front cover of Academically Adrift
Academically Adrift
Limited Learning on College Campuses
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In 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.

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Activists and the Surveillance State
Learning from Repression
Edited by Aziz Choudry
Pluto Press, 2018
In this age of unchecked emphasis on national security, even liberal democracies seem prone to forgetting the histories of political policing and surveillance undergirding what we think of as our safety. Challenging this social amnesia, Aziz Choudry asks: What can we learn about the power of the state from the very people targeted by its security operations?

Drawing on the knowledge of activists and academics from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Chile, Activists and the Surveillance State delves into the harassment, infiltration, and disruption that has colored state responses to those deemed threats to national security. The book shows that, ultimately, movements can learn from their own repression, developing a critical and complex understanding of the nature of states and capital today that can crucially inform the struggles of tomorrow.
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America's Neighborhood Bats
Understanding and Learning to Live in Harmony with Them
By Merlin D. Tuttle
University of Texas Press, 2005

Since its first publication in 1988, America's Neighborhood Bats has changed the way we look at bats by underscoring their harmless and beneficial nature. In this second revised edition, Merlin Tuttle offers bat aficionados the most up-to-date bat facts, including a wealth of new information on bat house design and current threats to bat survival.

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Architecture as a Way of Seeing and Learning
The Built Environment as an Added Educator in East African Refugee Camps
Nerea Amorós Elorduy
University College London, 2021
How built environments impact early childhood education in East African refugee camps.
 
Displaced before they were born, children living in long-term refugee camps along the East African Rift grow and learn surrounded by ready-made structures. Architecture as a Way of Seeing and Learning explores what these built environments teach us about both childhood development and refugee assistance. With an eye toward architecture, Nerea Amorós Elorduy models how a more empathetic approach to refugee relief might both decolonize humanitarian aid and nurture the learning of young children.
 
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Assessing Writing, Assessing Learning
A Practical Guide for Evaluating and Reporting on Writing Instruction Programs
Dudley W. Reynolds
University of Michigan Press, 2010

The goals of this resource are broader than many standard books on writing assessment, which focus on evaluating an individual’s ability to create an effective piece of writing for a particular purpose. Assessing Writing, Assessing Learning seeks to support teachers, administrators, program directors, and funding entities who want to make the best use of the resources at their disposal to understand what students are learning and why and then take actions based on what they have learned. It also seeks to provide a common basis for communication among all the interested parties—the writing professionals, the people who identified the need for the program, and the students.

The book has sections on planning, tools (different ways of collecting data and links to instruments), and reporting (examples provided).  Each section includes a discussion of issues and advice for working through the issue along with numerous examples, plus a list of resources to consult to learn more. The final chapter provides worksheets that may be reproduced and used to help those in charge of setting up and delivering a writing program to think through the issues presented. A glossary of terms is also included.

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