NEPC Review: The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs (December 2009)
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute report, The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree and Civic Learning on American Beliefs, suggests that college is failing to provide an adequate education in civic knowledge and is also influencing graduates to become less supportive of American values. Desirable "civic learning" about American values is associated with positions and attitudes that are anti-abortion, pro-free-market economics, consistent with fundamentalist Biblical interpretations, and otherwise generally associated with contemporary conservative political positions. The bulk of the report focuses on contrasts of college graduates and non-graduates on these political values, based on a civics test administered as a telephone survey. "Civics knowledge," as they define it, is presented as of greater value than college education. The study suggests that more educated people are more liberal, yet the omission of basic information about the researchers’ polling methods, their fundamental analytic techniques and their actual results renders any such conclusions insupportable. Consequently, the report offers no valid information that could inform policy makers or the public.
Suggested Citation: Marchant, G. J. (2010). Review of "The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs." Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/thinktank/review-shaping-American-mind