Maybe college professors ought to give their students a little more credit.
A report suggests seniors spend a lot more time preparing for class than their instructors think they do. Some majors, including engineering and nursing, actually study more than their professors expect.
Findings are part of an annual report released Thursday by the National Survey of Student Engagement, a higher education research center based at Indiana University-Bloomington. The report includes findings of a national survey of 285,000 freshmen and seniors attending 546 four-year colleges and universities, and subsets of students who were asked additional questions.
Average study times reported by full-time students remained similar to past years: Freshmen reported nearly 15 hours a week and seniors about a half-hour more. The survey also found:
Freshmen reporting grades of A or A- studied about four hours more per week than their peers earning a C+ or lower.
Students enrolled in distance-education courses spent about one hour more a week preparing for class than their campus-based counterparts.
Women spent more time per week studying than men — by an hour among freshmen and about 40 minutes among seniors.
A smaller survey of 6,516 seniors, along with a similar survey of 1,549 professors, at 31 campuses revealed the mismatch between faculty perceptions, their expectations and student reports.
Lindsay Radow, 21, a senior at the State University of New York-Albany, did not take the survey but says the findings ring true. A psychology major who is taking four classes this semester and doing lab work, she says she studies 10 to 20 hours a week, while also juggling a job, her sorority, involvement with a religious group and applying for graduate school.
Professors “definitely underestimate how much students study,” she says, but adds, “It’s like, ‘When do I have the time?’”
Other research has shown that today’s students spend fewer hours hitting the books than their parents did, but what strikes survey director Alexander McCormick is that faculty also appear to expect less from students than they have in the past.
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