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Only 34% of UK pupils felt motivated to learn remotely, finds edu research house


The ‘Learning in a changing landscape’ report details the lessons educators can learn from lockdown when developing digital strategies and approaching edtech, such as gamifying the experience 

Belfast, 29th September 2020: COVID-19 has placed global education in an unprecedented state of flux, with school closures affecting 1.2 billion students in 181 countries to date. Now the UK and other countries face the threat of a second wave, with tightening restrictions and the possibility of further school closures. In preparation, Texthelp, the learning technology company, has commissioned educational analyst ImpactEd to look at the impact of remote and blended learning on pupil motivation and how technology can help address this going forward. 

The ‘Lockdown and beyond: Learning in a changing landscape’ report draws on ImpactEd’s longitudinal research project surveying more than 11,000 UK students throughout lockdown, and existing evidence on how COVID-19 impacts student motivation in the UK, US and Australia. It shows lockdowns in each country have not only created a range of new challenges for educators, but also deepened existing long-term problems and inequalities. In particular, the evidence shows COVID-19 has led to acute challenges in three linked areas –  student motivation, teacher workload and student wellbeing. 

Pupil motivation is important because it has a direct link to attainment. The study found that only 34% of surveyed UK pupils had felt actively motivated during remote learning, with the majority neutral or actively disinterested. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have reported lower levels of persistence than their peers in every two weeks since the beginning of May. This drop in motivation is expected to continue as home and blended learning contexts become normalised.

The paper provides insights on how schools can get the most impact from technology in a remote or blended learning environment. Whilst the paper highlights the ‘Zoom boom’ in edtech, with a 158% global surge in edtech tool downloads in March 2020, it concludes research-based tools that encourage engagement through real-time feedback and gamification, as well as provide pupil autonomy, will likely have the best impact on student outcomes and teacher workloads. 

The report also highlights how:

  • Teacher working hours have increased by 60-65% as a result of the pandemic

  • Lockdown has had a bigger impact on girls, with the wellbeing scores of those surveyed a full 5% lower than boys

  • Teacher burnout is significantly associated with weakened motivation in pupils

Commenting on the findings of the report, Texthelp’s CEO Martin McKay said:

“As educators increasingly look to technology to support their practices, this paper highlights the importance of prioritising evidence-based solutions that drive student motivation. Writing, for example, is one area where real-time feedback from a research-backed tool can have significant impact, encouraging students to write more and for longer periods when they do not have the motivating benefit of a teacher in the room. 

“At their most effective, edtech tools should complement in-person learning, reducing teacher workloads so they can focus on what really matters – teaching. The rapid digitisation in education brought about by necessity presents opportunities to embed solutions and practices that best support learning, both during this pandemic and beyond.”  

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