The College Students Who Study the Least

The National Survey of Student Engagement, known as the Nessie, recently published a study showing trends in study habits and engagement of college students. The data collected is meant to ultimately help improve undergraduate education.

So what did they find? Not too surprisingly, different majors spend different amounts of time studying.

Here is the breakdown of average weekly time spent studying per college major:

Business majors – 14 hours
Social sciences – 14 hours
Education – 15 hours
Art & humanities – 17 hours
Biological sciences – 17 hours
Physical sciences – 18 hours
Engineering 19 hours

Business majors apparently spend the least amount of time studying–although social science is also at 14 hours per week, a bigger percentage, 23%, of them studied more then 20 hours a week where only 19% of business majors did. Still, although business students, on average, study the least, they spend the most time working: 16 hours a week. Business and education majors also spend the most time caring for dependents. For nearly all these majors, however, professors assumed the time-needed to study was greater than time actually spent.

There is also a disconnect between assigned work and completed work. For example, among full-time seniors who spend more than 20 hours per week studying, 22% of engineering students say that they often come to class without completing assignments. The study suggests that perhaps there’s a mismatch between the work asked of students and the work students believe is necessary to succeed.

Here are some other facts that came from the study:

  • A large majority of students (88% of first-years and 86% of seniors) frequently took careful notes during class. However, only two-thirds of all students frequently reviewed their notes after class.
  •  Only 70% of students frequently sought help when they did not understand course material.
  • About one in five entering students expected paying for college to be “very difficult,” and those who expected this difficulty anticipated more trouble learning course material, managing time, and interacting with faculty.

The survey is administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, is sponsored in part by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and is paid for by the participating colleges. This year’s report, “Fostering Student Engagement Campuswide,” is available free online and for $20 in print from the National Survey of Student Engagement. But, it’s free online…so, yeah.

Do these numbers match up with your college experience? Are students studying too much or not enough?

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