Study Finds Faculty Agree Many Enter College Lacking Skills
College professors in the United States are not alone in feeling that students arrive on campus lacking adequate skills, according to a study slated for release this week by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The study, based on Carnegie's first international survey of higher-education faculties, found only about 20 percent of U.S. professors agreeing with the statement, "Undergraduates are adequately prepared in written- and oral-communication skills.'' Just 15 percent of U.S. faculty members agreed with a similar statement about mathematics and quantitative reasoning.
But among the nine other nations whose professors were asked that question, South Korea was the only one in which more than half the respondents said students were well trained in writing. And in none of the 10 countries did most respondents say students were proficient in math.
The survey found a brighter picture, however, when educators were asked about students majoring in their own fields. In the United States, more than 60 percent rated students in their departments as good or excellent.
"How can this be explained,'' the report asks, "especially given the low opinion faculty in this country have about the precollege preparation of undergraduates?'' One explanation, it suggests, may be that professors regard students in their departments more favorably than the student population in general.
Lower Standards Opposed
In every country except the Netherlands, more than half of respondents said higher education should be accessible to all young people meeting minimum entrance requirements. In most countries, however, no more than 20 percent said admissions standards should be lowered to allow more disadvantaged students to enroll.
The survey reflects 20,000 questionnaires completed by faculty members in Australia, Brazil, Britain, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.
The survey included more than 200 questions on such areas as governance and research. Although a basic core of questions was asked in each nation, the surveys varied from country to country.
Copies of "The Academic Profession: An International Perspective'' will be available in August for $8 each, plus postage, from California/Princeton Fulfillment Services, 1445 Lower Ferry Rd., Ewing, N.J. 08616; (609) 883-1759 or (800) 777-4726.