08 July 2010

Easy Answer: Maybe They're Just Lazy-Assed Fockers

Average study time for university students has dropped from 24 hours a week down to 14 hours a week since 1961, according to researchers at California's UCSB and UCR. The question appears to be: "why are the little dears no longer studying like they once did?"

Well, of course, the little dears who once studied are not the same little dears who no longer study, of course. And the reasons why the little dears are not studying may be different for different schools and sets of students. Certainly if one's focus of study is "Ethnic and Queer Studies", or "Enlightenment Basket Weaving Studies", the need for study outside of class is less pressing than if one were to study in a relevant area -- such as math, physics, engineering, science, medicine, accounting, computer science, etc.

The foundation for learning has to be laid before the child arrives at university. If the parent expects the university to take a poorly raised, poorly prepared child and turn it into a rational, successful adult -- they are sailing down a river in Egypt.
According to time-use surveys analyzed by professors Philip Babcock, at the University of California Santa Barbara, and Mindy Marks, at the University of California Riverside, the average student at a four-year college in 1961 studied about 24 hours a week. Today’s average student hits the books for just 14 hours.

The decline, Babcock and Marks found, infects students of all demographics. No matter the student’s major, gender, or race, no matter the size of the school or the quality of the

SAT scores of the people enrolled there, the results are the same: Students of all ability levels are studying less.

“It’s not just limited to bad schools,” Babcock said. “We’re seeing it at liberal arts colleges, doctoral research colleges, masters colleges. Every different type, every different size. It’s just across the spectrum. It’s very robust. This is just a huge change in every category.”

The research, accepted to be published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, has already sparked discussions in faculty lounges and classrooms across the country. Some question whether college students ever could have studied 24 hours a week — roughly three and a half hours a night. But even if you dispute the historical decline, there is still plenty of reason for concern over the state of 21st-century study practices. In survey after survey since 2000, college and high school students are alarmingly candid that they are simply not studying very much at all. Some longtime professors have noted the trend, which rarely gets mentioned by college admissions officials when prospective students visit campus.

But when it comes to “why,” the answers are less clear. The easy culprits — the allure of the Internet (Facebook!), the advent of new technologies (dude, what’s a card catalog?), and the changing demographics of college campuses — don’t appear to be driving the change, Babcock and Marks found. What might be causing it, they suggest, is the growing power of students and professors’ unwillingness to challenge them. _BostonGlobe
Al Fin edumacologists suspect that professors are demanding much less of students these days. Combine grade inflation, social promotion, and the greater ease of "faking it" with internet resources, and getting good grades may not require as much sweat as was once the case. Particularly if all the professor cares about is whether you can unthinkingly reflect back to her what she wants to see and hear. Here's more on the question:
Advent of Pass-Fail Classes, Fewer Language Requirements Mother Jones commenter hollywood writes, "Many colleges dropped foreign language requirements for degrees (languages require a lot of study time); schools adopted pass-fail courses with the natural response 'why knock myself out?' There was significant grade inflation--more people got better grades with less effort. Perhaps this lack of study by students reduced the motivation of profs to kill themselves prepping lectures and grading exams when there were journal articles to crank out."

Studying Methods Became More Efficient G. Powell theorizes, "While the amount of time that I spent on course work outside the classroom decreased, the quality of that time increased.... The Internet is also a huge productivity gain when it comes to tracking down information. What once took me hours in basement stacks to track down now often only takes seconds."

Rise in Publishing Requirements Means Professors Assign Less Work An anonymous college professor explains, "This time period does correspond with the increase in publishing expectations in Academia. I haven't been teaching long enough to see the trend, but I definitely weight the length of a problem set assignment against my research time in a way I don't think prior generations of professors did."

More Working Part-Time as Scholarships Decline Mother Jones commenter dob suggests, "I'm willing to bet that students working jobs while going to college accounts for at least a substantial fraction of that time. That characterized both me and at least half of my college friends in the 90's. Scholarships and student loans aren't what they used to be."

Students Less Comfortable With Long-Form Reading Mother Jones commenter sjw muses, "More and more students are uncomfortable with reading. They read less. They don't enjoy reading. Most of the homework that a professor assigns is reading or involves reading -- it's not just busy work, as a commenter above alleges -- so the 'collective mass' can't handle what professors would like to assign. Whether tv or the internet are to blame is not an argument that need be broached here; clearly, however, the time that a student would put into studying is now going elsewhere." _Atlantic
In reality, besides being intolerant indoctrinators, more professors are lazy shites, and their students learn sloppy habits of thinking and working from professors, to add to the sloppy habits they learned in high school.

College has become a place to go to binge drink, fornicate, and get a world-class indoctrination. It is becoming old-fashioned to think of university as a place to learn and to hone one's thinking and learning skills, developing the talents that allow one to make one's way in the world.

Today's child feels entitled to deferential treatment and top pay on the basis of not very much at all. But this feeling of entitlement has been growing for generations -- this sense that one can demand to be well taken care of by virtue of having a heartbeat, and certain scribbles on pieces of paper. The Obama Pelosi economy may disillusion some recent graduates of these delusions, and certainly as society demands more of a rapidly diminishing talent pool, certain individuals here and there will begin to catch on. But by then it will likely be too late.

Will this growing Idiocracy become an apocalypse? No. It will lead into an extended down period, during which a lot of violence and hardship will occur on a widespread basis. But the troubles will not obliterate all the progress that has been made, and that will continue being made beneath the veneer of problems.

It can be quite challenging, imagining the way through the obstacles. But the way is there, despite all the hard work being done in the Obama Pelosi regime to make sure that their hard-fought institutional changes have been made irrevocable. The decline is not irrevocable, however.

More on this later.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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