Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

University students actually learn very little: study

Stock photo


That's one expensive party. It looks like university students are sleeping at their desks, at least for the first two years of higher education, according to new American research - because they certainly aren't learning much, the study reported in USA today found.

Researchers analyzed transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time students on 29 campuses, and standardized tests that graded their critical thinking and writing skills.

Here were the main findings, based on a book called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses: nearly half the students showed no big gains in learning - even after four years, one-third showed no more than marginal progress. They also spent 50 per cent less cracking the books compared to their peers decades ago.

Story continues below advertisement

But it didn't necessarily show up in their marks - overall they did pretty well.

But as lead author, Richard Arum, a professor at New York University observed to USA Today: "These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers."

Especially, we're betting, to the parents forking over thousands for tuition.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.