ERG SES H 08, Practices, Sociology and Education
Since PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) has been implemented in 2000s, Finland and Korea became well-known as their superior academic achievements and competitive educational systems. Finland has become a sacred place for international educators who want to apply implications for their education and schooling systems (Simola, 2015). Korea also has been referred as a model country in terms of academic achievement of students by external education commentators and governments, especially by the United States (Jeynes, 2008). Due to the effect of the international comparative assessment, trend of educational borrowing and transfer has been strengthened. East Asian education systems and Nordic education systems, which are considered to stem from very different political and sociocultural backgrounds, have been cited as superior education models, formulating subtle tension between competitiveness and equality of education (Rajamäki, 2014; OECD, 2011; OECD, 2013a;Schleicher, 2013). However, are Finnish and Korean students, who have maintained top level on PISA for the last decade, happy? How is their quality of school life?
Then, what is quality of school life (QSL)? Defining quality can be ambiguous and difficult since quality is considered to be subjective depending on individuals. Moreover, quality may bring problematic research setting in terms of comparison of QSL between different societies and cultures due to its non-identical characteristics of the meaning and qualitative uniqueness (Lee, 2001). In spite of its difficulty, several researchers conceptualize this qualitative concept.Linnakylä(1996) defines QSL as students’general well-being and satisfaction from the point of view of their positive and negative experiences, particularly in typical activities of school (p. 70). In her study, QSL was categorized by six domains: general satisfaction, teacher–student relations, status in class, identity in class, achievement and opportunity, and negative affect (ibid., p. 73). QSL in this study is defined as students’general perception of their school well-being and satisfaction on their positive and negative experiences in their ordinary school life.
School is a social place where students experience their current life as a whole, not a place where they prepare only for the future success. School also enormously affects the process of developing one’s self (Dewey, 1987; 2013). In the modern society, school has been a place where most of children and adolescents spend many hours of a day, thus, it is a very important factor to influence their socialization process (Verkuyten & Thijs, 2002; Hwang, 2005). In this regard, outcomes of the schooling should be researched in a comprehensive way which encompasses cognitive dimension but also social and physical development. However, fewer studies focused on the quality of school life, school satisfaction and other affective domains of schooling. Previous academic studies about outcomes of school education have largely concentrated on academic achievement (Huebner & McCullough, 2000; Verkuyten & Thijs, 2002).
Up until now, several previous studies (e.g. Huebner & McCullough, 2000; Karatzias et al., 2001) investigated students’emotional aspects in their school life by using quantitative data. In addition, OECD-PISA or IEA-TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) also have conducted student questionnaire surveys, which provide contextual information related to affective aspects such as students’attitudes towards school and learning, classroom climate and teacher-student relations (e.g. OECD, 2014; IEA, 2007).However, most previous studies did not actively examine sociocultural and historical background which is assumed to underlie QSL of students.
Based on this background,preliminary research questions are as follows.
How do Finnish and Korean adolescents view their QSL (general satisfaction, teacher-student relations, peer relations)?
How specific institutional, sociocultural, and historical factors are linked to the three aspects of QSL?
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