A new book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited learning on College Campuses has just come out, and its findings show 45% of students during their first two years of college learn very little, as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). The CLA measures critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills.
Another study “Improving Undergraduate Learning” (Arum, Roksa, and Cho) can now also state that students at selective colleges learn more than those at less selective colleges according to CLA results. Not only is a selective college a better pick because it spends more per student and its graduates have higher adult earning power, but also because the learning at a selective school is much higher.
A selective college is defined as a college where 75% of the students accepted do better than an SAT combined verbal and math score of 1150. At less selective colleges that same 75% will only do better than a 950 score.
Why do selective colleges offer better learning?
Factors suggested are
–Peers are more competitive and have higher aspirations and that rub off.
–There is much higher faculty – student interaction.
–The Liberal arts program that most selective schools offer is not as narrow as a business or education major that are possible at less selective schools.
— Expectations have been measured as high at selective schools.
• At selective schools: 71% have one course that requires 20 pages of writing and 92% have at least one course that requires 40 pages of reading per week,
• Less selective schools report only 39% have a course that requires 20 pages of writing and only 56% that have a course requiring 40 pages of reading per week.
The unfortunate static is that in selective schools the ratio of students from wealthy homes to that of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds is 25:1.
Politicians are right about why we need to improve post-secondary education for everyone.