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Graduates Know Even Less About History (Take The Quiz!)
Madison.com ^ | September 19, 2007 | Anita Weier

Posted on 09/19/2007 5:48:59 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-Madison did relatively well in a 50-college test of how much students learned about history and economics during four years of college, but students in Wisconsin and nationally knew little when they came in and not much more when they left. No college did better than a D-plus on the Civic Literacy Test released Tuesday by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a nonpartisan conservative educational organization that stresses the values of a free society.

The national average was F.

The test of 14,000 randomly selected students revealed that some of the most expensive Ivy League universities, with the highest-paid presidents and largest government subsidies, were the worst-performing, the institute found.

Overall, the nation's freshmen and seniors scored slightly more than 50 percent on the 60-question exam. The institute said that a kindergartner would have scored about 20 percent correct just by guessing.

The study tested freshmen and seniors at the colleges and universities, in order to determine how much history they learned there. The researchers did not test the same students in freshmen and senior years, but those who were freshmen and seniors in the same year.

Eastern Connecticut State University ranked first, by adding 9.65 percentage points to the score from freshman to senior year. Marian College, a private school in Fond du Lac, was second, with a 9.44 percentage point gain, while the University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked 15th, gaining 6.3 percentage points.

UW-Madison and Marian College were the only Wisconsin schools tested.

Living in the present

Asked about the exercise, David McDonald, chairman of the History Department at UW-Madison, termed the test interesting but questioned the institute's conclusions.

Students generally learn basic history in high school, he said, adding that they often study historical details in order to pass college entry exams, but then go on to pursue other knowledge at the college level.

"Colleges reflect general attitudes and patterns in society. This is not a historically oriented society. We look at quarterly reports instead of long trends. There is a lot of emphasis on living in the present, and not a great deal of understanding of larger historical patterns," said McDonald, who grew up in Canada but got just three wrong on the American history exam.

"There is a mythical past in which everyone knew this material. If you are from a well-to-do household with well-educated parents, you will do well on this and other academic areas. Students should probably know the sequence of events in the Civil War. But is it more important for Americans to know that John Locke was a major influence on the Declaration of Independence or that they have a strong understanding of their rights and be willing to act on them?"

Students at several expensive universities, including Yale, Cornell, Princeton and Duke, actually lost ground during four years of college education.

But the median score of students at those prestigious universities was higher than most colleges where students gained more knowledge during their college career.

For instance, freshman at Yale got 68.94 percent of the answers right and those at Cornell got 61.9 percent correct, though seniors did worse in both cases.

UW-Madison freshmen scored 51.57 percent correct and seniors got 57.87 percent. At Marian College, freshmen scored just 33.66 percent and seniors 43.10 percent.

Gorbachev who?

The test consisted of 60 multiple-choice questions about America's history, government, international relations and economics. The test, the answers and the results at the various colleges can be found online at http://www.americancivicliteracy.org

Typical questions included: "The Constitution of the United States established what form of government?" and "Which wall was President Reagan referring to when he said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall'?" The test also included some questions on the U.S. economy and political philosophy.

"The evidence from our ongoing research shows that colleges, especially the most expensive and elite schools, are failing to advance students' knowledge of America's history, government and free market economics and consequently not preparing their students to be informed and engaged citizens," said Josiah Bunting III, chairman of ISI's National Civic Literacy Board.

"The time has come for higher education's key decision-makers -- state legislators, trustees, donors, alumni, faculty, students' parents -- to hold the nation's colleges and their presidents accountable for teaching their students America's history and institutions."

McDonald said nationwide, students who took the test did well on questions regarding Abraham Lincoln, the New Deal and Brown vs. Board of Education, and did worst on the Revolutionary War, Plato and the requirement for a just war, a question that he said was strangely phrased.

Students who study history in college learn that events are the results of several levels of cause, and that people are products of their times, McDonald said.

"They learn that evidence must be scrutinized and viewed with skepticism," he said. "Our job is to produce people who can do critical thinking, who are aware that they hold certain views and understand why."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: academia; amiabledunces; civicstest; competency; educatedmorons; highereducation; hillsdale; historyeducation; illiteracy; madisonwi
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
58 out of 60, without even trying. The two I missed puzzled me and on reflection were easy - I misunderstood one and doubted the correct answer to another.

But the question show the defense that colleges are about more conceptual less factual stuff, is nonsense. Easily a third of the questions are conceptual (major result of the Fed buying more government bonds e.g.) and require actual knowledge of how the social world functions.

Hyper-PC opinionated drivel, on the other hand, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you also have $3.

The scores are simply dreadful. The questions are easy, and any college graduate should be able to ace this.

101 posted on 09/19/2007 6:51:04 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: Rome2000
#53 was pretty nebulous.

A public good is a good that can be enjoyed by me without reducing the supply of it potentially available to you, i.e., a good we don't have to contend over. None of the answers address the definition. You can quickly eliminate all but B, but B isn't very satisfying as an answer.

National defense is certainly a public good, and it's true that Mr. Bill pays a lot for his, I pay some, and the homeless guy nothing. But the fact that the homeless guy gets defended for nothing isn't material to the definition.

102 posted on 09/19/2007 6:51:24 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: SKI NOW

68.33%. Shameful for my education level. My problem with tests has always been second guessing my knowledge. If I had gone with my first answer instead of stopping to “study” the question more, I would have scored better. I should trust my first answers. I did worse on the Econ. questions. I knew that we spend more on S.S. and checked that first and then I stopped to think. Well, considering the amount of the national debt, surely the interest on that is more than S.S.....isn’t it? LOL. In my defense (I really need one), I never had a course in economics. Besides at 73, it has been a while since I went to school.


103 posted on 09/19/2007 6:51:52 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: Captainpaintball

59/60. Got the question about the Just War wrong, #36.

Helped my wife with an American Government Class but have been interested in history, economics, poly science, for 40 years. And I am a regular FREEPER


104 posted on 09/19/2007 6:51:58 PM PDT by Maine Mariner
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Ok, so I didn’t know when the ladies got the vote. Sheesh. If they’re gonna test on trivia like that, what’s the point?


105 posted on 09/19/2007 6:52:18 PM PDT by sphinx
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To: Billthedrill
I saw a perfectly fair question about Keynesian doctrine, so if so they played it straight.
106 posted on 09/19/2007 6:53:00 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

You answered 55 out of 60 correctly — 91.67 %

Question #2 - B. stressed the sinfulness of all humanity.
Question #11 - C. 1851-1875
Question #33 - C. To receive ambassadors.
Question #58 - B. An increase in the volume of commercial bank loans.
Question #59 - C. requires those with higher incomes to pay a higher ratio of taxes to income.(embarrassing lapse)

PS I’m Canadian.


107 posted on 09/19/2007 6:53:49 PM PDT by Jason Kauppinen
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To: Peter W. Kessler
Has anyone using Firefox taken this quiz?

No problem here. Firefox 1.5.0.12.

108 posted on 09/19/2007 6:54:11 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: Waryone

I’ll try again on my desktop at home.

Thanks, and congratulations on your score!


109 posted on 09/19/2007 6:54:31 PM PDT by Peter W. Kessler (Dirt is for racing... asphalt is for getting there.)
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To: eyedigress

#5 is the only one the dumb grey-haired hippies will immediately rule out - they won’t have a clue about the others.

As for ‘possible’, they all were meant to look possible. You have to know the exact date of each event to answer. That’s why it’s a hard question.


110 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:10 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: JasonC

Yep, the multiplier question. Good eye.


111 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:18 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Maine Mariner
59/60. Got the question about the Just War wrong, #36.

That's the thing. While taking the test, I began to think about the biases (real or imagined) of the testers. I would readinto some of them too much, then try and talk myself out of doing so. Ah, like I said before, I could pick a 635 Freepers and we'd get the country back on the right track again

112 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:25 PM PDT by Captainpaintball
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To: Captainpaintball

Someone has brought that up, maybe you should know who it is. :^)

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1898421/posts?page=20#20


113 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:43 PM PDT by eyedigress
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To: Petronski; Diana in Wisconsin

You answered 55 out of 60 correctly — 91.67 %
Average score for this quiz during September: 75.0%
Average score since September 18, 2007: 75.0%

How did I get “Yorktown” wrong?


114 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:48 PM PDT by Larry Lucido (Hunter 2008)
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To: Captainpaintball

59/60. Got the question about the Just War wrong, #36.

Helped my wife with an American Government Class but have been interested in history, economics, poly science, for 40 years. And I am a regular FREEPER


115 posted on 09/19/2007 6:55:50 PM PDT by Maine Mariner
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To: Alain Chartier
I got two questions wrong. One was a question on incomes (and I would argue that one), the other was about the Federal Reserve.

I got the Fed question right, having heard Larry Kudlow last Friday explain that very point in response to a question from Hugh Hewitt.

116 posted on 09/19/2007 6:57:02 PM PDT by cynwoody
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To: Maine Mariner

I got it right by elimination. I knew the Just War theory didn’t require zero civilian casualties.


117 posted on 09/19/2007 6:57:44 PM PDT by Larry Lucido (Hunter 2008)
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To: jdm

I feel a little better about my self after taking the test. 86% on the civic test (75% national average) and got 7/8 on the 8th grade history test. Thank God it wasn’t an algebra test.


118 posted on 09/19/2007 6:58:34 PM PDT by landertiger
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Got an 80%.
Could argue some of the ‘correct ‘ answers.
One in particular. Abortion was legal in all States, very restrictive but legal.
Some I flat out guessed. The Aristotle, Plato stuff.


119 posted on 09/19/2007 6:58:43 PM PDT by Vinnie (You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Jihads You)
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To: Larry Lucido

Yes, I tried that too but got it wrong.


120 posted on 09/19/2007 7:00:31 PM PDT by Maine Mariner
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
In first 99 replies

51 stated results
Average 85% (51.1)
Std Dev. 8% (4.9)

Not too shabby for a bunch of on-line nerds

121 posted on 09/19/2007 7:00:43 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
56 correct answers.

Two of the four I missed were due to simple carelessness on my part the other two I just plain blew!

122 posted on 09/19/2007 7:02:07 PM PDT by Bigun (IRS sucks @getridof it.com)
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To: eyedigress
I haven’t been in school since the 80’s

Heck, I’ve been out of high school since ‘73
Guess I’m just an old fart

123 posted on 09/19/2007 7:02:53 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
You answered 55 out of 60 correctly — 91.67 %

That was my 17 year old's score..... mine was 1 lower, 54 out of 60. Seems I am weakest in modern economics and she was weakest in governmental matters, but as she said "give me a break, I'm in government now!"

Hard questions, especially at the end!

124 posted on 09/19/2007 7:03:46 PM PDT by SoftballMominVA (Never argue with an idiot. He will bring you down to his level and beat you with experience)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
I got 80% on the test. The economics section really killed me.

I guess I should not have used my economic text book as a sleep aid.

125 posted on 09/19/2007 7:04:16 PM PDT by mware (By all that you hold dear..on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: IonImplantGuru

Don’t brag, just because you took the eighth grade three times!


126 posted on 09/19/2007 7:04:16 PM PDT by lancer
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To: Clara Lou
I vaguely remember that name from college. I think his name is pronounced max vayber.

Econ 101 I think.

127 posted on 09/19/2007 7:04:24 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
56 out of 60 - 93.3%

Wrong on 19,36,43,58

Love history, voracious reader of history, have MBA

Ironically, was not a very good undergrad but superlative grad student....I grew up!

128 posted on 09/19/2007 7:05:47 PM PDT by Seeking the truth (Sale on Pajama Patrol Badges & Pins @ www.0cents.com)
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To: Clara Lou

German sociologist, economist, author of “The Protestant Ethic.”


129 posted on 09/19/2007 7:05:49 PM PDT by lancer
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

I was 53/60.


130 posted on 09/19/2007 7:05:50 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

80%...not too bad for sitting in meetings all day! I was in college long enough ago to have forgotten the rule that you go with your first instinct when in doubt. I missed all five that I changed.


131 posted on 09/19/2007 7:06:28 PM PDT by garandgal
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To: HangnJudge

You got me by 9. Old fart. :^)


132 posted on 09/19/2007 7:07:34 PM PDT by eyedigress
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

I’ve been out of school for many years, but that is no excuse. I scored 60%


133 posted on 09/19/2007 7:07:42 PM PDT by Paperdoll ( Duncan Hunter '08)
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To: IonImplantGuru
You Passed 8th Grade US History
Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade History?

134 posted on 09/19/2007 7:08:25 PM PDT by mysterio
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To: eyedigress

” done much better if taken 4 years out of college—”

I am 85 and never went to college-—got 7 of 8-—not bad for senility


135 posted on 09/19/2007 7:08:30 PM PDT by cmotormac44
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To: Petronski
You Passed 8th Grade US History
Congratulations, you got 6/8 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade History?

136 posted on 09/19/2007 7:09:47 PM PDT by Recovering Hermit ("A liberal feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.")
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Now at 61 replys

Average 86% (51.4)
Std Dev. 8% (5.1)

Strong statistical relevance that Freepers know their history relative to college students


137 posted on 09/19/2007 7:09:48 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Captainpaintball

Same score, doing the same thing. You’d better stay out of my head tonight.....


138 posted on 09/19/2007 7:10:03 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (I am not from Vermont. I lived there for four years and that was enough.)
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To: cmotormac44

Congrats sir! You are an inspiration. :^)


139 posted on 09/19/2007 7:11:53 PM PDT by eyedigress
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

answered 58 out of 60 correctly — 96.67 %


140 posted on 09/19/2007 7:13:09 PM PDT by chipengineer
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To: Petronski
Mine is a BS in civil and an MS in structural. I got a 73. Thought for sure I was a better guesser than that. The first part of the test was tough for me. I never took history in college. In fact, I never had history as a senior in highschool. I had to remember all the way back to the 11th grade for that stuff.

9th grade was civics, 10th grade was world history, 11th grade was US history.

That’s all the history I’ve had in my entire life.

141 posted on 09/19/2007 7:13:22 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: mamelukesabre

You still beat UC Berkely, Feel any better?


142 posted on 09/19/2007 7:16:03 PM PDT by eyedigress
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Statistics holding steady

# responses 68
Average 86% (51.3)
Std Dev. 9% (5.1)

Looking good

143 posted on 09/19/2007 7:17:33 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

I got 85%. Not too bad from an old man with a high school GED fron the Navy back in the 50s


144 posted on 09/19/2007 7:18:21 PM PDT by Old Seadog (Inside every old person is a young person saying "WTF happened?".)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Got 50 out of 60 right. Not bad for a Canuck hey??


145 posted on 09/19/2007 7:19:09 PM PDT by bubman
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To: tickmeister

just what I have heard by hanging around on street corners.

~~~~~~~~~~

Gosh, you’ve been hanging around a real tough part of town haven’t you? :)


146 posted on 09/19/2007 7:20:48 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: elizabetty

I scored 78.33% - that would have only earned me a “C” in my high school history class!


147 posted on 09/19/2007 7:21:09 PM PDT by 6323cd ("It is prohibited to make use of such emotional signs in a cellphone!")
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To: wardaddy; onyx; WKB; dixiechick2000

I made an 87. Y’all give this a try. About in-line with my undergrad GPA.


148 posted on 09/19/2007 7:21:55 PM PDT by Yudan (You tryin' to tell me Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Got 7 of 8 in the 8th Grade Test

149 posted on 09/19/2007 7:25:50 PM PDT by 6323cd ("It is prohibited to make use of such emotional signs in a cellphone!")
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
Now up to 72 replies

Average 85% (51.2)
Std Dev. 8% (5.0)

Doing great, good evidentiary data regarding
the superiority of freepers

150 posted on 09/19/2007 7:27:57 PM PDT by HangnJudge
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