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History Profs Slam Report on Low History IQs

A recent University of Connecticut report on students’ knowledge of American history puts Cornell near the bottom of the heap, but history professors, rankled, are railing against the results.

“This is a crock,” said Prof. Mary Beth Norton, director of undergraduate studies in history. “A study like this happens once a decade. There is one like this from the ’20s, one from the ’40s, the ’50s and one from 10 years ago.”

Out of 50 colleges surveyed nationwide, Cornell ranked 48th in its ability to increase student knowledge of American history from freshman to senior year.

Cornell was not alone. Yale, Duke and Brown joined Cornell at the bottom of the list, though Harvard ranked in the middle at 25 and Princeton even higher, holding the 18th spot. Rhodes College, a private liberal arts school in Tennessee ranked first, while Johns Hopkins University came in dead last.

The study, which the University of Connecticut’s Public Policy Department conducted in the fall of 2005, asked more than 14,000 randomly selected college freshmen and seniors 60 multiple choice questions on topics ranging from America’s place in the world to the market economy.

Cornell freshmen received a mean score of 59.4 percent on historical knowledge, while seniors received an average of 56.1 percent, both failing grades.

Although Cornell ranked very low among the 50 schools, most seniors did quite poorly at all schools. In fact, the average senior at all schools surveyed scored below 70 percent. “[College] seniors lack basic knowledge of American history," the report stated.

According to its website, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) commissioned the study to determine if “American higher education [is] preparing students for lives as informed and engaged citizens.”

The website continues, “Nearly all colleges and universities proclaim such a civic mission; few uphold it.”...
Read entire article at http://www.cornellsun.com