Philip Babcock was kind enough to reply to my previous post about his research. This is the second time a scholar I don’t know personally has responded to a blog post I wrote.* How excellent! Let me take this occasion to say explicitly something I was thinking, and should have emphasized, when I initially wrote the post.** I believe Babcock’s and Marks’s central finding, that college students spend much less time studying than they did in the past, is an important discovery. Sure, some scholars of education must have had an idea that study time has been declining, but when one considers how many numbers have been crunched and how much ink has been spilled in the name of understanding education, it is shocking to realize that a question as fundamental as the amount of time students spend studying has been paid so little attention. The authors deserve a great deal of credit for tracking down multiple datasets in an attempt to answer an important question. Important follow-up questions include: why? and, how should we feel about it? See the old post for a little discussion of those issues.
*Should I email someone every time I discuss their work? I tried that for one of the posts on this blog and got no reply.
**I think it is enormously important to criticize and attach qualifications to other people’s research, in fact, I think social science suffers from too little good criticism. But too little appreciation may be an equally big problem.