The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Sept. 6, 2001

Pascarella's 'How College Affects Students' named classic

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa College of Education professor's book on the impact of college on students has been selected as one of the "100 most important and influential books about U.S. colleges and universities in the 20th century."

How College Affects Students: Findings and Insights from Twenty Years of Research, written in 1991 by Ernest T. Pascarella, the UI's Mary Louise Petersen Professor of Higher Education, and Patrick T. Terenzini, a professor of higher education at Penn State, is included in a new publication titled 100 Classic Books About Higher Education: A Compendium and Essays, by Cameron Fincher, George Keller, E. Grady Bogue and John R. Thelin.

The book was published this month by the foundation of Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional association for educators based in Bloomington, Ind. Members of Phi Delta Kappa range from classroom teachers and school administrators to college and university professors.

In addition to Pascarella's book, 100 Classic Books includes such notable works on higher education as Investment in Learning: The Individual and Social Value of American Higher Education, by Howard Bowen, a former University of Iowa president; the Uses of the University, by Clark Kerr; and even William F. Buckley's God and Man At Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom."

"So, yeah, we're pretty happy to be in that company," Pascarella said.

In an introduction to the 79-page 100 Classic Books, Keller -- a higher-education scholar and education consultant who previously chaired the program in higher education studies at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education -- said he and his coauthors included what they regard to be "100 of the most important and influential books about U.S. colleges and universities in the 20th century." By classics, he writes, the authors meant "those books that in one way or another had a significant effect on the public understanding about higher education during the past century."

The authors describe Pascarella's book as "a comprehensive and eye-opening meta-evaluation of some 2,600 research studies detailing the effect of college on student cognitive growth, values and attitudes, psychosocial changes, career attainment, moral development and economic benefits."

They say the 900-page book, which features summary tables and exploration of effect by college type and size, "finds that what a college does with students is more important than where students attend college, that student-faculty interaction makes a big difference, and many other revealing insights."

How College Affects Students was published by Jossey-Bass in San Francisco when Pascarella was a professor of higher education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Pascarella and Terenzini had collaborated on research since they were in graduate school together at Syracuse University in the mid-1970s.

Although the authors only expected to sell a couple thousand copies of their book, How College Affects Students has gone on to sell almost 16,000 copies and is now in its fifth printing. Pascarella thinks that one reason for his book's success is that it synthesizes 2,600 studies.

"I think that's been useful for a lot of people, and that's why it's used in a lot of places," Pascarella said, adding that the book has found favor not only with social scientists and higher education scholars, but also with educators teaching research methods. "There's a lot of mythology about how college impacts students. There's a huge body of evidence, but most people don't know where it is or choose to ignore it."

Pascarella and Terenzini are now writing an updated edition of How College Affects Students, which originally covered research published between 1968 and 1989. The new version, which Pascarella hopes to see published within two years (again by Jossey-Bass), will fold in research from the decade of the 1990s.

More information about 100 Classic Books is available on Phi Delta Kappa's Web site at