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Realistic, or skewed stats?

You are told that to make it life, you must go to college. You work hard to get there. You or your parents drain savings or take out huge loans to pay for it all.

And you end up learning ... not much.

A study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.

Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

 


There's more at the link.  Not sure about this one - I'm in school, and I see the workload in a cross section of classes because of the nature of my major.  It's been rare for English classes to require a ton or reading and writing - either you're reading a ton and only writing a few papers, or you're only reading a little and doing a lot of writing.  Classes in math you're not going to see a lot of either, and in computers, you do long lectures and literally hours of coding and programming, but your books are for reference.

I won't argue that there aren't people skating their way through and not actually learning much, but I wonder if quantifying number of pages read or written is really an accurate gauge - I've had arts classes that require more reading or writing than some core or specialty classes, and I've had plenty of core and specialty classes that more than make up for the lack of reading and writing in research, group presentations and special projects.

Answer Question
 
NotPanicking

Asked by NotPanicking at 10:55 AM on Jan. 18, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • I am on a break from college (was a late starter) but have around 1 yr left to get my next degree in Human Services Management. I have my degree in Psych already, but wanted a management position. Anyway, I know with my Psychology major I did ALOT of reading and papers. Maybe it was just due to the degree I chose? I also had to take more then one critical thinking course in the 4 yrs I was in college. My math was not as much as I am sure others have because it was not a real thing they pushed as a need for my degree of choice. I also remember doing alot of reading and having to do presentations and other things for my "elective courses".

    I am sure in some colleges maybe it is not as prevalent to have so much work. For me and my peers in college though it seemed we were always doing some form of homework and I dont know anyone I graduated with that did not come out the other end smarter?
    gemgem

    Answer by gemgem at 11:04 AM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • I have to say that i "skated though".... but I test very highly. I went to a tier two school (just under ivy league) it is not that the course work was light or easy - it was just easy for me - i went to a great public school system and honestly i should have chose a more challenging major == still kicking myself for taking the easy out (teacher) instead of becoming a doctor... oh well.
    AmaliaD

    Answer by AmaliaD at 11:07 AM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • I have to say that i "skated though".

    I was referring more to the ones who only show up twice a month and then beg and plead the prof to let them by with a C.
    NotPanicking

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 11:09 AM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.


    Those things tend to be pretty static, they're how IQ scores work. I thought university was for teaching people things.... i.e History, Philosophy, Medicine..... If after their uni course they don't improve writing but can perform a heart surgery, i'd say that's an improvement.


    Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.


    Not a lot of writing required for maths, physics, art, drama etc.....




    Definitly biased..... The point of uni is to be proficient and more advanced in the subject you study, however that is achieved.

    Piskie

    Answer by Piskie at 11:14 AM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • Skewed- and some of it is common sense. Obviously math and science majors are not going to be taking a great of classes that require heavy reading and writing. My son, who is a sophomore at a UC campus in CA, said that since the budget cuts and economic issues in CA, fewer classes are being offered AND the profs are taking attendance in each class (what a waste of time). You do not show up or come late, and you're dropped.


     Isn't general ed for honing of broad based skills: writing, science, language, computing, history, art...., while major requirements focus on specific skills and intricate knowledge?

    Sisteract

    Answer by Sisteract at 11:51 AM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • Most college courses don't encourage critical thinking. They encourage "agree with the prof" thinking.
    lovinangels

    Answer by lovinangels at 12:43 PM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • skewed. which university(s) did they look at? some are a lot harder than others. and was it only sophomores & freshmen? i didnt start getting the heavy workload till my junior/senior level classes and even then i only wrote 2 papers over 20 pages, but since i was Psych i spent most of my time reading (i would have loved to have less than 40 pgs a week!). even last semester i only had one 20 pg paper and it was the sole focus of the class (history).

    ive always found most gen ed classes to be a little too easy...and understandably so. how else are you going to get the majority of students to pass if the info is too in-depth for those not skilled in that area? i took elements of math instead of college algebra for a reason haha.

    i dont know about everyone else but i learned a TON in college...but you probably wouldnt be able to test me outside of Psych or History for that knowledge cause i dumped the stuff i wasnt using.
    okmanders

    Answer by okmanders at 1:45 PM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • Im in college now and i have alot of work i get a's and b's some classes have alot of work some dont.
    peace013

    Answer by peace013 at 6:33 PM on Jan. 18, 2011

  • They need to see how/if it changes after they begin their major's courses. Freshman and sophomore years are liberal arts for the most part. It is the junior and senior years that really gets you in the meat of the discipline. Maybe they should survey again (if they haven't). I think that most people have to actually get to their work and hone in the skills they learned, put to practice all the book knowledge, and then the real deductive reasoning, forward thinking, mature person emerges. It's hard to think and go to frat parties! Not me...but someone else......

    jesse123456

    Answer by jesse123456 at 9:25 PM on Jan. 18, 2011

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