Isha Vidhya was a recipient of our Feedback Fund. Recently, they shared these insights with us.
Constantly improving the quality of education imparted and the infrastructure has always been one of our top priorities at Isha Vidhya. In order to assess the satisfaction of the students and parents on Isha Vidhya matriculation schools, Isha Vidhya participated in a feedback program called ‘Feedback Loop’ that’s offered by one of the world’s renowned fundraising platforms Globalgiving.
We employed a few college students on a part-time basis to interview 280 students and 20 parents spread across three (Villupuram, Dharmapuri, and Salem) of our schools. Data collected was entered into a database and results were analyzed.
Survey results and plans of action
Around 45% (average) Students don’t enjoy and are less interested in Social Studies and Tamil subjects, and 58% of the students feel that activity-based learning will decrease the boredom in subjects learning
Plan of action: Our academic team has agreed to look into this, and is already working on introducing more activities, methods and charts.
Only 33% students felt that Digital classrooms are enjoyable and give knowledge
Plan of action: The results obtained are influenced by the no. of operational digital classrooms at the time of conducting of the survey. We had only 3 digital classrooms. At this point of time, we have 12 digital classrooms, which should enhance the satisfaction of the students. Another reason for the low results is probably because the students didn’t understand what ‘digital classroom’ meant, because colloquially these rooms are called as ‘LCD rooms’ in the schools. We are making conscious efforts to make the teachers, students and staff to refer to these rooms as ‘digital classrooms’ moving forward.
There is also an operational hindrance to the digital classrooms, which are the frequent power failures in the rural areas. We have installed solar backup systems in many schools, some of which are yet to be operational pending government approval. We intend to achieve complete power backup soon.
43% of the students and 20% of the parents feel bullying is present in the schools
Plan of action: The students who resort to bullying are regularly counseled on the evils of bullying and why they should stay away from it. Being operating in rural areas, bullying is a constant challenge, but the dialogue is always ongoing as to how to improve the situation among the management/admin.s/principals.
50% parents are not satisfied with transportation
Plan of action: Some of the students cannot be picked up from their doorstep, as the buses cannot enter their lane in the remote villages. Transportation sponsorships are currently selectively given based on the economic conditions of the students’ families. As and when more funds become available, we plan to open up transportation sponsorships for more students.
9 out of 20 parents were not willing to share feedback about their fears and hopes. Only 1 parent shared about changes in attitude, thinking, lifestyle
Plan of action: Parents are hesitant to share feedback due to two reasons – (i) they don’t have the necessary exposure to compare and contrast various schools and comment on Isha Vidhya. For them, as the first generation school going family, whatever is provided by Isha Vidhya is abundant, and they are very thankful for that (ii) Many of the students are in education scholarships, so the parents are hesitant that their negative feedback may affect the scholarships. At Isha Vidhya, we engage the parents at multiple levels through interactions with Principals, admins. Through regular parent meets. As an aside, if the parents continue to be hesitant to share their honest feedback in the next survey too, we plan to drop the parents section of the survey.
Future course of action on surveys
We found many areas of improvement in the survey questions.
– Survey questions have to be open-ended to find out which approach/activity will make which boring subject interesting (not one approach will make all subjects interesting
– Survey questions have to be specific about the subject, so that it is known what is being addressed
– Instead of using the term ‘Power English’ in the survey, we used ‘Magic English’ by mistake(which is a methodology used in the govt. schools that we support). We will use the correct terminologies in the next survey
– Questions have to be very specific for close-ended questions
– Asking subjective open-ended questions when ranking is non-satisfactory (e.g. ‘Why?’)
– Two or three conclusions should not be combined in a single question (e.g.: ‘Did you like and participate in the event?’ is not right)
– Surveyors have to make sure that the students understood the question properly by repeating the question in different forms
– Questions that are already conclusive (no. of students taking the sponsorships) should be avoided – already data available with the schools
– Questions related to specific activities should be asked only to the students in the grades that do that activity (verandah, seedling, PowerEnglish, etc.) & local school situation (for example, LCD room not working in a school) should be taken into account while asking a question.
We have found that the ‘Feedback Loop’ exercise is extremely useful for us to find out areas of improvement. We are already implementing actions that would improve the academics as well as infrastructure in the schools to make the students and parents more satisfied. Since this was our first round of survey, we found several areas of improvement in the survey questions as well as the survey process. We plan to do our next round of this survey 18 months from now with essentially the same mix (grades, subjects) of students who are present in those classes at that point of time. Thank you GlobalGiving for giving us this opportunity of ‘Feedback Loop’!