Richard Arum is professor in the Department of Sociology with a joint appointment in the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. He is also director of the Education Research Program of the Social Science Research Council and the author of Judging School Discipline: The Crisis of Moral Authority in American Schools. Josipa Roksa is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.
Improving Quality in American Higher Education outlines the fundamental concepts and competencies society demands from today's college graduates, and provides a vision of the future for students, faculty, and administrators. Based on a national, multidisciplinary effort to define and measure learning outcomes—the Measuring College Learning project—this book identifies 'essential concepts and competencies' for six disciplines. These essential concepts and competencies represent efforts towards articulating a consensus among faculty in biology, business, communication, economics, history, and sociology—disciplines that account for nearly 40 percent of undergraduate majors in the United States. Contributions from thought leaders in higher education, including Ira Katznelson, George Kuh, and Carol Geary Schneider, offer expert perspectives and persuasive arguments for the need for greater clarity, intentionality, and quality in U.S. higher education.
College faculty are our best resource for improving the quality of undergraduate education. This book offers a path forward based on faculty perspectives nationwide:Clarify program structure and aimsArticulate high-quality learning goalsRigorously measure student progressPrioritize higher order competencies and disciplinarily grounded conceptual understandings
A culmination of over two years of efforts by faculty and association leaders from six disciplines, this book distills the national conversation into a delineated set of fundamental ideas and practices, and advocates for the development and use of rigorous assessment tools that are valued by faculty, students, and society. Improving Quality in American Higher Education brings faculty voices to the fore of the conversation and offers an insightful look at the state of higher education, and a realistic strategy for better serving our students.
Probing graduation rates at twenty-one flagship public universities and four statewide systems of public higher education, the authors focus on the progress of students in the entering class of 1999--from entry to graduation, transfer, or withdrawal. They examine the effects of parental education, family income, race and gender, high school grades, test scores, financial aid, and characteristics of universities attended (especially their selectivity). The conclusions are compelling: minority students and students from poor families have markedly lower graduation rates--and take longer to earn degrees--even when other variables are taken into account. Noting the strong performance of transfer students and the effects of financial constraints on student retention, the authors call for improved transfer and financial aid policies, and suggest ways of improving the sorting processes that match students to institutions.
An outstanding combination of evidence and analysis, Crossing the Finish Line should be read by everyone who cares about the nation's higher education system.