04 SES 03 B, Disability, Study Skills and Transition To Employment
The transition phase represented by the end of high school can be for persons with disabilities both a time laden with expectations and hopes (Wagner, 2005; Rush et al., 2009) and a moment of risk, a real puzzling dilemma (Rush et al., 2009) conducting to a crystallization in a image of an eternal child, the transition from student to a retired person (Giaconi, 2015). Such an outcome can be considered the result of an approach to disability suffering from a lack of utopia (Caldin, 2001) regarding the different dimensions of adulthood: a poor correspondence of the training received to the working reality (European Agency, 2002), an underestimation of actual potential (Alston et al., 2002) and mainly training orientation practices (Pavone, 2006). Some studies (Test et al., 2009; Cease-Cook et al., 2015) highlighted how paths aimed at getting to know various professions, to discover own interests, to give greater significance to school learnings, to meet personal limits and potentials are those providing students with disabilities greater possibilities to orientate themselves in future choices, including those related to job placement (Carter et al., 2011). From this point of view, the work-related learning (ASL) experiences, introduced by the Law 107 of 2015 and mandatory for students attending the last three-years of Italian high schools, can represent a way to encourage the exploration of future perspectives and helping to the personal growth. These paths are described in a specific document (Piano Triennale dell’Offerta Formativa - PTOF) stating the curriculum of each school.
Within this theoretical framework, the present research aims at reviewing the planning design declared in the PTOF in relation to the ASL. The research questions of this investigation involving the secondary schools of the Bergamo province (Lombardy, IT) were the following:
- what are the content elements (normative and conceptual references, objectives, resources and evaluation processes) and the words with which the teachers define and describe the ASL in the PTOF?
- Are there explicit references to disability and to personalized ASL paths? If so, how are they proposed in terms of content and language?
The research, a comparative and interpretative analysis (Trinchero, 2002), aimed at analysing the content and the language used by teachers to design the ASL paths described in the PTOFs of all secondary schools of Bergamo area. The reference population of this analysis was composed by the section dedicated to the ASL written in the PTOF of all the High School of the Bergamo province. The list consisted of 43 schools divided as follows: 13 gymnasiums, seven technicals, three professionals and 20 mixed institutes. The material identified was analysed and questioned by a qualitative data analysis (Creswell & Creswell, 2017) consisting of two phases and supported by two distinct tools: 1. codification and analysis of data through an interpretative matrix realized starting from the Map of Kerr (MK), a tool that aims to understand and describe internal processes of the school context (Damiano, 1988; Castoldi, 2013). Kerr conceived it in 1968 in order to develop, through the arrangement of four thematic areas a training design to support schools in defining a curriculum. In the present study, the MK structure was used to organize, categorize and investigate the selected material, with the aim of identifying the founding elements of the ASL process presented in the PTOF: similarity, differences, concordance and opposition relations. 2. Linguistic analysis through a quali-quantitative process of transcoding using the Software IRaMuTeQ 0.7 Alpha 2. The linguistic analysis, related to the terminology used by schools to describe the ASL, was conducted using the software IRaMuTeQ 0.7 Alpha 2. This tool identified the most frequent words and attributed relevance to the overall meaning of the corpus considered. The section dedicated to the ASL in the PTOF was extrapolated and exported to a file in .txt format and the set of all the parts identified has constituted the corpus object of the linguistic investigation.
The main results obtained were: - The design of ASL proposals was mainly determined by the need to fulfil a regulatory obligation (Law 107/2015). The centrality of the aspect related to the normative obligation of the ASL, on the one hand, does not constitute an unexpected element; on the other, however, it cannot remain the only reason on which schools base the ASL proposal, thus risking transforming the educational potentials arising from the connection between the world of work and school in mere administrative obligations; - Few references to the links between schools and territory, specially to economic and social reality, emerged; these connections instead should constitute a key component to realize effective ASL proposals; - A heterogeneity of words used with which schools refer to ASL occurred: this aspect could represent a lack of a clear and shared definition, specially in relation with pedagogical theoretical framework, of ASL by teachers; - Internship was the way most used to realize practically ASL paths. In many projects it represented the entire ASL proposal whereas it should correspond only to the practical phase, complementary to the theoretical one; - The evaluation area was the most lacking: it must be noted the absence of references to tools, objects, times and goals; - No specific elements in relation to disability were founded. It appeared a partial absence of awareness about the design of specific ASL proposals for students with disabilities with appropriate set of goals, methodologies, time, and evaluation tools. Only in this way, with due care, the designing of ASL paths can turn into a fruitful opportunity for the person to build their own future. These results represent fields for future investigations and action research paths able to adequately support this transition phase.
Alston, R. J., Bell, T. J., & Hampton, J. L. (2002). Learning disability and career entry into the sciences: A critical analysis of attitudinal factors. Journal of Career Development, 28(4), 263-275. Caldin, R. (2001). Introduzione alla pedagogia speciale. Cleup: Padova. Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2011). Factors associated with the early work experiences of adolescents with severe disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49(4), 233-247. Castoldi, M. (2013). Curricolo per competenze: percorsi e strumenti. Roma: Carocci. Cease-Cook, J., Fowler, C., & Test, D. W. (2015). Strategies for creating work-based learning experiences in schools for secondary students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 47(6), 352-358. Creswell, J.W. & Creswell, J.D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications. Damiano, E. (Ed.). (1988). Epistemologia e didattica: analisi di curricoli per la scuola elementare. Brescia: La Scuola. European Agency (2002). La transizione dalla scuola all’occupazione. I temi, i problemi e le opportunità degli studenti con esigenze educative speciali in 16 Paesi europei (https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/transition-from-school-to-employment_Transition-it.pdf). Giaconi, C. (2015). Qualità della vita e adulti con disabilità: percorsi di ricerca e prospettive inclusive. F. Angeli. Pavone, M. (2006). Il portfolio per l’alunno disabile. Edizioni Erickson: Trento. Rush, F. R., Hugues, C., Agran, M., Martin, J. E., & Johnson, J. R. (2009). Toward Self-Directed Learning, Post-High School School Placement, and Coordinated Support. Constructing New Transition Bridges to adult Life. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32(1), 53-59. Test, D. W., Mazzotti, V. L., Mustian, A. L., Fowler, C. H., Kortering, L., & Kohler, P. (2009). Evidence-based secondary transition predictors for improving postschool outcomes for students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32(3), 160-181. Trinchero, R. (2002). Manuale di ricerca educativa. Franco Angeli: Milano Wagner, M., Newman, L., Cameto, R., Garza, N., & Levine, P. (2005). After High School: A First Look at the Postschool Experiences of Youth with Disabilities. A Report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). Online submission.
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