College Makes Students More Liberal, but Not Smarter About Civics, Study Finds





While many graduates of American colleges cannot answer basic civics questions, a higher education does make their opinions more liberal on controversial social issues, according to a new report issued on Friday by an academic think tank....

"The Shaping of the American Mind," the fourth report from the institute on civic literacy, will be formally released on Wednesday.

Richard A. Brake, a co-author of the report, said he and his colleagues had sought to see what civic or social lessons students were learning in college....

The institute found that people who had attained at least a bachelor's degree were more likely than Americans whose formal education ended with a high-school diploma to take a liberal stance on certain controversial social issues. For example, 39 percent of people whose highest level of education was a bachelor's degree supported same-sex marriage, compared with 25 percent with a high-school diploma. The trend continued with advanced degrees: About 46 percent of people with master's degrees supported same-sex marriage, as did 43 percent of people with Ph.D.'s....

"College graduates, whether it be current or graduated in the past, seem to have difficulty knowing basic things about our government and our history," Mr. Brake said. "Does college share all the blame? Of course not — this is a systemic problem, from K through 12 and all the way up. But universities train our teachers and train our leaders, so they play a role."


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