While overall primary and secondary students did better in the spring of 2021 and adjusted better to learning restrictions, these two groups are still the most affected by the health crisis.
Researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), who measured anxiety, well-being and academic motivation among hundreds of students, were surprised to find a greater vulnerability among high school graduates.
For young people with learning disabilities, one in five students in the province, the results show how much the school will need to support them to catch up. The findings suggest that special attention should also be paid to those who have moved from high school to CEGEP.
Like many students in Quebec, Thomas Tremblay taught classes online every other day in the midst of the waves of the pandemic. This year he will graduate from high school, after two years of an unexpected and confusing academic journey. Radio Canada met him. Thomas is not included in the groups interviewed by the researchers.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken online courses, especially chemistry classes… it can be especially hard to stay focused.”focuson the subject and then work on your own. You are in your room, you have a PS4, a TV… All of this makes you want more than to do your work and homework.he explains.
We will get to CEGEP, we will miss some elements that we will not have, but which, I think, will not be difficult to compensate.he adds, saying he is more optimistic than before.
His classmates also had to work hard to maintain their level of motivation. This is the case of Miriam Deslauriers, who is also a student at the Monseigneur-A.-M.-Parent high school in Longueuil.
” In the last two years I have had to work hard on myself. I had to increase my organization to keep up. I also needed to get organized because I was at home; I didn’t have the resources, and neither did my friends. »
Assess academic progress
In total, more than 600 students and nearly as many teachers from three Greater Montreal School Service Centers were surveyed twice last year on motivation, anxiety and well-being at school.
Patrick Charland, University Professor of DidacticsUCAMbelieves that the data collected in the fall and spring of 2021 paints a telling picture of the chaotic course caused by the pandemic.
We see this primarily in the interviews we have been able to conduct with school staff, teachers, school administrators: they have observed an unprecedented level of social work and intervention, student depression that had to drop out of school.says Patrick Charland, co-owner of the UNESCO Chair in Curriculum Development inUCAM .
Academic success is still difficult to measure. The researchers received notes sent to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education by the various school service centers surveyed. To get them, they had to make a request for access to information. In the second phase of the study, they will analyze this data.
In the absence of uniform ministerial tests within two years, it will be difficult to make comparisons.
Ministerial exams have been canceled for perfectly legitimate reasons, but as a researcher, I would like to have this data in order to have an idea of the real impact of this pandemic on student learning.Patrick Charland says
During the pandemic, parents will only receive two report cards instead of three, representing a loss of their child’s performance criteria. Many teachers admit that grades have been adapted to what may have been taught.
As for the work of teachers, despite the fact that it is very difficult, I am sure that we have achieved success. […]. We have provided the basics of what they need to learn. Now, regarding admission, I have big doubts… Students who have difficulties, I have the impression that we are losing them moresays Isabelle Bouchard, science teacher.
The researchers hope that ongoing research will help direct aid and support to young people who have been hit the hardest by the ups and downs of the educational path of the past two years. However, one of the authors of the study believes that positive aspects can also be found in it.
We can also say that children and teenagers have learned other types of learning. And this learning does not happen for a moment; it is a complicated process. This is achieved not only by an examination, by passing an examination; it is done through life experiencenuance Jonathan Bluto, Professor of Specialized Education and TrainingUCAM .
” Yes, we can assume that there will be a loss of achievements, but we do not believe that this is a generation that has been sacrificed. »
For Jonathan Bluto, a crisis like the one caused by COVID-19 should be an opportunity to rethink how we support academic excellence. Referring to the British model, he would like all medical and social services to be closer to the school.
In Quebec, where are our children? They are at school. The school is the first insurance around the child, and this is where we must find services! concludes this trained psychoeducator.
Like his colleague, Patrick Charland hopes that the portrait drawn up by their study will better address the needs created by the interruption at the beginning of the pandemic. This decision could have implications for the school systems of several countries in the next few years.