There is a discernible and growing gap between the qualifications that a university degree certifies and the actual generic, 21st-century skills students graduate from higher education with. 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 to Education developed an assessment of generic skills called the CLA+ and carried out testing in six countries between 2016 and 2021. The new OECD report Does higher education teach students to think critically? provides the data and analysis of this “CLA+ International Initiative”.
On 30 August 2022 we discussed the main findings in a panel discussion hosted by the ZEIT Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius in Hamburg.
- Welcome by Mr Meinhard Weizmann, CEO, Bucerius Law School, and Ms Tatiana Matthiesen, Head of Education and Training, ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius; Ms Barbara Ischinger, Former Director for Education and Skills at the OECD; Mr Bob Yayac, CEO & President, CAE (by video)
- Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD: The importance of assessing higher education learning outcomes (by video)
- Ms Barbara Ischinger, Former Director for Education and Skills OECD and promotor of the AHELO (Assessing Higher Education Learning Outcomes) study 2008-2013: The long and winding road towards transparency on what students learn
- Ms Judith Eaton, Former President of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in the US and global quality assurance expert, CAE Board member: Learning outcomes and the quality of higher education
- Ms Doris Zahner, Chief Academic Officer CAE and co-editor of the book: The methodology behind the assessment of critical thinking
- Mr Dirk Van Damme, Former Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation OECD, Senior Research Fellow Centre for Curriculum Redesign (Boston, USA) and co-editor of the book: Presentation of the main findings of the study
- Q&A, moderated by Mr Stephen Flynn, Communication Co-ordinator OECD/EDU
Presentation by Judith Eaton:
Presentation by Dirk Van Damme:
Presentation by Doris Zahner:
Does higher education teach students to think critically? Full report in the OECD iLibrary (30 August 2022)
OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies Thematic page presenting the OECD’s PIAAC programme