Education News

How do you get ideas about design in nature across to people who are not learning critical thinking?

Spread the love

In “Our Universities: Why Are They Failing?” (New York Review of Books,

November 24, 2011), Anthony Grafton reviews a number of “what’s wrong with universities” books, one of which offers some genuinely interesting information:

In Academically Adrift, Arum and Roksa paint a chilling portrait of what the university curriculum has become. The central evidence that the authors deploy comes from the performance of 2,322 students on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester at university and again at the end of their second year: not a multiple-choice exam, but an ingenious exercise that requires students to read a set of documents on a fictional problem in business or politics and write a memo advising an official on how to respond to it. Data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, a self-assessment of student learning filled out by millions each year, and recent ethnographies of student life provide a rich background.

Their results are sobering. The Collegiate Learning Assessment reveals that some 45 percent of students in the sample had made effectively no progress in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing in their first two years. And a look at their academic experience helps to explain why. Students reported spending twelve hours a week, on average, studying—down from twenty-five hours per week in 1961 and twenty in 1981. Half the students in the sample had not taken a course that required more than twenty pages of writing in the previous semester, while a third had not even taken a course that required as much as forty pages a week of reading.

Take that, world of ideas!

Follow UD News at Twitter!

3 Replies to “How do you get ideas about design in nature across to people who are not learning critical thinking?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Here’s my 15 minute stab at the job.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    The difference today might not be teachers abilities or general learning structures from the top.
    It might rather just be more kids get into university.
    Including more women and ethnic people who in the pas were not up to it intellectually.
    In the past the kids were smarter and came from smarter circles.
    They came from a smaller percentage of the population and that from the top.
    Today the average high school kid can easily get into and pass university.
    however the averageness of the kids is revealed in other ways.

  3. 3
    linzel says:

    The challenge is not learning critical thinking. The challenge is confronting previous held beliefs. There is great resistance to alter one’s world view. It can be applied across the spectrum. It is most easily highlighted within religious communities where certitude is claimed with regard to numerous topics without any evidence. It also happens in politics, science, economics [and others] where previously accepted knowledge needs to be modified to incorporate new evidence. In other words, its hard to teach a old dog, new tricks. The frustration you feel getting people to think ID is not just creationism is the same frustration evolutionary theorists have with ID/creationism. What irony! At least science weights and measures the evidence observed and modifies accordingly.

Leave a Reply