A recent survey of students taught by Arkansas Teacher Corps fellows found that students’ self-reported grit, self-efficacy, and emotional regulation have increased since September 2021 when the survey was previously administered. Students also reported notable growth in classroom learning and their teachers’ personal investment in their learning. However, students also indicated a decrease in growth mindset and self-management.
The student survey is one tool ATC uses to measure and track students’ social-emotional readiness each year. Every fellow who administers the survey in either the fall or spring semesters receives an individualized report of their students’ average responses to identify priority areas and set student-specific goals.
For spring 2022, teachers of students in grades 6-12 were asked to administer surveys during class either electronically or on paper. Six fellows were excluded from the analysis because their students were too young to participate. Overall, 27 fellows (87%) administered surveys to 1357 students at 18 schools in 12 districts.
The survey measures students’ perceptions of 10 constructs: instruction, classroom environment, class engagement, grit, growth mindset, emotional regulation, self-efficacy, self-management, social awareness, and self-awareness. Responses were coded so that higher values indicate a more positive response and were averaged across all items within each construct for an average construct score.
Students of ATC Fellows were generally confident in their social-emotional skills with a majority of students giving high ratings on each item. Students rated instruction and self-management most positively, indicating that their ATC teacher is highly knowledgeable about their content and able to answer their questions about the subject matter. Students also report much higher learning overall in classes taught by ATC Fellows.
Grit and self-efficacy were rated the lowest overall but saw statistically significant growth from fall 2021. In fact, ratings for grit grew the most between fall 2021 and spring 2022 with a 4% average increase (+0.21). Classroom environment (+0.10), instruction (+0.08), self-efficacy (+0.09), and emotional regulation (+0.07) saw a 2% average increase in self-reported ratings. Social awareness (+0.07) saw a 1% average rise.
Compared to fall 2021, students this spring are much more likely to put forth their best effort, pursue their goals, finish what they begin, keep working when the material is difficult, and do the hardest work that is assigned in class. Students also report that their ATC teacher is much more likely to be interested in what they do outside of class than their other teachers.
However, ratings for growth mindset (-0.10) and self-management (-0.06) decreased by an average of 2% and 1% respectively. Compared to fall 2021, students this spring are much less likely to embrace a growth mindset, believing that there are some things they aren’t capable of learning or that they cannot do well in a subject if they aren’t naturally smart in it. Students also report being less likely to come to class prepared or to complete their work right away (rather than procrastinating).
Although the average ratings for growth mindset and self-management were still relatively high compared to the other constructs, the disproportionate decrease in these areas may be more reflective of the time of year: spring surveys were administered in late April and May when students were more focused on end-of-year standardized testing and may have felt greater frustration or disappointment about semester grades.
Due to COVID-19, this survey has not previously been administered in a spring semester; it will be of particular interest to compare spring 2022 survey results to those collected in spring 2023. In addition to the student survey, analysis of ACT Aspire scores for the 2021-22 school year will help to provide a more holistic measure of students’ growth and development during their first year fully in-person after the emergence of COVID-19.