07 SES 04 A, Transition and Intercultural Learning
The paper reports on the results of a study carried out within the framework of a government- funded large-scale, longitudinal evaluation project (NOESIS) launched in 2010 to evaluate an Austrian school reform program at the lower secondary level, the “New Middle School” (NMS). The overall goal of the school reform project is to limit marginalizing processes and improve trajectories within an inclusive school setting. Within the framework of the evaluative study, the authors of this paper focus on students’ self-concepts during their transition from primary education to the NMS.
At school, students gradually learn what it is like to be a student, what kinds of tasks and challenges they have to face and what teachers expect of them. During their first years of education, students build the foundation for having confidence in their capabilities and develop a concept of their own abilities (cf. e.g. Langeveld, 1960; Spranger, 1958). After their transition to a lower secondary school (which, in Austria, is a different school), students are confronted with a new setting with hitherto unknown challenges, a new school, and a new class with new classmates. The situation challenges students’ self-concepts and therefore can have a strong influence on their further educational trajectories (cf. Köller et al., 2006; Marsh & Yeung, 1998).
Jacobs et al. (2002) found that average beliefs in one’s ability change during school years, and differ as a function of gender, subject and academic year (cf. Marsh & Yeung, 1998). Marsh (2005) describes the “big-fish-little-pond effect”, saying that equally able students have lower academic self-concepts in higher-ability schools than in lower-ability schools (cf. Gerlach, 2006; Rindermann & Heller, 2005).
At school, not only classmates are important for the formation of an academic self-concept, but so is feedback from teachers. In processes of classmate comparisons, the “big-fish-little-pond-effect” increases, whereas individual feedback on achievements can diminish it (cf. Craven et al., 1991; König, 2010). These social comparison processes and ability evaluations of parents are important at the beginning of the transition where they can be applied as a resource for their children (Jonkmann et al., 2010). Herwartz-Emden & Küffner (2006) showed that acculturation processes of children with a migration background have an impact on the formation of academic self-concept because such children have to develop their self-concepts within a different culture, which can lead to additional problems.
Since the school reform program aims at limiting marginalizing processes, the main purpose of our research is to investigate students’ self-concepts following their transfer from primary school to the lower secondary level of schooling. Aware that self-concept is only one factor among many which have an impact on student school trajectories, we draw on Sen’s capability approach to argue that students’ self-concepts constitute an essential part of the conditions under which they are able to realize their goals.
Taking into account the aims of the school reform program, the focus of this paper is on students’ academic self-concepts. As part of the general research question, we wish to discover the conditions under which students perceive their self-concepts as positive, how their self-concepts are constituted and if there are any differences in the schools of the school reform program. Since immigrant students are at a high risk of becoming marginalized within education, our paper especially investigates their experience.
The research questions of the paper are: What constitutes students’ academic self-concepts following the transfer from the primary to the lower secondary level and are there differences between students with a migration background and those without one? And are there differences in students’ academic self-concepts from one school to another participating in the school reform program?
Craven, R. G., Marsh, H. W., & Debus, R. L. (1991). Effects of internally focused feedback and attributional feedback on enhancement of academic self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 17-27. Gerlach, E. (2006). Selbstkonzepte und Bezugsgruppeneffekte. Entwicklung selbstbezogener Kognitionen in Abhängigkeit von der sozialen Umwelt. Zeitschrift für Sportpsychologie, 13 (3), 104-114. Herwartz-Emden, L. & Küffner, D. (2006). Schulerfolg und Akkulturationsleistungen von Grundschulkindern mit Migrationshintergrund. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 9 (2), 240-254. Hughes, M., Greenhough, P., Yee, W. C., & Andrews, J. (2010). The daily transition between home and school. In K. Ecclestone, G. Biesta & M. Hughes (Eds.), Transitions and Learning through the Lifecourse (pp. 16-31). Abingdon, New York: Routledge. Jacobs, J. E., Lanza, S., Osgood, D. W., Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A. (2002). Changes in children’s self-competence and values: gender and domain differences across grades one through twelve. Child Development, 73 (2), 509-527. Köller, O., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O. & Baumert, J. (2006). Zum Zusammenspiel von schulischer Leistung, Selbstkonzept und Interesse in der gymnasialen Oberstufe. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 20 (1/2), 27-39. König, J. (2010). Schulkarriere - erfolgreich oder schwierig? In A. Ittel, H. Merkens, Stecher, L., & J. Zinnecker, Jahrbuch Jugendforschung (S. 157-186). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaft. Langeveld, M. J. (1960). Die Schule als Weg des Kindes. Versuch einer Anthropologie der Schule. Braunschweig: Westermann. Marsh, H. W. &Yeung, A. S. (1998). Longitudinal structural equation models of academic self-concept and achievement: Gender differences in the development of maths and English constructs. American Educational Research Journal, 35 (4), 705-738. Raudenbush, S. W. & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models. Applications and data analysis methods. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications. Rindermann, H. & Heller, K. A. (2005). The benefit of gifted classes and talent schools for developing students’ competences and enhancing academic self-concept. German Journal of Educational Psychology, 19 (3), 133-136. Schütz, A. (2010). Wissenschaftliche Interpretation und Alltagsverständnis menschlichen Handelns. In T. S. Eberle, J. Dreher & G. Sebald (Eds.), Zur Methodologie der Sozialwissenschaften. Alfred Schütz Werkausgabe Band IV. (pp. 331-399). Konstanz: UVK. Sen, A. (2009). The idea of justice. London: Penguin Books. Spranger, E. (1958). Der Eigengeist der Volksschule (Vol. 3. Aufl.). Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer. Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience. Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Albany: State University of New York Press.
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