Juggling Demands Distracts Today’s Students From Learning According to Cengage Learning/Eduventures Study

Survey of students and instructors identifies obstacles to learning; Technology can better equip students for educational success

Stamford, CT, February 14, 2011 — Today’s college students are juggling multiple demands and are also entering school lacking essential skills, which is significantly impacting their ability to study and focus, according to a survey released today by Cengage Learning, a leading global provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions. The survey, entitled “Instructors and Students: Technology Use, Engagement and Learning Outcomes” conducted by Eduventures, identifies a new generation of students and highlights pressures and obstacles hindering student success. This is the second Cengage Learning/Eduventures survey designed to uncover how educational technology impacts overall student engagement and learning outcomes.

New Generation of Student Exposed

According to survey results, nearly half of today’s college students hold jobs and 30 percent report being distracted by external responsibilities, such as raising families or by financial issues, like paying for school or debt. Adding to the mounting pressures and challenges, instructors find that more than 25 percent of their students enter the classroom without basic skills in reading, writing, math and other areas.

“Students today face new challenges and are increasingly spread thin; whether it’s working full time, balancing finances or caring for families. Instructors feel the pressure, too, as they try to do more with fewer resources and teach students who are either ill-prepared for their day’s lesson or distracted by other issues,” said William Rieders, executive vice president of new media for Cengage Learning. “Companies need to develop innovative technologies that make it easier to keep today’s students more engaged and better equipped for future educational success.”

Tech Effect: Technology Positively Impacts Student Engagement

Despite juggling multiple demands in and out of the classroom, students and instructors do agree that educational technology can enhance engagement, which can lead to improved learning outcomes.

  • A majority (58 percent) of instructors believe that technology in courses positively impacts student engagement.
  • Seventy-one percent of instructors that rated student engagement levels as “high” report seeing a great benefit to learning outcomes as a result of using technology in courses.
  • Seventy-one percent of students who are employed full-time and seventy-seven percent of students who are employed part-time prefer more technology-based tools in the classroom.

“Today’s students want to participate in the educational process. Lectures need to transform into brainstorming sessions, and textbooks need to move online to take advantage of the wealth of resources available there,” said Ken Baldauf, Director, Program in Interdisciplinary Computing (PIC), Florida State University. “Students live online; our classes need to live there as well.” (Click here to listen to Professor Ken Baldauf discuss the challenges current students face and how technology can help)

Survey Says: Increased Need and Support for Educational Technology

According to the survey, students and instructors have seen technology improve engagement in the past 12 months.

  • In fact, 79 percent of instructors and 86 percent of students have seen the average level of engagement improve over the last year as they have increased their use of digital educational tools.
  • Additionally, 67 percent of students reported they preferred courses that use a great deal of technology, a nine percent increase from the previous year.
  • Similarly, 58 percent of instructors said they prefer teaching courses that use a great deal of technology, a 10 percent increase from 2009.

Rieders continued, “As an evolving set of dynamics and challenges continues to impact students, instructors and administrators in the higher education environment, Cengage Learning is committed to developing quality content and technology solutions that improve student engagement and learning outcomes, and help instructors and academic institutions navigate the changing education landscape.”

The survey was administered to 751 students and 201 instructors across the United States in December 2010. This is the second Cengage Learning/Eduventures survey designed to uncover how educational technology impacts overall student engagement and learning outcomes.

For survey results or more information contact [email protected].

About Cengage Learning

Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. The company’s products and services are designed to foster academic excellence and professional development, increase student engagement, improve learning outcomes and deliver authoritative information to people whenever and wherever they need it. Through the company’s unique position within both the library and academic markets, Cengage Learning is providing integrated learning solutions that bridge from the library to the classroom. Cengage Learning’s brands include Brooks/Cole, Course Technology, Delmar, Gale, Heinle, South-Western and Wadsworth, among others. For more information on Cengage Learning please visit www.cengage.com.

About Eduventures, Inc.

Eduventures has been committed to improving higher education since its founding in 1993. Today, we partner with more than 300 colleges and universities across the United States. Our research membership programs and consulting services help higher education leaders achieve organizational goals and solve pressing challenges with evidence-based insights and guidance. Visit www.eduventures.com for more information.