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Professors say today's college kids really ARE dumber and lazier

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by LongTimeListener, May 16, 2011.

  1. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I know this is an oft-debated topic here and everywhere, with "these kids today" competing with "heh heh old man wants me to get off his lawn" ... but two professors studied thousands of college students and found that as a rule they don't study as much as previous generations, show very little improvement in critical thinking skills, yet do fine on GPA and feel just as accomplished when they graduate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/opinion/15arum.html?src=me&ref=general

    Not surprisingly, a large number of the students showed no significant progress on tests of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing that were administered when they began college and then again at the ends of their sophomore and senior years. If the test that we used, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, were scaled on a traditional 0-to-100 point range, 45 percent of the students would not have demonstrated gains of even one point over the first two years of college, and 36 percent would not have shown such gains over four years of college.

    The profs conclude that the setup of letting students evaluate teachers forces the teachers to grade on an easier curve and assign less work; and also that the financial aid system of making money available to the student rather than to the school (which then chooses how to distribute it). Some other good reasons too, but they say in there that they didn't find a school's supposed lack of resources to be a huge factor.
     
  2. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I believe it. And they all graduate with 3.8s. It's a joke.

    They are also ridiculously distracted by smartphones, Facebook, etc., etc., etc. Ever talked to one of them these days? Holy shit. Not easy.
     
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Yet some posters wonder why it's so hard to get a job as a sports reporter after college with the number of jobs in the industry declining. If it's not on Wikipedia, information is too tough to find. Just ask a college student to try to find something that isn't on the first page of Google results.
     
  4. JPsT

    JPsT Member

    I'd write a reasoned and eloquent reply, but I just can't think of the words. Plus, I don't really feel like it.
     
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Hey it's not all bad. My job is to be on Facebook. And really, it would be that or reading the sports section.
     
  6. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Heck, I just read a Reader's Digest story about a company that writes term papers for students. One of the workers charged $2,000, (half for themselves, half for the company), to write a 20-page paper that wasn't a rush job.

    Sure makes the days of Cliff Notes seem quaint.
     
  7. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

  8. Stoney

    Stoney Well-Known Member

    These professors might want to look in the mirror in searching for the causes.

    One reason college students have become lazier/dumber is because professors have enabled it through a rampant grade inflation trend at American Universities for a couple decades now (http://gradeinflation.com/ http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0324/p09s02-coop.html), a problem that can only happen with the school's wink and nod acquiescence.

    Professors have become too eager to please, the schools too eager to retain students, so they now demand less work and hand out more good grades for far shoddier work than in the past. A 3.5 plus GPA means far less today than it did in the 80s.

    Not sure how you stop it--perhaps some uniform standard curve regulating the percentage of As, Bs, Cs may eventually need to be mandated--but I don't think we can continue to ignore it. It's a trend that is slowly undermining the integrity of our University system, and eventually the value of a U.S. degree.
     
  9. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Active Member

    Admittedly I don't have a study to prove this, but my general intuition is that the population of college students is just much more bifurcated than in the past. The very top students are no doubt much more qualified than the very top students at the best schools* of, say, 50 years ago, but the bottom students are probably much worse. That is because: 1.) high schools and parents push the top students much more than in the past; 2.) there are many more options for the marginal students that simply would have stopped their education after high school.
     
  10. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Active Member

    Another factor may be increasing specialization. If you have poor math skills, you're told it's OK as long as you are good at English or Drama or History or Music, etc. If you have poor English skills, you're told it's OK as long as you are good at Math. Not as much focus is put on building well-rounded individuals, which leads to extraordinarily bright engineers and accountants that have awful writing skills, and English and History majors that don't understand basic statistical and economic concepts.
     
  11. rpmmutant

    rpmmutant Member

    This reminds me a of a story about the engineers who worked at Edwards Air Force Base. The paper I was working at did a story on one of the engineers who worked on the original space shuttles. He was retiring. One of the stories he told was about how the younger engineers had a real problem with calculations and math skills without computers. They couldn't do the math without help. One day, the power went out at the base and the engineers had to do their work without computers. The old guys pulled out their slide rules and kept on working. The new guys didn't know what to do. They didn't know the formulas and had never worked out calculations on paper.
    This is nothing new, that college students are not as smart as their older counterparts. Standards have been getting lower since I was in high school and college 25 years ago.
     
  12. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I think you are onto something, but the counter to that is it's more competitive to get into colleges than it ever has been. Most flagship state universities, used to be if you were a decent high school student (top third to top half and fair to good test scores) it was no problem going there; now it's top 5-10 percent and very solid test scores to even get a look. At the CSU schools (Fresno, Long Beach, San Jose etc.) there was a time not long ago when a live pulse was enough to gain admission, but now even those schools have average incoming GPA of 3.5 or higher.

    This sounds to me like the effect of our obsession with standardized test scores as a barometer for everything from teacher quality to real-estate prices. Kids might know how to read what's put in front of them and find the best objective answer that fits inside a bubble. But problem-solving and creativity are going, going and maybe gone from the U.S. school system as a whole.
     
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