While primary and secondary school students felt better overall and adapted better to teaching constraints in the spring of 2021, the two groups remained more affected by the health crisis.
Researchers at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), who measured anxiety, well-being and academic motivation among hundreds of students, were surprised to find greater vulnerability among high school graduates.
For young people with learning disabilities, which is one in five students in the province, the results show how much the school will need to support them in order to catch up. The findings suggest that special attention should also be paid to those who have transferred from secondary school to CEGEP.
Like many students in Quebec, Thomas Tremblay attended his classes online every other day during the peak of the pandemic. He will finish high school this year, after two years of an unexpected and confusing academic journey. Radio-Canada met him. Thomas is not included in the groups studied by researchers.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had an online course, especially a chemistry course … it can be especially difficult to keep your attention. “focus“on this topic, then you have to work alone. You’re in your room, you have your PS4, the TV … Everything makes you want more than just doing your work and homeworkexplains.
We will get to CEGEP, we will be missing certain elements that we will not have, but I do not think it will be too difficult to replace them.adds that he is more optimistic than before.
His classmates also had to make a great effort to maintain their level of motivation. This is the case of Myriam Deslauriers, who is also studying at Monseigneur-A.-M.-Parent High School in Longueuil.
” I’ve had a lot of work on myself in the last two years. I had to increase my organization so I could keep up. I also had to organize, because I was at home; I had no resources nor did my friends. »
Evaluate academic success
In total, more than 600 students and almost as many teachers from the three Greater Montreal school centers in the field of motivation, anxiety and well-being at school attended twice last year.
Patrick Charland, professor of didactics at schoolUQAMbelieves that data collected in the fall and spring of 2021 paint a concise picture of the chaotic course of the pandemic.
We see this mainly in the interviews we were able to have with school staff, teachers, school principals: they observed an unprecedented level of social work and interventions, the depression of students who had to leave school.says Patrick Charland, co-owner of the UNESCO Department of Curriculum DevelopmentUQAM .
Academic success is still difficult to measure. The researchers received comments sent to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education by various school service centers. In order to obtain them, they had to request access to information. In the second phase of the study, these data will be analyzed.
In the absence of uniform ministerial tests for two years, it will be difficult to compare.
The ministry’s examinations were canceled for absolutely legitimate reasons, but as a researcher, I would like to have this data to get an idea of the real impact of this pandemic on student education.says Patrick Charland.
With a pandemic, parents receive only two testimonials instead of three, which represents a loss of benchmarks for their child’s academic achievement. Many teachers acknowledge that assessments have been adapted to what they have learned.
As for the work of teachers, even though it is very demanding, I am sure that we have delivered the goods […]. We have given them the essentials they need to learn. Now I have a lot of doubts at the reception … Students who have difficulties have the impression that we are losing more of them.believes Isabelle Bouchard, a science teacher.
Lessons from research
Researchers hope that ongoing studies will focus on the help and support to be given to the young people who have suffered the most from the ups and downs of education in the last two years. However, one of the authors of the study believes that it is also possible to find positive aspects.
We can also say that children and adolescents have learned other types of learning. And that learning doesn’t happen for a while; it is a complicated process. It is not just a test, a test; it is done by life experiencesJonathan Bluteau, Professor at the Department of Specialized Education and Training atUQAM .
” Yes, we can assume that there will be a loss of success, but we are not convinced that this is a sacrificial generation. »
For Jonathan Bluteau, a crisis like the one caused by COVID-19 should be an opportunity to rethink the way we support academic success. Referring to the UK model, he would like all health and social services to be closer to school.
In Quebec, where are our children? They’re at school. The school is the first safety net around the child and that is where we should find services! concludes this trained psychopedagogue.
Patrick Charland, like his colleague, hopes that the portrait drawn by their study will make it possible to better meet the needs caused by the interruption at the beginning of the pandemic. This ruling could affect the school systems of several countries for several years to come.