A new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University supports previous suspicions of the toll remote schooling has had on students emotionally, socially, and academically.
As the academic achievement gap of low-income students and students of color continues to spiral out of control amidst a global pandemic, the study adds a new issue for policy makers, parents, and teachers to worry about. Coined the “thriving gap,” this issue describes the combined negative repercussions of academic, social, and emotional learning loss that the researchers observed affected all remote students universally.
“This study gives some of the first empirical evidence of how learning remotely has affected adolescent well-being,” says lead author Angela Duckworth, founder and CEO of Character Lab, in the report published in the peer-reviewed journal Educational Research.
Results of the study show that students who attended school remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic suffered more socially, emotionally, and academically than the students that were able to attend their classes in-person. While certainly not a groundbreaking discovery in and of itself, what’s more interesting is that this thriving gap has affected all students across the board, and not just low-income students and minorities, as previously suspected.
Duckworth says, “…we must recognize that our nation’s students are not just lagging as performers, they are suffering as people.” She continues, “Meeting their intrinsic psychological needs – for social connection, for positive emotion, and authentic intellectual engagement – is a challenge that cannot wait.”
The study is also noteworthy because it explores a segment of students that policy makers don’t have much data on: high school students. While most elementary schools and many junior high schools have reopened their doors at least sporadically over the previous year, high schools have had difficulties finding a solution for safe social distancing practices in a learning environment that requires constant shuffling from class to class.
These findings can be viewed as a sort of empirical backing for the reopening of schools across the world. As we approach the next academic year, we can expect policy makers and researchers to continue to push for a solution that allows for consistent in-person learning for K-12 students.
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