What are the most important outcomes from a college education? Although there will be some differences in the way different people answer this question, the odds are good that your list, like most, would include the idea that colleges should help students develop their ability to think. Critical thinking is one of the few educational outcomes that people from all corners of the political spectrum can agree on. Both George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton supported the enhancement of critical thinking in college students as an important national goal, although it was the only one of the educational goals identifie in “Goals 2000,” the blue ribbon report on the future of education that was never funded (National Education Goals Panel, 1991). Almost every discussion about the contents of a collegelevel general education curriculum includes the enhancement of critical thinking skills as an essential component. For example, Lynne V. Cheney, former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, was a highly vocal advocate for a common core of knowledge for college students that would consist of “self-knowledge, critical thinking, and community” (Lauer, 1990). College faculty from a variety of academic disciplines list critical thinking (and problem solving) along with communicating, interpersonal skills, and computer literacy as the “the basic competencies or skills that every college graduate [should] have” (Diamond, 1997). Adult workers agree, with 81% of the over 1,000 persons who responded
to a national survey reporting that critical thinking, literacy, and communication skills are very important (compared with only 50% who rated computer skills as very important; The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2000).