Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University, has a very interesting post at Brainstorm–Lives of the Mind on this subject. According to the last National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), college teachers believe that students must do around 25 hours of homework a week in order to complete course assignments successfully. Survey data indicate, however, that only 11% of freshmen exceed 25 hours per week. As Bauerlein notes:
This means that nearly two-thirds of first-years come in at two hours a day or less, or, if they have a four-course load, a half-hour or less a day on each one. Add their in-class time and it equals a part-time job.
What is more, seniors were generally not much better except they improved a couple of percentage points up the scale.
. . .even though seniors have a personal and/or career interest in their classes, more than half of them give those classes a half-effort. That may explain why NSSE reports also that one in five students, freshmen and seniors, admit coming to class frequently without having read the day’s material. Plus, they claim that they still receive lots of A grades in those classes. . .
As the head of NSSE stated to USA Today, “The purpose here is not to dump on faculty, but when a substantial chunk of students come to class unprepared, it suggests that they can get away with it.” It suggests, too, that college teachers are facing a problem previously limited to pre-college classrooms, namely, not only the ordinary knowledge and skill deficiencies of teens, but a disengagement from course content and from teachers themselves. Even though college enrollment is voluntary and often costly, it doesn’t guarantee motivation.
If these are the feeder groups for careers in conflict resolution, what does it say about the future of mediation practice?