(From Clinical Practice II, second semester)
Students in my two English 10 Honors classes (periods 3 and 5) took the surveys home on Wednesday, 1/30/13. There were several students absent the day of the survey (one was absent all week). I received 80 surveys back, primarily on Thursday, and several straggled in on Friday. My analysis is comprised of these surveys and the results of an activity during class.
I used a variety of rating scales and open-ended questions on the survey. I read every returned survey. However, the amount of data was immense to organize, norm, and analyze. I started entering data in Excel so I could sort and compile the data electronically to allow for easier analysis of the whole class as well as the individual. However, the time commitment was too great. I had to prioritize the questions I needed to extract values and responses from, while summarizing the remainder of the responses.
I gathered valuable information with the survey; however, the activity I generated with the returned responses on Thursday was interactive, fun, and community-building. Luckily there is already a strong community established since the beginning of the year thanks to my amazing cooperating teacher (CT).
Below is a summary of the results and important findings regarding students’ needs, a copy of my survey, details of the survey activity, and rubric. I will apply the information I gathered about them when making choices about the classroom environment, teaching strategies, and curriculum.Students’ preferences for instructional and learning styles
When asked to rate how they enjoy learning, the majority of 3rd period students rated working alone as their least enjoyable method, and small group work as their favorite method. While 5th period students rated working in pairs as their favorite, and lecture as their least favorite.
When asked how they remember or learn material the best, 3rd period ranked themselves as visual learners while the least number of students used logic, reason, and math to learn. While 5th period identified themselves as predominately kinesthetic learners, and had the least amount of musical/rhythmic learners.
Implications for my teaching
When I provide a variety of instructional styles it helps keep the class vibrant and alive. Not to mention, variety allows all students to succeed when they each have a chance to learn, think, and provide evidence that supports their preferences and showcases their strengths.
As I’m multimodal with a tendency towards visual and verbal learning, I have to stretch outside of my comfort zone and include a variety of kinesthetic, math, logic, reason, musical, rhythmic, interpersonal and intrapersonal activities and methods of instruction to reach all of my students—not just the ones who have my same learning style.
Interest in the content
Students listed their favorite books, movies, and albums/songs on the survey. Of the books listed, there was a huge diversity of titles, mostly fiction. The books that were repeatedly mentioned the most frequently in both 3rd and 5th periods included both assigned and unassigned books, such as Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the Bible, Hatchet, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, Perks of Being a Wall Flower, Narnia, and 13 Reasons Why. Some more diverse selections include Lolita, The Picture of Dorian Gray, math books, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Crank.
Of the 42 student responses in period 3, 13 students had a hard time choosing three books, and listed anywhere from zero to two books. Of the 38 responses in period 5, 15 students had a hard time choosing three books, and listed anywhere from zero to two books.
About half of the students said they struggled with writing, while the other half said they struggled with reading. Interestingly, students tended to excel in either one or the other, not both.
Implications for my teaching
I’m grateful for the both the students who struggle to choose their favorite books because they have so many they can’t choose and the ones who struggle with or dislike reading. It’s important to remember that just because I love reading and writing, doesn’t mean that all of my students do.
Use of technology
The students like the idea of adding more technology in the classroom; but they were not excited about having to use technology at home (as in a flipped classroom or to view something and respond as homework).
Every student in both classes had regular access to at least one piece of technology. The most common was a computer with a close second being a cell phone.
Implications for my teaching
As I’m interested in including technology in my instruction, I’m happy to know that students all have technology at their fingertips. However, I need to strike a balance between how much technology-related instruction and activities I require of my students in and out of the classroom.
Extracurricular work, activity schedules, and homework
Aside from about 5% of the students who didn’t (or one who was forbidden) have any extracurricular or activity schedules, almost all of students had an after school activity. Athletics (the most common was soccer) were the most common activities, followed by arts (predominantly music and dance). Surprisingly, only one student (between 3rd and 5th periods) mentioned playing video games after school! No one mentioned having a job.
The average of two hours per day is what students reported spend doing extracurricular activities. The average amount of time students expected to spend doing homework per day was 30 minutes. However one student listed “unlimited,” while many others listed “none.”
Implications for my teaching
Many responses to survey questions included comments about students’ feeling they had too much homework. Students’ have busy lives, not to mention the five other courses with teachers who assign daily homework. I will look for ways to reduce what goes home, and try to maximize class time. As a student teacher, I understand the effects and demands of hours of homework every night. It’s important for teachers and students to have time to relax, be with family and friends, exercise, and rest. If nothing else, I can empathize and always seek to validate my reasoning for choosing homework.
Interests outside of school
I’m sure the students have many more interests than the ones they listed in response to the survey questions. Within the construct of my survey questions, students’ listed the challenges for teenagers/high schoolers today. They provided their interests in the world, workforce, education, learning, and life. Students were self-advocates for their needs. And, they thought deeply and provided philosophical responses to the Joseph Stalin quote about writers.
The arts, medicine, and sports were the top career choices, with job titles running the gamut, ranging from ” international traveling pediatric cardiologist,” to a “pro surfer,” to a “teacher,” to “scientist,” to “artist,” to “lawyer,” to “undecided.”
Most students were concerned with “peer pressure,” “disinterest,” “self-esteem,” “bullying,” “bad choices,” the “future,” and “stress” from peers, fitting in, being LGBT, getting good grades (and having too much homework and activities), getting into college, and “becoming adults.”
Students listed wanting to know more about leaders, other cultures, topics in English and literature, topics in art, music, entertainment, and the sciences. When asked where they wanted to travel, the countries were all over the world, including a wide array of reasons for choosing that form of travel. Many students were drawn to Europe, while others chose Africa and Asia. Students vacillated predominantly between understanding the culture of their predecessors and history or beauty of a location.
Most of the students agreed with the Stalin quote. One of my favorite responses to why they agreed was, “The writer is the way the person conducts themselves. The engineer is how they grow and apply what they learned.” Several of my favorite responses to why students disagreed included how there are so many other factors in life that are important.
Implications for my teaching
It’s important to honor diverse cultures by providing multicultural examples, texts, examples, and topics. Students need help with navigating the invisible curriculum of school and society, at the same time they need help with the apparent curriculum included in my lessons, activities, and assessments.
Students told me what they need, including help with connection to the real world, differentiating instruction, having smaller class sizes, staying on topics longer, covering material thoroughly, and reducing homework. The most reoccurring requests and preferences had to do with writing and reading choice and autonomy. Most students preferred to write and read about what interested them more than sticking to the assigned topics and texts.
Many students commented that things are great and not to change a thing.
Education and career goals
Students often responded concerning testing (of all kinds) and the pressure they feel from needing to succeed on the tests and exams in the classroom, for graduating (CAHSEE), and for getting into college (SAT, AP). These are very driven motivated students who mostly take their education to heart.
All but about 5% of responses knew what careers they wanted after high school and college.
Implications for my teaching
I need to find a balance between helping students succeed on tests and exams and teaching to the test. It’s helpful for me to remember and understand the pressure and stress involved with high-achieving students. Also, with the economic crisis and education cuts, the job market and education admissions are as competitive as ever. Students need as much advice and assistance as possible to help them understand and navigate life outside of high school. I can help them by being a model, providing relevant and authentic examples and sources, and including routines and structure that gives students autonomy, responsibility, and choice.
Getting to know the students is an important part of the teacher role. And, many students responded to the survey saying teachers can help students succeed by getting to know them as individuals (personally). I would have given the students an electronic version, but the turn-around was so quick on this assignment that I didn’t know if I had time or if it was possible to book a computer lab. Additionally, I didn’t know what the students’ technology situations were at home, so I chose a hardcopy.
I noted that there was some confusion over the rating scale. Some students used the ratings of 1 to 6 independently. For example, they could have chosen all 1s or all 6s within the same questions. While others used the rating scale as indented by choosing each number only once. For example, they would rate each option in accordance to the other options. I added the total for each option, and listed the lowest as primary preference because a lower score is the first choice, and so on.
I had initially thought the discussion may have provided more valuable information than the survey; however my CT brought up a good point that the survey gives every student (especially the more quiet introverted ones) a voice. To that point, one of the most shy, eye-averting students wrote me a one-page note on his survey with tips and hints for being a good teacher! I was surprised and grateful to receive such a thorough and thoughtful letter—an electronic survey would have never inspired such a response.
The survey and the activity help give me a more well-rounded understanding of the students. I look forward to learning more about them all throughout the school year. The students at my school in the second semester are similar to the students in my school during my first semester when it comes to their opinion of the content, their diverse learning styles, amount of hours and types of activities spent outside of school, their interests, hopes and dreams, asking for less homework, concerns for teenagers, favorite books to read, and wanting more autonomy and choice. The biggest difference is in the number of them who returned the homework on time and in the diversity of the students. I appreciate the many backgrounds and cultures represented at my new school. I also notice a decrease in the sense of entitlement at my second semester school. Both locations had wonderful, interesting, talented, and complex individuals.
Who Are You?
Please take a few minutes to complete the below survey.
4. I expect to spend ___________________ minutes/hours completing homework for this class.
5. My dream career or job is _____________________________________________________
6. What is the biggest challenge or issue facing teenagers/high school students today? ____________________________________________________________________________
What activities are you involved
with after school? About how much time do you spend doing these activities per
day or week? _______________________________________________________________________________
8. What do you think the teachers in this class or school could do to help you succeed in this class, school, or your future? ____________________________________________________________________________
9. What topics or people would you like to learn about in this class? ____________________________________________________________________________
10. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? ____________________________________________________________________________
11. 11. What is your favorite aspect of this subject? What is your
least favorite aspect of this subject?
12. Do you agree with this statement, “The writer is the
engineer of the human soul.” Why or why not?
On Thursday, I did an extension activity with the students and their returned surveys. First, I had students pair with their table mates and share a few of their responses from the survey. After the pairing, I asked all of the students to stand up. I had the students sit down only if they did NOT meet the criteria I verbally listed. I repeated this activity (checking in to see if it was overdone) for students’ musical, artistic, traveling, and math/logic experience and skills. All of the students remaining standing had the same talent or experience in common. While standing, I approached students and asked them to report out their specific talent within the topic. I narrowed down the standing students to only those who shared the same, more specific talent or experience. For example, for the students standing who are musical, I narrowed to only those who play violin if that’s what a standing student volunteered as their talent. It’s a well-balanced class with a variety of interests and skills in left- and right-brained activities.
This exercise let the more quiet/reserved students participate without putting themselves too far outside their comfort zones.One purpose of the activity was for me to get to know and memorize the students’ names! I had to remember to ask students to give me their names. I should have requested that from the beginning of the activity.
The students in 3rd period were quieter. I had stayed mostly in the front and called on students who were mostly in the front few rows due to proximity. In period 5, I thought it would be better to walk around and engage with the student who were in the back of the room too; however, I was lost in a sea of standing students, students were much more chatty, I was talking over students at times because I wasn’t at the front all the time and couldn’t use my classroom management signal of being in front of the room, in the same place. I’m going to try being silent and only speaking when students are silent. I tried that on Friday and it worked great. I may need to only teach from the front of the room for the first part of my co-teaching. However, the students were more engaged when I walked around.
I asked period 5 to answer two of the discussion questions, instead of one. The students really got into the “challenges for teens.” I should have also asked 3rd period this question, but I had limited the discussion to their “love and hate” for our class and the topic of English. Of course they were more passionate about things that REALLY matter to them—their challenges. I didn’t think I had enough time in period 3, but in retrospect that would have worked out fine. Because of the more engaging additional question, I learned more about 5th period. But all of the students are amazing, passionate, interesting, and talented.
Also, I recorded the answers on the board in 3rd period.
Third period, Favorite and least favorite aspects of the English class and subject
But chose to asked for volunteers in
5th. Having a student recorder allowed me to move around in a way
that was productive—at times.
Fifth period, Issues for teens and high schoolers
Fifth period, Favorite and least favorite aspects of the English class and subject
In 5th, while walking around, I was at times in the sea of students standing and talking. When I narrowed each skill set and interest from everyone standing, I ended up having private conversations with several students and then I reported out for them and the recorder, instead of having the students report out for themselves. It was harder to manage the class while walking around. I also had to manage the recorder to make sure they didn’t miss any of the comments. 5th period mostly unanimously “hated” vocabulary cards. 3rd period mostly unanimously “hated” annotation. I’ll do several things differently next time. I reflected on period 3 and tried some things in period 5. Then reflected on that and plan to try new and different techniques as the semester progresses. Hopefully we can use the student feedback to make some changes to the routines and content as needed to meet their needs.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-4 with 4 indicating excellence in each category.
I’m happy with the results of the survey. I think the analysis will help me take the instruction in directions that meet the students’ needs. Next time, a shorter, less open-ended survey, hopefully electronic version. I appreciate Martha’s peer review including kind words and the suggestion about “adding explanations for your self-review ratings.” The reason I gave myself the score I did in the self-assessment is because I feel I went above and beyond the criteria for the rubric and my own personal standards. My survey is well-constructed and provides pertinent information regarding students’ preferences for instructional and learning styles, homework, interest in the content, and use of technology. The analysis includes a brief summary of the results. The analysis includes information regarding the needs of your students. The analysis includes implications for your teaching. Additionally, my reflection includes a comparison of how me and my students are alike and different and how I will adjust my teaching style to meet their needs.
Your student survey analysis is very comprehensive and thorough. There are variety of questions styles in your survey including short answer, lists and check boxes. I think this variety keeps your students interested. From the questions that you asked, you are able to gauge where your students are coming from. Some of your questions like the one asking them to analyze the statement “The writer is the engineer of the human soul”, encourages your students to think critically, which is such an important skill to succeed both academically and in the real world. Your reflections on the “implications for your teaching” after each survey question were student-centered and you were thoughtful about how to teach to suit the needs of each student. Your analysis was very organized and easy to follow. The extension activity you did the next day is a great idea! Sharing the data with your students helped them to get to know each other. In addition, you modeled how to visualize data in the form of a graphic organizer like a T-chart or concept map. I also liked the activity which got your students out of their seats. Again, a great way for the students to get to know each other. While it may get loud and hard to manage at times, I think that students enjoy getting out of their seats and interacting with their peers (as you discovered in your analysis of the survey). The only suggestion I have is to add explanations for your self-review ratings. Your analysis contains all of the required elements as described in the rubric criteria. However, you did not explain why you gave yourself the scores in your self-comments. Other than that, you did an awesome job on your analysis. Your students are fortunate to have a passionate and caring teacher like you this semester. Carry on