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Keep Us Linked: Student Speak Out Amid the Pandemic Through Linked Learning Survey

July 17, 2020 | Linked Learning Alliance

Students are facing innumerable challenges right now. They’re missing out on essential milestones, navigating distance learning, supporting their families during stay at home orders, and more. Despite this delicate balance of responsibilities, young people want to be engaged in conversations around their education and their futures. This is what the Alliance learned from a recent survey of 1,400 juniors and seniors across seven key Linked Learning districts.

Students from Antelope Valley, Lindsay, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Pasadena, and San Bernardino City Unified School Districts participated in this survey process between April and June 2020. In their responses, these juniors and seniors shared thoughtful and honest reflections on how the pandemic has impacted their high school experiences and their postsecondary plans and offered specific advice for those in decision making positions to keep students motivated and connected to a sense of purpose in the coming school year.

Among the many perspective shared, Linked Learning students commented on:

  • What engaged them during distance learning, and what they need to succeed in new virtual and hybrid environments
  • Their desire for greater clarity and context around expectations and decisions being made about coursework, grades, and college admissions
  • Their struggles with motivation and how to balance family needs with meaningful learning
  • Their postsecondary plans and how they have changed in light of the pandemic

Despite the lack of clarity in their academic, college, and career endeavors, students continued to find value in the core components of Linked Learning and the connections it maintained despite school closures. The majority of both juniors and seniors cited core Linked Learning practices—including peer collaboration, portfolio defenses, working with advisors, and clarifying career goals—as valuable to their educational experiences. Students also cited the importance of the relationships they’ve built with their teachers, counselors, industry partners, and peers.

The Linked Learning field is committed to acting on the results of this survey. Linked Learning directors are already generating innovative ways to proactively adapt distance learning approaches to meet the needs of students this fall. Pathways are seeking ways to continue providing Linked Learning in a virtual environment and continuing to implement practices students valued in the spring like work-based and project-based learning, opportunities for student collaboration, performance-based assessment, and industry partnerships. While none of the findings of this survey were surprising to pathway and district leaders, the results still indicate a clear need for partnership to ensure students continue to develop the crucial intellectual, emotional, and social abilities from high school to postsecondary, and from college to career. The Alliance is committed to supporting the Linked Learning field as they provide real and relevant learning opportunities for students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more detailed findings from the survey here.