A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing by the end of their sophomore years.
Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.
The findings are in a new book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia. An accompanying report argues against federal mandates holding schools accountable, a prospect long feared in American higher education.
The study found that students who study alone and have heavier reading and writing loads do well, while students who study with peers have diminished growth and those who spent more time in the Greek system had decreased rates of learning.