Only Half Of Students Think What They’re Learning In School Is Relevant To The Real World, Survey Says
Only Half of Students Think What They’re Learning in School Is Relevant to the Real World, Survey Says
A recent survey reveals that approximately 50% of students do not believe that their education is applicable outside of the classroom. This data, conducted by the nonprofit organization YouthTruth, indicates that only 54% of middle school students and 46% of high school students consider their studies to be relevant. The concept of relevance received the lowest rating among multiple measures of student engagement, such as taking pride in their work, enjoying going to school, striving to do their best, and benefiting from their teachers’ expectations.
Nevertheless, the majority of students, namely 78% of elementary students and around 60% of middle and high school students, claim to be engaged in their school experience. Jen Wilka, the executive director at YouthTruth, finds it disheartening that less than half of students perceive what they learn in school as relevant. She attributes this situation to the pressure placed on schools due to academic testing and standards, as well as the lack of resources that hinder creativity.
Wilka suggests that if schools could demonstrate real-world applications of what students learn, it would significantly increase their level of engagement. Interestingly, the survey highlights that girls are more likely than boys to take pride in their work, with 74% of girls reporting this sentiment compared to 66% of boys. Additionally, 50% of students state that they enjoy going to school most of the time.
Notably, student engagement appears to be higher in smaller schools, where 68% of students report being engaged, compared to 57% in larger schools. The data, collected between 2012 and 2017, encompassed 233,982 students from grades 3 to 12. However, it is important to note that this survey is not representative of the entire nation, as it solely includes schools that utilize YouthTruth for their school climate surveys. Moreover, elementary students did not report their race, while secondary students consisted of 34% Latino, 22% white, 18% black, 10% multi-racial, and 5% Asian students.
These findings are consistent with previous research, which suggests that student engagement typically falls between 40% and 60%. A Gallup poll conducted in 2013 also indicated a decline in engagement as students progress through school. While 80% of elementary students reported being engaged, this number decreased to 60% among middle school students and 40% among high school students.
Educators and policymakers have been increasingly interested in student engagement over the past two decades as they search for solutions to low achievement and high dropout rates. Researchers have highlighted the significance of engagement in creating a positive school culture that contributes to academic success and well-being. Consequently, some schools have adopted approaches like project-based or place-based learning to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.