I'm being sarcastic, but that doesn't mean I'm not also concerned and perplexed. I could SWEAR my students were learning something, including critical thinking skills. Hmmmm.
Below are some bullet points posted on the Chronical of Higher Education website, followed by my comments:
- “gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) are either exceedingly small or empirically non-existent for a large proportion of students”
- less than one-half of seniors had completed over 20 pages of writing for a course in the prior semester;
- scholarship from earlier decades suggest there has been a sharp decline in both academic work effort and learning;
Inside Higher Ed's article summarizes some findings pointing to "best practices":
- Students who study by themselves for more hours each week gain more knowledge -- while those who spend more time studying in peer groups see diminishing gains.
- Students whose classes reflect high expectations (more than 40 pages of reading a week and more than 20 pages of writing a semester) gained more than other students.
- Students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study." Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the smallest gains. (The authors note that this could be more a reflection of more-demanding reading and writing assignments, on average, in the liberal arts courses than of the substance of the material.)
Finally, as I touched on above, if we stick to this notion that everyone should go to college and continue to move in that direction, wouldn't that predictably lead to results like the one in this study? One of my ex-grad students is now a professor at a university most people in the U.S. will have heard of. State school, good football, but not exactly known for its academics. He told me that he has had students who are mentally retarded--he clarified that it was beyond a learning disability; they were actually mildly mentally retarded.
Let's just leave it at that for now--at least on my end. What do others think about this?