Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Book Review: Academically Adrift
At least for professors, this book was big news. Once I read it I realized all the media summaries were a bit off, so I'll hold off on summarizing it myself. OK, I have to give you this summary: There's a lot of sociological data here that suggests that colleges aren't doing their job to produce "critical thinkers." By that, they mean people who can sort through lots of info, compare it, and then write about it. On the one hand, my institution took part in the preliminary part of this exact study and scored consistently in the top quartile, so that feels pretty good (though, as a teacher of juniors and seniors, I personally can't take much credit for a sophomore-year test!). On the other hand, there is a problem here, extending into the past (high school) and future (after graduation), and although I can quibble with certain aspects of this work (especially the claim that critical thinking doesn't change after the sophomore year?!), at the heart this is about a cultural problem with a moral aspect. In fact, in their final chapter the authors say basically the same thing. So new-fangled analytical tools suggest a moral change. How about that.