Freshmen are increasingly unprepared for college, according to a study released this month by the Association of American Publishers.
Zogby International, a nationwide survey company, conducted the study for AAP in which a majority of polled college professors believed that incoming freshmen are more and more unprepared for college-level work. The study consisted of 502 online polls from college professors.
AAP, an organization dedicated to publishing educational resources, said the study was intended to aid in the creation and distribution of new supplementary materials for students.
“Our ultimate goal is to help the students,” said AAP Assistant Director for Higher Education Stacy Scarazzo. Other findings of the study included professors adopting additional materials to course textbooks, in an effort to increase student preparedness and success.
The study found 55 percent of university instructors polled said freshmen enter college unprepared, and 45 percent stated the level of preparedness was worsening over the past four years. Only 9 percent said freshmen were improving.
GW professors who agreed with the study identified writing as a main area of students’ lack of preparedness.
“There is an increasing number of students who are coming up short on the writing end,” said sociology professor Richard Zamoff.
Zamoff said the deficiency is caused because less writing is included at the high school level. He added that students may also be inadequately challenged in research writing assignments and oral presentations.
Economics professor Roberto Samaniego said he has noticed simple mathematics, like percentages, are not wholly understood by incoming students.
“Many students seem to have a mental block against mathematics,” he said. “I think this may be due to bad mathematics teaching, but also to a lack of self-discipline that might help students propel themselves through the block.”
The Zogby study results pointed to basic skills in writing, reading and math as central freshman shortcomings.
Some professors said freshmen have entered the University with an increasing lack of motivation and enthusiasm. Chemistry professor Christopher Cahill said students seem to have a tendency to learn the bare minimum and lack in scholastic curiosity.
“People want to know, ‘What do I need to know to get through this?’ rather than wanting to learn,” Cahill said.
Associate Vice President and Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel believes that freshmen have always been well-prepared for GW. He said the college marketplace becomes harder each year, with students taking more demanding courses in high school.
“I’ve never seen any other pattern here,” Siegel said. “Getting into GW is hard. Our market niche is tending toward the elite, not the standard, so students are coming from good high schools.”
Paul Duff, the associate dean for undergraduate studies at the Columbian College, said GW doesn’t exemplify the trend of lesser-prepared freshmen.
“We are a school that is improving, so we are attracting better students every year.”