04 SES 09 C, Creating Social And Educational Opportunities For Inclusion
In the last two decades (2000-2020) there has been a growth in educational policies in Europe countries, including Portugal, aiming the reversal of school failure and dropout (Lima, Afonso & Gomes, 2019). This issue has become increasingly important in the European political agenda and in national education policies (Estevão & Álvares, 2013). Therefore, the theme has gained prominence in the definition of educational, social, and economic development policies, as well as the civic, social, and economic consequences, including unemployment, social exclusion and poverty, which is strongly related to the high incidence of school dropout (Eurydice, 2014).
Scientific writings suggest multidimensional causal factors in the processes of school failure and dropout (Araújo, Macedo, Santos & Doroftei 2019). These studies indicate several practices, programs and policies developed to overcome these processes (Raffo, Dyson & Kerr, 2014). Thus, pointing out some strategies on successful socio-educational practices to overcome this problematic (Antunes & Lúcio, 2019). In Portugal, despite the success in combat school failure and social exclusion, the quality of learning provided to students have been questioned by some studies, due to certain curricular and political measures implemented to reduce the school failure and dropout (Costa, Loureiro, Silva & Araújo, 2013).
This presentation is part of a PhD project, granted by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (SFRH/BD/143386/2019), framed in the EDUPLACES project (PTDC/MHC-CED/3775/2014), focuses on the study of inclusive socio-educational practices. For that, a multiple-case study is being developed in two observation units, in one Portuguese municipality. One of the research questions that this project aims to answer is: From the point-of-view of program local coordinators, which processes and factors contribute to build practices of inclusive education?
The first outcomes of this PhD project, based on a triangulation of sources (i.e., documental data analysis and semi-structured interviews to program local coordinators), have allowed the identification of two inclusive practices. The analyses of the selected practices led to a typology of inclusive practices described as “study support” and “ability grouping”.
Therefore, this study focuses on the practices of study support and ability grouping, addressing the conceptual evolution and the way of structuring these types of practices, as well as the description of the specificities of each of the practices studied (i.e., target group of students, organization, strategies, processes, and resources).
The practices of the study support type, aim the development of personal and social skills, often oriented to students from socio-economically disadvantaged contexts and with school trajectories marked by the risk or retention and thus, the risk of school dropout. This type of practice organizes additional resources to sustain learning processes that reinforce weak academic performances and bet on a pedagogical model based on individualized learning, by direct and personalized study support (Antunes, 2017; Calado, 2014).
The literature points out to several conceptions and different definitions of the ability grouping practices (Loveless, 2013). The diversification of configurations and meanings of the expression ability grouping, materializes in an important problem in the debate about this educational practice. Kulik (1992), based on programs and practices rehearsed over more than one hundred years, identifies five modalities of student grouping: i) XYZ classes; ii) interclass grouping; iii) intraclass grouping; iv) fast-paced classes for gifted students; v) enriched curriculum classes for gifted students. Ability grouping practices seek to achieve a certain relative homogeneity in academic performance, which is expected to facilitate and enhance the effectiveness of teaching/learning work.
In this presentation we share some results about the perspectives of program local coordinators, about ability grouping and study support practices.
The option for the qualitative approach in this study is justified by the search to particularize and understand the subjects and the phenomena in their complexity and singularity, trying to capture the social phenomena from the perspectives of the participants directly involved in the contexts (Denzin & Lincoln, 2006). In this way, it aims to cover the plurality of rationalities and meanings based on the knowledge and contexts under analysis (Amado, 2014; Seale, 2004). The study design intends to study two national programs aiming to overcome school underachievement and dropout by means of a multiple-case study (Yin, 1989) of two observation units in one Portuguese municipality, focused on two national intervention programs. In the first phase of this project, inclusive and successful practices (case practices) were characterized in two observation units through the triangulation of information: relevant documents, statistical data analysis and semi-structured interviews with program local coordinators. In the second phase, youngsters will be interview with the objective of collecting data that aim understanding the transformation processes that occur (that is, biographical, institutional and contextual) in the construction of their successful academic pathways; young people who integrate or integrated the analyzed practices. The analysis of each case is expanded through the broad collection of information on the perspectives and voices of relevant actors directly involved, through focus group, aimed at young people, families, teachers and other professionals. In the third phase, the analysis will explore, in two case studies, the relationships and dimensions of building broad collective and collaborative educational and learning processes suggested, among others, by the 'learning community' and 'community of practice' categories. Individual interviews and focus group will be conducted with teachers and other professional directly involved in the practices in study. Overall, the research aims to study the existing relationship between participation in inclusive socio-educational practices and transformation processes in: (i) pathways of overcoming school failure and dropout, and (ii) the construction and sharing of knowledge and professional learning. The objective is to build portraits of profiles of young people with atypical academic pathways and capture transforming processes that professionals involved in the practices under study go through.
Regarding the perspectives of program local coordinator of the study support practice, the data analyzed suggests that the practice develops improvements (variables) in the participants' results (i.e., learning, social behaviors, integration and autonomy); promotes the construction of a strong and continuous relationship with significant adults and promotes the completion of compulsory education. In this sense, this category of practices seems to unfold into two sub-categories: one more strictly academic, focused on support for homework, test preparation and accompanied study, and the other more based on non-formal education strategies, focused on the development of social and personal skills and the promotion of normative behaviors (Calado, 2014). From the perspective of the coordinator of the practice of ability grouping, the main advantages of this practice are reflected in the: improvement of collaborative work, interinstitutional articulation and professional development of teachers; importance of curricular and organizational flexibility and the improvement in student results, in terms of autonomy, integration or learning. The analysis of the data seems to meet Kulik's (1992) position and the perspective of the program local coordinator, pointing out that this practice allows teachers to work closely with students, adapting the rhythm and curriculum to their needs, contributing in various ways to the improvement of students' results. One of the emerging issues that we intend to deepen in both practices, is related to the quality of success and whether this "normative success" reflects the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes corresponding to the level of education that these students attend. We are interested in knowing whether, under the pretext of inclusion, it may be depriving the recipients of the practices under analysis of access to "powerful knowledge" (Young & Muller, 2010), corresponding to the profile of the student at the end of compulsory education.
Amado, João (2014). Manual de investigação qualitativa em Educação. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra. Antunes, Fátima (2017). Locais Educadores: Práticas, vozes e percursos de educação inclusiva (EDUPLACES). Jornal de Sociologia da Educação, 1, 1-9. Antunes, Fátima, & Lúcio, Joana (2019). Overcoming barriers: The local and the innovative dimensions of inclusive socio-educational practices. Multidisciplinary Journal of Educational Research, 9(2), 120-143. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.17583/remie.2019.4200 Araújo, Helena C., Macedo, Eunice; Santos, Sofia A., & Doroftei, Alexandra O. (2019). Tackling early school leaving: Principals’ insights into Portuguese upper secondary schools. European Journal of Education, 54 (1): 151-162. doi:10.1111/ejed.12328 Calado, Pedro (2014). O papel da educação não-formal na inclusão social: A experiência do Programa Escolhas. Interacções, 29, 60-94. Costa, Isabel, Loureiro, Armando, Silva, Sofia M., & Araújo, Helena C. (2013). Perspectives of portuguese municipal education officers on school disengagement. Educação Sociedade & Culturas, 40, 165-185. Denzin, Norman K., & Lincoln, Yvonna S. (2006). O planejamento da pesquisa qualitativa: teoria e abordagens. Porto Alegre: Bookman. Estevão, Pedro., & Álvares, Maria. (2013). A medição e intervenção do abandono escolar precoce: Desafios na investigação de um objeto esquivo. CIES e-Working Papers,157, 1-18. Eurydice (2014). Tackling early leaving from education and training in europe: Strategies, policies, and measures. Eurydice and Cedefop Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Kulik, James A. (1992). An analysis of the research on ability grouping: Historical and contemporary perspectives. Storrs, CT: National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Lima, Licínio C., Afonso, Almerindo J., & Gomes, Carlos (2019). Posfácio: Possibilidades e limites de políticas e práticas socioeducativas de inclusão. In Fátima Antunes (Eds.), Remar contra as desigualdades em educação: Práticas, vozes, percursos (pp.165-179 ISBN 978-989-755-428-5). V. N. Famalicão: Edições Húmus. Loveless, Tom (2013). How well are American students learning?: With sections on the latest international tests, tracking and ability grouping, and advanced math in 8th grade. Washington. DC: Brown Center on Educational Policy. Brookings Institution. Raffo, Carlo, Dyson, Alan, & Kerr, Kristin (2014). Lessons from area-based initiatives in education and training. An independent report authored for the European Commission by the NESET network of experts. European Union. Seale, Clive. (2004). Researching society and culture (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications. Yin, Robert. (2010), Estudo de caso: planejamento e método. Porto Alegre: Bookman. Young, Michael, & Muller Johan (2010). Three educational scenarios for the future: Lessons from the Sociology of Knowledge, European Journal of Education, 45(1), 11-27.
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