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Student Well-being Measurement Tool

Tool to measure student well being at scale


Abstract:

After prolonged and frequent school closures for almost two years, children have finally returned to school. However, these school closures and other effects of the pandemic are likely to have negatively impacted their learning levels and emotional well-being. In a study on school closures in Maharashtra, parents and teachers reported concerns about students’ emotional well-being, with as many as 91% of parents reporting their children have become increasingly restless at home. Several studies show that children and young people are among the most susceptible to crises (such as the pandemic) because of their “lack of agency and, more importantly, because of the sensitive developmental milestones they must achieve during those years.”


Further, school connectedness is linked with multiple significant benefits for students such as higher self-esteem and life satisfaction, increased likelihood of completing secondary school, participation in fewer risk-taking behaviors, lower rates of substance use and violence, and greater feelings of positive mental health. In the context of the global pandemic, children and adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of school closures on stress, mental health, and a sense of belonging. To ensure long-term student well-being and improved student academic and personal development, it is essential to build key competencies related to socio-emotional learning (SEL).


The recently released National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) and National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat emphasize the importance of developing life skills among students.

Recommendations across multiple reports on education and the pandemic have urged decision-makers in schools and governments to acknowledge the role social and emotional health and wellbeing will have on students’ learning in the short term and near future. Thus, ensuring that students have support for their mental wellness or non-academic support is an important action area. Recommendations have ranged from the formulation of a disaster response plan addressing social and emotional health and studies to assess the impact of the pandemic on student mental health to equipping teachers with necessary skills to help students or even provision of career counselling.


Comprehensive data about the impact of school closures on student well-being in India could prove crucial at this juncture for government bodies as well as NGOs to make important program and policy decisions. Hence, there is a need to study the current state of students’ emotional well-being and check for SEL competencies that could enable students to sustain a sense of well-being. The recent discussion among leadership drawing from national policies, and concerns among parents and teachers have all been factors resulting in heightened relevance of this domain. We feel efforts need to be concentrated on building a shared understanding and better documenting the current scenario to support effective action in the near future.


The research team at Leadership for Equity (LFE) and expert faculty at FLAME University have partnered to develop an appropriate tool that can document students’ well-being and provide data-based insights to support systemic efforts that combat the adverse effects of COVID-19-related school closures. The team of experts currently includes (1) Dr. Shalaka Shah, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, School of Liberal Education, FLAME University, Pune; (2) Dr. Shivakumar Jolad, Associate Professor, Public Policy, School of Liberal Education, FLAME University, Pune; (3) Prachi Nawathe, Child Psychologist. We are at present developing a tool to measure SEL among students of grades 6, 7, and 8 studying in Public schools in Maharashtra.


Objectives

This study aims to measure students’ emotional well-being in light of recent school closures in the Indian context, especially among low-income students. Further, it seeks to assess levels of specific SEL competencies in students as per the CASEL framework.


SEL competencies are usually measured through observation of parents/ families and educators along with self-reported data, that is collated over multiple points in time. However, given the need for a large-scale low-cost dipstick assessment, the tool developed attempts to quantify and measure the competencies through students’ self-reported data. Many other existing tools focus on life skills, but tools developed here attempt to measure psychological constructs.


Current status

In order to develop a tool to measure the above competencies, we will draw from pre-existing tools. As part of this process, a pool of validated and reliable assessment tools that measured the selected competencies among students was identified. Based on this test items were identified and underwent several rounds of review with the Institutional Review Board at FLAME University and a project Review Board (PRB). The PRB consisted of Dr. Vimala Ramchandran (Director - ERU Consultants, New Delhi), Dr. Sadhana Natu (Psychologist and Associate Professor, Pune University), and our team members Aadithiya Hariharan (Masters in Pedagogy and Assessment, University of Melbourne), Neha Nair (Masters in MIS and Education, University of Buffalo and Azim Premji University), and Harshita Marathe (Masters in Education, Azim Premji University).


Each tool item was reviewed independently and as a group by the FLAME-LFE team for language, validity, and relevance. The refined tool was then translated and reviewed for child-friendly language by D.r Prachi Nawathe, who has been working as a child psychologist for ten years. Each translated item was further reviewed for context-appropriateness and language by LFE members located across different districts in Maharashtra.


After obtaining approval from the IRB and the PRB, we used the tool to survey 1900 students across five jurisdictions in Maharashtra - Akola, Nashik, Nagpur Municipal Corporation, Pune (Zilla Parishad), and PCMC. This data is also being used to establish the validity and reliability of the tool. At present, based on factor analysis some items on the tool have been revised and the team is currently preparing for the next round of data collection to validate the tools.


If you or your team are interested in using this tool and finding out more about it. Please write in to info@leadershipforequity.org


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