- A new Gallup poll of American students, "Engaged Today — Ready For Tomorrow," measures the engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration and career and financial literacy of students in grades 5-12.
- The poll showed 50% of students surveyed feel engaged in their schools, 48% feel hopeful about the future and 61% plan to attend a 4-year college or university.
- Respondents were evenly split by gender and were 57% white, 19% black, 7% Asian, 3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, with a no-response rate of 20%.
A reported 29% of U.S. students say they are "not engaged" in their schools, and another 21% say they are "actively disengaged."
Students who are encouraged and feel like their work has value and meaning are more likely to remain plugged in and active in the classroom. Providing opportunities for self-directed learning can also inspire students, as well as give them a chance to develop a sense of ownership over new skills and acquired knowledge. One example is a project by Carleton Place High School in Ontario, Canada. There, students conceptualized and executed their own collaborative business plan, producing and eventually selling cell phone cases they created on a 3D printer.
Challenge-based, project approaches can also help students in some of the other areas measured. For the 34% of students who feel "stuck" and the 18% who feel "discouraged" as opposed to hopeful, strategies used by innovative educational models like Big Picture Learning may help. In Big Picture, students are encouraged to tackle projects based on their own pre-existing interests, and then coached and intensively mentored by community professionals.
It's also important to develop agency in students, notes Christine Hertz, a second-grade teacher and the co-author of the book "A Mindset for Learning," which explores the teaching of "traits of joyful, independent growth" through the implementation of five key attitudes: optimism, persistence, flexibility, resilience, and empathy.