Book Reviews

Book by Pascarella, E., Wolniak, G.C., Seifert, T.A.D., Cruce, T. M., and Blaich, C.F.
Review by Jennifer Daood
College of Nursing
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI


In Liberal Arts Colleges and Liberal Arts Education, Pascarella and associates discuss the effects of liberal arts colleges and liberal arts education on students’ developmental and intellectual growth. The findings of this study may surprise the reader.

Liberal arts colleges and proponents of a liberal arts education seek to cultivate strong teachings and provide supportive environments for student learning. A common mission for liberal arts colleges is the education of students regarding the importance of diversity and making a contribution to the local and global community. In addition, liberal arts education promotes educational values such as knowing how to learn, listen, analyze and lead. With these purposes in mind, liberal arts colleges strive to make a positive impact on their students’ personal and intellectual development.

The study discussed in this text shed light on the positive outcomes of a liberal education. The authors found that the greatest impact on students’ personal and intellect growth occurred predominantly in the first academic year.  Interestingly, when the study examined the impact of liberal arts colleges and liberal arts education on alumni, the findings show some significance. For instance, liberal arts alumni reported a stronger satisfaction with their undergraduate experience than students who graduated from a regional or research university.  Alumni from liberal arts colleges also reported that their undergraduate experience had a stronger impact on their intellectual and personal growth than did alumni from research based universities.  In addition, alumni from liberal arts colleges also felt a stronger sense of citizenship.       

Nevertheless, Pascarella and Associates are quick to emphasis that even though their findings found liberal arts colleges and liberal arts education to have some significance on students learning, the combination of teaching and supportive environment can, and does, happen at research universities.  

This book is recommended to those who enjoy reading research studies.  Few studies provide data that stretches across 40 institutions and includes 6500 students.  This study demonstrates that liberal arts colleges and liberal arts education continue to provide good practices that all institutions can emulate regardless of institutional type.


Liberal Arts Colleges and Liberal Arts Education. New Evidence on Impacts. ASHE Higher Education Report (Jossey-Bass Wiley Company). (2005). Book by Pascarella, E., Wolniak, G.C., Seifert, T.A.D., Cruce, T. M., and Blaich, C.F. Review by Jennifer Daood. San Fransciso, CA: Jossey Bass. 146pp.,$26.00. ISBN # 0-7879-8123-0
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |