Bound, J., Lovenheim, M. and Turner, S. (2010) Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States Cambridge MA: National Bureau of Economic Research
This paper answers two important questions: Is it taking students longer these days to graduate at the bachelor’s level? And if so, why?
The answer: yes, more students today are taking longer than in 1972, and the reason is that in the non-elite public universities, instructor:student ratios have deteriorated and students have to work more as well as study to pay tuition fees and other costs.
To obtain a copy of the full report, go to: http://papers.nber.org/papers/w15892
For a full description of the report see:
Jaschik, S. (2010) Why they take so long Inside Higher Education, April 14
The reason I find this interesting is that the elite schools still have ‘regular’ completion rates and have in fact improved their instructor:student ratio, and their students, presumably because they come from wealthier families, do not need to work so much. This suggests to me that the mass of state and public institutions need to provide even more flexibility in their delivery and need to change their teaching methods to increase interaction with students in larger classes: all of which can be assisted by technology, if this is accompanied by other strategies as well.