College to Work: Attacking a Critical Market Failure: Measuring Critical Thinking Skills for Success in the Workplace

Article excerpt

Because today's bachelor's degree no longer conveys sufficient information about the skills graduating seniors possess, there is a market failure that affects employers, students, and colleges. Too many deserving students do not get an interview with potential employers because employers don't have the appropriate data to find the prospects they need. Colleges don't know which students to promote for which kinds of jobs, nor do they understand what kinds of specific skills employers are looking for. In reality, we do not have an effective or efficient market to better serve employers, students, and colleges.

To correct this market failure, we need to level the playing field for all participants.

THE CASE

If we did not have the SAT and ACT in place, admissions officers would only have students' high school GPA to rely upon for admissions decisions. There likely would be fewer students from under-represented groups admitted to the most selective colleges because the SAT provides important additional information to students' high school GPAs.

College-to-work presents a more severe market failure because there are no standardized tests to accompany students' college cumulative GPA that could control for the grade inflation and variability of grades across colleges.

The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) is appropriate for graduating college seniors who are seeking employment. CLA+ measures critical-thinking skills that leaders agree are a key requisite for success in the workplace. Graduating semors who take CLA+ gain important additional information about the skills they have acquired in college. Colleges also will benefit from having more information about the skill levels their students achieve.

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The focus on critical-thinking skills-including analytic and quantitative reasoning, problem solving, and writing--is consistent with a shift in the way knowledge is now defined. It is more important today to be able to access, structure, and use information and apply what one knows to new problems than to merely memorize facts. …

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