Key Findings

Academic Challenge


Challenging intellectual and creative work is central to student learning and collegiate quality. Ten survey items address the nature and amount of assigned academic work, the complexity of cognitive tasks presented to students, and the standards faculty members use to evaluate student performance. They are:
During the current school year, how often have you:

  • Worked harder than you thought you could to meet an instructor’s standards or expectations (4p)

How much does your coursework at this college emphasize:

  • Analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory (5b)
  • Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences in new ways (5c)
  • Making judgments about the value or soundness of information, arguments, or methods (5d)
  • Applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations (5e)
  • Using information you have read or heard to perform a new skill (5f)

During the current school year:

  • How many assigned textbooks, manuals, books, or book-length packs of course readings did you read (6a)
  • How many papers or reports of any length did you write (6c)
  • To what extent have your examinations challenged you to do your best work (7)

How much does this college emphasize:

  • Encouraging you to spend significant amounts of time studying  (9a)

 

Key Findings: Academic Challenge

Most students report using complex critical thinking skills in their coursework and working hard to meet their instructors’ expectations, yet many are neutral as to whether their exams challenge them to do their best work.

  • Half (54%) of students often or very often work harder than they thought they could to meet an instructor’s standards or expectation.
  • Over two-thirds (70%) say their coursework puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory.
  • The majority (62%) say their coursework puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on synthesizing and organizing ideas, information or experiences in new ways.
  • Half (54%) say their coursework puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on making judgments about the value or soundness of information, arguments or methods.
  • Over half (59%) say their coursework puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations.
  • The majority (65%) say their coursework puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on using information they have read or heard to perform a new skill.
  • Most students report having assigned reading materials, with two in five (41%) having between one and four assigned books and one in three (30%) having between five and 10.
  • One in 10 (9%) students report never having to write papers for their courses. 
  • Nearly one-quarter of students (24%) are neutral on whether their exams challenge them to do their best work, compared with two-thirds (67%) who agree they do.
  • Three-quarters (75%) say their college puts quite a bit or very much emphasis on spending significant amounts of time studying.

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