The Wall Street Journal has published a fascinating new report titled, "Paths to Professions." In this report, Marisa Taylor wrote an article about how corporate recruiters are bemoaning the lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills among college graduates. Here is an excerpt:
"While the ability to think critically is, well, critical in the workplace, employers have long complained that many of the young college graduates they hire seem to lack this skill. Now, universities are trying to fix the problem before their grads ever meet a recruiter. When asked which skills new college graduates needed to improve most, more than half of the respondents to the question on The Wall Street Journal's survey of 479 college recruiters named some combination of critical thinking, problem solving skills and the ability to think independently."
I think colleges and universities deserve a fair amount of blame for the lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills among graduates. Far too many classes at many schools still involve large lectures with very little, if any, interaction among students. Far too many examinations require regurgitation rather than reasoning. Witness the large number of multiple choice exams which simply require a good memory to recall key facts from the book. Cold calls during class, oral exams, and other such didactic interactions between professor and student do not happen often enough. The bottom line: We need to change the way we teach. Some of us keep saying this, of course, but overall, universities have been slow to change.