Two-Thirds of High Schoolers Want Only In-Person Learning
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A new survey has
found that a one in three high schoolers (33%) would like to keep
online learning as an ingredient in their education. The remaining
67% – almost all of whom shifted to virtual education to some
degree amid the pandemic – prefer learning completely in-person,
while 29 percent favored a hybrid arrangement with up to half of
their time in a virtual learning environment. Four percent said they
would be happy learning virtually full time or much of the time.
students found benefits to virtual learning, including time savings
from not having to travel or change classrooms (76%), gaining a more
flexible schedule and getting more sleep (both 73%), having a private
learning space (33%), reviewing recorded classes later (32%) and
saving money on clothes and transport (30%).
The 1,060 survey
respondents consisted of participants of the 2021
MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge, an
internet-based math modeling contest organized by the Society
for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). It
draws both 11th and 12th graders from the United States and sixth
form students from the United Kingdom.
A majority of people
reported that the primary disadvantages of online learning included
having trouble staying focused (76%) and feeling lonely and isolated
(66%). Nearly half (49%) also said they lacked face-to-face teacher
interaction. Four in 10 noted that they believed teachers tended to
assign more projects (42%) and provided less thorough explanations of
While students found
English and history "most suited" to remote learning,
science and math were the most challenging.
The students advised
that teachers could improve their virtual instructions of subjects
like math through a number of techniques:
tools and videos to explain concepts, mentioned by 55%;
classes for later review (53%);
one-on-one student sessions (37%); and
real-world examples to explain concepts (31%).
Students also shared
techniques for improving online learning for themselves. The biggest
one was establishing a daily schedule and sticking to it, chosen by
70%, followed by attending all classes and keeping up with schoolwork
while 73 percent of the students queried said they don't learn as
well virtually, nine percent said they learn better online and 19
percent say they find no difference in their ability to learn either
way," said Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge program director at
SIAM, in a statement. "We know that all students learn
differently, and the results of this survey show that there is a role
online learning can play for many students."
The M3 Challenge,
which has been running for 16 years, challenges high school students
working in small teams over 14 consecutive hours on a designated
weekend in February or March to devise a solution to a real-world
problem using mathematical modeling. This year's challenge was to
come up with answers for combatting the digital divide. Some 2,400
students in 535 teams participated, with winners earning
scholarships. Results are judged by an international panel of
Ph.D.-level mathematicians. The competition's final judging event —
traditionally held in New York City — will be done virtually on
April 26 this year.
The competition is
sponsored by MathWorks,
a company that develops math computing software.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.