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Abstract

Excerpt: In academics, these are the times that try professors’ souls. A sampling of recent book-length treatments of higher education suggests that our underachieving colleges (Bok 2006) are declining by degrees (Hersh and Merrow 2005) as our students are cast academically adrift (Arum and Roksa 2011). Faculty, responding rationally to the incentive structures in their jobs, spend so much time on research that they have little time to focus on teaching (Hacker and Dreifus 2010). Much of the responsibility for teaching ultimately falls to a poorly paid army of adjuncts toiling “in the basement of the ivory tower” with a teaching load so heavy that, of necessity, they have little time to devote to individual students, and minimal commitment to the particular institution(s) at which they work (Professor X 2011). Classes and intellectual pursuits matter little to contemporary students, who are interested in higher education not for the learning, but rather for the credentials it can offer them, for the opportunity it affords to live the “college life” and, in many cases, because there is no other logical next step in their lives after high school (Nathan 2005)....

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