How to tell if a college is a ‘safe’ place to study
You might think you’re safe in a college classroom, but a new study has found that just being in a class can lead to the emergence of dangerous behavior.
The study was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, and looked at how students responded to classroom environments and how those responses affect their performance in college.
“I’m really interested in how we can use this data to create better instructional environments for students in high-risk groups, and I’m interested in what the effects of exposure to dangerous classroom environments are,” said Mark Schramm, the co-author of the study and a senior researcher in the Center for Data Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of the impact of classroom exposure to different kinds of classroom environments on student outcomes.”
The researchers found that a number of factors could affect the effectiveness of an individual student’s performance in a classroom.
For instance, students who were exposed to high-poverty and low-income students were more likely to be distracted and less able to perform, compared to students who weren’t exposed to these groups.
Students exposed to low-praise students were also more likely than students who didn’t have low-prevalence groups to be disruptive and less effective at reading and math.
Another factor was how the students’ group status was perceived.
Researchers found that students who had been placed in a low-status group were more apt to have low academic performance, as compared to high status students.
In some cases, students exposed to the lowest-prestige group also had lower academic performance than high-status students.
“The students who experienced high-stress environments were more engaged in classwork and in learning and less likely to engage in school activities,” Schramme said.
“Students who experienced low-stress conditions were more disengaged in school and less engaged in school.”
What makes this study so important?
The researchers were able to track students’ behavior through a series of tests that included math, reading, and writing, as well as self-reported attitudes toward school, school-related events, and school and peer groups.
The students were asked to rate how they felt about their school environment, the impact they felt, and how much they thought their group status affected their academic performance.
In a series titled “Students’ Perceptions of School Environment and Academic Performance,” the researchers found a strong correlation between students’ perceptions of their school environments and their academic outcomes.
Students with high-prevals groups were also perceived as having the highest academic performance and being more engaged than low-priest groups.
“This was the first study that looked at students’ classroom behavior and outcomes as well,” Schmemm said.
The researchers also analyzed how students’ experiences in a specific classroom were correlated to their academic scores.
“What we found was that exposure to low status groups was linked to higher academic achievement, but exposure to high prestige groups was also linked to lower academic achievement,” Schrams said.
How can you prevent your students from being exposed to dangerous classrooms?
“Teachers have to think carefully about the impact that a classroom environment might have on student learning,” Schmms said.
One way teachers can ensure their students aren’t exposed is by having a teacher-student relationship, which is defined as “an ongoing relationship of trust and communication between students and their teachers, which includes communication regarding their peers, the school, and academic concerns.”
The more positive students are in their relationships with their teachers and with their peers at school, the more likely they are to thrive.
The other key piece of information that the researchers gathered was how students viewed their peer groups on a school-by-school basis.
When students viewed groups on school-wide levels, their performance was higher, and there was no difference between groups that were low status and high status.
“Teacher-student relationships are essential to a safe learning environment, and that’s why we believe that the best way to protect students from unsafe classroom environments is to ensure that teachers have the trust and confidence in their students to monitor their students’ peer groups and to make sure that they have the resources to meet the needs of students who are struggling,” Schmitts said.