A new study from the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Centre for the Study of Learning says the number of Canadian adults who say they have spent time in a classroom has decreased significantly in the past decade.
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the researchers looked at data from the Canadian Census of Population and Housing.
They found that the proportion of adults in Canada who said they had spent time studying in a school or learning centre in the year between 2010 and 2016 declined from 15.3 per cent to 10.5 per cent.
They also found that, among the top 10 education institutions, the percentage of adults who reported spending time studying was lowest at four in five.
The study also found a correlation between how many hours a student spends in a teaching or learning environment and the likelihood of learning at the next grade level.
It’s the second time the Scarborough Centre has looked at this, following a 2014 study in which it found a statistically significant association between hours spent in a learning or teaching environment and student achievement.
The Scarborough Centre study also looked at the effects of factors such as gender, age, and education, and found that in both genders, children in the bottom fifth of educational attainment tended to have the least opportunity to learn at the top fifth of attainment.
The authors say that, if it’s true that students have spent less time in classrooms and are less likely to study, the findings may mean that Canadian schools and colleges are “sliding toward the bottom of the education pyramid,” with “significant gaps in academic achievement for students who are poor or low-income.”
They say that if these findings hold, this “may be an important factor in the national decline in educational attainment, in part because students are at a disadvantage in accessing appropriate educational opportunities.”
The authors also suggest that “a more systematic approach” is needed to address these gaps.
“As the research shows, there are no single factors that explain this decline in classroom time and, in fact, these findings suggest that there may be other underlying factors that are driving the decline,” the authors write.
“There is a need for policy that focuses on ensuring the greatest possible opportunities for students to access appropriate educational options and supports teachers in achieving their educational goals.”
The report is the latest in a string of research that suggest the cost of education has increased over the past few decades.
In the past, the federal government has promised to spend $6 billion on the education system over five years, but it has so far not yet delivered the money.
And the Liberals have promised to create 1,400 new jobs for Canadian teachers by 2020, but so far they have not even announced their plans for how they will deliver on that pledge.