19 SES 08 A, Students in the Margins and Inclusion
Background: In Denmark, as in other European countries, young people’s involvement in education is receiving enormous political attention. The political aim is to ensure ‘education for all’. But despite an ongoing political focus on the importance of ‘youth education’ over the past 30 years, a relatively high proportion of young people, still does not complete a youth education and/or is positioned on the margins of the educational system. Hence, numerous informal educational programs aim at helping the young people qualifying for ordinary education. In this paper, we explore the issue of educational motivation for young people without education and work and analyses the activities at a specific preparatory educational project.
Aim: The aim of this paper is to examine how educational motivation and educational trust is produced among young people (aged 18-30) without formal educational qualifications as they partake in a specific preparatory educational project (Life and Learning). Hence, we will analyse the young people’s experiences of academic progression, increased social skills and educational clarification as they partake in the learning activities of the project - as well as pointing to some of the challenges that arise in the process. Furthermore, we will sketch out how the project contribute to the transition of the young people into further education and/or work.
Theoretical perspectives:Education has become an almost in-escapable part of being young (Sørensen et al. 2013, Pless 2009). But alongside the pervasive focus on education, many teachers point out, that they find it hard to engage young people at school (Beck & Paulsen 2011), and young people for their part, talk of struggling to ‘pull themselves together’, of not participating in classes, of being late or of neglecting homework etc. (Stauber 2007). And at the same time educational statistics points to continuous problems regarding drop out from ’youth education’.
In everyday language and in the public debate on education motivation is often primarily understood in individual terms. Hence, motivation is often associated with the young people’s personal, social or cognitive problems, with absence or abuse, diagnosis, learning difficulties, dyslexia or other challenges (Pless et al. 2015, Görlich et al. 2016, Katznelson 2017).
In this paper, we view motivation as a differentiated phenomenon, which is produced in the interplay between young people and a given educational context (a preparatory educational project). This perspective shifts focus from a preoccupation with young people’s (lack of) motivation, to a focus on the movement through which the students make the contexts of meaning set in the school, to a part of their own identity.
We are interested in exploring young people’s meaning making and motivation for learning, not as individual and innate features, but rather as ‘biographies in interaction with schooling’ and with a focus on ‘..the influence of schooling in the shaping of subjectivity.’ (Mcleod & Yates 2006:16). A focal point in the study is thus, how the learning context and broader social discourses on motivation and learning are framing young people’s possibilities for participation. We draw on socio-cultural learning understandings that focus on the encounter between the young (biographical) experiences and orientations and the educational contexts they are part of (Lemnos 2007, Nordahl 2003, Hodkinson et al. 2007, Jackson 2006, Reay 2006).
The overall ambition of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the young people’s experiences of participation in a preparatory educational program, as well as delving into their motives for engaging or disengaging in education. Hence young people’s perspectives and meaning making processes thus plays a pivotal role. Following this, qualitative methods form an essential part of the research design (Heath et al. 2009, Haavind 2000). The analyses draw on ethnographic observations and qualitative interviews with young 18-30 year olds on a specific preparatory educational project: Life and Learning in a small provincial town in Denmark. More specifically the data consisted of: • Ethographic observations: 4 days of observation at the educational project The ethnographic observations allowed us to gain insights into the teaching practices and classroom culture(s) of this particular learning context. Furthermore, we were interested in the dynamics and positionings between the teachers and the young participants as well as among the participants themselves (Smith 2006). • Focus group interviews: 4 focus groups with young participants at the start of their involvement in the educational project (n:29 - 11 male and 18 female participants aged 19-29 yrs) and 2 with professionals involved in the project (n:5). The focus group interview were chosen, as they is well suited to capture similarities and differences of the shared experiences in school settings, as well as norms and views in a group and the negotiation processes from which they emerge (Halkier 2010). • Individual interviews: 21 semi-structured individual interviews with young participants - at the end of (and after) their involvement in the educational project (n:17 - 6 male and 11 female participants). The individual interviews were conducted in order to gain insights into the motivation and learning experiences of individual young people and how these interact with and are influenced by the learning climate and classroom culture at the educational project (Lemnos 2007). All of the interviews were subsequently transcribed, coded using Nvivo10 and analysed. We analysed the data looking for both commonalities and differences across the material, while also focusing on subjective meaning making and motives on the individual level (Haavind 2000). The data analysis consisted of an ongoing dialogue between the qualitative data, on the one hand, and our ‘theoretical lenses’ as briefly outlined above.
Results: In the paper, we show the various ways in which the young people via the activities at the project experience various forms of motivation: necessity motivation, mastery motivation, relational motivation, involvement motivation and direction motivation. As mentioned, we view motivation as produced in the relational and institutional context and the five forms of motivation exist in collaboration with each other. The young people at the Life and Learning project has previous predominantly negative experiences with the educational system in common. Therefore, they have little trust in their own educational capacity, and many of them struggle with a number of mental issues and a weak social network. At the same time, there is also a high degree of heterogeneity in terms of educational experience, level of competences, of their needs and their approaches to education. On the one hand, they have a number of personal, social and academic challenges but on the other hand, they themselves request markedly progression of basic academic skills. Based on this research, we point out that the following issues are important: 1) Taking one step at a time is necessary in order to move forward, 2) The prerequisite for this is a relationally secure learning environment with a firm focus on academic progression, and 3) The foundation is an advanced network of professionals working together on many levels.
Beck, S. & Paulsen, M. (2011). Mangfoldighed og fællesskab – en etnodidaktisk analyse af kursisttilgange og klasserumskultur på HF og VUC. Gymnasiepædagogik nr. 80, Odense: Institut for Filosofi, Pædagogik og Religionsstudier, Syddansk Universitet Görlich, A., Katznelson, N., Hansen, N.H.M, Svarer, M., Rosholm, M. (2016): Hvad virker? Ledige unges vej til uddannelse og arbejde, Evaluering af Brobygning til uddannelse, København: Center for Ungdomsforskning. Halkier, B. (2010). Fokusgrupper. In Brinkmann, s. & Tangaard, L. Kvalitative metoder. En grundbog. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag, pp.121-135. Haavind, H. (2000) (red.). Kön och tolkning. Metodiske möjligheter i kvalitativ forskning. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag Heath, S., Brooks, R., Cleaver, E., & Ireland, E. (2009). Researching Young People’s Lives. London: Sage Hodkinson, P., Biesta, G. and James, D. (2007). Understanding learning cultures. In Educational Review, volume 59 (4), 415-427 Jackson, C. (2006). Lads and Ladettes in School. Gender and a Fear of Failure. Maidenhead: Open University Press Katznelson, N. (2017). Rethinking motivational challenges amongst young adults on the margin. Journal of Youth Studies, 20(5): 622-639. Mcleod. J. & Yates, L. (2006). Making Modern Lives. Subjectivity, Schooling and Social Change. Albany: State University of New York Press Nordahl, T. (2003). Møtet mellom en hegemonisk skole og handlende ungdom. In Tidsskrift for ungdomsforskning, 3(2):6, 69-88 Pless, M., Katznelson, N., Hjort-Madsen, P., & Nielsen, A. M. W. (2015). Unges motivation i udskolingen: Et bidrag til teori og praksis om unges lyst til læring i og uden for skolen. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag. Pless, M. (2009). Udsatte unge på vej i uddannelsessystemet. København: Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitetsskole, Aarhus Universitet Reay, D. (2006). “I’m not seen as one of the Clever Children”; Consulting Primary School Pupils about the Social Conditions of Learning. In Educational Review, volume 58 (29), 171-181. Smith, D. E. (Ed.). (2006). Institutional ethnography as practice. Rowman & Littlefield. Stauber, Barbara (2007). Motivation in transition, Young, volume 15 (1), 31-47 Sørensen, N. U., Katznelson, N., Hutters, C., & Juul, T. M. (2013). Unges motivation og læring: 12 eksperter om motivationskrisen i uddannelsessystemet. (1. udgave) København: Hans Reitzel. Ågård, D. (2014). Motiverende relationer - lærer-elev-relationer i gymnasieundervisning. Aarhus: Systime.
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