why is critical thinking important in college

Is college worth it? Whether you're a parent with a pen in hand preparing to write yet another hefty tuition check, a student with a headache trying to persuade yourself to get out of bed and go to class or a high schooler with a lot of options decidingPwhat to do after graduation, you've probably asked yourself that question at least once. And
The Wall Street Journal Pmay help you toward an answer. Related:P The Journal analyzed results from thePCollege Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, a critical-thinking test given annually to freshmen and seniors from about 200 U. S. colleges. The test, in part, asks students to use data, articles, blog posts and emails to answer questions and demonstrate skills it says are important for "not only for success in high school and college" but also "for success in the workplace and other aspects of life outside the classroom. " The Journal found that at about half of schools, large groups of seniors scored at basic or below-basic levels. According to Pthat means they can generally read documents and communicate to readers but can't make a cohesive argument or interpret evidence. This was true even at some high-profile colleges. At California State University in Los Angeles, for example, 35 percent of seniors had below-basic skills and 29 percent had basic skills. At the University of Kentucky, 6 percent of seniors were below-basic and 14 percent were basic, according to the Journal 's. "Faced with unlimited information, students must be able to gather, analyze, and evaluate information effectively," the Council for Aid to Education, which developed the test,. "These skills are essential to navigating todays world. " There are some issues with the CLA+, like the fact that it's voluntary, butPMonday's report wasn't the first indicator that completing higher education might not be necessarily making people smarter.


A 2011 book called made waves years ago when it used CLA+ data to claimPthat 36 percent of studentsPdidn't show any bigPimprovement in learning after four years of college. A from that same year found that 57 percent of Americans thought the higher education system wasn't a good value, and that the average studentPspends only 3. 5 hours every day on educational activities. These conclusions and others may draw attention because of the rising cost of college. recently estimated the average cost of tuition and fees at a public, four-year college during the 2016-2017 academic yearPto be $9,650 for in-state students. Private four-year colleges were even more expensive, costing about $33,480 before room and board. , tuition and fees cost about $6,860 at in-state public, four-year colleges and about $26,380 at private, four-year colleges when adjusted for inflation. When parents and students are trying to find the right college, they often look at the same few things. Sorting through various statistics, acceptance rates, prices and programs can help with narrowing down options, but are those the most important factors?


A crucial, but often forgotten, skill that colleges should be helping students develop is critical thinking. Why is critical thinking important? In the most basic sense, critical thinking is the ability to objectively analyze and evaluate an issue in order to form a judgment. that employers always want, but itБs also something that many college graduates seem to lack. for the workplace by graduation. A total of of employers have complained that the college graduates they hire arenБt ready for the workplace, especially because of their poor critical-reasoning skills. Unfortunately, many colleges arenБt emphasizing critical thinking in their curriculums, sending students out with the same critical-thinking skills with which they entered. , which was based off of the College Learning Assessment Plus. The CLA+ College Learning Assessment Plus, youБre not alone. The CLA+ is a standardized test that is given to freshmen and seniors at about 200 higher education institutions. According to the, the test gives students unlimited information and asks them to gather, analyze and evaluate the information effectively. Its goal is to measure how much better students get at thinking after spending four years in college. The results showed that at half of the schools, at least one-third of the seniors werenБt able to interpret evidence or make a cohesive argument.


Some of the most prestigious universities that were surveyed had the worst results, with students showing little or no improvement over four years, landing in the БbasicБ or Бbelow basicБ categories. Many of the best results were at small colleges, where students scored БaccomplishedБ or Бadvanced. Б Why havenБt we heard about this test before? The CLA+ rarely discloses their results to the public. This makes it extra difficult for students and parents to figure out what schools would actually improve critical-thinking skills. The test is also not administered at every college. ItБs a lesser known voluntary test, making it an inconsistent way to rank colleges. Critical thinking is also hard to teach. Many students donБt take classes that are explicitly about critical thinking, and itБs difficult for schools to enforce that other subjects incorporate it. Takeaway Whether it be a lack of critical thinking or insufficient workplace manners, students have been entering the working world without many essential skills. Colleges need to focus on preparing students for the workforce by incorporating more soft skills into their curriculum. Maybe with a little more experience in critical thinking and problem solving, graduates will be ready to take on the working world. Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion onб.

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