Sunday, June 05, 2011

A College Education

I seem to recall that it was our education President, W, who so poignantly asked: "Is our children learning?"  Not so much, was the answer in our elementary and high schools, and a new book, Academically Adrift, by Arum and Roksa says ditto for college.

In particular, they found:

that gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills during the first two years of college were small or practically non-existent for a sizable number of students.

Students are studying less and learning less, it seems.  Teachers are giving less homework and grading it more leniently.

In an interview, Roksa notes that:

There is notable variation in academic experiences and outcomes across fields of study.

Students majoring in traditional arts and science fields — including social science, humanities, natural science and mathematics — demonstrated 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 and social work had the lowest measurable gains.

Well that's a shockeroo, all right. 

I'd like to see some post college testing, mostly for the purpose of seeing which colleges teach what.  It would at least give students and parents some hints as to the probable value of the big investment of time and money that they are about to make.