Student Well-Being

New Inquiry to Measure Student Engagement

By Debra Viadero — January 21, 2004 3 min read

A group of Indiana University researchers is looking for high schools to take part in a first-of-a-kind national survey aimed at finding out how connected teenagers are to their schools and to learning.

“If you improve students’ engagement, you’re going to improve students’ learning, and that is going to improve the lives of students later on,” said Martha M. McCarthy, the director of the new High School Survey of Student Engagement, which researchers are hoping to launch this spring.

Information on registering for the survey, “High School Survey of Student Engagement,” is available from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Like commercial standardized tests, the new study will give schools and districts results for their own students and show how those findings compare with national norms. Unlike those achievement-oriented tests, however, the survey seeks to get beyond what students know to find out more about their behavior and day-to-day learning experiences. It asks students, for example, how much time they spend on homework, whether any teachers have mentored them outside class, and whether they read for pleasure on their own time.

“This tells you parts of the school experience that can easily be changed to improve students’ engagement,” said Ms. McCarthy, who is also a professor of educational leadership and law at the university, in Bloomington, Ind. “If you find out your students are only writing two papers a year that are three pages or more long, that’s certainly something you can change.”

Asking Questions

The survey is modeled on the National Survey of Student Engagement, which is also based at Indiana University. Begun in 1999, that survey has been given to more than 425,000 college students. With help from high school teachers and administrators, university researchers tweaked questions from the existing survey to better fit high school students.

“It asks questions and probes into areas that virtually no one else has done,” said Timothy F. Hyland, the high school superintendent for the Glenbard, Ill., schools. His 8,800-student high school district, located in the western suburbs of Chicago, test-piloted the survey last year.

He said school officials there were surprised to learn that 15 percent of the teenagers surveyed answered no to a question asking them whether they would come back to Glenbard’s schools if they had to repeat their high school experience.

“We’re a high-performing suburban school system, and that caught a lot of people off guard,” Mr. Hyland said of that response.

The survey also showed that students had few contacts with faculty members outside the classroom. In response, the school system installed an e-mail system in its four high schools that enables students to write to the teachers in their buildings and vice versa. Students can also e-mail the superintendent.

“We’ve got all the math and reading scores, but we didn’t have anything of any reliability on the affective attitudes of our students,” Mr. Hyland said.

He said the district hopes to continue the survey on an annual basis now in order to accumulate some longitudinal data on its students.

Districts such as Glenbard that take part in the study will have to pay a fee. The rates begin at $750 for schools with fewer than 750 students and $1,500 for schools in the 1,000-to-2,000-student range.

Indiana University’s college of education supports other administrative costs for the study now, but researchers are hoping to attract foundation funding for more expanded administrations of the survey. This spring’s survey will include 100 schools.

The deadline for schools to register for the study is Feb. 15.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2004 edition of Education Week as New Inquiry to Measure Student Engagement

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District

Read Next

Student Well-Being Fauci's Latest on Vaccines for Young Kids: Not Likely This Year
A COVID-19 vaccine probably won’t be ready for elementary students until 2022, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, walking back prior comments.
2 min read
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Joe Biden visits the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 11, 2021, in Bethesda, Md.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as the president visits the National Institutes of Health on Feb. 11.
Evan Vucci/AP
Student Well-Being Opinion New Research Explains Why Confessions Are Convincing
Admitting mistakes makes you come across as knowledgeable—and it’s a good way to model intellectual humility.
Sam Maglio
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Forging Student Connections & Growth Mindsets
In this Spotlight, discover ways to foster a growth mindset to re-connect and engage with students.
Student Well-Being Fauci Says Young Kids Could Start Getting Vaccinated by September
A COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 1st grade may be approved by next school year, said Fauci. But some public health experts aren't so sure.
5 min read
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Oct. 12.
Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP