Connecting the Dots
Back in 2019, Pomfret began using the Wellington Engagement Index to measure student satisfaction.
Pioneered by the Wellington School in Ohio, the online assessment asks students only two questions: “How much do you enjoy this class?” and “How challenged are you?” Students answer with the click of a button, and their responses are plotted on an X-Y axis that falls into one of four quadrants: grind, engaged, bored, or entertained.
"It's an incredibly simple yet valuable tool," says Gwyneth Connell, who heads up Pomfret's Grauer Family Institute. “In under three minutes, you can immediately see how your class is feeling.” Over time, teachers have the opportunity to collect a whole bunch of data points and adjust their teaching practices accordingly.
In April, we collected new data from our students to capture how they are feeling with a few weeks of distance learning under their belts. When we compared the results to those from both the fall and winter terms, it affirmed our belief that our students are doing remarkably well with the adjustment to distance learning.
"We found an incredibly high percentage of respondents remain in the engaged quadrant," says Connell. "We suspected they would like it a lot less and find it a lot harder — we were right about the direction things moved but we overestimated the degree. Our kids are proving themselves to be even more resilient than we thought."
In fact, the percentage of respondents from last week who fell in the engaged quadrant is actually greater than what we saw in November. We are also seeing fewer students falling in the entertained quadrant — about half as many. While most of the data was very affirming, we're still finding more students falling in the grind quadrant than we'd like to see. Through surveys with parents and with students, we've become aware of some of the issues around workload and pacing, and we've already taken steps to address them.
"It's very encouraging to see that, over all, the majority of our students are happy and thriving," says Connell. "While the data suggests they aren't loving the experience quite as much as they did when we were all together, that's sort of a good thing. We're glad that they prefer in-person classes, and we'll continue to solicit their feedback and take it into account to make our program better, whether across the world or here on the Hilltop."