Saturday, August 27, 2022

Critical Thinking Skills sit on a foundation of (assumed) knowledge and skills

According to Texas A&M:

The core curriculum focuses on the development of six skills that have been shown to be effective in preparing students for the job market and their role in a diverse world and democratic society.

  • Critical Thinking Skillsto include creative thinking, innovation, inquiry, and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information.
  • Communication Skillsto include effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication.
  • Empirical and Quantitative Skills to include the manipulation and analysis of numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions.
  • Teamworkto include the ability to consider different points of view and to work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal.
  • Personal Responsibilityto include the ability to connect choices, actions and consequences to ethical decision-making.
  • Social Responsibilityto include intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities.

I used to work for a company that maintained ISO certification. One of the requirements of maintaining the level of certification that we had achieved was to "measure" the effectiveness of training, that is, to quantify the amount of "learning" that had occurred in the training session.

To that end, a test was administered to every student before any "learning" had been delivered and the same test was delivered to every student after the training. The difference in the scores (assuming the post-test scored higher than the pre-test) quantified the learning that was delivered.

Given the amount of time, talent and treasure squandered  on college edumacations it seems that quantifying the "learning" that was delivered should be a high priority.

Two possibilities would be to re-administer the ACT/SATs and/or the placement tests used to determine the need for remedial math, writing or science education.

To ensure the purity of the measurement, the scores of the students who did not graduate would have to be purged from the "before" scores. Ideally, the re-test would occur (or be re-administered) in the fourth year of college to also test retention and the product before being delivered to the customer.

One wonders if the growth in abilities is sufficient to justify the costs? 

If it did, then I would expect the Universities would already be measuring it and using the results to attract students and encourage employers to visit their campuses. "Super-size your education! Enroll at Making Stuff Up university!!!"

I wonder how abysmally the Universities would fail. Statistically, one would expect some percentage of the students to regress in their abilities. That percentage might be surprisingly high for students of some colleges/majors.


  1. What a novel idea! I know, we could call the process an ... "Examination" (or being old, and having gone to one of 'those' universities, Vivas and Tripos).

    The only problem being that unless an entirely incorruptible, independent body was set up to 'police' the process the universities would gradually lower the standards so as to appear more effective, to maintain the gravy train ... I mean student intakes.

    [care to compare a modern ACT/SAT with one from a couple of decades ago, let alone a school leaving certificate from 1920 or before?]

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes is, as always, often of more importance than most assume (and especially so in an area that attracts more than its fair share of charlatans and parasites).

  2. I like that idea. SAT/ACT before and the same test after.

    At Texas Tech in 1984, I got a 40 in my first Electronics class. Due to the curve I got a B. uncle Mickey the professor was worthless. He would have made a great concentration camp commander. Little information was passed on.

    At LeTourneau College (private school) 1988, I got a C in my first electronics class. There was no curve. You earned the grade. Every class was that way. The welding engineering lab was on a 8 point scale. 92 was the cutoff for an A. I redid all my projects during dead week, and brought my grade up to 90, a B.

    At LeTourneau, they were intent on producing engineers. Back then, before "This Bud's for YOU!", education was the goal. Now, all the old buildings are gone. The barracks, the duck butter pond, RG's old house, the convalescent pool, everything. I remember the smells of the old labs and class rooms. It's all pretty now. AOA cleaned up the place, and, to me, it lost it's soul. They are still world class by all accounts.

  3. The weekend at the college didn't turn out liked you planned.
    The things that pass for knowledge I don't understand.

  4. There is no doubt that the scores would be lower. You lose what you do not use. Case in point, after 4 years I took a test called the MCAT testing science, reading and quantitative skills. I had to study a lot to remember everything that was taught to me previously. Fast forward a few years and you are taking the boards and thank god they do not ask you about physics and organic chemistry because that is not readily available, at least in my mind. Now twenty years later when my kids were taking those classes I can look at the book and read, understand and help. Only the truly gifted can remember everything. For the rest of us we have these things called books which are always around to review. I was exposed to many different classes in college which I have only minimally followed up on throughout life. You receive the basics for your chosen field and then specialize and the other stuff fades away. Back then, someone kept painting "who is John Galt" on the buildings on campus. It would be sandblasted off and the next week it would appear on another building. Removed again. It took quit a bit of time to find the source material (this was the pre-computer era) and required a trip off campus to another library and then a book store. Some things you do not forget.

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  6. A study similar to what you propose was done a few years ago. The results were much as you'd expect.


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