As part of YouthTruth’s comprehensive student survey, we added this qualitative prompt this fall:
While our prompt focused on learning and schooling, students’ answers ranged further and offered insight into what it has meant to this go to school and to come of age during a pandemic in an era of political turmoil. Five themes emerged from our analysis: Friends and Social Skills, Mental Health, Sense of Loss, Masks and Mandates, and Future Plans. Students’ comments shed light on how these themes interact with the student experience to facilitate – or impede – their learning.
We invite you to explore these themes here In Students’ Own Words.
Friends & Social Skills
Friends & Social Skills
In describing their return to high school in fall 2021, students expressed a strong desire to connect with friends, make new friends, and to have the chance to be a friend.
Sense of Loss
Masks & Mandates
The qualitative analysis was completed on a library of 11,294 comments from high school students who were surveyed in October and November 2021 through a 15-minute online survey administered in English and Spanish. Qualitative analysis software was used to conduct lexical analysis and to auto-code students’ responses. Related codes were clustered into concepts, and analytic questions were crafted to guide the open coding of conceptually grouped codes and probe for meaning. Student quotations were lightly edited for readability by adding punctuation and correcting spelling with the intent of sharing sentiments in students own words.
Respondents came from 103 schools across 32 school systems in 11 states (CA, CO, IL, IN, MA, MI, NY, OH, OR, PA, TX). Students self-reported their demographic characteristics. The sample is as follows. Grade level: 21 percent ninth-grade; 25 percent tenth grade; 28 percent eleventh grade; and 25 percent twelfth-grade. Gender: 49 percent girl/woman; 42 percent boy/man; three percent non-binary or gender non-conforming; three percent prefer to self-describe; and three percent prefer to not say. Race/ethnicity: 35 percent white; 28 percent Hispanic or Latino/a/x; 11 percent Black or African American; nine percent Asian or Asian American; six percent a race not listed; four percent prefer not to say; four percent multi-racial and/or multi-ethnic; two percent Middle Eastern or North African; one percent American Indian, Alaska Native or Indigenous; and one percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Explore the full Students Weigh In series
Education in the United States, as across the globe, changed dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools across the country to close in spring 2020 and over 50 million students were asked to learn remotely.
In response to a stark lack of firsthand data about how the pandemic and school closures were affecting students’ lived experiences YouthTruth explores what students have to say about learning and well-being during COVID-19 in our series.