In the previous post, we looked at student survey data from a typical US high school. In this post I want to provide some interesting demographic breakdowns before turning to student constructed response answers at the bottom here and in the next post.
First, let’s look at results by gender:
Now let’s look at students who get mostly A grades (at least by self-report):
One might expect – I did – that A students would be happier with teachers on those problematic metrics I highlighted last time – i.e. how well my teachers know me, how good their feedback is, how much they try to make the work interesting. Alas, no:
Let’s have our first look at constructed response, in closing this post. Students were asked on the last question: if you could ask your teachers to make one change to make classes more interesting, what would you say? Here is what the “A” students said (I have selected these answers randomly by just selecting the middle 20+):
- Try something creative when teaching something new
- To not talk the entire time and give us more hands on things to do /work on.
- Provide more opportunities for the students to learn for themselves, without just providing them with everything.
- Only talk as much as you need to and leave most of the investigative discussions to the class
- I would say to make sure everything is clear for the students
- Get a better grading scale and do more variety of things because in biology we do the same thing every unit and then just have a test randomly
- Have students teach for once to see if they know what they’re doing.
- Don’t make tests or assignments just about memorization, because then no one will actually understand it.
- Well, some teachers are great and teach me very well. It’s the few teachers that really need to step it up. Also they have to realize that we can’t prioritize their work first if every teacher wants their work prioritized.
- The teachers should slow down their teaching a little bit when asked to because by not slowing down, it’s not helping students learn to their best ability.
- To relate assignments more to the students and make them less busywork and more in terms of variety. They should provide variety in class every week to keep things interesting
- Make projects more fun to do by giving us more options and more visuals in class because some people learn better that way.
- To help those even if they have advanced thinking, and teachers should put more energy in paying attention to children, and fix the situation where those who are good kids get yelled at more often than those who fool around on a daily basis.
- Make sure the students fully understand what’s being taught before moving on to something new. Try to get to know students and talk to them before class or something to make everyone feel comfortable around you. So you’re not the “mean” teacher.
- Slow down and teach the subject more instead of assuming we know and understand the material.
- Just be more understanding and try to put themselves in the students shoes.
- Actually engage the students in learning. Don’t just stand up at the front of the class rambling on or just give the students a packet and tell them to learn it.
- Have a variety of assignment and classwork choices to appeal to student learning styles.
- Be more willing to answer individual questions, don’t get annoyed if someone doesn’t understand something because we are just learning it, it is new to us.
- Include more direct instruction instead of making us figure it out on our own. Be clear and teach us material
- Find a medium between allowing a student to learn on their own and guiding them through the subject. Neither extreme is helpful to students and may result in a lack of preparedness later in life, but unfortunately both are prevalent in our school today.
- Plan more hands on activities rather than lecturing us. Or at least involve us into a conversation.
- It would be helpful if there would be more interactive or hands-on activities.
- Make a game out of it or add something that we can relate to like acting something out not just presenting. Add something fun or spontaneous to make us want to learn what your teachers. At this rate I will forget most information because I think it is pointless.
- Have more hands on projects or leave projects open so that kids can chose a project that best fits there learning and teaching others style.
- Grade fairly on what we know and not take points off for irrelevant things.
- Act like they care for you as an individual and use real life examples that relate to teens.
- Come up with different ways to explain things to different kids- not everyone learns the same way
- They could try and directly relate the subject or specific topic to our lives, otherwise everything seems so irrelevant and pointless. It makes kids think “when am I ever going to use this in the future”.
- Tell us what we need to work on individually after an assessment of our ability so we can improve. Because if we just keep getting bad grades and we don’t get any feedback then there is no point.
- Be creative and don’t be afraid to be passionate and excited about what you’re teaching us. Challenge us to understand beyond the basic facts and ideas not because they’ll be on a test, but because they’re things we should want to know. Relate to us – we may just be teenagers, but we need to feel our teachers respect our learning capabilities and expect greatness from us.
- Make students want to learn by either showing how fascinating subjects can be or show relevance to our lives. Most students want to learn, but these students often don’t see how their education allows them to learn. Rarely do we discover what it is we want to engage in, we are forced to learn and are tested on that. It feels like going to a restraint and only having one menu item and you have to eat it in a certain way or you fail. Students should be allowed to explore the world of knowledge that they have and discover their passions and then they will have a want to learn. In today’s schooling world we learn endlessly about stuff that we won’t ever need again and don’t satisfy our want for knowledge.
- Please please please try to just shake it up sometimes. Give us a variety of work and activities and don’t just stick to the same type of lesson everyday.
- Work can be made more interesting by giving more freedom to the students. If a student really enjoys the subject they can explore it farther and learn more, and become better students and better citizens.
- To engage all students in the lesson instead of just saying what we need to do that day in class.
As I did in the last post, I’ll end with questions. These results are problematic in a number of ways. What, then, are the problem statements you would frame, based on this data? Resist the urge to explain why these results exist; first, see if you can first agree with your colleagues on what the data mean.
- What do comparisons by gender reveal? Where do the results differ? Where are they basically the same? (Only then ask: why might those differences exist and how might we investigate them further?)
- What do we learn from the A students? Which of the answers most surprised or concerned you and why? (Only then ask: why do such results exist from our best students?)
- What do we learn from comparing boys, girls, and A students as to why they like or dislike a subject? What are the differences? What are the commonalities?
- What patterns do you see in the student suggestions? Can you make a priority recommendation to this faculty, based on these responses?
PS: If there are some other filtering/crosstab data you’d like to see beyond those presented so far, let me know and I’ll show them in the final post.