I find it quite frustrating to teach undergraduates, as they seem to have difficulties grasping simple concepts and often exhibit a disturbing lack of drive to learn. I may say this is due to my teaching, but my sentiment has been echoed by many colleagues, at my place and elsewhere. In addition, this frustration is fueled by the difference I see between undergraduates today and those from my times as a student. That view may very well be biased, as I was a rather good student, thus I am looking forward to some objective measures of student effort and performance.
Philip S. Babcock and Mindy Marks use time use surveys of students in 1961 and 2003. They notice that the time spent studying has been reduced from 40 hours a week to 27. This is not a small change. And this cannot be explained by any composition effect, as it appears no matter how you slice the data. There is some non-measurable way in which students are different.
One thing is that they rely much more on textbooks, thus they need to do much less note-taking and transcription, or trying to understand what they wrote. This would be positive for outcomes, probably. But universities pamper students much more with social activities that distract them from studying, on top of all the dispersions TV and the internet now offer. And finally, students find much less of an urge to do well, as they have the impression, which is not wrong, that they will be doing fine anyway. They do not need a work ethic to succeed any more.