Remote Learning Kills Student Engagement

A new study of data generated by an education platform has found that K-12 students in states that allowed in-person learning during the 2020-2021 school year showed more engagement in learning than students residing in states where fully remote learning was the norm. The finding was calculated based on the number of visits to study activities (serving as a proxy for engagement in learning) that students undertook on the software. Those activities might be use of flashcards, multiple choice or fill-in-the blank questions, games or something else.

Quizlet, an education technology company that produces study tools by the same name, analyzed data pulled in June 2021 from its platform. Quizlet said it has some 60 million users, including students, teachers and faculty members, and others who are studying any number of topics.

The analysis found that for states such as Florida, Georgia, and Texas, with some or all in-person learning required for high schoolers, there was a return to "pre-COVID" levels of students using Quizlet during fall 2020. For Florida, it was 95% of pre-pandemic levels; in Georgia it was 107%; and in Texas, it was 104%. States where almost all students continued with remote learning showed lower levels of Quizlet use. For Washington, it was 58%; for Oregon, it was 59%; and for California, it was 74%.

Looking ahead for the coming school year, the company noted in a report of its findings, many cities and states have already announced that schools will reopen for in-person learning, "which should help re-engage students." At the same time, the report stated, among "those students who have been remote for the majority of the prior year, they could have learning losses up to 40% higher than students who remained in class and will need additional resources to help catch-up."

The same study found that nearly four in 10 high school students (38%) were more likely to make time for weekend study, especially on Saturdays, than compared to the previous school year. The company suggested that this was their chance to play "catch-up."

"Remote learning has exacerbated the lack of in-person support, and we anticipate students will feel residual effects in the coming school year," said Matthew Glotzbach, CEO of Quizlet, in a press release. "It's critical for students to learn how to study effectively so they can continue to learn and build their confidence no matter the circumstances."

"Of particular importance, our data tells us students have different levels of learning loss heading into the new school year that will need to be remediated through personalized learning support and access to tools and technology," added Amanda Baker, director of data analytics at Quizlet. "We hope these findings from millions of study behaviors provide key insights that educators, the community and students can act upon to succeed in next year's learning goals."

The report of findings, which also includes an analysis of users from higher education as well as adult learning, is available for download in a Quizlet blog post.

About the Author

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