2016 September 05 Monday
Students Not Learning; Getting Propagandized Instead

Colleges are trying harder to make students satisfied than educated.

Unfortunately, many key drivers of learning appear to reduce student satisfaction and vice versa. As long as universities continue to measure satisfaction but not learning, the downward spiral of lower expectations, less hard work and less learning will continue.

Many students show no improvement in reasoning ability as a result of college.

Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?

For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college

Is this true across IQ levels? How much of the lack of improvement is due to:

  • Lower intelligence people have a lower capacity to learn and thereby improve.
  • Heavy IQ loading of Collegiate Learning Assessment (measuring IQ rather than learning)
  • Students taking worthless subjects or watered down courses in potentially useful subjects.

In other subjects a replication crisis makes many taught findings questionable. At the same time, colleges are becoming more ideologically uniform, making dissent from dogma more difficult. In his essay The Ending of the Liberal Interregnum Razib Khan suggests that the cult taking over universities will drive educational privatization.

Honestly, I don’t want any of my children learning “liberal arts” from the high priests of the post-colonial cult. In the near future the last resistance on the Left to the ascendancy of identity politics will probably be extinguished, as the old guard retires and dies naturally. The battle will be lost.

Retreat from institutions that are being overrun by the far left. Regroup in institutions that are still sane. Create new sane institutions as necessary.

Study more practical subjects and you will reduce your exposure to propaganda. Practical parents who want their kids to be able to make a living are starting to have their say:

“I’ve heard from many colleges that there is now a disturbing amount of parental pressure against the liberal arts.”

But the liberal arts aren't so liberal any more. Might as well study STEM.

Back in 2011 Alex Tabarrok laid out the numbers for how college has been oversold. A 50% increase in college enrollment without an increase in STEM graduates. The scaling up of college enrollment is just scaling up the number of students who sit in classes where propaganda is taught.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2016 September 05 12:25 PM 

chris said at September 6, 2016 2:01 AM:

Don't just retreat from institutions. Defund and disempower those institutions as well.

Brett Bellmore said at September 6, 2016 3:36 AM:

I would say we need an institution like monasteries, to preserve real learning. But the problem is, the liberals aren't content to conquer most institutions, and then let conservatives have some refuge. They want everything.

Create alternate institutions, and the liberals will move Heaven and Earth to take them over. There's no separate peace in this war.

bob sykes said at September 6, 2016 4:56 AM:

Only about 5%, certainly less than 10%, of college students have the intellectual ability and self discipline to pursue a degree in STEM. The other 90 to 95 have to put up with indoctrination. Unfortunately, a majority will not be smart enough to recognize that they are in a reeducation camp. They will actually enjoy it, as did the Red Guards.

Jim said at September 6, 2016 7:52 AM:

Bob Sykes - Probably considerably higher than 5-10%. Linda Gottfredson's data indicates that an IQ level of about 115 is required for a STEM degree. That is about 16% of the US population so I would think the percentage of college students with the intellectual capability to get a STEM degree is higher than 16%.

There is indeed a lot of similarity between the Red Guards and the present developments on some US campuses.

Jim said at September 6, 2016 8:00 AM:

Bob Sykes - You also mentioned self-discipline and it may be that that filter combines with the IQ filter to reduce the percentage of STEM capable graduates to 5-10%.

Big Bill said at September 18, 2016 10:29 PM:

It is not "STEM" anymore, but "STEAM". STEAM stands for STEM + Arts. The lefties are starting to panic and don't want to be "left behind" so they have cobbled together a new term that is "more inclusive". You are going to see "STEAM" more and more.

Brett Bellmore said at September 19, 2016 2:50 PM:

I don't want to see it called "STEAM" unless it's because you have to study steam tables. They do still make engineering majors do that, right?

Brian Reilly said at October 5, 2016 6:02 PM:

My wife's daughter went to a mediocre state school. Interested in art, but not obviously inspired or notably diligent or dedicated, she graduated four and one half years later with a Bachelors in art. My wife and I put her through school with no debt. Good thing, that, as she went straight to being a barista, and is now a "teacher" in an above average day care center, a job she was qualified for at (roughly) 16, with no college. Perhaps I am mistaken, or just an idiot, but I don't see any interest expressed by this pleasant young woman that 120K$ in room and board and expenses and tuition were advanced by. I asked her at the end of her first year if, given unrestricted access to the 30K$ ann her mother was spending, she would spend it on college. She never answered yes. She never answered no either. I am confident that if her mother continued to pay the bills, she would stay in college, in a state of suspended animation, until she died of old age.

Most (more than 50%) of the people in college right this minute are wasting their time and someone else's money. Most of the people teaching in college are wasting their time. They can always get money from somewhere, but the wasted time is tragic. Time is the only real capital any of us have.

Glengarry said at October 8, 2016 2:12 PM:

Speaking of the barista above, I periodically mention that colleges could also serve to pleasantly warehouse many of those who will be put out of work by automation. Provide free room, board and wifi (or do so at a nominal charge), set tuition to zero, provide a small stipend, and remove any limitation to the length of studies or number of degrees achieved. Fedgov reimburses the participating colleges according to some scheme. Presto!

dindunuffins said at December 5, 2016 4:20 AM:

the downward spiral of lower expectations, BLACKS

Lower intelligence people have a lower capacity to learn and thereby improve. BLACKS


dindunuffins said at December 5, 2016 4:24 AM:

the downward spiral of lower expectations,BLACKS

Lower intelligence people have a lower capacity to learn and thereby improve.BLACKS

Learning be "actin white"

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