Survey Sheds Light on High School Students’ Engagement and Aspirations
The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE), a counterpart to the college-level National Survey of Student Engagement, summarized its 2005 findings in What We Can Learn from High School Students. This report offers insights into how high school students spend their time, how they perceive their high school education, and how well they are prepared for postsecondary education. Its findings are based on the responses of more than 80,000 students from eighty-seven high schools.
The most recent HSSSE findings have mixed implications for colleges and universities. Large numbers of students in the survey reported not putting much effort into school and spending little time on homework. And at many high schools, assignments do not effectively prepare students for college: papers are usually short and are infrequently assigned, projects often do not require the use of information from more than one source, and class presentations are infrequently assigned. A large majority of students, however, plan to enroll at a postsecondary institution, and a similar majority report that their high school places emphasis on continuing education after high school.
Student Engagement in High School
- Only slightly more than half (53 percent) of respondents agreed that they put forth a great deal of effort in their school work.
- More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents reported that they had not written any papers more than five pages long during the current school year, and only 39 percent had written more than three papers that were three to five pages long during the current school year.
- Fewer than half (48 percent) said they had frequently discussed grades or assignments with a teacher.
- Fifty-four percent said they had spent no time volunteering, and 61 percent had never participated in a community-based project as part of a regular class.
- Forty percent of students devoted at least five hours a week to school athletics, clubs, student government, publications, or other school-sponsored activities; 36 percent were not involved at all in these types of activities.
- Forty-three percent of twelfth-graders worked more than ten hours a week for pay; 24 percent worked more than twenty hours a week.
- Three-fourths (75 percent) of respondents said their school places substantial emphasis on continuing education beyond high school.
- More than four-fifths (83 percent) of respondents indicated that they plan to enroll at a postsecondary institution after high school.
- Asked of their educational expectations, 9 percent of students reported that their highest degree would be a two-year associate degree, 39 percent expected to complete four years of college, and 35 percent said they aspired to a master’s degree or higher.
To learn more about the survey or to download What We Can Learn from High School Students, visit the High School Survey of Student Engagement online. As part of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise campaign, AAC&U sponsored focus groups with college-bound high school students that confirmed some of the HSSSE findings.
- Half of the responding students said they devoted four hours or less per week to class preparation, including homework, reading, or rehearsing.
- Slightly more than half (53 percent) agreed that what they learn in high school is useful.
- Almost two-thirds (65 percent) agreed that at least one adult in their school cared about them, and a comparable percentage (64 percent) said that they were supported and respected by teachers.