Workload given by teachers too heavy with remote learning, says EEB1 report

By Ilan Einstoss Pato (CdE President), Magnus Sorensen-Taylor (CdE Vice-President) and László Molnárfi (CoSup Representative for EEB1).

After these first three days of the new online learning scheme being in place to provide a continuum for classes and schoolwork as a result of the closure of the school, the CdE of EEB1 has compiled a set of data taken from a student survey posted on the CdE’s official Instagram page to determine how students were faring with the new scheme. The survey was comprised of seven questions with one sub-question asking the students about the general situation of the scheme, and were structured in a two-answer poll form for simplicity. The questions included in the survey were as follows:

  1. Do you experience that both teachers and students (including yourself) can easily reach out to each other regarding schoolwork?
  2. Are there any complications in sending or receiving work?
  3. Do you feel as though teachers are giving as much work as they do on normal school days?
    1. If no, is it too much or too little? 
  4. Are teachers giving you enough time to complete the given work?
  5. Are teachers showing initiative and using the online learning system efficiently?
  6. Do you feel more stressed with this system as opposed to normal school days?
  7. Overall, do you think this current system of online learning has been a good way to continue classes?

The poll was then posted in the evening of the 17th of March, and over 400 students participated in the poll, with a large number also providing explicit feedback themselves. The results of the polls are as follows:

  • To question 1, 78% of students experienced that both teachers and students can easily reach out to each other regarding school work through this scheme.
  • To question 2, 49% of students reported that there were complications in sending or receiving work.
  • To question 3, 67% of students felt that the amount of written work given to them by teachers differed from normal school days, and when they were asked if the amount was too large or too small, 91% responded that the amount given was too large.
  • To question 4, 49% of students felt that teachers were not giving them enough time to complete the given work.
  • To question 5, 71% of students reported that teachers were showing initiative and using the online learning system efficiently.
  • To question 6, 52% of students reported they felt more stressed with this system as opposed to normal school days.
  • To question 7, 71% of students reported they felt that this current system of online learning has been a good way to continue classes.

From these results, it can be concluded that the accessibility and communication between students and teachers, along with teachers taking initiative to use the system has been the most positive aspect of the new online learning scheme. However, as shown by these results, students feel as though they are being subject to a workload which is too heavy compared to normal school days, and can also be associated with over half of the students feeling more stressed as a result. Many students also appear to have complications in sending or receiving work, and from feedback received, this is mostly due to connection problems on Teams or by teachers being unclear about when and where to send work.

The survey also included a platform for students to write explicit feedback to specify their thoughts on the scheme. From this feedback, some common remarks were discovered, and some have been quoted to illustrate those which were received multiple times:

  • ‘’They [the teachers] are giving unreasonable deadlines for large amounts of work’’
  • ‘’Sometimes it’s complicated to know how to give in a specific form of homework’’
  • ‘’Sometimes the system crashes’’
  • ‘’Teachers should be scheduling video conferences so they don’t clash [with other class conferences]’’
  • ‘’The problem is just that some teachers are doing their jobs, others aren’t’’
  • ‘’It’s very confusing that every teacher has a different method’’
  • ‘’Classes have been just sending documents which is not an easy learning method’’
  • ‘’Those who used video calls did so very efficiently. I think it was the best way of learning and have been in a useful normal lesson. I believe all teachers should use this method or at least they should really all be coordinated. It’s not easy to get organized with so many different ways of working’’

Another issue that was frequently cited was that there is now an overbearing focus on subjects which S7 students do not take for the BAC (e.g. Ethics or Geo2), and teachers have started giving out heavy workloads in those subjects as well. “In a time such as this, when there are already technical problems with communication and connection between students and teachers, and when being stuck inside means other duties and distractions than when one is in school, it makes no sense what with the already heavy workload to be focusing and getting so many tasks for subjects which will not even be taken in the BAC by S7 students. It adds extra pressure and stress on students, while not providing them with preparation, instead the opposite – taking valuable time out of their preparation for other subjects which they might be struggling with, which they have to pass in the final exams,” says Martina Lalova, student representative of EEB1 at the CoSup, student union of the European Schools, and student in her final year of studies.

Out of all of the explicit feedback we received, complaints of too heavy workloads and a lack of structured teacher coordination were the most frequent, as well as positive remarks on the ‘’video conference’’ learning. However, most students feel that this solution to continue the school year has been adequate thus far.

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