Thursday, June 18, 2015

What 'Learning How to Think' Really Means

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 18th, 2015

It has always been taken as self-evident that higher education is good for students and society at large, and that American colleges and universities are doing an excellent job of providing it. No more. Commentators, politicians, and parents are expressing serious doubts, about whether colleges are teaching what they should be teaching and about whether they are teaching it well. Demands for accountability are everywhere, spurred in part by the absurdly high cost of a college education and the trillion dollars in student debt. What are students getting for all that money? What should they be getting?
Two years ago, the Obama White House launched an admirable initiative to make college more affordable and accessible. A part of that initiative was an insistence that colleges be held accountable — that federal aid be tied to measures of performance. This accounting was to be done of both graduation rates and the earnings profiles of graduates, an attempt to measure educational value literally, by asking if the cost of a college education pays for itself. Recently the Brookings Institution moved us a further step in that direction when it introduced a rating system that ranks colleges by the midcareer earnings of their graduates, student-loan repayment, and the projected earning power of the occupations that graduates pursue.

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