Roksa is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.
She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Academically Adrift and reported the following:
Page 99 of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses explores how students’ use of time is related to learning during their first two years of college. We find that activities associated with social engagement do not facilitate learning, and in some instances hinder it. Students who spent more time studying with peers and those who spent more time in fraternities and sororities showed diminishing growth on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA is a measure of general collegiate skills, including critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing). Other student activities, such as working on or off campus, participating in campus clubs/organizations or volunteering, were not related to learning. In contrast, the more time students spent studying alone, the greater their gains on the CLA. Other educational practices associated with academic rigor, such as taking courses that require more than 40 pages of reading per week and more than 20 pages of writing over the course of the semester, and having faculty who hold high expectations, were related to greater gains on the CLA. These patterns reflect one of the key findings of Academically Adrift: educational practices associated with academic rigor facilitate learning, while those associated with social engagement do not.Read an excerpt from Academically Adrift, and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.
Although academic rigor is associated with learning, large numbers of four-year college students report that they experience only limited academic demands and invest only limited effort in their academic pursuits. In their sophomore year, students spent on average only 12 hours a week studying, a third of which was spent studying with peers in social settings that are generally not conductive to learning. Moreover, 50 percent of students in our sample reported that they had not taken a single course the prior semester that required more than twenty pages of writing. One-third of students did not take a course the prior semester that required on average even 40 pages of reading per week.
Given the limited academic engagement shown by many students, it is not surprising that the gains in student performance are disturbingly low. Forty-five percent of students did not demonstrate any significant improvement in their critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing skills (as measured by the CLA) during their first two years of college.