Study: College students lack literacy for complex tasks

CNN ran an article on how American college students are not able to perform these complex, real-life tasks.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

Without “proficient” skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

It is well-known over here that fresh grads lack some of such skills and have to pick them up on-the-job if such is the nature of their job. But there is no “life-skills” module in school and textbook examples are, well, pretty textbook. You can hardly find maths texts or assignments that ask you to compare credit card rates, your spending habits and find a suitable match. Nor do literature teachers or language teachers have a habit of doing in-depth analysis of newspaper ediorials. Much general knowledge is needed to properly interpret such articles anyway, and students are seldom known for the depth or breadth of their general knowledge.

This is why mentoring can be very beneficial for fresh grads who have just started work.

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