Trojan News: COVID-19 leads to struggles among students
A student, a teacher and a counselor at WHS all share their experiences with hybrid learning and how it has affected students academically.
Editor’s note: Since this story was written, District 518 has moved to a distance learning model.
WORTHINGTON ― Due to COVID-19, Worthington High School adopted a hybrid learning schedule for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. With this change, along with many others in the world, it's not a surprise that some students have been struggling academically.
Worthington High School student Luke Gordon shared his views on hybrid learning and how it has affected him and his learning experience.
He explained, “It’s not ideal, but I get why we are doing it.” When talking about the biggest problem that he faced with hybrid learning, he stated, “I have definitely had a hard time staying on task and focusing on Zoom calls when I’m at home”.
This seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to students and hybrid learning. Gordon explains that the amount of work has been about the same, but it seems to take longer to get done. This can lead to some shaky grades for different students depending on if they submit their assignments before or after the due date.
WHS English teacher Anne Greenway shared her firsthand experience with hybrid learning and her personal opinion on how it’s been affecting her students’ progress. With her experience in this year and last year's version of hybrid learning, she claims that students are either doing extremely well or struggling a lot and there seems to be no middle ground. It is difficult for her and other teachers to truly know if students are doing well. This is because instead of seeing each student daily, the teachers only see them once a week.
She mentions that there could be students that are doing all of the work but simply not turning it in on time, and the teachers have no way of telling if that is the case. She is speaking for many teachers in this interview when she says that learning how to use Zoom and make changes in the classroom to acclimate to hybrid learning is difficult.
Talking about the changes she’s made in the classroom and in her teaching style, Greenway said, “I also find myself going a lot slower through material. In one of my classes, it typically takes about two weeks to get through an essay structured format, and now it’s taking three to three-and- a-half weeks. So you really have to slow it down, making sure that the kids and the students know what they're doing.”
Greenway mentioned that, not only is hybrid learning difficult for students to acclimate to, it’s difficult for the teachers as well. With changing times among what seems to be everything in our lives today, changing the format of school can really affect the efficiency in the classroom for students and teachers.
A three-question survey was sent to WHS faculty, and 45 teachers responded. When asked about the number of late assignments being submitted by students, more than 75% of teachers said that, on average, assignments are being submitted later than previous years. Only one teacher said that they were receiving assignment submissions earlier than previous years. This is a big problem, and a huge reason as to why more students are struggling academically. If an assignment is submitted past the due date, points may be docked off of the assignment’s grade. Therefore, more late assignments contributes to lower average grades among all students. Also, 89% of teachers said that hybrid learning is a more stressful time than traditional school.
In an interview with Lakeyta Swinea ― one of the three counselors at the high school ― she talked about changes in the Grade Point Average (GPA) across the whole school. Swinea mentioned that, compared to the spring, the average GPA hasn’t changed much due to the addition of the Pass and No Credit (NC) grading system. If a student receives a grade of NC, they have to retake that class to earn the credit(s), but their GPA isn't affected. So with the new grading system in place, the average GPA wouldn’t change that much even if more kids are receiving an NC grade. Swinea also mentioned that she can help any students that are struggling to pass a class.
Hybrid learning is a dramatic change from traditional school. However, when the schools in Worthington closed last March, the students and teachers adopted a full distance learning model, so the additions of Zoom and the effects of learning from home aren't completely new. Based on the results of the survey, it's easy to say that many teachers wish they could be back in school full-time. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. If the amount of COVID-19 cases in Nobles County keeps rising, it’s very possible that Worthington schools will go to a full distance learning model for a longer duration, and students’ grades will most likely continue to suffer.
Despite all of the negative talk about students that are struggling academically, there is the other side of the story that is far less talked about. There are actually a lot of students that are continuing to do well on their assignments and grades, regardless of the addition of hybrid and distance learning, as they have also done in previous years.