Why Higher Ed Needs to Bridge the Critical Thinking Skills Gap

Frank Connolly , EdSurge, Sept 05, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I agree that "providing appropriate guidance in critical thinking needs to become a central part of the college value proposition," but I don't think this article makes the case very well. It's based on a Wall Street Journal examination of the Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) test, described as "a standardized testing initiative designed to measure college students’ critical thinking skills." Examples here. They studied one school "critical thinking is baked into many different courses, rather than being the formal subject of any one course" (which is contrary to the usual recommendation, which is probably why "similar courses at other schools did not achieve similar success"). Next it cites a survey where "university admissions officers report that students have a hard time remembering facts," which is both a poor data source and also irrelevant to the subject of critical thinking. The main point seems to be to criticize world views where "facts exist independently of reality" (what would Wittgenstein say? (hint: these tests that purport to be objective assessments aren't)). 

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