The best books on higher education of 2011, as chosen by a panel picked by Minding the Campus, are Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa; and Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College by Andrew Ferguson.
Academically Adrift, which Richard Vedder called “devastating:” and “the most significant book on higher education written in recent years,” tracks the academic gains (or non-gains) of 2,300 students 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).
Among the results: 45 percent of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during the first two years of college. A total of 36 percent “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” over four years of college. And those students who do show improvements tend to show only modest ones.
Four books drew three votes from the 10-member panel: In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic by Professor X; The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters by Benjamin Ginsberg; The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Pay For by Naomi Schaefer Riley; and The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out by Clayton M. Christensen and Henry J. Eyring.