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Who Was Bored, The Students Or CNN?

March 1, 2007

Here’s a CNN story from yesterday:
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Survey: Many U.S. high school students bored in class

CHICAGO, Illinois (Reuters) — A majority of U.S. high school students say they get bored in class every day, and more than one out of five has considered dropping out, according to a survey released Wednesday. The survey of 81,000 students in 26 states found two-thirds of high school students complain of boredom, usually because the subject matter was irrelevant or their teachers didn’t seem to care about them. ‘They’re not having those interactions, which we know are critical for student engagement with learning,’ said Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, who led the annual survey by Indiana University researchers. Half of the students surveyed said they had skipped school without a valid excuse at least once, and 22 percent said they had considered dropping out. More than half said they spent an hour or less per week reading and studying. Yet, three of four students surveyed said they expected to earn a high school diploma and go on to college. ‘Students may not be doing the work to get them to that point,’ Yazzie-Mintz said.

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No offense to Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, nor his HSSSE group (High School Survey of Student Engagement), but was this study necessary? Or, is my reaction being driven by CNN’s presentation of the survey results? Prior to this empirical study, was our knowledge of student engagement and boredom merely anecdotal? And, was that anecdotal knowledge really inadequate? I wonder how much the survey cost?

I have this nagging feeling that the Reuters/CNN story is woefully inadequate. And if it was just a slow news day for CNN on the education front, why not assign someone the task of getting behind this apparently (due to CNN’s presentation) needless survey? – TL

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