Pupils and guardians reported their experiences of the exceptional distance learning period in a survey conducted by the city. Most pupils felt that they had received sufficient support from their teachers and had been in contact with them on a daily basis.
From 18 March to 13 May, comprehensive school pupils exceptionally studied from home. To find out how distance learning went, the City of Espoo conducted a survey that was taken by 7,554 guardians and 7,491 pupils from Finnish-speaking comprehensive schools.
The survey set out to investigate how distance learning and communication with teachers went, the support received by the pupil, and good practices and needs for further development in terms of teaching arrangements under exceptional circumstances.
The pupils and their guardians mostly responded similarly, although the guardians selected “I don’t know” as their response more often than the pupils.
Pupils’ distance learning mostly went well
The pupils and guardians assessed how distance learning went using a scale from 0 to 10 (0 stood for “very poorly” and 10 “very well”). The average response was 7.9 among the pupils and 8.1 among the guardians. In other words, they felt that distance learning went well.
The majority of the pupils (72%) and guardians (74%) gave a rating between 8 and 10. This means that the majority felt that studying from home went well or very well. A small group of respondents reported that distance learning had gone poorly or very poorly.
Based on the written responses that the respondents sent in, they felt that as the spring progressed, distance learning improved, pupils and teachers learned new routines and started being in touch more frequently.
Most pupils reported receiving sufficient support
Towards the end of the distance learning period, 87% of all pupils in comprehensive schools communicated with their teacher daily. Meanwhile, 89% of the pupils said that they had received a suitable amount of support and teaching from their teachers. This figure was slightly lower among the guardians, 75% of whom estimated that their child had been given a suitable amount of teaching and support.
Compared to secondary or joint comprehensive school pupils, primary school pupils (89%) more often stated that they had been in contact with their teacher daily. Likewise, primary school pupils (94%) reported having received a suitable amount of support from their teachers more often than secondary or joint comprehensive school pupils.
The pupils who reported having received sufficient support from teachers also felt that their studies had gone better.
Distance learning practices, such as the number of video calls, divided opinions
In their written responses, pupils and guardians expressed varying opinions on distance learning practices. Some liked distance learning more than contact teaching. Among its good aspects they mentioned the pupil’s opportunity to work at their own pace and in a way that suits them. Some found it easier to focus on schoolwork at home.
The guardians in particular wished for more teaching using video calls, while some pupils would have preferred fewer video calls and more time to work independently.
The guardians felt burdened by the variety of equipment and platforms that the teachers used. Some families with several pupils faced a situation where different teachers used different platforms, forcing the pupils and the parents to keep their eye on several channels.
The pupils gave feedback on the number of assignments and their deadlines. Some felt that there were too many assignments and meeting deadlines independently was difficult. On the other hand, some pupils and guardians would have liked more assignments.
Praise for supporting pupils and for versatile assignments
In their written responses, many respondents stated that distance learning had gone well, considering the circumstances. The guardians reported that they got to know their children and today’s school world better during the distance learning period.
Teachers were praised for supporting pupils in the exceptional situation and giving them versatile, creative assignments. Some homes had started to stay in touch with the child’s teacher and collaborate with them more closely thanks to the distance learning period.
Similar responses from Swedish-speaking schools
A similar survey was conducted in Swedish-speaking schools a bit earlier, in April. Its results suggested that the pupils attending Swedish-speaking comprehensive schools and their guardians felt positive about distance learning and found that communication between home and school had gone well.
What the respondents missed the most about ordinary school days was interaction and meeting friends. Several guardians stated that their child needed a little or somewhat more support when studying from home.
The school staff and distance learning arrangements received a lot of praise in the survey conducted in Swedish-speaking schools.
Survey results will be used in the development of distance learning
The results of the surveys will be used in the development of distance learning in Espoo. Each school will also get access to the anonymised results of its pupils and guardians. If the temporary amendment to the Basic Education Act prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture is passed, schools will have the opportunity to switch between contact teaching and distance learning in the coming autumn.