11 SES 16 JS, Trust in Educational Settings. Exploring Trust Research in Different European Countries: Past and prospects
Joint Panel Discussion NW 11 and NW 32
Trust – defined as an individual’s or group’s willingness to be vulnerable to another party – is increasingly recognised as an important factor in educational settings. For example, trust in general is said to reduce transaction costs, which can enhance the acceptance of educational innovations (Bryk/Schneider, 2002). Furthermore, trust between parents and their children’s teachers (Lerkkanen et al., 2013; Beycioglu et al., 2013; Schweizer et al., 2017; Adams et al., 2009), as well as between teachers and their pupils facilitates pupils’ educational achievements (Goddard et al., 2001). It is also known that several factors foster the establishment of trusting relationships: honesty, openness, reliability, competence, integrity and benevolence (Hoy/Tschannen-Moran, 1999; Schoorman et al., 2007). Existing research thus points to trust being both a result, i.e. a dependent variable, as well as a precondition, i.e. an independent variable, in educational settings. Trust is also shaped by institutional conditions such as culture and norms as well as structural features e.g. such as the pupil composition of a school (van Maele/Van Houtte, 2010; Görlich/Katznelson, 2015).
Beyond the interpersonal level, trust can relate to confidence in systems and institutions. This includes the education system, but also raises questions of a society’s or nation’s level of trust in general. In Europe, high levels of trust have been observed in Northern Europe in particular, while Eastern European countries have shown comparatively low levels of trust (World Values Survey). Besides, trust is lower in societies in which social inequality is high (Borgonovi, 2012). If we also take into account differences concerning the governance of educational systems’ and educational organisations’ quality within Europe, e.g. regarding degrees of centralization, the role of bureaucracies and markets or the use of evidence in policy and practice (e.g. Martilla, 2014), questions concerning the relationship between trust and educational governance are being prompted: In what way are the different modes of governance and trust interconnected?
Overall, research exploring trust in education settings remains rather limited. The panel discussion’s aim is to strengthen and identify new avenues in the research on trust by focussing on three areas of interest.
First, on a methodological level, the panel discussion will explore how levels of trust in education can be compared across countries. How can a necessary degree of standardisation be achieved without neglecting country-specific contextual factors?
Second, the link between societal levels of general trust, on the one hand, and trust placed in educational institutions and professionals, on the other hand, will be discussed. To this end, presenting researchers, based on findings from their own research on trust in educational settings, will address but are not limited to the following questions: What is known about country-specific (tacit) theories of trust and criteria for the assessment of trustworthiness (interpretations of different dimensions of trust as well as norms considered sufficient to be judged trustworthy)? What can be said about country-specific practices in the interaction between, for example, parents and teachers, teachers and students or teachers and education administrators? How do findings compare across educational settings and groups (e.g. students in school, university, marginalized youths)?
Third, the panel discussion looks into the consequences of specific patterns of trust. In particular, participants are asked to comment on the role of trust for enhancing cultural and social capital, organisational quality and, consequently, educational achievement and social equity.
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