Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Evaluating the Effectiveness of College

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent post “Evaluating the Effectiveness of College” [Hake (2013)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT:Matthew Von Hendy of the EvalTalk list pointed to an article “Congratulations, College Graduate. Now Tell Us: What Did You Learn?” [Selingo (2013a)] at Selingo, in turn, pointed to the research of Arum & Roksa (2011) as presented in their book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses For a more extensive discussion than Selingo’s on the limited learning imparted by U.S. higher education see, e.g.:

(a) “Are colleges failing?” [Hake (2005)] at;

(b) “Should the Culture of University Science Education Be Changed” [Hake (2011)] at;

(c) “Re: Culture Change for Learning” [Hake (2012a)] at; and

(d) “U.S. Colleges Put Low Priority on Student Learning” [Hake (2012b) at

The above four essays reference, in addition to Arum & Roksa (2011) [in chronological order by publication date]:

(1) Academic Duty [Kennedy (1999)] at;

(2) A University for the 21st Century [Duderstadt (2000)] at;

(3) Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More [Bok (2005b] at;

(4) Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids - and What We Can Do About It [Hacker & Dreifus (2010)] at

(5) We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education [Keeling & Hersh (2011)] at; and

(6) College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be [Delbanco (2012)] at

A precursor of the above six books critical of U.S. higher education is Jacques Barzun’s (1968, 1993) The American University: How It Runs, Where It Is Going at

To access the complete 23 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles:
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs:
Google Scholar:

“. . . studies indicate that problem-based discussion, group study, and other forms of active learning produce greater gains in critical thinking than lectures, yet the lecture format is still the standard in most college classes, especially in large universities."
- Derek Bok (2005), former president of Harvard University, in "Are colleges failing? Higher Ed Needs New Lesson Plans" [Bok (2005b)]

“The academic area is one of the most difficult areas to change in our society. We continue to use the same methods of instruction, particularly lectures, that have been used for hundreds of years. Little scientific research is done to test new approaches, and little systematic attention is given to the development of new methods. Universities that study many aspects of the world ignore the educational function in which they are engaging and from which a large part of their revenues are earned.”
- Richard M. Cyert, former president of Carnegie Mellon University, quoted in Tuma & Reif (1980):

“Few faculty members have any awareness of the expanding knowledge about learning from psychology and cognitive science. Almost no one in the academy has mastered or used this knowledge base. One of my colleagues observed that if doctors used science the way college teachers do, they would still be trying to heal with leeches. ”
- James Duderstadt (2000), President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, in A University for the 21st Century [Duderstadt (2000)]

“We have not been very systematic about our quest to improve teaching, even though we value it highly and frequently do well at it. I am struck, for example, by the lack of conversation about what pedagogy means, and what makes it successful. It is our profession, yet it is mysteriously absent from our professional discourse. Here we are, engaged in an activity that is vital to ourselves, our students, and our public - yet we speak of how to do it, if at all, as though it had no data base, lacked a history, and offered no innovative challenges. ”
- Donald Kennedy, former president of Stanford University, in his "Stanford President's Address: Stanford in Its Second Century" - see also AcademicDuty [Kennedy (1999)].

REFERENCES [URL’s shortened by and accessed on 15 May 2013.]
Bok, D. 2005a. “Are colleges failing? Higher Ed Needs New Lesson Plans,” Boston Globe, 18 December, copied into the APPENDIX of Hake (2005).

Duderstadt, J.J. 2000. A University for the 21st Century. Univ. of Michigan Press, publisher’s information at information at, note the searchable “Look Inside” feature.

Hake, R.R. 2005. “Are colleges failing?” AERA-L post of 19 Dec 2005 17:54:37-0800; online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at The APPENDIX contains a copy of Bok (2005).

Hake, R.R. 2013. “Evaluating the Effectiveness of College,” online on the OPEN! Net-Gold archives at Post of 14 May 2013 16:35:04-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold.

Kennedy, D. 1999. Academic Duty. Harvard University Press, publisher’s information at information at, note the “Look Inside” feature. An expurgated Google book preview is online at

Tuma, D.T. & F. Reif, eds. 1980. Problem Solving and Education: Issues in Teaching and Research. Lawrence Erlbaum. information at

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