The University of Wyoming has landed a spot among the top 15 universities in the country in helping student’s critical-thinking skills in a Wall Street Journal report.

UW is ranked 14th in the report, according to a UW news release.  Over 100 public institutions returned their results from the College Learning Assessment Plus, an exam administered by the Council for Aid to Education. The ranking was based on how much student’s critical-thinking skills improved between their freshman and senior years, based on the exam.

UW Provost Kate Miller says in a statement that the university is happy to see students gaining skills at a level competitive with the rest of the nation.

“While we have seen improvements in value-added scores for our students since implementing CLA+,” Miller says, “the institution continues to pursue educational practices to improve graduates’ critical-thinking skills to bring all students to proficient or higher levels.”

CLA+ is one measure used by UW over the past decade to assess its performance in improving students’ critical-thinking, reasoning, writing and problem-solving abilities.

According to the report, only 4 percent of UW seniors scored “below basic” on the exam, compared with 15 percent when they were freshmen. The average score on the CLA+ jumped from 1,113 when they were freshmen to 1,209 when they were seniors, which was better than 10 of the universities ahead of UW in the rankings.

Partly to thank for the good ranking was the new general studies program that embeds critical and creative thinking outcomes throughout required courses which was implemented in the fall 2015 semester.

“UW greatly values instruments that evaluate students’ critical-thinking skills and believes a variety of measures are vital for understanding learning gains from freshman to senior year,” says Mark Lyford, UW’s assessment director in a statement. “This ranking, based on CLA+, is one indication that we are on the right track.”


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