Students’ lack of interest among main teaching barriers during lockdown – survey

Students’ lack of interest and a limited access to devices are the main barriers to teaching during lockdown, a survey has found.

Research found that the lack of personal contact experienced by students and teachers had a major negative impact on teaching and learning when they left the classroom.

The survey of second-level teachers reveals what teaching and learning was like during the period of school closures following the outbreak of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 Teacher Survey, carried out by Trinity College Dublin, found that teachers reported a lack of interest from students, lack of support from home and limited access to devices as the main barriers to teaching during the lockdown.

These issues were particularly prevalent in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) contexts.

One fifth of teachers surveyed said they did not foster collaboration among students during lockdown while more than half of teachers reported a decrease in this kind of collaboration since school closures.

The results also found that the move online resulted in an increase in creativity from teachers and students with teachers using a wide range of technology to connect with students.

It showed that teachers found in-school supports and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram useful sources of information for continuing their teaching online.

Support from colleagues was also cited as important and teachers particularly used this as a source for advice around technology but also as a way in which to share ideas and teaching approaches.

However, teachers reported less satisfaction with the support provided by the Department of Education and Skills with over a third rating this type of support as terrible or poor.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Lack of personal contact was found to be a problem (David Jones/PA)</figcaption>
Lack of personal contact was found to be a problem (David Jones/PA)

Some of the other findings of the report include:

– Some 79% of teachers reported engagement from more than 30% of their students

– Teachers in DEIS schools were almost three times more likely to report low engagement

– A co-ordinated whole school approach predicted higher student engagement

– Teachers’ self-confidence to work remotely consistently emerged as a significant factor in levels of engagement

– Teachers who reported a lack of a dedicated school IT infrastructure are more likely to report low engagement

– Teachers expressed particular concern about students with disabilities

The anonymous survey was carried out between June 3 and 19 and 723 post-primary school subject teachers from 102 schools responded.

The report entitled Teaching and Learning During School Closures: Lessons Learned was compiled by Dr Ann Devitt, Dr Aibhin Bray and Dr Joanne Banks from the School of Education and Dr Eilis Ni Chorcora from Trinity Access.

Dr Devitt, director of Research at the School of Education and the academic director at The Learnovate Centre, said: “The findings show that the mode of delivery of teaching and learning affected students’ levels of engagement, with more interactive and collaborative approaches impacting positively.

“However, nearly 20% of teachers reported never fostering collaboration during school closures.

“Our findings show that there is a need for teachers to foster relationships with students when they return to the classroom. But there is also a need for teachers to be ready in case such a shutdown happens again and we believe CPD is needed for teachers on how to provide collaborative learning online.”

One teacher said: “I feel the lack of personal connection with students places a barrier in the way of motivation, engagement, collaboration, and all else in teaching.

“Technology has helped me to organise lessons and information but places a large obstacle for teaching and learning especially for disadvantaged students.”