Rote learning at university

As the debate continues over whether private colleges should be allowed to operate freely in Greece and over degrees that are given equal recognition as those from state-funded universities, a new survey indicates that an alarming proportion of the country's tertiary students are putting very little original thought into their studies. The poll carried out by the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) and the University of Macedonia indicates that almost four in 10 students never look up the books referenced in lectures, while more than half only refer to them occasionally. It also suggested that just over a third of those attending courses at Greek universities read books and articles that are relevant to the subject they are studying. More than half (57 percent) said they occasionally read extra material. Of those, a quarter said that they try to memorize what they read without bothering to understand it. Another 64 percent said they memorize the subject matter after ensuring they understand it. «Young people arrive at university bringing with them the exhaustion caused by the entrance exams and the culture of passive learning, which they picked up during the previous 12 years of education,» University of Macedonia Professor Zoe Georganta told Kathimerini. «University makes new demands of them, such as reading academic books in a short period of time. This demands that they organize their time properly and display learning skills that they have never been taught, unlike students of a similar age in other countries,» she added. Four in 10 students said that they do not take notes during lectures, while 36.4 percent never work with their classmates and 43.8 percent never discuss the subject of the lectures or their notes with other students, according to the poll of more than 300 second-year students. «The result is that a student can get a good grade but, in effect, has not gained any knowledge, because they have learned everything parrot-fashion and if you ask them something relevant to the subject 10 days later, they will not remember anything,» said Athens University of Economics and Business Professor Eleni Kandilorou. According to the poll, published in Sunday's Kathimerini, almost six in 10 students choose to attend university to improve their chances of getting a better paid job.