Joan M. Matthews and Richard T. Alpert
On college campuses across the country, graduation ceremonies are remarkably similar. Despite the great variety of degrees and institutions, the graduates are welcomed into the "company of educated men and women." However, in all too many cases, these words have a hollow ring. Although they are college graduates, many fall short of having even the most fundamental skills that we associate with a college education.
The issue of students lacking the basic skills generally associated with college-level work has gained a prominent place on the national educational agenda. We cannot attribute this attention simply to the popularity of such books as Allan Bloom The Closing of the American Mind ( 1987) or E. D. Hirsch Cultural Literacy ( 1987). Rather, it grows out of the everyday experiences of more and more faculty in almost every kind of institution in American higher education. Too many students simply lack the reading, mathematics, and writing skills they need in order to perform effectively in college courses. Although a number of factors may contribute to this decline--the impact of television, a decrease in parents' involvement in their children's education, the organization of curricular materials, changes in the populations entering college--colleges and universities must nevertheless face the challenges of educating underprepared students and must try to compensate for the decline.____________________