A new study gives pause to those who are hoping we can educate ourselves out of our messes, whether they be environmental, economic or some combination of these two inextricably linked messes.

The HechingerReport.org details aspects of a study and accompanying recent book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.  This book is sure to sell well on college campuses, and maybe elsewhere.

Highlights from the Hechinger Report article about the study, which followed over 2,000 students at 24 schools for four years:

Combining the hours spent studying and in class, students devoted less than one fifth of their time each week to academic pursuits. By contrast, students spent 51 percent – or 85 hours per week – socializing or in extracurricular activities. And they slept an average of under six hours per night.
….
while students at highly selective schools made more gains than those at less selective schools, there are even greater disparities within institutions.

Students who majored in the traditional liberal arts – including the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics – showed significantly greater gains over time than other students in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills. … Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the least gains in learning.

large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work.

Let’s see if I have this right. Allow students to get by without working hard, and they won’t. And they won’t reap the benefits of same. I think that just about sums it up. I wonder if some academic heads are going to roll.


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