Friday, April 29, 2011

What Tufts Knows

I'm not certain exactly where Tufts is located, but in this story by the Tufts Daily (warning, a little slow to load) a shortened version of the naturalization political knowledge test made famous by a Newsweek article that demonstrated how poorly American adults did was posed to the university students.  I blogged about the Newsweek article here.

How did 225 Tufts students do?  Not so bad by the light on the hill:
The results of the test, however, showed that Tufts students did in fact outscore Newsweek's "average American" — by 61 percent. The subjects who participated in the Daily's abridged survey outperformed Newsweek's group by exceptionally steep margins on certain questions, including "Who was president during World War I?" to which only 20 percent of Newsweek participants but 70 percent of Tufts participants responded correctly, "Woodrow Wilson," and the question "What is the economic system in the United States?" to which only 33 percent of Newsweek's participants but 85 percent of Tufts participants replied correctly, "capitalist or market economy."
On some items, though, Tufts students didn't fare so well.  This one is kinda embarrassing.  Here's the graf:
The average American did, however, stump Tufts when it came to the question, "Whom did the United States fight against during World War II?" Sixty percent of Newsweek's subjects but only 53 percent of Tufts students were able to name all three major axis powers correctly.
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?   Hell no!

The news article is good in that it spends time evaluating whether this kind of knowledge matters in general and specifically to Tufts students, many of whom are not from the U.S.  It's worth a read and I may very well use it in the Fall when I teach a freshman seminar on news and faux news and what people know.

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