Friday, March 17, 2006

Homework and college students

This news is a little old, but a report in last Saturday's Taiwan News cites a study that found that "[m]ore than half of Taiwan's university freshmen spend less than one hour per day studying outside of the classroom" and "the situation is similar among college seniors".

The article also mentions that "more than 40 percent of seniors at state-run universities and colleges are working part-time, a much higher figure than their counterparts at private universities and colleges." This is interesting, continues the article, because it "contradicts a commonly held belief that students at private universities and colleges which charge a higher tuition are more likely to work on the side while pursuing their studies."

A China Times article that was reprinted on the National Science Council's website adds that the survey was done by over 40 educational researchers and was given to over 40,000 first-, second-, and third-year university students. The study was conducted by Peng Sunming (彭森明) as part of a larger study commissioned by the National Science Council.


susansinclair said...

The minimal prep/studying is also supported by the documentary Declining by Degrees, on the state of higher ed in the US. I have to say, I respect those campus organizations, including athletic departments and Greek groups, that require "study table." At least the students are gathered together with the *intent* of studying...

Jonathan Benda said...

I'm not sure there's anything like that in universities here. Students in the same major and the same class might get together and work together, though. The English majors at my school have a cafe that they're often be studying in (or at least they're "gathered together with the *intent* of studying...").

I'm not sure what students in other majors do, though. I do see students gathered in different places around campus working together or studying in the library. I think it really depends on the major, though. My Freshman English students who are Landscape Architecture majors, for instance, always seem to have projects that they need to be working on--drawing designs and building models and things like that. I've also taught Sociology majors who have a lot of papers to write. (Even got interviewed for a couple of students' papers.) But I get the impression that there are still majors where the teachers only give a midterm and a final and the students don't really have much accountability for their studying except at those two points in the semester.

Wonder what it's like in other universities in Taiwan.

el spencer said...

I find the report's logic a little bit strange when it talks about the students that are working part-time. Private schools are more expensive therefore the students that go there most likely come from families that have a higher socioeconomic background. They probably don't need to get jobs. It's the same thing back in the States, students attending state universities work considerably more than the students in private schools.

Jonathan Benda said...

I don't have any statistics on this (yet), but I'm not so sure that the situation in Taiwan is that similar (yet) to that of the U.S. In Taiwan, students are more-or-less "placed" into universities based on their test scores, and public schools are for the most part more desired than private schools, so it's generally harder to get into public schools. (I realize that nowadays it's more complicated than the way I'm portraying it, but I want to keep this fairly brief.)

So I'm not sure there's so much of a difference in the socioeconomic conditions of students in private vs. public universities here.

I may be wrong on this, however. If anyone has some hard data, please let me know.

john m said...

This info doesn't really surprise me, especially considering the sheer amount of 'study' the students would have had to have done in senior high school to get into a prestigious state university in the first place.To get into university, and not 'have to' study..freshman paradise I would say.