ERG SES E 05, Inclusive Education
Adolescence is a time full of turmoil, including physical, social, cognitive, and emotional changes. It is also a time of trespassing into adulthood and making big decisions about one’s future. A considerable amount of the daily hours are, usually, spent in school at this age, and therefore the school functions as a socializer and has a great impact on the development of adolescents’ identity and self-perceptions. Previous research in Finland has shown that as adolescents grow older their approaches to learning usually shift from deep to surface learning (Cano 2005; Eklund-Myrskog & Wenestam 1999). At the same time the self-regulative actions of target oriented behavior decreases (Tuijula 2011). A high perceived academic self-efficacy is an important factor influencing effective academic skills, including motivation, and it is also closely related to good self-regulation skills (Bandura et al. 2001, Zimmerman 2002). The new curriculum of the upper secondary school in Finland aim for a deep understanding where the student learns to analyze, interpret, and evaluate information and where the student is active, goal-oriented, and self-directed (Finnish National Agency for Education 2015), in other words good self-regulation skills. Self-efficacy beliefs and a feeling of control in life, i.e. agency, has also profound effects on students’ resilience both when confronted with challenges and for future career aspirations (Bandura et al. 2001, Choi et al. 2012, Pajares 2005). Low perceptions of self-efficacy might hinder students from aiming for a specific education and thus fulfilling their dreams.
Upper secondary schools have an important role in preparing students for tertiary education. This study was conducted to explore study counselors’ and subject teachers’ perceptions of students and their challenges and resources in upper secondary schools and in their considerations of tertiary education. Study counselors have not been the focus of research to the same extent as students and teachers. By including both groups in this study the picture of upper secondary students in Finland today can be drawn more sharply. The research aims at analyzing how subject teachers and study counselors perceive (1) upper secondary students’ study challenges, (2) differences between groups (gender, academic or ethnic background, home language), (3) students’ self-efficacy and differences in self-efficacy between groups, and (4) supportive actions to increase equality and decrease disadvantageous positions for particular student groups.
The objective of this study is, in sum, to reach a deeper understanding of teachers and counselors perceptions and beliefs about agency and self-efficacy that underlie upper secondary students’ learning strategies and career aspirations. A better understanding of these beliefs can facilitate targeted interventions for supporting students’ self-efficacy and sense of agency in their own life. Since the adolescents in the European countries face similar challenges, mostly due to the psychological development in the age-period, the results of this study can be generalized to several countries in Europe and illustrate where interventions could be directed. Self-efficacy, agency, and self-regulative skills are universal phenomena and therefore the applicability of the results can be widely used.
Bandura, A., Barbaranelli, C., Caprara, G. V. & Pastorelli, C. (2001). Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Shapers of Children’s Aspirations and Career Trajectories. Child Development, Vol. 72, No. 1, 187-206. Cano, F. (2005). Epistemological beliefs and approaches to learning: Their change through secondary school and their influence on academic performance. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75, 203-221. Choi, B. Y., Park, H. Yang, E., Lee, S. K., Lee, Y. & Lee, S. M. (2012). Understanding Career Decision Self-Efficacy: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Journal of Career Development, Vol. 39, No. 4, 443-460. Eklund-Myrskog, G. & Wenestam, C.-G. (1999). Students’ Approaches to Learning in Finnish General Upper Secondary School. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 43, No. 1, 5-18. Finnish National Agency for Education (2015). National Core Curriculum for General Upper Secondary Education Intended for Young People. Retrieved from http://oph.fi/english/publications. Pajares, F. (2005). Self-Efficacy during Childhood and Adolescence. In: Pajares, F. & Urdan, T. (Eds.) Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Adolescents. Greenwich, Conn.: IAP - Information Age Pub., Inc. Tuijula, T. (2011). “Jos tietää, mitä haluaa” Seurantatutkimus lukio-opiskelijoiden itsesäätelystä, opiskelun kulusta ja odotusten toteutumisesta. Turku: University of Turku. Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview. Theory Into Practice, Vol. 41, No. 2.
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