actuaries, adenoids, and amortization
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 93 00:28:04 PDT
Subject: actuaries, adenoids, and amortization
From the 5/30/93 edition of The New York Times:
U.S. Decline: A New Clue, by Francis Flaherty
Several semesters ago, four professors at Wake Forest University
administered a "cultural literacy" test to 96 of the school's
first-year graduate management students. These tests . . . assess
students' knowledge of such common cultural terms as Shakespeare
and suffrage. The examinations have been given widely in primary
schools, but the Wake Forest session was a business-school first.
The pioneer test-takers performed execrably. Of the test's 250
terms, the future business executives correctly identified 17.2
percent. . . . Here are some typical test terms and the percentage
of students who defined them correctly, as reported in Business
Horizons, an Indiana University bimonthly:
Gang of 4 7%
. . .
More unsettling is the impact not so much of not knowing a word,
but of mis-defining it. One test-taker said an actuary was a home
for birds; another that the duodenum was a number system in base two.
. . .
Even scarier was the students' business ignorance. The exam covered
22 subjects, including business. Here are the percentages of test-
takers who correctly described these business terms:
Bear Market 55%
Capital gains 38%
. . .
And the 96 Wake Forest test-takers were a nationally representative
group. They hailed from 60 colleges in 21 states. However divided
by sex, religious affiliation, previous doctoral degrees and other
factors, the results were uniformly bad. With one exception: Liberals
on average got 23 percent correct and conservatives only 15 percent.
. . .
© 1993 Peter Langston