The Washington Post recently pointed out higher education’s quality-of-learning gap and highlighted UT-Austin in particular:
Last year, UT freshmen scored an average 1261 on the [College Learning Assessment], which is graded on a scale similar to that of the SAT. Seniors averaged 1303. Both groups scored very well, but seniors fared little better than freshmen […]
We’ve talked about quality of learning on college campuses before—these UT numbers aren’t too surprising, and they’re on par with many of the universities that authors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa highlighted in Academically Adrift, and with what those same authors have said elsewhere regarding current priorities in higher education.
The more troubling number is UT-Austin’s ranking in the CLA:
For learning gains from freshman to senior year, UT ranked in the 23rd percentile among like institutions. In other words, 77 percent of universities with similar students performed better.
According to UT faculty cited in the article, some initiatives are being taken that could make a dent in that disappointing ranking, including a “signature course” that might help incoming undergrads address the “who am I?” and “what am I doing here?” questions.
But I fear that without a serious, systematic attempt to make the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate education a top mission, UT—or any university with disappointing CLA scores—won’t find the results they’re looking for, especially in this age of disruption.