Students study less now than they used to. According to an article by Keith O’Brien in the Boston Globe:

New research, conducted by two California economics professors, shows that over the past five decades, the number of hours that the average college student studies each week has been steadily dropping. According to time-use surveys analyzed by professors Philip Babcock, at the University of California Santa Barbara, and Mindy Marks, at the University of California Riverside, the average student at a four-year college in 1961 studied about 24 hours a week. Today’s average student hits the books for just 14 hours.

This isn’t exactly new information, Babcock and Marks actually published their findings back in late April. While there’s some discussion in the O’Brien article about students becoming lazier or developing poor study habits, in fact that 14 hours a week might be very efficient hours:

Today’s students are working with more efficient tools when they do finally sit down to study. They don’t have to bang out a term paper on a typewriter; nor do they need to wander the stacks at the library for hours, tracking down some dusty tome. “A student doesn’t need to retype a paper three times before handing it in,” said Heather Rowan-Kenyon, an assistant professor of higher education at Boston College. “And a student today can sit on their bed and go to the library, instead of going to the library and going to the card catalog.”

But then, according to the researchers, the great decline in studying time took place long ago, between 1961 and 1981, when average study time fell from 24.4 to 16.8 hours a week. No one seems to know why, though some professors blame course evaluations. According to the article “some professors argue [that] colleges simply don’t know the extent of the problem — and perhaps a discussion of the new research will lead to positive changes.”

Wait, what’s the problem? Why is studying 24 hours a week better than studying 14 hours? [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer