The 4 Stages of Foundational Skill Development

As part of NimblyWise’s research into the foundational skills crisis, we spoke to academic leaders at more than 50 institutions of higher education across the country. Through these interviews, we were able to construct a better understanding of how colleges and universities address the important matter of outfitting their students with the strong critical thinking skills necessary for success in today’s knowledge economy. In our recent white paper, Campus Response to the Foundational Skills Crisis, we identified the Four Stages of Foundational Skill Development, and detailed the practices necessary to move up the ladder.

The Four Stages of Foundational Skill Development

Basics for Accreditation: 40% of campuses are only doing what’s required for accreditation, meaning that there are ample opportunities for improvement. Institutions in this stage have no student-facing foundational skills strategy, which is essential for gaining buy-in from students and helping them connect what they’re learning to how it will help them throughout their life.

Gen Ed Foundation: 43% of campuses teach foundational skills in their Gen Ed or Core Learning programs (which is great!), but don’t follow through on the next step of extending these skills into the disciplines.

Major/Program Refresh: 13% of campuses embed foundational skills throughout the wider curriculum, which is essential for ensuring the transferability of these skills into students’ majors. A consistent assessment strategy can then measure skill development across  curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular learning.

Employer Signaling: Only 4% of campuses today do everything they can to help students directly link foundational skills to job readiness and attainment across their entire educational experience.

Solving the foundational skills crisis will require a shift in higher education, where institutions look beyond the Gen Ed curriculum to develop the critical thinking skills that are so essential to life and work in the knowledge economy. To learn more about the steps your institution can take, and see how other schools have overcome challenges in their journey, download the full white paper here.