The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) conducted a survey of business and non profit leaders and came back with some key findings in a 2013 report they titled “It Takes More than a Major.” You can read the full report, but let’s focus on section 5.
“Majorities of employers believe two-year and four-year colleges and universities should place more emphasis on a variety of key learning outcomes to increase graduates’ success in today’s global economy. Few say less emphasis should be placed on any of the learning outcomes tested, but employers overall are most likely to believe there is a need to increase the focus on active skills such as critical thinking, complex problem-solving, communication, and applying knowledge to real- world settings.”
There were 17 learning outcomes surveyed. The five that employers wanted colleges to emphasize most were:
(1) Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
(2) The ability to analyze and solve complex problems
(3) The ability to effectively communicate orally
(4) The ability to effectively communicate in writing
(5) The ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings
If only there were majors that develop these skills: philosophy anyone? Assessment data could be used to explain the value of such a major, like philosophy. Speaking of assessment, that’s the topic of my next post.