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The survey offers a number of takeaways, some more worrisome than others: 1.In 2017, 44 percent of survey respondents received an ‘F’ on the critical thinking quiz.Educators need to provide students with the critical thinking skills they will need in college and to navigate the garden of the forking paths that is their—and our—future.
The CLA tests are administered to incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors at more than 200 public colleges and universities.
The results are typically not published, but this year The Wall Street Journal filed a public records request and was able to get details on the results at a number of colleges and universities that administered the test between 20.
Beyond question, this is a serious problem; without critical thinking skills, students can fall into, or reinforce, bad intellectual habits.
One example: according to a recent survey in the United Kingdom, 52 percent of university admissions officers report that students have a hard time remembering facts.
While these courses produced positive results at Plymouth State, similar courses at other schools did not achieve similar success.
And, based on the Wall Street Journal's review of the data, it seems that large-scale successes are the exception rather than the rule.
Both professors and students at Plymouth State noted that classes at the school provide little direct information about critical thinking; instead, they provide a framework for critical reasoning that leads students to ask the right questions and seek out information on their own.
Essentially, critical thinking is baked into many different courses, rather than being the formal subject of any one course.
One way they can do that is by giving them real-world problems to solve on their own; giving students the freedom to do their own research and draw their own conclusions is good preparation for the challenges of life outside the classroom.
That’s not to say that educators should simply sit back and take a hands-off approach.