If your campus is like mine, the syllabi and/or student handbook contain a statement along the lines of “For every hour of course instruction, students should expect to spend 2 to 3 hours per week in study and preparation outside of class.” So for a 3-credit course, that would be 6 to 9 hours per week spent on the class — doing the reading, studying the material, and completing assignments. And if you’re like me, you periodically bemoan the fact that this message does not seem to have reached its target audience.

So how much are students studying? Well, not as much as we tell them they’re supposed to, it appears. Peter N. sent in an image from the Washington Post, summarizing the number of hours students from a range of majors report studying per week. At 23.7 hours per week, architecture students are studying enough to almost meet the study expectations for 4 classes a week, at the lower end of the standard 6-9 hours/week range. Speech students averaged 10.8 hours a week — less than the minimum for two courses:

The data is based on self-reports from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Critics express concerns with self-reports of studying; students may not have an accurate sense of how much time they spend preparing for class each week, especially as requirements fluctuate throughout the semester. NSSE, of course, defends their data. And the effects of self-reports seem unclear; would they lead to overestimates or underestimates?