Oh American college students, I can't quit you:
[R]esearch of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.Were all of these 2,300 undergraduates studying business at Oklahoma State? If so, those numbers sound surprisingly positive. Sadly, this is not likely.
The reasons seem clear enough:
Half of students did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.Wow. College students should be reading and writing more than that, no matter what they're studying. Business majors should be able to find the "win-win" in this -- for them, at a rate of 40 pages of reading per week and 20 pages of writing per semester, they'll finish everything worth reading and write every paper worth writing in the discipline of business in under one academic year. Huzzah!
At the risk of minimizing an instance of the USA's ongoing intellectual immolation, it's not obvious to me that increases in "critical thinking" and "complex reasoning" are rationally expected outcomes of undergraduate education. It would be nice to think so, but from what I have seen, undergraduate degree programs are designed to introduce students to a particular area of study -- its range of topics, analytical methods, schisms and controversies, significant theories, historical development, and so on.
Of course, teaching can improve critical thinking and complex reasoning, but as with the teaching of any subject matter, it will succeed to the extent that it is made the focus of the effort. To expect it to magically attach to undergraduate coursework in, say, music theory, chemistry, Spanish, economics, or art history -- and moreover to attach equally to these and all undergraduate disciplines -- is, well, it's analytically sketchy.