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Cumberlands 2009 Juniors Score High in Critical Thinking and Academic Skills


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky.-Every year, University of the Cumberlands’ entering freshmen take either the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP) or a combination of the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) as part of the freshman orientation class. Students take these tests again as juniors, and the results are compared as a measure of the quality of instruction and, more importantly, the extent of student learning, i.e. the value added through education at Cumberlands. The scores also give us insights about how our students are doing in our commitment to critical thinking across the curriculum.

The MAPP allows Cumberlands to compare scores with those of its peer Carnegie Classification institutions, Masters (Comprehensive) Colleges and Universities Levels I and II. The average scores of entering freshmen during the past 4 years are almost identical with national norms, but the juniors’ averages are higher than those of the Carnegie reference group in virtually every category. In fact, UC juniors score almost 17% higher in critical thinking than juniors at peer institutions. Furthermore, they score about 9% higher in the highest writing level, and the same as the peers in the highest level in math.

“These are really impressive figures, and we have every right to be proud of our excellent students,” said Dr. Susan Weaver, director of Teaching and Learning, and director of Assessment at Cumberlands. “Our freshmen are good, but our juniors are even better, and that certainly says a lot about the quality of a Cumberlands education as well as the caliber of our students,” Weaver continued.

Results of the critical thinking tests, the CCTDI and CCTST, also show that Cumberlands students are improving. In fact, juniors who took the CCTST in February 2009 scored higher than juniors in all previous years in every standard of critical thinking, including analysis, inference, evaluation, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. A specific study of 56 students whose freshmen scores were compared to junior scores reveals statistically significant increases in inference, evaluation, deductive reasoning and total scores from freshman to junior year.