What Do You Actually Learn at College - If Anything?

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Researchers from two major universities recently discovered that college freshmen and sophomores do not arrive on the doorstep of their ju...

Researchers from two major universities recently discovered that college freshmen and sophomores do not arrive on the doorstep of their junior year much, if any, smarter than when they began their freshman year. The professors conducting the study concluded, after analyzing two thousand random subjects across several universities, that the first two years of college do not result in a meaningful level of learning.

Who are the researchers and what universities are they affiliated with?

The study professors are Dr. Richard Arum, New York University and Dr. Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia. Their book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses is a straightforward, honest look at the value of college from the perspective of what you learn.

The results of their research are frightening and honest.

• 45% of college students showed little or no learning by the completion of the sophomore year.

• 36% of students showed little or no learning after four years school.

• Those who did show progress only showed modest progress at best.

They attribute their assessment to the following:

• Low expectations reflected in class assignments and testing that did not create the need for a rigorous studying or application of information and ideas.

• Only 32% of students read more than forty total pages per week.

• Half of the students surveyed did not take a single class that required more than twenty pages of writing for the entire semester.

• Students indicated that on they spend only twelve to fourteen hours per week studying.

The authors take the higher education community to task on the issue of creating higher expectations and managing students to a higher performance level so that they develop critical thinking skills - something that they and the business community agree are lacking in today's college graduates.

The authors go even further and say that until many colleges and universities make significant changes away from increased socialization strategies and opportunities and focus more on academic performance and expectations, we should not expect to see improvement.

The authors note that there did appear to be some variation in quality among institutions, but that the problem is systemic.

What should we take away from this "devastating" assessment, as one analyst put it?

Mainly it is this --- in doing your homework before you go to college, keep in mind that you could end up at one that inflates expectations about your future only to disappoint when it's too late and the money is spent.

And, how tragic is it that a student who really wasn't prepared for college in the first place might end up at one where he or she wasn't going to learn anything to begin with.









Rick McKeel is a college professor/instructor in Richmond, VA. He has over 25 years experience in education, non-profit management and marketing and consulting. Rick is the author of The College Decision: Get It Right The First Time.

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National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Abeokuta Study Centre, Ogun State.: What Do You Actually Learn at College - If Anything?
What Do You Actually Learn at College - If Anything?
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National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). Abeokuta Study Centre, Ogun State.
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