The previous two articles of this mini-series examined the engagement levels of 207 students looking at last school year and this school year. The final section of the survey those students took, and the final installment of this series, was more focused on student feedback about workload, grades, and learning from home. In addition, there was a long answer section where participants could provide any additional feedback they had about quarter one of the 2020-2021 school year.
The first question of this final survey section was a linear scale about workload, with one being “not enough work” and five being “drowning in assignments.” Only 1% of survey takers answered one and only 2.4% answered two. The numbers skyrocketed at the midway point when 35.7% answered three, 36.2% answered four, and 24.6% answered five. The good thing was that most people answered either three of four, which meant that a majority of students had a manageable workload. However, there were far more students drowning in assignments than those who felt they did not have enough. Some may see that as a good thing because school is not supposed to be easy, but with the global pandemic, many students and families have more important things to worry about than school.
The next question asked about grades and whether they had improved, slipped, or stayed the same. Surprisingly enough, 24.2% of students said their grades improved. Skeptics may attribute the success to cheating, but it is also possible that students just had a better time learning in the comfort of their own home. It is also understandable, though, that 33.8% of the students said their grades slipped. While learning at home may be good for some, others might not have a good environment for learning at home. Also, it may be harder for students to reach out and get help with their school work. The majority of students, 42%, said their grades stayed the same. That is very good because it shows that teachers are able to make remote learning as close to in-person school as possible.
On the topic of home environments and their impact on learning, the third question asked if students had a designated “school area” in their house. Whether it be a desk, the kitchen table, or a home office, 64.7% of students said that they did indeed have a specific place where they did school work. The 35.3% who said “no” may have done their work in a different place every day or they may not do it at all.
The fourth question asked whether or not students are able to focus on classes at home. The numbers were very similar to the last question with 69.6% “yes” answers and 30.4% “no.” It is very possible that there was a link between having a designated place for school work and being able to focus more. While not having a special place does not automatically mean a student cannot focus, having a routine with stability and predictability probably helps. Of the 30.4% of students who said “no,” there are many reasons for such an answer. Maybe they could not focus in the classroom either or maybe they had little siblings that made it difficult to focus at home.
The final question opened the floor up to student comments and feedback about the first quarter of remote learning this year. Like the last article, these comments did not display one group mindset. There was plenty of positive, pro-remote feedback like, “Remote learning gets a lot of bad credit… but my math grade has shot up this year even though I have previously struggled in that class,” and, “Since remote learning started, my grades have been up and have stayed there. For me personally, remote learning is easier than going into school, because I can just focus on myself.”
However, there were also many comments against remote learning where students expressed that it was just not working for them. This was evident in comments like, “This is very exhausting. I work in my bed and all the days bleed together. Now that I have time off [winter break], I don’t even feel the same excitement because I’m going to do what I do every night.” Another student commented, “It’s hard not being able to separate my personal life from my school life. My grades have slipped pretty badly from this too. My teachers help me, but there’s only so much that they can do.”
Through this rather long student survey, the Memorial Crusader News was able to gather the opinions of 207 students about remote learning. The four articles in this series based on the survey results revealed a number of student perspectives on the top. Remote learning has the potential to be hard on anyone and it is completely understandable that some students do not like it and are struggling grade-wise. The important part, though, is that everyone keeps communicating. The only way remote learning can improve is if students, teachers, administrators, and parents work together to figure out what is going well and try and improve whatever is not. This is new and uncharted territory for everyone, but keep in mind that it will not last forever.