduate students have strayed from the traditional value of education. However, recent surveys conducted by Lehigh University students prove that the statements made by Arum and Roksa are not true for all college campuses, especially at a selective university like Lehigh.
The studies in Academically Adrift utilize the Collegiate Learning Assessment to measure student progress in the first two years of college. The results of test indicate that there were “no statistically significant gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills for at least 45 percent of students” from the beginning of college to the end of the second year (36). I find a major flaw in this statistic in that the test leaves out some key factors: the CLA tests for certain skills, while at the same time leaving out others. The CLA is an examination of critical thinking and writing skills, which translates to more of a measure of intelligence than a measure of knowledge acquired. While college should be responsible for increasing intelligence, I think the focus is also greatly concentrated on learning new skills within specific fields of study. For example, if an engineering student’s major does not demand writing skills, his/her results on the writing portion of the CLA will likely...
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