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I Found This Data Very Disturbing

Updated on October 16, 2009

Is this what is happening?

Is this what happens in the mind of a student?
Is this what happens in the mind of a student?

Well I hope it was a bad sample

In a recent study when college students were tested on their levels of literacy and Mathematics the results were shocking. More than half of those attending four year programs and three-fourths of those in two year programs were not able to do a variety of routine actions like compute credit card interest or compare rates and annual fees or summarize the results of a survey. In addition over half could not grasp the meaning of an editorial article in a newspaper

The areas covered in this study included balancing a check book, figuring out a restaurant tip, and understanding formal documents. One of the researchers had found it was a "little disturbing" that at this level in their education these students were unable to do such basic tasks.

All was not hopeless however since the majority of students were able to do intermediate tasks like finding the cost of an order of office supplies, locating places on a map and finding the nutritional value of foods from a reference guide.

These results were higher than those found for the average adult in the US, which is the bright side, but on the other hand the students had a higher education level. They should have done better. I work with college students and I have seen this decline first hand. But I also have seen some very capable and bright students so I'm not sure things are as bad as they seem.

When compared with like levels of education, the college students demonstrated superior skills when it came to searching for and using information gathered from documents and texts. But in the modern information age is this good enough. It seems that the majority of experts feel it is not, because in this age of technology they displayed their greatest weakness in the area of math. They were unable to determine if a car had enough gas to make it to the next gas station, an every day problem that could leave them at the side of the road. Of the two year students about 30% had only the most rudimentary math skills.

This is a very poor sign and does not speak well of our educational system, but still the fact that we are aware of it, does leave some hope that we can do something about it.

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    • nadp profile image

      nadp 

      8 years ago from WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

      I found your hub interesting, as I am a math teacher also and am very disturbed by the situation you'e described here. I'm even more disturbed by the fact that the politicians are going about solving the problem in all the wrong ways. I taught and tutored at the college level, as you do, for many years and saw more and more entering students needing to take remedial classes. Now I've been teaching high school for 13 years. My school is a magnet school and attracts some of the best students in Palm Beach County. So we have great students and great teachers, and the problem isn't evident here. But I know our school is the exception, not the rule.

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMathDr 

      8 years ago

      This is an interesting point and perhaps it would be a good topic for a hub. I do know that a lot of teachers are often just doing a job and they don't necessarily take responsibility for their "product", an educated student, but I'd like to think that this is not the majority. I also do a lot of tutoring and I have run into some interesting situations that have caused a need for tutoring, but I also have run into the fact that some students study only to pass tests and have no intent to remember anything next week. It is a multi-faceted area.

    • profile image

      R.G. San Ramon 

      8 years ago

      I hate to make guesses, but I can't help it. I was wondering if it's the system, but it is also possible that college students are putting less importance in diagnostic tests than in, well, examinations. I mean, how can these college students pass their entrance examinations when they can't even do such simple tasks? It just seems illogical, unless some money is involved; but even this is doubtful.

      What do you think? I hope you could make a follow-up hub (much like an editorial/opinionated hub) on this exploring the possible reasons for the observed decline in mathematic and language skills among college students. It is interesting to know how a math teacher thinks of such a phenomenon when most fingers would point to teachers like you.

      Thanks for the hub. It's not much, but it sparks a lot of thought. ;)

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMathDr 

      8 years ago

      Well Thank you Green Lotus. I agree.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great, well researched hub. This is such an important topic. It's good to know someone like you is teaching. We need better teachers and more creative curriculums.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMathDr 

      8 years ago

      I hate to say it but it is a "multi-variable" problem and the system will have to change if it is to be solved. Its not so much that the system created it directly but it failed to evolve to handle a changing world and let things get out of control.

    • jiberish profile image

      jiberish 

      8 years ago from florida

      My father only finished 8th grade in Europe, and became a precision tool & die maker, they deal with numbers and measurements all day. He had such a hard time with interns because they didn't know simple math. I often wonder if it's the system or the teacher. My daughter-in-law teaches 1st grade special ed, she says it's the system. Good Hub, thanks.

    • GreenMathDr profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMathDr 

      8 years ago

      I teach and tutor math and science in California so I totally have seen this.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 

      8 years ago from Bay Area California

      Wow- I knew it was bad but I had no idea how bad. In California we see a lot of low scores-- sometimes it is due to lack of English (language). The irony of that is the same students who have a difficult time passing English, also have a difficult time passing their own foreign language class. It has to do with a lack of good language skills in general...such as grammar and reading comprehension. Good Hub!

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