top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Do college students learn to think? Many do not

Students show little progress in critical thinking skills in four years at The Citadel, and many other colleges, concludes an analysis of scores on the College Learning Assessment Plus.

In their fourth year of college, many students can’t gather, analyze and evaluate information, concludes a Wall Street Journal report. At a majority of colleges surveyed, “at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table.”

The College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, asks first-year and graduating students to demonstrate critical thinking skills, reports Newsweek.

The Journal found that at about half of schools, large groups of seniors scored at basic or below-basic levels. . . . 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 statistics.

The Journal‘s analysis found students improved their CLA+ scores the most at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.  A number of California State University campuses also did well in improving students’ critical thinking scores.

University of Texas students didn’t improve — but nearly all started with adequate skills. That wasn’t true everywhere.

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 43 percent of freshmen and 48 percent of seniors lacked basic critical thinking skills, according to CLA+. That is, they got worse. Scores at The Citadel in South Carolina showed no change: 30 percent of incoming and 29 percent of outgoing students lacked basic critical thinking skills.

Academically Adrift, published in 2011, also analyzed CLA+ scores. It concluded that 36 percent of students show little improvement in thinking skills after four years of college.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page