In Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses the authors note that 36% of students do not improve on the Collegiate Learning Assessment over four years. (The CLA tests critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills.)

They recommend classes which require students to read more than 40 pages a week and write a 20 page paper (ArumRoksa2011aal, “Academically Adrift”).

The challenges of balance

Some students (most) generally like small discussions/exercises.

Others may object that it breaks their concentration and is distracting.

What to do?


I will share some quotes I’d like more thoughts on.

18 Responses


I thought a lot of the assignments were busy work, and the articles we were expected to read were so long that I didn’t often read them in full. I don’t have time in my schedule to read a 14 page article, when I could read something more brief and learn the same main points. I think the information is important to learn, but I would be more engaged if we had fewer assignments that were more interactive [?].

Guest lecture

I like the use of peer-submitted videos and the guest lecture was fascinating!

I am least engaged as a learner during class periods with guest lecturers because I am not actively engaged in the discussion. I do learn a lot about the course material when there is a guest lecturer but it is easier to become distracted. Perhaps if the guest lecturer incorporated more questions and experiences from the students that relate to the discussion topic, students will become more engaged learners.


Also, I like how the course is designed to LEARN. We are exposed to the material at least to times. First when we individually read and respond to the course materials, and when we discuss it in class. This method helps to better understand and remember the concepts.

Prof Chew?


I think the texts are really well chosen and engaging, but sometimes the discussion does not always approach the same level of engagement with the topics

Least engaged: the content of the reading is occasionally redundant, which makes it difficult to define the key concepts that the author is trying to focus on.


I appreciate the respectful discussion. This is one of my favorite classes so I don’t have a strong opinion about how to improve it. I personally feel like almost anything worth learning can come from good conversation so I don’t love having to read 30+ pages per class but that’s just the kind of learner I am… too easily distracted.

Response prompts

I think that the format of the reading responses should not be the same for every single class. I have found it more interesting to write about the topic on the days when we have an actual prompt/question to answer. The summarize/ engage thing is getting a little old, and makes reading the article/chapter less engaging since you aren’t really searching for anything.

Peer collaboration

I’m not a huge fan of our work being posted for the rest of the class to see.


I am most engaged during our in class discussions. I also enjoy when we watch TED Talks and other relevant videos that supplement the concepts from the readings.

Names and discussion??

I know everyone’s name, though I might flub, but do you?