School Life Questionnaire (SLQ)

 

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Questionnaire overview

The experience provided in schools is a significant component of the lives of most people and deserves consideration in terms of its quality as well as its relationship to academic achievement.

What students think of their schools is a frequent topic of conversation among students themselves, among students and their families and among teachers. 'How's school?' is the start of many discussions and evokes a range of responses. Beyond a role as a conversation starter there are several reasons why students' views of, and attitudes to, their schools are important. This includes:

  1. Students spend a significant part of their lives in schools and what they experience in that time is of importance in itself
  2. Students' attitudes to school are important because they relate to (but are not necessarily the same as) many affective and enduring purposes of schooling.
  3. Attitudes to school are important because they are presumed to influence student learning.

The School Life Questionnaire (SLQ) provides accurate, measurable, reportable data on students’ ratings of their school connectedness, engagement and motivation to learn. It enables examination of important outcomes such as attitudes towards school in general, towards learning, towards teachers and towards other students.

The questionnaire was initially developed by ACER in the early 1980s for use in secondary schools to discover students' overall feelings about school and their feelings about specific aspects of school life. A primary school version of the SLQ was subsequently developed for students in the upper primary years. In developing the primary school version an attempt was made not only to render the language of the instrument appropriate for primary schools but also to consider the appropriateness of the concepts underlying the scales for these younger students.

The SLQ has been used in a series of studies in different contexts over several decades. The results of these studies have enabled the instrument to be developed and its properties to be established through replicated results.

Recent analyses with available data collected since 2004 empirically re-assessed the scale structure. This resulted in the refinement of both the secondary and primary versions of the questionnaire and the release of a revised version. This analysis and the new release further highlight differences in the school experiences for primary compared to secondary students.

For the first time, the latest release of the SLQ is available to schools to administer online through ACER's online assessment and reporting system (OARS). A comprehensive report can be generated online immediately after students have completed the survey.

Available in both upper primary school and secondary school versions, the SLQ consists of less than 40 questions which take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Schools may choose to test selected groups or the whole school. Results are anonymous and a comprehensive report can be generated online immediately after students have completed the survey.

 

Understanding the SLQ domains

The School Life Questionnaire explores six (Primary school questionnaire) or seven (Secondary school questionnaire) domains of students’ experience of school life. Each domain has a number of items that contribute to a student’s overall level of agreement to that domain. The average percentage agreement across all items for a domain for all students who completed the survey gives the overall average percentage agreement. A high level of percentage agreement for a domain indicates that students are more likely to exhibit the feelings, beliefs and opinions described. Below are descriptions of the domains and information that may assist in interpreting your SLQ report.

Primary school questionnaire

Domain Description Interpretation
Negative affect Negative feelings about school High agreement on the Negative affect domain indicates that students have negative feelings about school. They are more likely to agree that they are unhappy, lonely, worried, upset and restless at school. The item regarding restlessness may be an interesting item to consider on its own given it is more of a physical feeling than a psychological one when compared to the other items.
Teachers Feelings about the adequacy of the interaction between teachers and students High agreement on the Teachers domain indicates a positive student-teacher relationship. Students tend to agree that they are treated fairly, listened to, and feel that teachers are interested in helping them.
Relevance Belief in the relevance of schooling for the future High agreement on the Relevance domain indicates that students are engaged with the benefits of education for their short and long term future. They believe that school is a source of useful knowledge that will help them in the future.
Success Sense of confidence in one’s ability to be successful in school work High agreement on the Success domain indicates a strong sense of student self- efficacy. Students tend to agree that they are able to cope with the required demands at school and that they are successful with their school work.
Social integration Sense of learning about other people and getting along with other people High agreement on the Social integration domain indicates students have a sense of self-awareness and how they fit in with the people around them. Students tend to agree that they are liked by their peers, that they have positive relationships and they are trustworthy as a student and friend.
Enjoyment Sense of self-motivation in learning and that learning is enjoyable for its own sake High agreement on the Enjoyment domain suggests students have positive feelings towards schools. They are more likely to agree that learning is fun, enjoyable, exciting and interesting.

 

Secondary school questionnaire

Domain Description Interpretation
Negative affect Negative feelings about school High agreement on this domain indicates that students have negative feelings about school. They are more likely to agree that they are depressed, lonely, worried, upset and restless at school. The item regarding restlessness may be an interested item to consider on its own given it is more of a physical feeling than a psychological one when compared to the other items.
Teachers Feelings about the adequacy of the interaction between teachers and students High agreement on the Teachers domain indicates a positive student-teacher relationship. Students tend to agree that they are treated fairly, listened to, and feel that teachers are interested in helping them.
Relevance Belief in the relevance of schooling for the future High agreement on the Relevance domain indicates that students are engaged with the benefits of education for their short and long term future. They believe that school is worthwhile as well as both a source of useful knowledge that will help them in the future.
Success Sense of confidence in one’s ability to be successful in school work High agreement on the Success domain indicates a sense of student self- efficacy. Students will tend to agree that they are able to cope with the required demands at school and that they are successful with their school work.
Social integration Sense of learning about other people and getting along with other people High agreement on the Social integration domain indicates students have a sense of self-awareness and how they fit in with the people around them. Students tend to agree that they are liked by their peers and that they have respectful and accepting relationships.
Status Indication of the relative degree of prestige accorded to the individual by significant others within the school High agreement on the Status domain indicates students have a high degree of self-confidence. School is a place where students feel important and admired by others.
General satisfaction Favourable feelings about school as whole

High agreement on the General satisfaction domain indicates that students have positive feelings towards schools. They are more likely to agree that they like learning and enjoy being at school.

 

Administering the questionnaire

Prior to administering the questionnaire to students, teachers should download or print a list of student login details as well as the administration instructions. It is recommended that the school’s unique account URL is saved as a shortcut or link on students’ devices or on the school intranet for easy access.

The Primary questionnaire comprises 35 questions and the Secondary questionnaire comprises 36 questions. Each questionnaire should take students approximately 15 minutes to complete.

 

Generating reports

IMPORTANT:

The School Life Questionnaire is a confidential survey and is not designed to report individual student responses. In order to maintain the anonymity of student responses, SLQ reports require a minimum of 10 responses per gender and year level. Similarly, reports will not generate if there are multiple responses from the same students within the specified report date range. If you receive an error message, try narrowing the date range of your report to cover only one survey period.

Follow the steps below to generate SLQ reports:

  1. Click Students
  2. Select your required students
    • Click the tick next to students' names to select your students one at a time, or
    • Filter your list to view a specific group and then click Select all x students
  3. Click Generate report 
  4. Select School Life Questionnaire
  5. Select Survey Results
  6. Select the required Form from the drop-down menu
  7. Specify the required date range for the report
  8. Click Generate report
  9. Click View report
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