05 SES 12, Contributing to Better Learning Opportunities and a Better School Environment: Research into students’ school alienation and disengagement
The phenomenon of school alienation has recently attracted significant interest in educational research (e.g., Hascher & Hadjar, 2018; Morinaj et al., 2017). In times of a rapid development of today’s knowledge society, dominated by test scores, standards, achievement targets, and high expectations, young adolescents are confronted with increasing competition among students and evolving alienation from school (UNESCO, 2016). School alienation is associated with a range of unfavorable experiences, such as low participation, delinquent and disruptive behaviors, low well-being, poor achievement outcomes, and school dropout (e.g., Tarquin & Cook-Cottone, 2008). A relationship between achievement and school alienation becomes especially evident in higher grades, resulting from the increased pressure for achievement (Trusty & Dooley-Dickey, 1993). Research on alienation has indicated that low achieving students are more likely to experience higher levels of alienation from school (Hascher & Hagenauer, 2010). Repeated academic failures may have a negative impact on students’ beliefs about themselves, increasing their alienation from school (Matsueda & Heimer, 1997). The reverse causal direction is, however, also plausible—school alienation can have an impact on future academic achievement. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between school alienation, specifically alienation from learning (AL), and student academic achievement (AA) in a longitudinal perspective. Investigating the relationship between AL and AA across time, we test whether AL has an impact on subsequent AA or whether student AA influences AL. This study employs data from three waves of the longitudinal research project “School Alienation in Switzerland and Luxembourg” (SASAL, 2015–2018). The sample consists of 401 students from secondary school (45.2% male; Mage t1 = 13.0 years [SD = .55]; t1: grade 7, t2: grade 8, t3: grade 9) from the Swiss canton of Bern who participated in all study waves. AL was measured using the School Alienation Scale (SALS; Hascher & Hadjar, 2018; Morinaj et al., 2017). Students’ AA was based on their grades in Mathematics, French, and German at the end of each school year (2016, 2017, 2018). Preliminary results suggest that students’ AA and AL are linked in a complex way, influencing one another. Low achieving students tend to show higher AL in the following year and AL leads to poor achievement over time.
Hascher, T., & Hadjar, A. (2018). School alienation – Theoretical approaches and educational research. Educational Research, 60, 171–188. doi:10.1080/00131881.2018.1443021 Hascher, T., & Hagenauer, G. (2010). Alienation from school. International Journal of Educational Research, 49, 220–232. Matsueda, R. L., & Heimer, K. (1997). A symbolic interactionist theory of role-transitions, role- commitments, and delinquency. In T. P. Thornberry (Ed.), Developmental theories of crime and delinquency (pp. 163–213). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Morinaj, J., Scharf, J., Grecu, A. L., Hadjar, A., Hascher, T., & Marcin, K. (2017). School alienation: A construct validation study. Frontline Learning Research, 5, 36–59. doi:10.14786/flr.v5i2.298 Tarquin, K., & Cook-Cottone, C. (2008). Relationships among aspects of student alienation and self concept. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 16–25. doi:10.1037/1045-38184.108.40.206 Trusty, J., & Dooley-Dickey, K. (1993). Alienation from school: An exploratory analysis of elementary and middle school students’ perceptions. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 26, 232–242. UNESCO. (2016). Happy schools! A framework for learner well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140E.pdf.
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