Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First 2 Years of College Useless?

My comments are in bold. It's really just an interesting article (I've not included the whole thing) and generally speaking, it's pretty accurate picture of America's higher learning. I personally don't believe that the US has done a great job with higher learning when compared to European countries that actually focus on LEARNING rather than ranking.

Mary Beth Marklein wrote in USA TODAY that "Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows."
After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.

Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows. He noted that students in the study, on average, earned a 3.2 grade-point average. "Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort," Arum said. I wonder if they incorporated the students that just don't have to study as hard as others. I know that I've never really had to study very hard to get good grades--it's enough to just read something once. This does not include Calculus. Calculus killed me in high school and I thank God that I didn't have to take a single math class in college. Anyways, so I didn't really spend all that much time studying in college. I could sit down at 11pm the night before a paper or test and be finished in a couple hours...and get an A (and from Flannery and Palm--arguably the hardest profs at APU). I wrote my International Relations thesis start to finish, research and all, in 3 hours and got a 100% and Dr. Palm asked to keep it. BUT I also know that there are students who spend most of their time studying and still struggle. So anyways, I'm just curious as to whether the study accounted for that. I think it does given the average of 3.2 GPA.

The Department of Education and Congress in recent years have looked for ways to hold colleges and universities accountable for student learning, but researchers say that federal intervention would be counterproductive. Only students can be held accountable for student learning...government, colleges, etc. can only do so much and that accountability usually ends up being standardized testing which has nothing to do with learning.

Other details in the research:

•35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone. Yet, despite an "ever-growing emphasis" on study groups and collaborative projects, students who study in groups tend to have lower gains in learning. No kidding...I hate study groups. I remember study groups. We split everything equally, only did our part and then just memorized what everyone else did.

•50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages; 32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week. What colleges are these kids at?? I wrote at least 20 pages in every class I took -- even acting classes. And I most definitely read at least 40 pages a night...

I'm sorry, I know I'm kind of cynical. But I really have issues with American higher learning. Unfortunately I don't think it will ever change for the better...not as long as the schools are ruled by government money.

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