One element considered by the National Survey of Student Engagement, an annual survey done at 1,300 4-year colleges every year, looks at the type of work that college freshmen and seniors do.
The 2008 survey found that first-year students, on average, wrote 92 pages during the academic year, while seniors wrote 146 pages. For freshmen, the majority of these papers were around 5 to 10 pages, with some first-year students writing papers 20 pages or more. When considering majors, students in the social sciences, arts, and humanities wrote much more than other students, such as those majoring in physical or biological sciences.
The upside of all this writing? Students who wrote more were more achieved higher levels of deep learning, student-faculty interaction, and were otherwise more “engaged” in their own learning process. Student “engagement” is associated with higher levels of satisfaction as a student, and therefore increases a student’s odds of continuing his or her education.