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We’re major stakeholders in the fight to create a more equitable education in the midst of added uncertainty


Pragya Upreti

Coping With COVID-19: Student-to-Student Study

Lexington, KY

“We’re major stakeholders in the fight to create a more equitable education in the midst of added uncertainty”

As we transition into the interviewing phase of our study, the focus of learning is to use and display the insight we have gained from our adult allies about ethical interviewing practices. Although we’ve all been through various lessons and training on the ethics of human research, the real learning comes from getting to try it out for ourselves! Each member of our interviewing team has completed practice rounds of interviewing to get more comfortable with the situation, but as we conduct the qualitative interviews that will culminate the second half of this study, we’re certainly learning ways to improve, and reflect on our interview experiences every step of the way.

We plan on conducting 50 peer-to-peer interviews. By doing so, the goal is to be able to holistically represent the voices of students that our survey alone may not have justly represented. It’s so exciting to see how we’re slowly changing our scope of research from first analyzing written responses, which we were aware did not provide us with the complete nuance we desired, to now opening up room for discussion and bringing this aspect of storytelling to life. It’s most exciting to first read through the student responses, then wonder just how much could be elaborated on when these students know that people are ready to not only listen, but now also shape policies around the experiences we share.

Because our entire research team is culminated of several incredible students and adult allies, so much is going on with different aspects of this study. When analyzing the open-ended responses we received, our team subdivided into 3 distinct groups, each representing one ORQ (open response question) that was asked on our survey. By the time we got to publish our official executive summary, we knew that one report alone could not justly represent the nuance and complexity we saw over the past months. So, some of our ORQ teams have been working on writing supplemental reports that are aimed to amplify the stories of the students behind the statistics that our executive summary and news coverage broadly highlights. We recognize the boundaries of our study, but also that, no matter how many thousands of student responses a survey fields, the most integral aspects of it lie in the individual and distinct stories that each student has to offer. By writing supplemental reports that amplify the connection we have made with the survey responses, it’s much clearer to understand why we chose to adhere to nuance over generalization.

With high school and college distance learning resuming over the course of this week, we’ve increasingly begun to recognize the value of our position as students and major stakeholders in the fight to create a more equitable education in the midst of added uncertainty. For the past five months we’ve spent the majority of our time listening to and analyzing the stories of other students,

with whom we’ve constantly empathized. Now, as we continue to work on and share out supplementary reports from this study, we’ve grown closer as a team as we discussed our own struggles with distance learning in the fall. So many of the lived experiences of students from all across the state were also things that so many of us had also experienced. We’ve noticed just how much we relate to the students that this survey represents, which has simply demonstrated the depth and power of meaningful student voice in education research.