Who Needs a Liberal Education These Days?


Anyone who wants a job, it seems.  According to a recent survey of employers by the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported in It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, employers want a broadly educated graduate rather than one with the kind of narrow job-specific skills so often touted in current discussions of “workforce preparation.”

Consider these findings from the survey summary:

“Nearly all those surveyed (93%) agree, ‘a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.’

More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.

More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes, including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.

Eighty percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.”

See the entire survey report.

It’s interesting to read these results in light of CFHE’s principle on curriculum.

And it’s important to ask whether all of the “innovations” being promoted today provide the experiences students need to develop these higher skills.