Norval C. Kneten: Colleges accountable

February 11, 2013 

Colleges accountable

In reporting on Gov. Pat McCrory’s comments linking college funding to employment, the Business National News on Jan. 31 referenced a Hart Research Associates study showing that hiring during the economic downturn would emphasize four-year graduates with effective skills in oral/written communication and critical thinking/analytical reasoning.

In a related story, The N&O reported Jan. 4 that the UNC General Administration had approved the Collegiate Learning Assessment for measuring accountability. The CLA challenges students to select and justify a position on an issue, to evaluate the logic of an argument and to complete a real-world task such as preparing a briefing report or a well-documented recommendation using a set of reference materials. Student skills in critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem-solving and written communication are then evaluated and scored.

Given to freshmen and seniors, the CLA allows institutions to evaluate the added value of their degree programs by focusing on “career-necessary” skills in communication and thinking. In a study begun in 2005, the Council of Independent Colleges demonstrated that using the CLA, in association with other diagnostic tools, built strong campus cultures based on “evidence of learning.”

I can report that these skills cut across all majors and are strong indicators of career success.

Norval C. Kneten

President, Barton College


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