College students are spending less time studying - the amount has dropped from 24 hours a week to 15 over the last 50 years - according to the Washington Post, citing the National Survey of Student Engagement.
Declining study time displays a discomfiting truth about the U.S. higher-education system. The trend is generating debate over how much students actually learn.
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Some critics say students have grown lazy, and that today's collegiate culture is distracted by athletics, clubs and social media. It doesn't help that most college campus' buildings increasingly resemble resorts.
Academic leaders counter that students are busier than ever, but much of their attention is consumed by jobs to support their lifestyle and the bureaucracy that comes with attending a university.
Traditionally, college students should invest two hours of study for every hour of classes. The reality is that students are missing that goal by half, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement, a research tool for colleges that examines the modern student in unprecedented detail.
These findings are raising concerns regarding whether or not university leaders are doing their part to the commitment to student learning. Sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa identified lax study as a key failing of academia in their 2011 report "Academically Adrift," which found that 36 percent of students made no significant gains in critical-thinking skills in college.
Some critics dispute the evidence of students' decreased study time, noting that the findings are based on different surveys and frugal accounts by students. The authors say their analysis accounts for those concerns. The director of NSSE, Alexander McCormick, agrees that the findings are sound.
Modern technology helps and hinders study. Students are more efficient in researching and writing term papers now than 50 years ago.
Nationally, few colleges approach the conventional standard of 24 hours of weekly study.
Colleges that rate high in study time are typically small liberal-arts schools, often set in remote locales. Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and Centre College in Danville, Ky., all report more than 20 hours of average weekly study for freshmen, seniors or both.
The results trouble some university officials. "It's not enough," Peter Stearns, the provost of George Mason University, told the Post. "And it's a figure that troubles us, not only at Mason but in higher education generally."
Source: The Washington Post