Does Higher Education Teach Students to Think Critically?

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There is a discernible and growing gap between the qualifications that a university degree certifies and the actual generic, 21st-century skills with which students graduate from higher education. By generic skills, it is meant literacy and critical thinking skills encompassing problem solving, analytic reasoning and communications competency. As automation takes over non- and lower-cognitive tasks in today’s workplace, these generic skills are especially valued but a tertiary degree is a poor indicator of skills level. In the United States, the Council for Aid for Education developed an assessment of generic skills called the CLA+ and carried out testing in six countries between 2016 and 2021. This book provides the data and analysis of this “CLA+ International Initiative”.


CLA + in Latin America: application and results

Although the chapter’s title refers to the region, CLA+ was implemented only in Chile. Nevertheless, higher education in Latin America will be briefly described because reactions to the wider outreach effort are still pending in various countries. In Ibero-America (Latin America plus Portugal and Spain) the annual higher education average enrolment rate increased by 3.5% between 2010 and 2016, totalling almost 30 million students (OEI, 2018[1]). According to Trow’s (Trow, 2008[2]) classification, Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Uruguay are already at the universalisation stage with gross higher education enrolment rates over 50% (OEI, 2018[1]). The remaining countries are at the expansion stage with rates going from 15 to 50%.


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