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Room for Debate: A Running Commentary on the News


Room for Debate Home
Updated January 24, 2011 11:38 PM

Does College Make You Smarter?

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Introduction
First there was the news that students in American universities study a lot
less than they used to. Now we hear, in a recent book titled "Academically
Adrift," that 45 percent of the nation's undergraduates learn very little in
their first two years of college.
The study, by two sociologists, Richard Arum of New York University and
Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia, also found that half of the
students surveyed did not take any classes requiring 20 pages of writing
in their prior semester, and one-third did not take any courses requiring
40 pages of reading a week.
The research has come in for some criticism. But a larger question is:
Have colleges, in their efforts to keep graduation rates high and students
happy, dumbed down their curriculums? If they have, who is to blame?
What should parents and federal taxpayers do?
Read the Discussion

Debaters
Products of Rote Learning
Traci White/Daily News-Record, via Associated Press

Leon Botstein, president of Bard College


No Work, All Play, No Job

At freshman orientation at James Madison University in Virginia, students performed a routine to show a DNA strand.

George Leef, John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
'Will I Be Able to Get a Job?'

Gaye Tuchman, sociologist, University of Connecticut


An F for Effort

Philip Babcock, economics professor


The Student as Profit Center

Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University


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