14 SES 02 C JS, Geographies of Opportunities, Participation and Mobility
Joint Paper Session NW 14 and NW 19
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, indicating 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 (QSL)? This paper aims to understand how they experience their 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.
This study sheds light on the quality of school life, which has not been actively highlighted, receiving less attention than the cognitive outcomes of schooling as student performance. As worldwide student assessments such as PISA or TIMSS have influenced the direction of national educational policies and discourses, measurable student performance or competencies, which are the main domains of the tests, have become the focal point of discussions regarding the results and league tables of each country in these international student assessments. Similarly, previous academic studies about outcomes of school education have largely concentrated on academic achievement (Baker, 1999; Huebner and McCullough, 2000; Verkuyten and Thijs, 2002; Lahelma, 2002). In addition, there have been fewer studies which studied sociocultural and historical context, which is assumed to underlie QSL of students, by employing mixed-methods or qualitative approaches to study QSL.
Based on this critical point, my thesis research is studied by mixed-methods (quan +QUAL). In this paper, qualitative research part, especially methods and preliminary analyses of data gained from field work will be discussed.
The objectives of this paper are as follows. First, it will discuss the process of field works and rationales regarding the selection of schools and participants. Secondly, it aims to understand Korean and Finnish adolescents’ experiences on their QSL by doing preliminary analyses of data from the field works. In addition, it identifies and illuminates significant events that are related to their QSL.
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