Make It Meaningful!
This just in from 42,000
high school students: They’re
mostly bored, and they often
don’t see the value in the
work that teachers ask them
to do. The recently released
Charting the Path from
Engagement to Achievement: A
Report on the 2009 High School
Survey of Student Engagement
looks at student answers to
such questions as,
• If you have been bored
in class in high school, why
are you bored?
• Are you challenged
academically in your classes?
• Does your work in high
school contribute to your
growth in thinking critically?
Writing and speaking
effectively? Reading and
materials? Learning independently? Acquiring skills related to work after high
school? Solving real-world problems?
Two of three respondents ( 66 percent) indicated that they are bored at least every
day in class. But students also clarified the kinds of work that would engage them.
They rated the following most highly: discussion and debate ( 61 percent); group
projects ( 60 percent); and projects and lessons involving technology ( 55 percent).
Following close behind as favorites were presentations ( 46 percent); role-plays
( 43 percent); and art and drama activities ( 49 percent). It’s no surprise that teacher
lecture got the highest “like not at all” votes ( 44 percent) and the fewest “like very
much” votes ( 6 percent). Students also indicated that they enjoy discussions in
which there are no clear-cut answers ( 65 percent) and that they would welcome the
opportunity to be more creative in school ( 82 percent).
percent of high school
students surveyed said that
service learning classes are
more interesting than regular
percent of high
said they would be more
engaged in any subject if the
work included video or online
games; the same percentage
of middle school students
said that online games make
it easier for them to grasp
The hours per
week that high
spend on homework.
As a teacher once said, “I never heard of a student
not doing his work; it’s our work he’s not doing.”
—Cathy Vatterott, p. 10
1Civic Enterprises. (2008). Engaged for
2 Project Tomorrow. (2010). Creating
Our Future: Students Speak Up About
Their Vision for 21st Century Learning.
3National Center for Education
Statistics. (2008, June). Parent and
Family Involvement in Education Survey.