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Josipa Roksa presents “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”

Josipa Roksa, author of "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," will deliver a lecture exploring what students are actually learning and how we can improve undergraduate education. A Q&A will follow the lecture, and an opportunity for further discussion will begin at 4:30 pm in the Commons Room.

When Apr 18, 2013
from 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM
Where Graham Memorial Kresge Foundation Common Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone (919) 962-0249
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Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

Academically AdriftIn spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?

For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.

Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents—all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa’s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.

Josipa Roksa

Josipa RoksaJosipa Roksa is an associate professor of sociology and education at the University of Virginia. She is currently serving as special advisor to the Provost and associate director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

To what extent does education amplify, preserve, or reduce social inequality? This has been the central question guiding Professor Roksa’s scholarly inquiry. In addressing this question, she has aimed to extend the conversation beyond focusing on academics to consider broader social contexts of education. She has thus examined the role of state contexts in shaping access and attainment in higher education, the importance of life course transitions, including work, marriage/cohabitation and parenthood, for educational success, and the role of parenting in fostering academic achievement among K-12 students. Moreover, she has studied not only entry and completion in higher education (i.e., who enrolls and who graduates), but also what happens within colleges and universities, what activities students engage in and how that shapes their learning.

Professor Roksa is co-author of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Moreover, her research has been published in a range of peer-reviewed journals, including Social Forces, Sociology of Education, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Teachers College Record, Review of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, and Social Science Research.

Professor Roksa teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in social stratification, education, research methods, and statistics. She was named a University Teaching Fellow (UTF, 2008-2009), a Mead Honored Faculty (2010-2011), and a Fellow of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education (2009-2012).