As if any more confirmation were needed, a survey to Scarsdale High School parents, teachers and students has solidified proof of their objection to cross-cohort streaming, a learning strategy that was tested last month.
The strategy, which had students streaming into the opposite cohort’s live session during their normally scheduled asynchronous time, had been met with disdain by students, who came out in force during the public comment portion of a school board meeting on Oct. 19.
The survey, which collected 113 teacher, 1,175 student, and 507 parent responses, found that the vast majority of all groups did not think that cross-cohort streaming was effective or preferable to doing asynchronous work. A majority of students (81%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that cross-cohort streaming was effective for learning and 86% of students disagreed or strongly disagreed that streaming into classes was preferable to doing asynchronous work for those classes.
The survey found 68% of parents and 68% of teachers disagreed or strongly disagreed that cross-cohort streaming was effective for learning, and 68% of parents and 71% of teachers disagreed or strongly disagreed that streaming into classes was preferable to doing asynchronous work.
With the survey completed, Scarsdale High School Principal Kenneth Bonamo said the school would use “a targeted use of cross-cohort streaming” while moving into the second quarter.
“As schedules may change and available technology improves … we will continue to monitor and adjust our approach to it,” said Bonamo during a board of education meeting on Nov. 16. He went on to say the approach required teachers to be clear with students about expectations for their time at home.
“Students may need extra support with organization and scheduling, and we will monitor that as we move forward,” Bonamo wrote in an email to the school community on Nov. 17. “We will also work to achieve consistency for each course, so that different teachers teaching the same course have a reasonably similar frequency and way of using cross-cohort streaming.”
According to survey results, compared to all other subjects, math had the highest portion of students and parents saying math was suitable for livestreaming.
The vast majority of respondents (69% of teachers, 68% of parents and 85% of students) also disagreed or strongly disagreed that streaming helped with time management and 81% of teachers, 66% of parents and 67% of students reported that the in-person experience was negatively affected by livestreaming. Respondents said the main problem was hearing noises from students in the classroom on the livestream, followed by concerns about increased screen time.
As a result of the survey’s feedback, Bonamo said teachers had already made decisions about using cross-cohort streaming based on its suitability for use in the class.
Streaming won’t be used in performance-based classes, such as world language, physical education, music or art. English, social studies and health classes also won’t be streaming regularly, though teachers keep that option open.
Middle school survey results
Responses from parents, students and teachers about cross-cohort streaming in Scarsdale Middle School were less definitive.
After a two-week trial period, a survey revealed that more than half of the 1,095 students and 323 parents who responded thought that synchronous engagement of the at-home cohort “helps students better understand directions to assignments, work and activities.”
About 48% of parents and 37% of students responded that livestreaming helped students better understand content. Faculty, who met in mixed curricular focus groups to discuss their opinions on livestreaming, saw the model as an “effective tool” for delivering content and a way for students to ask questions about asynchronous work.
Math teachers were most supportive of livestreaming and said it helped students better understand content.
In addition, 41% of parents and 28% of students said they preferred to engage via synchronous learning, with students expressing concerns over completing their asynchronous work as the main reason they didn’t want to engage in livestreaming all the time.
About 50% of students and 46% of parents said livestreaming brought with it too much screen time, and faculty members agreed that screen time was a concern.
“The survey results support our understanding of a middle school student and where they are developmentally. Students are still in a place where they need structure as they develop their executive functioning skills. They’re in a place where they have questions. Often these questions are about assignments and directions,” said SMS Principal Meghan Troy. “While we’re moving them to a place of independence, most are not quite there yet.”
Troy also said the survey identified many of livestreaming’s benefits and challenges. Students said the No. 1 benefit to livestreaming was getting their questions answered by a teacher in real time, with gaining a better understanding of content a close second.
The biggest challenge identified by all groups was technology, including dropped, glitchy or lagging Zoom calls and defective audio.
Scheduling was another challenge, which led to low attendance among students.
Troy said the school would work to better communicate schedules in the future and ensure technology was up to par for learning.
Based on the survey results, Troy said the school didn’t see a need for every class to livestream every day for full periods, though she said classes might benefit from an initial livestream check-in to answer questions and make sure all students are on the same page.
With the exception of physical education, the middle school will require students to livestream or connect at the beginning of every class period starting Nov. 30. Students might not be livestreaming for the entire class period, and teachers can send students to work independently, though it will be up to the discretion of the teacher and the material assigned for that day.
“This model would incorporate the benefits that were shared by all and mitigate many of the concerns,” said Troy.