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Open Access Publications from the University of California

ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: Rethinking Bok’s “Underachieving Colleges” Thesis

  • Author(s): Steven Brint and Allison M. Cantwell
  • et al.
Abstract

Using data from the 2008 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey, we show that study time and academic conscientiousness were lower among students in humanities and social science majors than among students in science and engineering majors. Analytical and critical thinking experiences were no more evident among humanities and social sciences majors than among science and engineering majors. All three academically beneficial experiences were, however, strongly related to participation in class and interaction with instructors, and participation was more common among humanities and social sciences students than among science and engineering students. Bok’s (2006) influential discussion of “underachievement’ in undergraduate education focused on institutional performance. Our findings indicate that future discussions should take into account differences among disciplinary categories and majors as well.

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