14 SES 08 B, Young People's Trajectories and Pathways across Borders
The present contribution is based on the NOESIS follow-up study, which since 2018 has been pursuing the three NOESIS-study cohorts until the end of upper secondary education and builds on from the previous panel survey. The aim of this study is to find out how sustainable school experiences in secondary education are for further education and the career path. Specifically, the question of which forms of learning-related dimensions and student self-cognition (such as the motivation for learning, academic self-concept and educational aspirations) end at the end of upper secondary education and which continuous or discontinuous developments can be observed in this respect before and after secondary I and II are in the foreground.
The NOESIS evaluation project is a governmental funded study that started in 2010 with the first of three student cohorts. The overall aim of the study was to investigate conditions for successful educational pathways of students in the context of the implementation of the New Middle School as a new school type in Austria. Before, there were two school types in Austria: the Lower Secondary School and the Academic Secondary School. Through new pedagogical innovations (e.g. team-teaching, individualized learning) the New Middle School was intended to be a school for all students, reduce marginalization processes, try to compensate for learning difficulties and to foster students’ talents. A panel study was conducted and students were followed from the end of primary school (4th grade) through Secondary I (5th to 8th grade) and into upper secondary (9th grade. In this way students from different school types (New Middle School, Academic Secondary School, Lower Secondary School) were included and followed to the end of Secondary II (12th grade).
The goal of the NOESIS study was to identify paths and patterns in developmental trajectories that could be described and explained more precisely using the extensive data material. The focus was on the characteristics of students having successfully completed secondary education and having reached their desired goals.
This has made it possible to investigate successful educational processes in the long term, and thus also to investigate which developments are taking place among former New Middle School students. In this sense, the follow-up study of students until the end of their schooling is of interest for deriving profitable knowledge, which should make it possible for students to create conditions conducive to their educational careers. This would be relevant not only in the Austrian context, but also in a European one.
The long-term monitoring of the educational processes of students as well as the requested NOESIS follow-up project are based on several theoretical considerations. An important building block and principle is provided by the "Capability Approach" (Sen, 2009), which focuses on the abilities of an individual and the conditions of realization. This extends a competence approach and, in addition to individual requirements, also takes into account the contextual possibilities and circumstances of making use of one's own potential possibilities. By capturing both in-school and out-of-school conditions for students, it should be possible in the course of the survey to meld this approach with the experience gained in the New Middle School and to examine long-term opportunities. A strict measurement of subject-specific competencies would be contrary to this approach, which is why the follow-up project explicitly focuses on the so-called "soft outcomes" (academic self-concept, learning motivation, education aspiration, social relationships, student-teacher relationship). The consideration of the interplay of inner as well as extracurricular learning resources seems to make sense with reference to the culture and capital theory of Bourdieu (1983).
The contribution presents results of the NOESIS follow-up study, using the survey data from the first student cohort and the data from lower secondary education, and connecting it with data from the survey in 12th grade (N = 2893). The data is analysed using panel data models. Additional descriptive analysis helps to obtain more details concerning the situation at individual schools and to take the school context more seriously. The recruitment of former students was based on the information from previous surveys (8th and 9th grades). Parallel to the students already accompanied, their classmates were asked to fill in the online questionnaires in the corresponding classes and types of school. As a result, their current perceptions and school experiences can be examined and used as a basis for comparison. The surveys were conducted online during regular classes. Thematically, the constructed questionnaire includes items on the educational experiences of students, their learning motivation, their academic self-concept, the class climate and the cooperation between students; moreover, information on extracurricular conditions, activities and learning opportunities was also requested. These constructs proved useful for assessing successful educational processes. In the course of the panel surveys, the students and their perceptions regarding their past and future educational progress, but also their educational aspirations, were also in the foreground. In this sense, the associated expectations of the next transition, which can include either continuing education at university (tertiary education) or entry into professional life, constitute important indicators. Questions regarding expectations and confidence in completion of secondary education (secondary, post-secondary or tertiary education level), as well as an assessment of future career opportunities were included in the surveys. Groups of students who reached their desired goals or changed them were set up and analysed with a view to having further characteristics to differentiate them.
Interestingly, students reported good experiences after transition to the new school in Secondary II; however, they perceived fundamental changes in the way they learn. Particularly striking is the higher level of independence required and the reduced opportunities for decisions on their learning. Also the relationship with teachers was not as positive as it had been in lower secondary. In addition, students' personal experiences, their motivation to learn, their academic self-concept, perceived well-being at school and attitudes towards the new school were lower compared to perceptions in lower secondary school. The results of the panel analyses show that social interactions in school, as well as family activities, are important for the development of educational goals, learning motivation and academic self-image. The perception of a better class climate in the new school in Secondary II mirrors the development of higher education goals in 9th grade. Students' learning motivation increases in cases where teacher-student relationships are perceived to be better than in the former school; furthermore, when students feel more secure than in their former school, their learning is more focused, including their own abilities and skills to increase knowledge and not just their grades. The development of academic self-concept was also influenced by social interactions in the school. For the first time in Austria, the conditions of successful educational processes of students were examined in a longitudinal perspective, which also highlights the significance of the study. With its focus on a wide longitudinal section the study can lead to a number of other panel studies, not only ones on educational pathways, but also in the life course (e.g. Göllner et al., 2018; Scharenberg et al., 2012; Fend et. al., 2009, Ditton & Krüsken, 2009).
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