Has academic rigor diminished in higher education?

Tim Goral's picture
Monday, September 30, 2013

Richard Arum, professor of sociology at New York University, talked about critical thinking, colleges and careers last week at Rochester Institute of Technology. We spoke by phone about the subject and the findings in his critically acclaimed book, Academically Adrift.

Why, I asked, do many of today's college graduates lack critical thinking, complex problem solving and writing skills, which are required for business success and thoughtful civic engagement?

Arum pointed to two key findings, based on tracking 2,000 students in 24 colleges.

About 45 percent of the students showed no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning or written communication during their first two years in college. (On more recent tests, the students didn't show much improvement in their junior or senior years, either.)

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