Recent decades have witnessed no end of surveys indicating the appalling ignorance of high school or college students. But a study just released by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, "‘The Coming Crisis in Citizenship' Survey Results," breaks new ground in several ways, as Mike Ratliff, senior vice president at ISI explains. First, with a sample of 14,000 students at 50 schools, it is the largest study ever done on the topic.
Second, Ratcliff explains how the survey shows "that at 16 of the 50 schools, the freshmen did better than the seniors. We were startled by the extent of what we call ‘negative learning.' When courses are not offered or required, the students forget what they knew when they entered as freshmen, and that 16 included some of the best schools in the country, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Duke."
Third, the survey reveals "that on some campuses—like Rhodes College and Grove City College—that the amount of learning that was taking place was disproportionate to someplace like Harvard or Princeton. These are campuses that value classroom education and the professors are more focused on making sure the students are learning."
Fourth, students attending the most prestigious colleges start out with higher scores as freshman, getting 60-70 percent of the questions correct. "But the seniors at Rhodes and Grove caught up with many of them by senior year, while the scores of many of the students at the prestigious schools dropped by senior year."
Comment: Rhodes and Grove City are two of the very few conservative colleges in the whole of the United States. (September 26, 2006)