Students Think They Don't Hit The Books Enough, Survey Finds

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A recent UC Berkeley survey found most students believe they do not spend as much time on their coursework as they should.

Students who participated in the spring Undergraduate Experience Survey cited uninteresting coursework, difficulties concentrating and poor time management as the main barriers to studying.

Results for UC Berkeley students who were sophomores and juniors last semester were released in July, and full results will be released later this semester. Nearly 4,500 undergraduate students responded to the questions about coursework.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they did not spend enough time on their coursework because they felt the assignments were "just not that interesting" to them, according to the survey.

Some students said their professors should put more effort into preparing for lectures to make them more interesting.

"If they tried, they could make courses more interesting," said Stephen Son, an undeclared sophomore. "They could actually put in the time. Some of them do already, but some just throw it together at the last minute."

Noam Jacob, a junior double majoring in molecular and cell biology and philosophy, said he felt some of his coursework was boring but understands that it is necessary for mastering a field.

"If you are taking a hard science class, you have to do the problem sets to understand the material, even if it is boring," Jacob said.

But he said some courses require too much homework, which places tremendous pressure on students.

"If you are taking an English class, you have to read a lot, maybe two hundred pages a week-how much of that will you remember?" he said.

Some students, however, said they find their coursework interesting.

"I'm an ISF major, so I get to take whatever I want," said junior Michael Weston. "So I find my coursework to be interesting."

Some professors said they try to make lectures and course materials fun for students.

"To make the coursework more interesting, I try to project my own enthusiasm for the subject into the lecture," said Robert Price, associate vice chancellor for research and professor of political science.

But Price also attributed student boredom to a subject's content.

"Some of the material that I teach is intrinsically interesting, like teaching the situation in South Africa (in the 1980s)," Price said. "But when materials are intrinsically uninteresting, then it takes a better teacher to get students involved."

Students' difficulties with studying go beyond boring coursework.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said a reason for their not spending enough time on coursework was that their "motivation or ability to concentrate is not that good," according to the study.

Sixty-eight percent said their "study habits and time management skills are not that good," which led them to study less than they needed, the survey stated.

"I just feel like I should study more, but I end up just having too many distractions," Son said. "I just go to the library, because I can't study in my apartment."

A spokesperson for the Office of Undergraduate Advising for the College of Letters and Science said that there are opportunities for students to receive help with time management.

"If you are having problems, go to the Student Learning Center where they have courses that can help with time management," the spokesperson said. "They also have these courses at the University Health Center."


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