The 2020 back-to-school season has thrown parents for a loop thanks to COVID-19. Schools closed abruptly back in March when the officials declared a pandemic, initiating an uneasy transition to distance learning. Now, a study from education app Quizlet has revealed that the US’ remote learning engagement has yet to fully rebound from the sudden shift.
Examining “Study Comebacks”
The good news is student engagement has come a long way since the early days of the pandemic. Back in April, NPR reported that 41% of teens, including 47% of public school students, had never attended an online class even after schools closed.
The new study, however, is based on the “study comebacks” that occurred in the weeks following the initial slump. Researchers identified these comebacks as the high point of studying on Quizlet after schools closed in a given country.
According to Amanda Baker, head of data analytics at Quizlet, these comeback periods varied from country to country. “For instance, Italy was hit early by the COVID epidemic and their closures began in early March, but we began to see a comeback on the platform within the same month,” Baker said. “In comparison, the U.S. experienced massive school closures just a few weeks later, but the highest number of students studying wasn’t until late April.”
In some countries, student engagement soared higher than pre-COVID levels. Brazilian students, for example, were 207% more engaged on the app than before the virus hit during their comeback period.
The US, however, fell below pre-COVID levels during its comeback. According to the study, American high school students were 27% less engaged at the height of participation.
When it comes to what other countries did right, Baker says clear government guidelines and uninterrupted testing helped.
“In Singapore we saw primary schools ready to go on day one of remote learning with e-books embedded with quizzes provided by the government,” said Baker. “Another example is Poland, where we saw that national final exams were not canceled, so students were still highly motivated to stay on top of their studies.”
Income a Leading Factor
Within the US, income also had a sizable impact on student engagement. The study found that, during the US comeback, higher-income students studied at 52-54%, versus lower-income students hitting just 45%.
“As remote learning continues, lower-income students are at a higher risk of falling behind unless they have equal access to technology and the devices needed to successfully participate in learning at a distance,” the study concluded.
Quizlet CEO Matt Glotzbach said the company is working to address these concerns by providing access to its user-generated educational content across all major devices, through the web, and in a variety of languages.
“We recognized that the pandemic has highlighted the continued digital divide in America and around the world, and we are committed to continuing to address this critical disparity both within our product and working across the broader technology community.”
Remote Learning Engagement — Sources
Amanda Baker – Head of Data Analytics, Quizlet
Matt Glotzbach, CEO, Quizlet
Quizlet – State of Remote Learning 2020