3rd School lockdown – A Representative parent survey in Austria

Author(s) Christoph Helm Alexandra Postlbauer
Institution(s) Johannes Kepler University Lin, Linz School of Education, Department of Education



Maybe further partner(s)

Parent Association Lower Austria

Theoretical framework/approach The first systematic review on teaching and learning during corona-related distance learning (N = 97 studies; Helm, Huber & Loisinger, 2020) reveals that central aspects of teaching and learning during corona-related school closures (such as characteristics of distance learning and characteristics of home resources for learning) have already been investigated many surveys in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. However, the review also emphasizes that there is still little scientific knowledge about the situation of educationally disadvantaged students (with a migration background, from different ethnic groups, from educationally deprived backgrounds) during Corona, as these are particularly difficult to capture with online surveys. Furthermore, with the exception of Schönherr & Zandonella (2021), there is a lack of evidence regarding the situation of parents with school-aged children during the third school closure. The theoretical mechanisms explaining the emergence of educational inequalities due to school closures during the Corona pandemic are manifold. The main argument that is repeatedly referred to (Dietrich et al., 2020; Grewenig et al., 2020; Huber & Helm, 2020; Frohn, 2020) is that parents are now more strongly than before in charge of the learning of their children. The responsibility for the educational processes of children is now almost entirely shifted from the school to the parents. As a result, home and family resources and conditions for independent learning at home are becoming more important in distance education than they have been in traditional in-person education. Theoretical models of homework practice postulate that the parental role during homework supervision as well as the home situation/domestic resources in general (e.g. socio-economic status of learners, equipment at home) strongly influence the quality and success of distance learning processes. Two prominent models in the literature are the homework model (Trautwein et al. 2006) and the process model of homework effectiveness (Kohler 2011). These models of homework research seem to cover all the main aspects of distance learning due to their supply-use logic. What they lack is the role of technology in the teaching-learning process. Therefore, this study is based on an integrative model that extends the homework model by theories of distance education and e-education.
Research questions

(1) To what extent were pupils from low socio-economic families particularly disadvantaged during the school closures?

(2) Is there evidence of a scissor effect? I.e., did the disadvantage of socio-economically worse-off pupils increase due to the school closures?

(3) How does Austria compare to Germany in these questions?

Themes / topics
3rd School lockdown, Distance Learning, Representativeness/Representativity, Replication Study
Main findings of study / highlights
  • Childcare. Around a quarter of parents use childcare services outside their household during the 3rd lockdown. 3 out of 10 parents also report that their children are at school for more than 3 hours a day during the school lockdown.
  • Stress. Around half of the parents report being at their limit, having hardly any time for themselves and perceiving the renewed school closures as a major psychological stress. About 4 out of 10 parents argue with their children more often than usual. One third of the children are overwhelmed during the school closures.
  • Learning time. The hours children spend attending and studying for school each day is reduced from about 8 hours before the lockdown to about 6 hours during the third lockdown, according to parents. This reduction of around 2 hours is significantly lower than that in the comparative study from Germany on the first lockdown (around 4 hours reduction).
  • Learning success. Around 6 out of 10 parents agree with the statement that their child learned significantly less during the school lockdowns in January 2021 than in normal lessons before the pandemic.
  • Quality of distance learning. Around a quarter of parents rate the quality of distance learning during the school closures in January high; almost one in three parents rate it low.
  • Digital tools. Around two-thirds of parents report using digital learning platforms to deliver learning materials. This means that learning platforms have replaced more traditional delivery methods such as email, which only 4 in 10 parents report using, as the most commonly used tool.
  • Technical equipment at home. 4% of parents claim the quality of the learning environment (technical equipment) insufficient. However, 4 out of 10 parents report that problems have arisen with their children in the course of online learning.
  • Challenges reported by children. For 8 out of 10 children, the lack of social contact is a major challenge in the lockdown. For half of the children, independent learning is a major challenge.
  • Challenges reported by parents. For about half of the parents, learning support for their children and the lack of time to do so is a major challenge.

The reported proportions are almost universally more pronounced to the disadvantage of parents of lower-performing children. Parents without and with academic qualifications, on the other hand, often do not differ significantly.

Methods Quantitative Study
Analytic Appraoch Descriptive
Desig of data collection
Online questionnaire, partial replication of the representative parent survey by Wößmann et al. (2020), recruitment of parents via the market research institute respondi and additional distribution via the parent association in Austria.
Time(s) of data collection February 2021
Kind of sampling, kind and number of sample

3590 parents from all federal states of Austria

„Convenience sample“ of parents of school-aged students – compulsory schools (primary school, secondary school), lower and upper grades of general secondary schools (e.g. Real-, Gymnasium), vocational secondary schools (e.g., HAS, HAK, FW, HLW, HTL), and vocational schools.

Geographical area Austria

Helm, C. & Postlbauer, A. (2021). JKU-Bildungsbarometer #1. Schule im 3. Lockdown. 1. Bericht zur repräsentativen Elternumfrage in Österreich. Linz: Johannes Kepler Universität, School of Education. DOI: 10.35011/jbb.2021-1.

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