22 SES 03 D, New Perspectives on Student Transition
Education can be defined by transition. In addition, there are several transitions within educational system and between education and the world of work. Our aim is to examine transitions in the context of higher education combining societal, institutional and individual lifecourse perspectives. We are focusing especially to shed light into connections between educational choices and problematic study progression when attending university education in different disciplinary fields. The target group is Finnish university students.
Study progression at individual level is describing how the implementation of studies is a result of chain of choices in certain institutional context and structure. The university regulation and practices make many kinds of individual study paths possible through the university learning contexts (Robinson, 2009, 5-6). Transition from this perspective mainly means that individuals are constructing their life course and personal progression patterns in relation to institutionalized pathways and normative patterns. Transitions are not only product of social institutions, but are shaped by personal and social expectations (Elder et.al, 2003; Ecclestone, Biesta & Hughes, 2010).
Robinson (2009) has modelled different study progression pathways which show in which way the completing of the studies on the chain of manifold choices in a certain study direction (or between the study directions) takes place in institutional context. In the linear (normative) pattern the studies will proceed smoothly without temporary interruptions or transitions to work or to other studies. On the other hand, the different delayed or interrupted pathways may describe the possible problematic study progression patterns like the opt-out pattern (changing study program or education field), stop-out pattern (interrupting the studies or dropping out) or prolonged pattern (delaying of studies) (see also Ulriksen et.al, 2010).
”Transition regime” is a concept describing different national configurations of the regulation of transitions in the life course (Walther, 2006a; 2006b). It has been developed in the context of European comparative research on young people’s transitions from education to work, but it is offering a useful framework also to look for more closely transitions into higher education or throughout higher education. The main idea in this case is that transitions are not solely shaped by educational institutions and individual decisions and choices, but they are also mediated by state institutions and welfare systems. (see Walter, 2006b.) The transition regime of Finnish welfare state (and other Nordic countries) is universalistic regime. In universalistic regime young people are not seen only as a potential resource for the future but the aim is also to support them in their educational and career choices. Within this system, counselling is widely institutionalized and it is primarily orientated to reinforce individuals’ personal development. In fact, the personal development is in these societies the dominating definition of youth. It can be even said that young people are encouraged and supported in experimenting with yo-yo transition (within education or from education to employment and vice versa) by individualized education and welfare option. (Walther, 2006a; 2009).
When examining problematic studying paths (opt-out, stop-out or prolonged patterns), results depend quite much from the selected point of view (society, institution or individual). What may seem a disadvantage and waste of educational resources from a society or institutional point of view, may prove to be a positive choice from a personal lifecourse perspective. An example of this is the drop-out situation. In terms of the individual, drop-out can be a negative event when it is unplanned and non-goal-oriented event. However, in the case of correcting a wrong study field choice (opt-out), it may be a positive option in terms of the individual's lifecourse and study situation.
Ecclestone, K., Biesta, G. & Hugher, M. (2010). Transitions in the lifecourse: the role of identity, agency and structure. In K. Ecclestone, G. Biest, & M. Hugher (Eds.) Transitions and learning through the lifecourse. London: Routledge, 1-15. Elder, G.H., Kirkpatrick Johson M. & Crosnoe, R. (2003). The emergence and development of lifecourse theory. In J.T. Mortimer & M.J. Shanahan (Eds.) Handbook of the lifecourse. New York: Plenum, 3-19. Robinson, R. (2009). Pathways through higher education. A study of students, context and choice. Saarbrucken: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller. Ulriksen, L., Møller Madsen, L. & Holmegaard, H. (2010). What do we know about explanations for drop out/opt out among young people from STM higher education programmes? Studies in Science Education 46 (2), 209–244. Walther, A. (2006a). Regimes of youth transitions. Choice, flexibility and security in young people’s experiences across different European contexts. Young 14 (2), 119-139. Walther, A. (2006b). Regulating youth transitions: trends, dilemmas and variations across different ‘regimes’ in Europe. In A. Walthers, M. du Bois-Reymond & A. Biggart (Eds.) Participation in transition. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 43-64. Walther, A. (2009). `It was not my choice, you know?´ Young people´s subjective views and decision-making processes in biographical transitions. In I. Schoon & R. K. Silbereisen (Eds.) Transitions from school to work. Globalization, individualization and patterns of diversity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 121-144.
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