Are college students learning?

Are college students learning?

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'Academically Adrift' author to speak at the UI Feb. 7

Josipa Roksa, co-author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on Campuses, will speak about her much-discussed book Thursday, Feb. 7 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Jones Commons, Room N300 Lindquist Center on the University of Iowa campus.

Roksa is also an associate professor of sociology and education at the University of Virginia. Her talk is sponsored by the UI College of Education and is free and open to the public.

Jospia Roska, author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on Campuses
Josipa Roksa

The book, published in 2010, revealed Roksa and her co-author Richard Arum’s analysis of learning for 2,300 undergraduate students at 24 institutions. The authors found “no significant improvement” in skills including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing during students’ first two years of college.

Academically Adrift created controversy and conversation when it was published. Questions of the study’s validity led to a follow-up study and report from the UI College of Education Center for Research on Undergraduate Education. Ernest T. Pascarella, the Mary Louise Petersen Chair in Higher Education and director of the center, along with UI graduates Georgianna L. Martin and Jana Hanson worked with researchers at Wabash College to “determine the robustness” of some of the major findings in Roksa’s book.

“We conclude that the findings of Arum and Roksa are not the artifact of an anomalous sample or instrument and need to be taken seriously,” the group wrote in an article published in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.

Although the group pointed out that the study should have compared the results with a control group of individuals who did not attend college, they concluded that Academically Adrift provided an important wakeup call to American higher education.

“Hopefully, such a call can be used to initiate a productive and open-minded national conversation on just how much effective undergraduate education really matters in our colleges and universities,” the group wrote.

For more information or special accommodations to attend, contact Jan Latta at 319-335-5365 or


Jan Latta, College of Education, 319-335-5365
Ernest T. Pascarella, College of Education's Center for Research on Undergraduate Education, 319-335-5369


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