09 SES 07 B, Students’ Perceptions, Values and Aspirations at the Transition to Upper Secondary Education
Concerns for improving the quality of compulsory education have grown strongly in the past decades with multiple reflections in education policies of many European countries (Wastiau-Schlüter, 2004). These concerns triggered increased pressures and a series of projects to develop self-evaluation procedures in schools aimed at quality improvement. In Portugal, self-evaluation in schools is employed within a larger external evaluation process to all public schools and aimed at improving their quality. So, the Portuguese Inspectorate of Education (IGE) has required school reports to provide information within specific domains regarding results, provision of educational services, leadership and management (IGE, 2013). Some of the required indicators include aspects such as the impact of schooling on the students' paths and of coherence between self-evaluation and actions towards improvement. Therefore, there has been increased concern from schools in keeping track of their former students’ paths and collecting their perceptions in the transition experience to other schools for self-evaluation purposes.
In fact students’ transitions have been a frequent topic in literature (Anderson, Jacobs, Schramm & Splittgerber, 2000; Akos & Galassi, 2004; Mackenzie, McMaugh & O’Sullivan, 2012), even boosted by the introduction and later expansion of compulsory schooling and by more recent demands to improve student engagement and diminish student retention (Gale & Paker, 2012). Although they imply a series of systemic transitions within the educational system that involve all sorts of new organizational structures, the students’ experiences of school transitions are highly developmental and related with individual features of a physical, intellectual and emotional nature (Anderson, Jacobs, Schramm & Splittgerber, 2000). So, much literature has focused on the social and emotional aspects of the students’ transition experience. Students’ perceptions about the transition experience within secondary education have been lacking some highlight (Akos & Galassi, 2004) in which concerns particularly more systemic and academic aspects that can help to facilitate the transition experience. Exploring these issues may also be justified with the growing tendency to enlargement of compulsory education, at least, in European countries. In fact, along with Hungary, Luxembourg and Northern Ireland, Portugal is one of the European countries that is now endorsing compulsory education during 12 years (Eurydice, 2013), a change that has been implemented initially with students that were attending the 7th grade in 2009/2010, that is, the ones that entered upper secondary school (last stage of compulsory schooling) in 2012/2013. Therefore, due to government regulations, schools now welcome students that will attend 12 compulsory years of schooling, when they previously expected to attend 9 compulsory years. It’s an understudied reality that poses as much new challenges for both students and schools as allows increased opportunities.
This paper is based on a study aimed at examining students’ perceptions of the school work and of its relationship with the difficulties they experience in their academic, procedural and social integration when in transition to other schools. The study had an exploratory nature with three objectives: (i) to identify the main difficulties experienced by students in their school transition; (ii) to explore the relationships between experienced difficulties in the school transition and the way students appreciate the work carried out by their former schools and (iii) to explore the relationships between these experienced difficulties in the school transition and the perceived importance of competencies (skills, attitudes, knowledge) developed by students in their previous school experiences. The relevance of these objectives gains strength as ascertaining the way students perceive the work developed by their former schools can be an important device to improve the schools self-evaluation. Other intention was to develop and validate a simple methodological procedure that could be autonomously used by schools in their self-evaluation processes.
Akos, P., & Galassi, J. P. (2004). Middle and High School Transitions as viewed by students, parents and teachers. Professional School Counseling, 7 (4), 212-221. Anderson, L., Jacobs, J., Schramm, S., & Splittgerber, F. (2000). School transitions: Beginning of the end or a new beginning? International Journal of Educational Research, 33(4), 325-339. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0883-0355(00)00020-3 De Wit, D. J., Karioja, K., & Rye, B. J. (2010) Student perceptions of diminished teacher and classmate support following the transition to high school: are they related to declining attendance?, School Effectiveness and School Improvement: An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice, 21 (4), 451-472, DOI: 10.1080/09243453.2010.532010 Eurydice (2013). Compulsory Education in Europe 2013/14. European Comission: Eurydice – Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education%20/Eurydice/documents/facts_and_figures/compulsory_education_EN.pdf (05-12-2013). Gale, T., & Parker, S. (2012). Navigating change: a typology of student transition in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, iFirst Article, 1-20, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2012.721351 IGE (Inspeção-Geral de Educação, 2013). Quadro de referência para avaliação externa das escolas [Framework for external evaluation of schools]. Lisboa: Inspeção-Geral da Educação. Retrieved from http://www.ige.min-edu.pt/upload/AEE_2013_2014/AEE_13_14_(1)_ Quadro_Referencia.pdf (05-12-2013). Mackenzie, E., McMaugh, A., & O’Sullivan, K. (2012). Perceptions of primary to secondary school transitions: Challenge or threat? Issues in Educational Research, 22(3),298-314. Rhodes, C. & Nevill, A. (2004). Academic and social integration in higher education: a survey of satisfaction and dissatisfaction within a first-year education studies cohort at a new university. Journal of Further & Higher Education, 28 (2), 179-193. Wastiau-Schlüter, P. (Ed.). (2004). A close-up on the evaluation of schools. Brussels, Belgium: Eurydice.
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