Study: Few college students graduate as better critical thinkers

The results of a test administered to freshmen and graduating seniors at nearly 200 public colleges and universities shows students make little to no improvement in their critical thinking abilities within four years of college, according to the Wall Street Journal.

 The CLA+ exam tests students' abilities to use multiple textual or numeric sources to make an argument or answer questions utilizing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The school with the greatest difference between freshman and senior scores is Plymouth (N.H.) State University. Professors at the school credit a curriculum that emphasizes critical reasoning with their students' positive results.

Here are the five schools with the largest and smallest improvements between freshmen and seniors:

Largest improvements:

  1. Plymouth State University
  2. California State University-Sacramento
  3. California State University-Northridge
  4. San Jose (Calif.) State University
  5. Kansas State University (Manhattan, Kan.)

Smallest improvements:

  1. University of Louisiana-Lafayette
  2. City University of New York-Baruch
  3. University of Texas-Dallas
  4. California State University-Long Beach
  5. University of Texas-Austin

For employers looking to evaluate the preparedness of potential employees, these results reveal that ranking employees based on the reputation of their alma mater may not accurately asses one's readiness for the workforce.

The CLA+ exam was by the Council for Aid to Education, a New York-based nonprofit. While they work primarily with academic institutions, they also partner with companies and businesses interested in administering the test.

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