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Academically Adrift

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 being released today by University of Chicago Press.

The book cites data from student surveys and transcript analysis to show that many college students have minimal classwork expectations -- and then it tracks the academic gains (or stagnation) of 2,300 students of traditional college age enrolled at a range of four-year colleges and universities. The students took the Collegiate Learning Assessment (which is designed to measure gains in critical thinking, analytic reasoning and other "higher level" skills taught at college) at various points before and during their college educations, and the results are not encouraging: a view that regards higher education as a business, with students as customers. They say this reflects a misunderstanding of the roles of professors and students.

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