In January of 2011 we told you about the new book “Academically Adrift” which followed 2,322 students during their 4 years in college and found that these students are not improving their critical thinking skills.
In fact, in the first 2 years, 45% of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills, and after 4 years 36% still showed no improvement.
This week, a follow-up report was released that showed the long term effects of this critical thinking crisis. The study (“Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-graduate Transition of the Academically Adrift Cohort”) showed the devastating results of poor critical thinking skills with respect to job placement and debt.
…graduates who scored in the bottom quintile of the test were three times more likely to be unemployed than those who scored in the top quintile, twice as likely to still be living at home and significantly more likely to have amassed credit card debt.
This study should be no surprise considering the competitive nature of the job market when unemployment is still extremely high. When you lack the #1 skill sought after by employers, you will likely remain unemployed. However this paints a very bleak future for Gen Y graduates. Students are taking out massive student loans to get through 4 years of college, only to find that their basic analytical thinking skills are lacking. As a result, they are living at home longer, taking out credit cards to cover daily expenses, and likely going into default with their student loans. The debt they amass will haunt them for a lifetime as they apply for car loans, mortgages, auto insurance, and even jobs.
So, who should be held accountable? Are the Universities to blame? Are the students ultimately responsible for choosing challenging courses that will improve their skill set? What are the long term implications for employers?
How would you solve this problem?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.