Longitudinal data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) form the basis of the evaluations at the Leibnitz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi). Within the framework of the NEPS, additional COVID-19 surveys were started in spring 2020 - at the time of the first lockdown - in all starting cohorts in order to record the specific situation and challenges in connection with the (school) closures caused by the pandemic. For example, parents were asked how they were able to support their children in learning at home and how difficult it was to motivate them to learn. In addition, parents as well as students reported their satisfaction with the learning material provided by the schools, the possibilities of communicating with teachers via digital formats and changes in (digital) learning activities.
Sub-study 1: Primary and secondary students' coping with learning at home during school closures
The first step is to look at the coping with learning at home of students in primary school (around grade 2 to grade 3) and secondary school (grade 8 to grade 9). Specifically, parental support and satisfaction with learning materials as well as children's difficulties in learning at home and changes in (digital) learning activities in the first and second phase of the nationwide school closures are compared. It can be assumed that the children differ in their motivation and in overcoming challenges in self-regulated learning; for example, in relation to their age or the type of school they attend.
An initial analysis using data from May 2020 from parents with children in grade 8 showed that parents' satisfaction with school support, but not their perceived ability to support their child with learning, was predictive of their perceptions of the child's learning outcomes (Transfer Report 1, PDF).
Sub-study 2: Development of Effort and Eagerness to Learn
Due to the longitudinal design, the developments of children's willingness to make an effort and their enjoyment of learning can be compared in both cohorts before, during and after the school closures. Assumptions are that
- students' enjoyment of learning suffered during the initial period of school closures, but may have stabilised as learning progressed at home
- students who had a higher level of enjoyment of learning before the pandemic are less affected by the new learning situation than those who were already struggling before the school closures
- students with lower prior knowledge and lower self-concept are less motivated to engage with the learning material without constant supervision by teachers
In addition, motivation and personality traits are important predictors of willingness to try hard and can be included in a predictive model to explain the development over time.
Sub-study 3: Identifying children at risk of having difficulties in learning at home
The third part of this project identifies groups at risk of experiencing difficulties in managing self-regulated learning during school closures. The focus is on educational background, gender, prior achievement and motivation at school. Initial analyses with data from the National Educational Panel Study have shown that girls seem to have fewer problems with learning at home than boys. Reading skills and willingness to try hard also seem to be positively related to perceived learning outcomes.