Saturday, October 8, 2011

Students' Study Habits, Then and Now

A few days ago, I noted a new book called Academically Adrift, which analyzes data on various trends in colleges and universities.  One interesting finding is how little contemporary students study as compared to students in earlier years.  Before the 1960s, full-time students spent an average of forty hours a week on academic pursuits (studying and attending classes). Today, full-time students report spending an average of only 27 hours per week on academic pursuits, “less time than the typical high school student spends at school.”  Average time studying fell from twenty-five hours per week in 1961 to thirteen hours per week in 2003!  Interestingly, this drop in devotion to study has had little impact on grade point averages or graduation rates, which gives us a new perspective on grade inflation.  Students have developed the “art of college management,” which includes the subordinate arts of “shaping schedules, taming professors and limiting workload.”  Taming professors?  Interesting concept, and in fact the drop in students’ study time appears to be due as much to professors demanding less (less reading and fewer assignments) as to students trying to limit their workload.  So, we all have something to think about here.

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