Remote Learning

High Schoolers More Likely to Study Math, Science and Forsake Other Topics During COVID-19

The subjects that performed better than average during COVID-19

The subjects that performed better than average during COVID-19. Source: "State of Remote Learning Report" from Quizlet

School closures and remote learning have gone hand-in-hand with decreased student engagement in all high school subject areas, according to a study by education technology company Quizlet. In fact, no subject has really reached its pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of engaging high schoolers. While math has come closest (84 percent), the arts and humanities sank to a new low (43 percent).

Analysts found that probability and statistics specifically performed far better than average during the pandemic, rising to 89 percent higher than average study levels.

That finding and others surfaced in an analysis of data generated on its quiz platform and pulled in July. The company claims some 50 million monthly active users in 130 countries.

English study sets, particularly, which consist of vocabulary works, saw the biggest drop in usage. However, interest in art history, specifically, appeared to be a big draw.

The analysis also found that income brackets influenced engagement in online learning. Initially, the research noted, students from both the highest income bracket ($100,000-plus) and the lowest income bracket (up to $50,000) studied an equal amount online before COVID-19. Once schools shifted to online-only, fewer lower-income students were studying on a weekly basis than their richer peers.

Income disparity also showed up in another measure. While use of desktops jumped from 67 percent to 78 percent for students in higher-income households, those in lower-income households hovered around the 65 percent mark with no real increase in desktop usage. According to the company, those students continued to rely on smartphones and tablets for learning.

The subjects that did better than average during COVID-19 levels were, in ranked order:

  • Probability and statistics: 139 percent, or 89 percent above average;
  • Calculus: 93 percent;
  • Physics: 78 percent;
  • Art History: 73 percent;
  • Chemistry: 63 percent; and
  • Economics: 64 percent.

"As we all enter a unique back-to-school landscape this fall — whether remote or not — we hope these findings will provide awareness and guidance for students to feel engaged in their learning and for teachers to help counter potential learning gaps in their classrooms," wrote Lead Product Analyst Amanda Baker, in an article about the study.

The full report is available through the Quizlet site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.