Why Majors Matter

Recent studies by biologist Paul Sotherland of Kalamazoo College and Roger Benjamin of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) suggest that certain majors, including foreign languages, produce the greatest gains in critical thinking for their majors. These studies used data provided by the CLA to measure students’ progress in critical thinking and analytical reasoning, and students majoring in sociology, foreign languages, multi- and interdisciplinary fields, physical education, and math – fields that do not usually produce the highest salaries for their graduates – showed the greatest gains. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, the CLA rewards the ability to consider alternative approaches to a problem, a skill the study of foreign languages constantly requires. This suggests that “foreign languages have a special claim on attention and resources even in a time of deep budgetary cuts” and that “their signature pedagogies may provide useful models for other disciplines.” (Read full article at Inside Higher Ed)

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