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Richard Arum - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Richard Arum

Professor of Education and Sociology | UC Irvine


Richard Arum's research is focused on education, social stratification and formal organizations.



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Teaching Excellence Summit 2018: interview with Richard Arum What Influences Student Learning?: Richard Arum Critical Thinking with Richard Arum



Richard Arum's research is focused on education, social stratification and formal organizations. In this vein, he has studied stratification patterns across tertiary systems, the transition between college and the labor market, and the quality of American higher education institutions. Also, as Director of the Education Research Program at the Social Science Research Council, Arum participated in the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) longitudinal study, which identified variation in the development of generic higher order skills of a recent cohort of American college students. Arum has also conducted extensive research on K-12 education. Specifically, he has analyzed student achievement gaps by race and class, school segregation and stratification, the effects of legal and institutional environments, and the evolution of discipline in American schools. Currently, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, Arum is studying the relationships between neighborhood disadvantage, digital media and educational outcomes. His research on educational interventions is designed to identify policies and practices that could mitigate the relationship between social background, disadvantaged neighborhood context and educational outcomes.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Social Stratification

Legal and Institutional Environments of Schools

Digital Education

Accomplishments (1)

Golden Dozens Teaching Award (professional)

2012 College of Arts and Sciences, New York University

Education (3)

University of California, Berkeley: PhD, Sociology 1996

Harvard Graduate School of Education: MEd, Teaching and Curriculum 1988

Tufts University: BA, Political Science 1985

Affiliations (3)

  • Samueli Academy Charter School : Board Member
  • Value of Liberal Arts Education Research Forum, Mellon Foundation : Advisory Board
  • Sociological Research Association : Member

Media Appearances (9)

Opinion: Selective Admissions on Trial

Inside Higher Ed  online


As sociologists Richard Arum [professor of education and sociology] of the University of California, Irvine, and Mitchell L. Stevens of Stanford University recently argued in The New York Times, “affirmative action didn’t go far enough,” suggesting that “more should be done to help students at non-elite colleges.” No doubt Arum and Stevens are correct. However, it is simply not possible for the vast majority of colleges (i.e., the nonelites, or those lacking multibillion-dollar endowments) to, for example, match Harvard’s practice of eliminating loans from the financial aid packages it offers to students. This is but another example of why following Harvard’s model is not possible for most colleges.

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Opinion: For Most College Students, Affirmative Action Was Never Enough

The New York Times  online


Richard Arum, UCI professor of sociology and education and Mitchell L. Stevens write, “Even with affirmative action in place, most students of color did not go to elite colleges, and last week’s ruling does nothing to change that. The current opportunity to bring racial equity to American higher education lies in a collective re-commitment to the quality and success of more accessible institutions. … improving and better supporting the institutions that serve the lion’s share of students of color will do far more to advance the cause of racial equality in this country than anything that admissions officers can do in Cambridge, Palo Alto and Chapel Hill.

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Teaching in an Age of ‘Militant Apathy’

The Chronicle of Higher Education  online


“There’s been a discourse in society that higher-education leaders have embraced, which goes something like this: Higher education is essential for future career attainment, positive economic outcomes and social mobility,” says Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at the University of California, Irvine, whose 2011 book with Josipa Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, set off a national conversation about what students get out of undergraduate education.

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How Higher Ed Can Help Remedy K-12 Learning Losses

Inside Higher Ed  online


The one thing educators must avoid, said Richard Arum, a professor of sociology and education at the University of California, Irvine, is the “knee-jerk response” of creating new remedial programs to address learning loss for K-12 students.

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Startups & Innovations – Launch

Orange County Business Journal  online


Featured in Chapter 10 Startups & Innovations.

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The Chronicle of Higher Education  


Featured on Chroncle.com.

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Good Grades, Stressed Students

The Chronicle of Higher Education  online


Featured on Chronicle.com.

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These colleges went to remote learning but hiked tuition anyway

CNBC  online


These days, tuition accounts for about half of a school’s revenue and providing a college education — even online — is only getting more expensive, according to Richard Arum, dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine.

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Why Pay $200,000 For A Piece Of Paper?

Forbes  online


College graduates are typically brighter, more literate, reliable and disciplined than those with only high school diplomas. Do they also learn skills in college making them more productive workers? Sometimes, yes. Civil engineers and accountants, for example, learn lots of vocationally useful things in college. But what about the vastly larger number of sociology, communication, psychology, marketing, gender studies, parks and recreation and many other majors? Their college learning does little to improve even basic critical reasoning skills (according to exhaustive research by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in Academically Adrift).

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Articles (6)

A Framework for Measuring Undergraduate Learning and Growth

Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning

Richard Arum, Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Jutta Heckhausen, Gabe Avakian Orona, Luise von Keyserlingk, Christopher M. Wegemer, Charles E. (Ted) Wright & Katsumi Yamaguchi-Pedroza

2021 We believe that the value of postsecondary education is derived from its relationship not only to a narrow set of skills related to occupational training, but also to broad aspects of human development that include cognitive, psychological, social, and civic characteristics.

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Can schools fairly select their students?

Theory and Research in Education

Michael S Merry, Richard Arum

2018 Selection within the educational domain breeds a special kind of suspicion. Whether it is the absence of transparency in the selection procedure, the observable outcomes of the selection, or the criteria of selection itself, there is much to corroborate the suspicion many have that selection in practice is unfair. And certainly as it concerns primary and secondary education, the principle of educational equity requires that children not have their educational experiences or opportunities determined by their postcode, their ethnic status, first language, or family wealth. Indeed educational opportunities determined by unearned advantage or disadvantage offend against basic notions of fairness.

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Student Experiences in College

Handbook of the Sociology of Education in the 21st Century

Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, Jacqueline Cruz, Blake Silver

2018 We review research on the “experiential core of college life” for contemporary students at four-year colleges in the United States. We argue that student academic and social experiences need to be understood in the context of broader historical and institutional factors that have structured these organizational settings. As sociologists, we focus attention on variation in college experiences for students from different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups, as well as consider issues related to gender, which today include prominent attention to sexuality and sexual violence. We conclude our review by calling for additional research on topics including explicating the relationship between academic and social collegiate experiences, intersectionality, family influences, sexual violence, student political discourse, as well as increased attention to students at two-year colleges and other broad-access institutions.

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Navigating College

Educational Leadership

Arum, Richard

2016 Students moving from high school to college in the United States typically confront a bewildering set of largely unstructured options. In the absence of clear signals about how to get the most out of college, they often choose pathways that involve limited academic rigor and engagement. In this article, Richard Arum describes a study that followed 1,666 students through four years of college and beyond.

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The More You Talk, the Worse It Is: Student Perceptions of Law and Authority in Schools

Social Currents

Doreet Rebecca Preiss, Richard Arum, Lauren B. Edelman, Calvin Morrill, Karolyn Tyson

2015 Prior works have established the association between students’ perceptions of school discipline and both behavioral and academic outcomes. The interplay between disciplinary fairness and students’ perceptions of their rights, however, warrants further investigation. In an effort to better understand the development of students’ perceptions of school disciplinary climates amid variation in school legal environments, we identified students’ perceptions of their due process rights based on 5,490 student surveys and 86 in-depth interviews in New York, North Carolina, and California high schools.

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In-services and empty threats: The roles of organizational practices and workplace experiences in shaping U.S. educators’ understandings of students’ rights

Social Science Research

Jason Thompson, Richard Arum, Lauren B Edelman, Calvin Morrill, Karolyn Tyson

2015 This paper applies theoretical frameworks from organizational sociology and sociolegal studies to examine factors associated with educators’ conceptions of students’ rights to due process in disciplinary actions. We analyze a unique representative data set of 402 teachers and 200 administrators in U.S. high schools to investigate how educators understand the rights to due process articulated in the Supreme Court case of Goss v. Lopez (1975).

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