America’ Promise Alliance has released a new report examining young people’s perspectives on the importance of relationships, belonging and agency to their overall learning.
What Drives Learning: Young People’s Perspectives on the Importance of Relationships, Belonging, and Agency is the newest report in the How Learning Happens research series. Based on findings from a nationally representative survey of 3,300 high school students, the report highlights the effect that supportive relationships, a sense of belonging, and feelings of agency can have on students’ self-reported engagement and learning in school.
The overall takeaway is that supportive relationships, higher levels of belonging, and greater experiences of agency have large, statistically significant, positive effects on engagement and meaningful learning, particularly when they are combined. This is true whether the source of support is adults or peers, and whether the relationship is linked to experiences during school or in an OST environment.
Findings include the following:
- Most high school age youth do not report experiencing many of the conditions that support their social, emotional, and cognitive learning.
- There are notable disparities in high school youth who report experiencing supportive conditions for learning by gender, first language, parent education, race, and urbanicity.
- Supportive relationships from multiple sources have independent and additive large positive effects on young people’s reported engagement and meaningful learning.
- Supportive relationships combined with either belonging or agency amplify the positive association between relationships and reported engagement and meaningful learning.