05 SES 03, Community and Regional Youth Policies
This study presents an advance of the results of the research project “Innovation networks for educational and social inclusion: inter-institutional collaboration in school disengagement and dropout” (EDU 2015-68617-C4-3-R). For more than two years, three research teams from different Spanish universities have carried out a community participatory research focused on offering socio-educational alternatives of school reengagement for young people at risk of academic failure and early school dropout. This study is framed within the intersection between the issue of school failure, early school dropout, social exclusion and the possibilities to approach a complex problem through inclusive education (Miller & Jaeger, 2011).
In Spain, where this research is developed, the data show that early school dropout has decreased 10 percentage points between 2007 and 2017 (Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, 2017). These numbers are not close enough to optimistic values with respect to the objectives established in the Europe 2020 Strategy. There are 8.3 points of difference with respect to the European average. In addition to this, there are considerable differences between autonomous communities, which suggests that the problem has a geographical component. In Andalusia, the autonomous community where this study was carried out, the situation is extremely worrying, since its difference is 4.1 points from the Spanish average, and 12.4 points from the European average. The scientific evidence (Roca, 2010) reveals a clear correlation of such data with the levels of unemployment, social exclusion, and the consequences derived from these two. Andalusia has one of the highest unemployment rates (21.3%) of Spain (14.5%) and of the European Union (7.2%), according to Eurostat (2018).
Different studies reveal that this phenomenon is caused, among other factors, by school disengagement, which has a multidimensional character (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004), with different authors providing practical, epistemological and political explanations (Atweh & Bland, 2007). We used as a reference the studies of Hancock and Zubrick (2015), related to successful programs and actions in the scope of school disengagement, and those of Miller and Jaeger (2011) and Civís and Longás (2015), to articulate a research in which inter-institutional collaboration would be the base from which the action would be approached.
This communication approaches key questions: How were bonds, interpersonal relationships and local inter-institutional relations made to approach the processes of school disengagement from a community participatory perspective? What type of actions were developed using the local resources? What do these proposals contribute to the participants and contexts?
From these, the objectives proposed are:
- To identify the key elements that were introduced in each of the contexts and enabled the formation of a work and support network between educational centres and social organizations of the same locality or area.
- To analyse and assess the development of innovative joint network actions to determine to what extent they foster the school and social improvement of the educational community in general and, in particular, the educational conditions of students at risk of school disengagement.
- To give a voice and importance to the different educational agents (students, families, teachers, professionals) from a participatory research approach, through the creation of collaborative groups.
- To visualise challenging, innovative and inclusive proposals that allow offering educational alternatives of reengagement and re-incorporation to the school for young people at risk of educational and social exclusion.
This study is based on a participatory and emancipatory methodological approach (Armstrong & More, 2005), in which inclusive and innovative educational projects emerge to tackle the issue of school disengagement and dropout from the perspective of inclusive pedagogy (Florian, 2010). The research is developed from and for inclusion, which places it in the scope of the so-called inclusive research (Nind, 2014). This type of research practices allows: a) the generation of more authentic knowledge, from the experiences and values of interested people; b) a richer knowledge, co-produced and co-interpreted, with a local, collective, dialogic and diverse nature; c) effects on the empowerment and emancipation of the participants, who become the agents of their own transformation; d) the generation of new knowledge related to participation, improving the understanding of the processes. Such qualitative methodology, settled in the community perspective, is shared with other research teams as an identity sign (Parrilla, Susinos, Gallego & Martínez, 2017). This community research is developed in study contexts, geographically and socially identified in Andalusia (Spain), in the provinces of Cádiz (Puerto Real), Seville (Dos Hermanas) and Huelva, where there are collaborative inquiry groups created ad hoc in each territory. These are heterogeneous, inter-professional and inter-institutional groups formed by teachers, associations, local administrators, technical staff of educational centres and of social action, students and university researchers. Following a participatory research design (Kemmis, McTaggart & Nixon, 2013), the study is articulated in 5 phases, which begin with the preparation of the groups and the participatory diagnosis of the territory, continues with the design and development of the inclusive projects, and concludes with the community identification of learnings and the comparative analysis of the cases. We are currently in the last phase of the research. The data-gathering techniques used were notes, field notebooks, gathering of relevant documents from each participating institution or organization, audio recording of the group meetings, self-reports, interviews, material elaborated by the participants and the record of the meetings. The data analysis was conducted through a system of categories and thematic and interpretative codes using the qualitative software MAXQDA 11 to reduce and handle the information.
The results obtained are provisional, given the state of the research and the development of the projects. We highlight the following: Firstly, it is worth pointing out the benefit and impact of approaching a complex phenomenon such as school disengagement and dropout, from networking, the same perspective and different institutional positions. This research tackles complex situations that are not exempt from difficulties, which are mainly based on the way in which the different participants perceive themselves. Therefore, it requires the construction of a trust space, a common language and the appropriation of basic competences of participatory research. Reestablishing the role of the participants as researchers from dialogical positions is a requirement derived from the assumed inclusive option. Secondly, the development of the study shows the diversity and richness of educational responses (inclusive educational projects) carried out according to the particular needs and contexts. The results are represented from two specific projects: a) an inclusive social mentory that is respectfully introduced in schools, which puts into motion a network of local agents, from the logic of community support, opening spaces for listening through the construction of safe and friendly environments; b) a project called “in connection”, where young people (from different institutions and age groups) are allowed to give their opinion, with the aim of better understanding school disengagement and dropout and offering preventive alternatives of joint action. Lastly, this research shows that the projects developed from this methodological option are not merely a purpose, although they also respond to a contextualised problematic situation from the logic of participatory research-action, which is why they are effective. The potential lies also in the process that provides the participants with tools to take on new challenges as a community, allowing the sustainability of future local projects.
Armstrong, F. & Moore, M. (Eds.) (2005). Action research for inclusive education: Changing places, changing practices, changing minds. London: Routledge Falmer. Atweh, B. & Bland, D. (2007). A critical theory perspective on research collaborations. In S. M. Ritchie (Ed.), Research Collaboration: Relationships and Praxis (pp. 189-201). Rotterdam: Sense Publications. Civís, M., y Longás, J. (2015). La colaboración interinstitucional como respuesta al desafío de la inclusión socioeducativa. Análisis de 4 experiencias de trabajo en red a nivel local en Cataluña. Educación XXI, 18, 1, 213-236. Eurostat (2018). Statistics and opinión poll. Brusell: Eurostat. Florian, L. (2010). The concept of inclusive pedagogy. In F. Hallett & G. Hallett (eds.) Transforming the role of the SENCO (pp.61-72). London: McGraw Hill. Fredericks, J., Blumenfeld, P. & Paris, A. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59-105. Hancock, K. J., & Zubrick, S. (2015). Children and young people at risk of disengagement from school. Commissioner for Children and Young People, Western Australia. Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., & Nixon, R. (2013). The action research planner: Doing critical participatory action research. Singapore: Springer. Miller, G. y Jaeger, B. (2011). Organizational innovation in the creation of new Methods for retaining young people in education. Lillehammer Folkhighschool: Karlstad University, Roskilde University. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (2017). Datos y cifras Curso escolar 2017/2018. Madrid: Secretaría General Técnica -Subdirección General de Documentación y publicaciones. Nind, M. (2014). What is inclusive research?. London: Bloomsbury. Parrilla, A., Susinos, T., Gallego, C., & Martinez, B. (2017). Critically Reviewing How We Do Research into Inclusive Education: Four Projects with an Educational and Social Approach. Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación del Profesorado, 89,145-156. Roca, E. (2010). El abandono temprano de la educación y la formación en España. Revista de educación, 1, 31-62.
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