Students’ Educational Outcomes Improve With Volunteer Support
16 November 2017 at 8:15 am
Trained community volunteers in schools improved student behaviour and engagement, and delivered better educational outcomes, according to a new report by Victorian-based children’s education charity Ardoch Youth Foundation.
The new study revealed that classroom volunteers could dramatically improve the educational outcomes for students in disadvantaged communities.
The study showed that 67 per cent of students who worked with volunteers had shown greater improvement in their academic competence than teachers anticipated.
As well, 79 per cent of students also reported a greater confidence in their ability to learn when supported by a classroom volunteer.
Ardoch, which works with schools in disadvantaged communities to recruit, train and place volunteers in classrooms to provide support for children’s literacy, said it commissioned the study to “test the impact volunteers had on the confidence and learning outcomes of primary school-aged children in disadvantaged communities”.
The report revealed that after just six months with Ardoch volunteer support;
- student behaviour improved for 57 per cent of students while interacting with the volunteer and 45 per cent improved for the rest of the day;
- 55 per cent of those students expressed emotions more appropriately; and
- 62 per cent made and sustained friendships.
The report also found that 78 per cent of teachers surveyed reported that having an Ardoch volunteer in their classroom made their job easier with extra attention given to students and coordination of more small group activities
Ardoch CEO Kylee Bates said that result of the study showed that volunteers had an important role to play in the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children.
“Programs such as this delivered by Ardoch play an important role in supporting children in disadvantaged communities to realise their potential. It shows that community involvement in schools is important and has an real and tangible impact,” Bates said.
“It is especially important when children may be dealing with a range of external factors and circumstances that affects their school engagement and therefore their ability to learn.
“Having a volunteer spend time one-on-one with students, or in small groups, provides focused support and attention, to a child’s learning that may not always be available at home.
“It shows that while all children have the opportunity to go to school, some children need greater support when they are there if they are to realise their potential. Well-trained and supported volunteers, who make a weekly commitment, can provide that support.”
Bates said the contribution that volunteers in classrooms made was more than just a few hours time each week.
“It is the difference between a student having confidence in their ability to learn, or not; and the academic improvement that accompanies this,” she said.
Sharon Dow, a teacher at St Francis Xavier Primary School in Corio, Geelong, said: “Due to a number of reasons, a number of our children start school with very little exposure to literature. The Ardoch volunteers in our school have played a significant role in making a difference to the young people we teach.
“There is nothing more pleasing to see and hear than our children and our volunteers sharing experiences and stories together that will be remembered forever,” Dow said.
Ardoch volunteers reported feeling positive about being “able to make a contribution to students learning”.
They also reported that after spending just six months in the classroom, the students they worked with were better able to communicate their emotions (65 per cent), expressed confidence in their ability to learn (78 per cent) and the students were observed by the volunteers to have shown improvement in their academic competence (67 per cent).
Bates said: “We have always been of the firm belief that volunteers are central to Ardoch’s work and this survey is an affirmation of that. With appropriately designed programs like Ardoch’s Community Education Volunteers Program, community volunteers can bring about real improvements in the social development, school engagement and academic competence of the children they work with.”