14 SES 04 B, Impact of students' trajectories and transitions across contexts
Recent research has revealed a fundamental change of pupils´ attitudes towards school during their educational careers: Whereas primary school students are highly attached to their school environment and engaged in learning, secondary school students show a greater distance towards learning contents as well as to their teachers and classmates. Thus, questions regarding the causes of this change of attitudes arise.
Transition from primary to secondary school in stratified educational systems comes along with an alteration of school culture: The students have to leave their as familiar and safe anticipated environment of primary school and encounter at secondary school an initially unfamiliar and strange school context (Pratt & George, 2005). As this phenomenon has not yet been investigated with respect to school alienation, this study seeks to shed light on the relation between school culture characteristics and students´ attitudes.
Building up on the school culture perspective by Helsper (2008), this study aims to analyze the impact of school culture on the development of school alienation using the case of Luxembourg by raising the following research question: How are specific school cultures connected with the development of school alienation in the transition from primary to secondary education?
More specifically, the aim is twofold: (1) Reconstructing the school cultures of a primary school and low- and high-achieving secondary school tracks from the teachers’ perspective. (2) Doing this, constructions of successful and antagonistic fit between school culture and students are identified that are linked to the development of school alienation.
This study argues that school alienation not only results from the lack of fit between general academic values and individual dispositions, but is also influenced by the school´s specific school culture and its demands to the students. Thus, the presumption is that the more a student´s dispositions match the specific school culture, the less likely he or she experiences school alienation.
School culture is defined as symbolic order of a single school characterized by tensions between the real, symbolic and imaginary (Helsper, 2008) and represents a dynamic field containing discourses, interaction and practices of different school actors. Teachers referring social and academic demands to their students. By this mechanisms school culture is part of the daily practices in the classroom. Furthermore, several studies show the impact of teachers on students´ well-being and achievement at school (McKnight, 2015; Sandring, 2013). To reconstruct the school culture from teachers´ views, the study focuses on specific aspects: constructions of the ideal student, learning contents and teaching practices, practices in school, the field specific illusion as well as the interdependency of school culture and social background.
School Alienation is defined as generalized negative attitude towards specific domains of schooling (Hascher/ Hadjar, 2018, Hascher/ Hagenauer, 2010). Researching the impact of school culture on school alienation offers insights in arrangements and practices which may be useful for the improvement of school environments. Practically, this knowledge may help finding measures to lower disciplinary problems and enhance participation by reducing emotional withdrawing which are currently named as main consequences of school alienation on school level.
As naturally heterogeneous country, Luxembourg faces other countries´ future challenges concerning shifts of population already today. Due to its highly stratified characteristics the Luxembourgish educational system is prone to several forms of educational inequalities relying on socio-economic and cultural origin (Hadjar et al., 2015) expressed in an unequal distribution among the tracks. The Luxembourgish educational system and its institutions are often criticized for not sufficiently considering the needs of the highly heterogeneous students (MENJE/ Universität Luxemburg, 2017). In this light, the subsequent objective of this study is to explore how different school cultures handle the diversity of the students.
To analyze school cultures from the teachers´ point of view, teachers from a primary school as well as from one highest (ES - enseignement secondaire) and one lowest track (Modulaire) of secondary school each located in the south of Luxembourg were consulted in 2017. In primary school two teachers were interviewed in one group discussion. On the secondary school level, single interviews with two teachers from the ES-track and one group discussion with two teachers and one social educational worker from the Modulaire-track were conducted. The interviews and group discussions focused on pedagogical practices, on challenges of the transition to secondary school as well as on the problem of school alienation. As latent constructs school cultures are not directly observable. Thus, a qualitative reconstructive approach – the sequential habitus reconstruction (Kramer, 2017) - was adopted, providing deep insights into the logic of specific school cultures. Relying on rules and theoretical principles, this method aims to reconstruct tacit knowledge of the everyday practices of life. According the main principles of hypothesis generation and verification/ falsification the analytical process is structured as follows: At first, reviewing the transcripts, passages for analysis were identified according to research interest just as to the interviewees´ subjective relevance. Analysis follows chronically the passage´s inherent structure reflecting the sequential development of the arguments. Generally, a passage consists of several sequences. Starting with the first sequence of the first passage potential hypotheses concerning the school culture are drafted, fanning out a spectrum of possible interpretation. Succeeding through the subsequent sequences the hypotheses are verified or rejected. Starting point therefore is the question if a sequence serves as adequate mode of expression of the supposed school cultural aspect. Additionally, horizons of comparison support the process of verification or falsification by illustrating the school culture during the reconstruction process. Doing so, during analysis the verified habitus hypothesis gains in value and denseness. The previously described strategy of interpretation is repeated for the other selected passages.
Findings indicate that the school cultures differ regarding quality of the teacher-student-relationship, social and academic demands, educational objectives, structure of the learning environment and the teachers´ role within the classroom setting. While the primary school is characterized by inclusiveness and openness considering the students different performance levels, on secondary level the demands appear more specific. Contrasting the highest (academic track) with the lowest track (Modulaire) highly different standards and educational goals were reconstructed. Especially in secondary education, varying criteria according unacceptable behavior with the consequence of final exclusion exist. While on the ES fit between school culture and students is determined by academic performance, fit on the Modulaire refers to basic social principles like recognizing authorities and conformity of behavior. The ES focuses clearly on academic aspects like learning and marks whereas little space is provided for private issues. Furthermore, students are expected to work independently including regularly autonomous learning. During the lessons an overview according the learning content is provided, though the learning activity itself is the students´ task taking place outside school. On the Modulaire track learning is subordinated in favor of establishing bonds between students, teachers and classmates. It provides a secure space preventing students from problems at home and delinquent behavior, offering them – for the first time – positive experiences in school. Besides that, especially for children from highly traditional families the school environment offers an integration function practicing equal rights for men and women. Students are supposed to be present, follow the class without disturbing or endangering classmates or teachers. Engagement beyond the classroom setting is not expected. These results offer insights basing on the state of the art which has to be enriched by further reconstructions. The final step, analyzing the impact of school culture on school alienation will be done soon.
Hadjar, A., Backes, S. & Gysin, S. (2015). School Alienation, Patriarchal Gender-Role Orientations and the Lower Educational Success of Boys. A Mixed-method Study. Masculinities and Social Change, 4(1), 85-116. Hascher, T., & Hadjar, A. (2018). School Alienation: Theoretical approaches and educational research. Educational Research (forthcoming). Hascher, T., & Hagenauer, G. (2010). Alienation from school. International Journal of Educational Research, 49, 220–232. Helsper, Werner (2008): Schulkulturen - die Schule als symbolische Sinnordnung. In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 54 (1), S. 63–80.Kramer 2017, pp.256-261. Ministère de l’Éducation nationale, de l’Enfance et de la Jeunesse, Universität Luxemburg (2017): PISA 2015. Nationaler Bericht Luxemburg. Luxemburg. Kramer, R. (2017). Sequenzanalytische Habitusrekonstruktion. Methodologische Überlegungen zu einer neuen Methode der Habitushermeneutik. In: Heinrich, M.; Wernet, A.: Rekonstruktive Bildungsforschung. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. 243-267. Pratt, S. & George, R. (2005). Transferring friendship: girls‘ and boys‘ friendships in the transition from primary to secondary school. Children & Society, 19(1), 16-26. Sandring, Sabine (2013): Schulversagen und Anerkennung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
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