Measuring Student Engagement

Everyone accepts, and the research confirms, that student engagement matters.  More engaged students get better grades, test better, are less likely to engage in deviant behavior, and exhibit more of just about any favorable outcome one would care to name.  However, most schools lack the resources to adequately test how engaged their students are and whether their programs are helping students feel more engaged. 

AEM is thrilled to announce the launch of the AEM/5-Star Student Survey of Student Engagement (SSE).  The SSE measures the most critical parts of student engagement and lets your school understand the impact of your programs on student engagement over the course of a school year.  It can help advocates prove that student activities make a positive impact in individual schools.  It does all these things in a way that respect the limited time and money contemporary schools have without sacrificing a shred of accuracy

The SSE is a 10 question survey designed so that students can take it by cellphone or email in 5 minutes or less.  Each student takes the SSE at the beginning and end of the school year, with an optional administration in the middle.  AEM and 5-Star wanted to keep the number of questions low and the administration easy and quick because we know how precious your instructional time is.  

Our  quick little survey is still extremely rigorous and comprehensive.  It captures the facets of engagement that researchers find most strongly link to positive student outcomes.  We measure how kids feel about themselves, their academics, their friends, their teachers, their future, and more.  AEM and 5-Star are completely confident that the care we have taken to ensure you get the most accurate, actionable information will impress other social science researchers and, of course, you.

As part of your yearly subscription, your school receives five hours of data analysis from AEM.  I will work with you to understand which of your student subgroups feel more or less engaged.  The SSE can help you understand whether, for example, your special education students feel less engaged than the rest of your student body and whether you should consider programs designed specifically to boost their engagement.  I will also look at changes in your student body’s answers from the beginning of the year through the middle to the end.  You will understand if your efforts to boost student engagement have been successful and in which areas students feel more engaged.  If one of your goals for the 14-15 school year is to improve student attitudes towards teachers, the SSE can tell you if you are successful.  I will also compare your results to other schools, so you can understand whether your progress meets or exceeds what AEM and 5-Star sees nationwide.

As an activities advocate, I may be most excited about the potential of the SSE to work with 5 Star’s software to provide evidence on the changes kids experience when they join student activities.  5-Star has developed software that lets teachers and students easily scan student IDs to track event attendance and group membership.  

(If you think 5-Star sounds great, you are not alone.  I am saving a full description of 5-Star and its capabilities for another post, for now, suffice to say that 5-Star is a must have for schools serious about establishing a strong student activities program.  Schools that use 5-Star will have incredibly detailed data on student participation in all of their activities.  5-Star’s technology allows for fully paperless ticketing and keeps track of every student registered to attend all events, so schools never need to print another ticket or deal with another student who lost said ticket.  Schools can also set up rewards programs that assign point values to every event and group to which a student belongs and let students “compete” to see who can get the most points.)  

AEM will link the results of the SSE with data from 5-Star on each student’s participation in student activities.  We will be able to tell you if students who go to the Homecoming Dance are more likely to like school, if members of the Key Club feel more optimistic about their future, and so on.  We will also be able to show the attitude changes in previously under-involved students after they join a club.  We fully expect that most subscribing schools will see trends similar to those found in national studies that show student activities lead to better student outcomes.  Activities directors will have evidence that student activities are making kids in their schools better.  How valuable will such evidence be when they have to argue against funding cuts or for expanded opportunities?

Your school can understand student engagement and the effectiveness of student activities at a reasonable cost.  If you are interested in the SSE, please contact AEM.

Elizabeth Fuqua