The goal of the Practicing Faith Survey is to help students to grow in their faith and to help Christian schools to know how they can support that growth. The survey provides tools to help schools know what is happening with their students and to help students to reflect on areas of possible growth in their own lives. But there are limits to how far an online survey can help. The survey provides some starting points, but what happens next is vital. This is where you as a teacher can support your students as they interpret their results and decide how to respond to them. We provide here a collection of learning resources for you to use and adapt. First, please take a moment to read the following important guidelines.
What Should You Ask Students to Share?
Unless they choose to share them, only students will be able to see their individual answers. Your school will be able to see overall trends in how all students in the school responded. Individual answers are not saved anywhere— each individual student’s answers are deleted from the site once they are done with the survey.
This is important if the survey is to work properly. Students are likely to answer less honestly if they think someone else is looking over their shoulder. If students know that their teachers or parents will see their answers, they are more likely to give answers that they think will conform to expectations. That reduces our ability to trust and learn from the overall results. It also reduces the opportunity for the student to learn through genuine reflection on how they are currently doing.
We would certainly encourage you to talk with your students about the survey. Ask them what they learned about themselves, what surprised them, whether they spotted any areas in which they would like to grow, and how you can support them. But we also strongly recommend that you do not pressure them to share specific responses if they are uncomfortable doing so.
This means that as you help students process the survey, you should be careful to keep your questions in class focused on what the difference areas of practice mean and how we can all invest in our own growth, and not on how one student did relative to another. This also relates to a second concern.
How Should you Help Students Think About their Score?
School trains us to think of most things that look like tests as having right/wrong answers and leading to a score that tells us how we did relative to others. It is important to be consistent in steering students away from that interpretation of this survey.
Unlike an exam, the goal of this survey is not that students get a perfect score on every category or arrive at a grade. You can’t award a B+ in being Christian (how exactly would we put a number on humility or compassion?). The goal is to learn something about the patterns in how students are investing in faith practices. Everyone’s profile will look a little different, and everyone’s profile will show higher engagement in some areas and lower engagement in others. The goal for the school is to find out more about where students as a whole might need support. The goal for your students is to create space for reflection and further investment in their own growth.
This is not a survey that students succeed at by getting the right score. The survey is a success if it helps them to think about some areas in which they can work out their faith more fully. You can play an important role in helping them to see the survey the right way and not interpret it as equivalent to a score on a math test.
With these guidelines in mind, feel free to use any or all of the following resources to help your students follow through on their survey feedback and figure out how to invest in their growth as Christian learners.