Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How much do students report studying outside of class?

About one hour per week for every hour that they are in class. According to Alexander C. McCormick in the article "It's About Time: What to Make of Reported Declines in How Much College Students Study," which appeared in a recent issue of Liberal Education, this level of self-reported study represents about half as much as students reported studying in the '60s:
...the amount of time that full-time students devote to their studies on a weekly basis has dropped by about ten hours between 1961 and 2003, and the decline cannot be fully accounted for by changes in how study time was measured, in technology, in the college-going population, in the mix of college majors, or in the range of higher education providers.
So, what has caused this drop in the time that students report studying? A commonly expressed explanation is that students are substituting leisure time for study time. Complementing this thesis is the assertion that faculty expectations that are placed upon students have gravitated downward as students' commitment to studying outside of class has diminished. McCormick adds:
This line of reasoning is consistent with the FSSE results..., which show that faculty expectations for study time are not too different from what students actually report.
McCormick furnishes additional explanations of his own: more students are spending more time commuting to attend class, and more students have responsibilities in the home. While preferences for leisure are surely found among our students, "it's important to acknowledge," McCormick argues, "the full range of students' nonacademic commitments."

There is good news, McCormick claims, and that is that the steep decline in reported study time flattened out and has held more or less steady since the early 1980s.