Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Soul Force Survey


Why a survey?

In the research portion of my Soul Force project, I found many stories from schools across the nation that have been impacted since the election. I also found a great deal of data, mostly collected through surveys of the nation as a whole. What I didn't find is what's happening here at ONW. Sure, I hear comments and receive reports from students about conflicts--but there was nothing that gave me a big picture of ONW. Thus, instead of interviewing somebody who is an "expert" in my problem, I decided to survey the student body. I can't think of a more credible and authoritative source than the students who walk down the halls everyday.

What did the survey tell me?

I am still compiling the results of ONW's 2016-2017 Climate Survey, but so far, I'm not surprised by the data. Overall, ONW is a great school with great students and great staff, and the data supports this claim. The key takeaway from the partial results has been the data for the final question: In general, how accepting do you think students at ONW are of people perceived to be different from themselves?

While I don't think these results are odious, it is significant that only 52% of students answered "Somewhat Accepting" or "Very Accepting." I see this in adults, so it's no wonder many students don't know how to deal with diversity and differences.


What did I learn about surveying?

The first thing I learned is that surveys take a really, really, really long time to write. When I started the process of developing the survey last October, I thought it was going to be a breeze because GLSEN offers a free Local Climate Survey for any teacher, school, or district. However, I discovered a problem right away: the survey had 75 questions on it. It's a certitude that students would feel contemptuous about taking this long of a survey; therefore, I worked with my school social worker and principal to cut down this number. Once we narrowed the focus of the survey, we then had to reword questions. My principal wanted to make sure that questions weren't worded in such a way that assumed students didn't safe at school, so we went back and forth on several questions to revise questions for this reason. 

I also learned that giving a paper survey to hundreds of students is a nightmare. While a few classes had access to computers and took the survey online, most of the 9th, 10th, and 11th graders who took the survey did so on paper. My aide and other volunteers have been entering the data by hand for weeks; in fact, there is still a profuse number of surveys to be entered. I learned a valuable lesson: always give surveys online only!