22 SES 07 B, Paper Session
Emotions play a major role in all areas and settings of education. Within the context of educational trajectories, emotions regulate the idiosyncratic attribution of meaning, which subsequently indicate who we like to be in our future life (Scherer, 2009). Therefore, they profoundly influence biographical decision-making processes (Lerner et al., 2015). Specifically, at the end of the school career, students make crucial decisions about their course of education and how they want to design their future life. The transition process from school to higher education is accompanied by new life circumstances and development tasks, which is perceived as the first independent educational career choice and which goes hand in hand with specific long-term effects (Trautwein, 2013). The high dropout rates at universities in Europe (e.g. Sweden 45%, Norway 37%, Austria 36%, OECD 31%) and the still higher rates for a study program change (average of 50%, in the first 5 years) underline the tremendous importance of this topic (OECD, 2012), especially considering the large number of EU-programs supporting students in their transition to higher education. Although the significance of emotions (and emotional evaluations) for those decisions and for the transition to higher education has been repeatedly discussed in educational research (e.g. Hellberg 2009; Zimmermann 2013; Gieseke 2016), empirical findings concerning this matter are nascent.
The present study (2016-2019) examines the significance of emotions for educational career choices and educational trajectories during the transition from high school to tertiary education, particularly focusing on the subjective perspective and the emotional experience of students engaged in this important transition process. To fulfill the main research interest the study focuses on four consecutive and interwoven research questions: (Q1) Which mental images guide students in the context of their own future life and educational trajectories in the transition to higher education? (Q2) What are the crucial factors of influence in children’s and youths’ educational reality and learning history for this transition process? (Q3) Which emotions and emotional qualities are especially relevant in the context of education and educational trajectories? (Q4) What are the consequences and effects of the emotional evaluation of students’ learning and life history for their own course of education?
The aim of the study is therefore to draw a clear picture of the metal images, needs and ambitions of students in transition to higher education to rethink and conceptualize educational policies and programs at the interface of school and university. This opens up prospective implications (in theory and practice) for the collaboration between both institutions focusing on subjective resp. idiosyncratic perspectives but taking into account mutual interests (e.g. availability and financing of study places; the labor market resp. the interplay of academia and economy; school orientation and specialization; students’ subjective interests in the context of their employability etc.).
To answer the research questions, a multi-method and highly participatory research project was conducted together with students from secondary academic schools (three EU countries). At the center of the study are five consecutive sensitization workshops (focusing on emotions resp. emotional evaluations using imaginative and projective tools covering the students’ mind set about their past, present and future), which were video-recorded in a specific equipped observation laboratory. The corpus of data incudes more than 32 hours of video data, materials and products of the workshop sessions, the students’ research journals, a profound collection of the students’ socioeconomic and background information, and a controlled pre-post-test with a standardized questioner for social emotional competences (EKF). The central methods of analysis within the fully-integrated mixed-methods design (Teddlie & Taschakkori 2009) were the qualitative video analysis (using the video-based content structuring qualitative analysis - ISQIA, see Kuckartz 2014), the standardized video analysis (using the sequential rating of emotional valence and arousal - V-A-Rating, see Pekrun 2006, Koch & Zumbach 2002) and the (semi-structured) focus groups. The focus groups enabled the mutual analysis together with the students – e.g. the interpretation of selected sequences, the participatory development of categories and the communicative validation of the single data strengths (coding & rating) – underlining the highly participatory character of the research project. Participants of the study were students at the transition point from secondary school to higher education, aged around 17-19 years. In the (randomized) selection of participants, anonymity, transparency und voluntariness were provided. In addition, the participating schools implemented the project in the regular school schedule, so that the students were able to take part in the research process for more than one year and thus ensure an individual perspective on transition and decision processes. The integration and combination of 1794 videoclips with 2718 codes, 2181 ratings with 375 significant V-A-scores, 120 research journals and 132 materials enabled a differentiated perspective answering the four central research questions.
Q1) Beside other relevant (emotional evaluated) mental images, like a “specific subject” or “field of interest”, which are often discussed in literature, our study shows that educational career choices are mainly dependent on the emotional evaluation of the professional self-concept. Especially the emotional evaluation of “practical actions” as well as the emotional evaluation of “the idea of the future occupation” were highly significant. (Q2) Taking into account 25 inductive gained factors of influence that constitute the emotional evaluation of mental images in the context of educational trajectories, four factors must be emphasized. Beside “parents” and “teachers”, as two well investigated predictors in the life and learning history of students, our study illustrates the tremendous importance of “the experience of competence and self-efficacy” as well as the underestimated relevance of “the peer group” for the subjective composition of educational trajectories. (Q3) Subsequentially, our study illustrates, that the most significant emotion (or emotional quality) in the context of education is “pride and self-esteem” (interdependent with the experience of competence and self-efficacy in a social order). Hardly surprising, “joy and pleasure” as well as “fear and anxiety” are also highly relevant in the context of educational trajectories. The fourth significant emotional quality, which is especially interesting for the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, is “the feeling of comfort, security and trust”. (Q4) Finally, we were able to identify specific effects or functions of emotions and emotional evaluations for the students course of education, whereby four functions have to be highlighted; “the increased self-confidence”, “the enhanced problem-solving competence (and problem-awareness)”, “the general motivation and the willingness to perform” as well as “the moral development”. These results (1-4) go hand in hand with some pivotal theoretical and practical implications and open up new perspectives in the context of educational policies.
Gieseke, W. (2016). Lebenslanges Lernen und Emotionen. Wirkung von Emotionen auf Bildungsprozesse aus beziehungstheoretischer Perspektive. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann. Hellberg, B.-M. (2009). Entscheidungsfindung bei der Berufswahl. Prozessmodell der Emotion und Kognition. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative content analysis: A guide to methods, practice & using software. London: SAGE. Koch, S. C. & Zumbach, J. (2002). The Use of Video Analysis Software in Behaviour Observation Research. Interaction Patterns of Task-oriented Small Groups. Forum Qualitative Social Research, 3(2), Art. 18. Lerner, J. S., Li, Y., Valdesolo, P. & Kassam, K. S. (2015). Emotion and Decision Making. Annual Review Psychology, 66, 799-823. OECD (2010). How many students drop out of tertiary education? Highlights from Education at a Glance 2010, Paris: OECD Publishing. Pekrun, R. (2006). The control-value theory of achievement emotions: Assumptions, corollaries, and implications for educational research and practice. Educational Psychology Review, 18(4), 315-341. Scherer, K. R. (2009). The dynamic architecture of emotion: Evidence from the component process model. Cognition and Emotion, 23(7), S. 1307-1351. Teddlie, Ch. & Taschakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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