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Do colleges cultivate critical thinking, problem solving, writing and interpersonal skills?

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  • Saavedra, Anna Rosefsky
  • Saavedra, Juan Esteban

Abstract

We investigate how much value college enrollment adds to students’ critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills, and the role college inputs play in developing these competencies, using data from a 2009 collegiate assessment pilot study in Colombia. Relative to observationally similar first year students, students in their final year of college score about half of a standard deviation higher, with statistically significant higher scores on every individual component of the test. Sensitivity analyses indicate that results are robust to validity threats posed by selection bias. Students in private colleges exhibit significantly higher overall test score differences. Measures of college quality such as selectivity, rankings based on reputation, share of faculty with PhD, share of full-time faculty and expenditures per student, however, are not meaningfully associated with higher test score differences between last and first year students.

Suggested Citation

  • Saavedra, Anna Rosefsky & Saavedra, Juan Esteban, 2011. "Do colleges cultivate critical thinking, problem solving, writing and interpersonal skills?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1516-1526.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:6:p:1516-1526
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2011.08.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Balcázar, Carlos Felipe & Nopo, Hugo R., 2014. "Broken Gears: The Value Added of Higher Education on Teachers' Academic Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 8477, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra & Jorge Enrique Ramos-Forero & Pedro Oswaldo Hernández-Santamaría, 2017. "La educación superior en Colombia: situación actual y análisis de eficiencia," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, vol. 78, February.
    3. Cunha, Jesse M. & Miller, Trey, 2014. "Measuring value-added in higher education: Possibilities and limitations in the use of administrative data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 64-77.
    4. Schendel, Rebecca, 2015. "Critical thinking at Rwanda's public universities: Emerging evidence of a crucial development priority," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 96-105.
    5. Milla, Joniada, 2017. "The Context-Bound University Selectivity Premium," IZA Discussion Papers 11025, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Arlen Guarín & Sebastián Londoño & Carlos Medina & Julieth Parra & Christian Posso & Carlos Eduardo Vélez, 2016. "Estimating the Effect of Attending a Public versus a Private University in Colombia on Academic Achievement **** Una Estimación del Efecto sobre el Rendimiento Académico de Asistir a una Universidad P," Borradores de Economia 968, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    7. Oleg Podolskiy & Dmitry Popov, 2014. "The First Assessment of Adult Competencies in Russia," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 2, pages 82-108.
    8. Evan Riehl & Juan E. Saavedra & Miguel Urquiola, 2018. "Learning and Earning: An Approximation to College Value Added in Two Dimensions," NBER Chapters,in: Productivity in Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human capital; Input–output analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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