I conducted a survey recently of all 398 students grades 6-10 in one of the schools where I work. The questions were varied and most were focused on student home and school technology use. But, the one open-ended question I placed on the survey addressed school culture and attitude on more general terms.
From the 398 students responding to the survey question, “Think about the class you find most interesting and engaging. Without telling us which class that is, why do you like this class?” the following ideas/concepts/themes seemed to arise:
- Value of the student-teacher relationship (community building and personal relationship)
- Students liked the classes that were both fun and engaging
- Students preferred hands-on projects.
- Students liked classes and activities that allowed them to be creative and express themselves.
- Students liked when they were given choices.
- Students expressed the value of exercise and moving around.
- Most students expressed that they liked learning things and liked classes that “make me think.”
- Only one student mentioned grades or rewards as something they liked about their favorite class. And only one student said they liked the class because it was easy.
- 12 students openly stated that they did not like any of their classes (7 of these were 8th graders) and 31 students refrained from answering the question (10 of these were 8th graders).
Here are some of the more interesting excerpts (note: some are rather flattering and others not so much but they all tell us something about what is important in the classroom/school):
“I like this class because im doing the best in it and i have friends in the class to”
“a teacher that understands the students”
“I like that class because the teacher is fun to be around as a person and because we do a lot of projects that give each person the ability to do what they want to, within certain limitations. The opportunity to be creative that that class offers is what I love the most.”
“The class that I find most interesting and engaging is the one that I feel challenges me by far the most, and that I feel I can expand upon ideas given to me, to make a deeper connection to the world around me.”
“I like that class because we use text books and other methods to learn and if I need help wit a topic, the teacher will take his/her time to help me instead of leaving me hanging. I like when we occasionally to methods that don't involve reading pieces of paper and we actually get up and do stuff.”
“its challenging, keeps me thinking, ands its a class that im doing very bad in.”
“I find this class interesting and engaging because we move around and do everything our self with a little guidence from the teacher. we also get to sometimes choose what we do.”
“I like the class that Im able to be creative and do coloring or painting. I dont like to write because i dont like my hand writing. Because last year my teacher was really strict with the writing. I like when you can explode things and experiment with things because thats fun.”
“Art is my FAV. class, i can be creative and have lots of fun being me. BUTTTT.... my absoulute FAV class is Tech. We can be smart, (but not nerdy ^_^) we can use craetivity, while havinga good time on computures. I usually am on FaceBook, but at school, i do other things, that are still intersting and ingadging.”
“I like any class that has to do writing and any class that I can have a hands on experience.”
“It makes me feel smarter and I love the hands on projects alot more than the paper writen ones. I feel like I learn more in that class.”
“I like this class because it's fun. It teaches me to be more outgoing and to try to put myself out there. I think it encourages you to try new and other things in your life. This class builds your self confidence and self esteem. You interact with others and see things in a different way each time. You get a better understanding of the world and other people around you. I like this class because it teaches you about the life/world ahead of you. It teaches you about your future.”
“Because that class have most of my friends and I like to chat with them and learn at the same time so I get educated. Learning from my friends helps me learn more than from teacher, I don't know the reason for that, but I just learn like that. This class also teach me things I like to know like helping me to understand more about my questions or my homework, the teacher is helpful too and is a very enjoyable class, easy to talk to, you can do what you want sometimes, and a lot of things. That's all.”
“because it gives you a form of freedom and lets you release your energy and there is not as much of a hassle like teachers that yell that make me hate them for like ever”
“Because the teacher doesn't act all high an mighty, she interacts with use at the same level as us.”
“Because we create projects, without using "modern technology". Also, we actually learn things that I didn't learn in 4th grade. Also, the teacher doesn't underestimate us, like most teachers at this school do.”
“I like how it is like a family, and how it's very musical. I also LOve the teacher and everyone else in the class!!”
“I like this class because my teacher is a fun and engaging person. He/She always interacts with the students and makes learning fun. Projects and assignments are put in a fun way that makes me want to work on them.”
“The teacher respects us. Therefore, we respect her.”
So, now what should I do with this kind of data?