14 SES 06 A, Schooling of Ordinary and Vulnerable Youth. Transitions between Levels of Schooling and Transitions to Adulthood (Part 2)
This study is part of a Norwegian national project, Quality in Education, which includes both a representative study (surveys and class room observation) and close studies, the main purpose being to analyse how quality in education is practised and experienced by actors at different school levels, in the light of adapted education as a superior principle. Quality is here understood as a descriptive term, describing what is characteristic of the education (see Haug, 2011).
The present study addresses vulnerable youth, i.e. students who received special education as a legal right or needed extra support and help in their education at 10th grade. However, whether people have ‘disabilities’ has to be balanced against the question of whether social institutions have disabling effects (see, e.g., Williams 2001). By a qualitative approach, the aim of the study is to investigate the transition from lower secondary school to upper secondary school seen from a vulnerable youth perspective. How has the school transition affected their academic learning and social well-being? What changes can be traced in this school transition in the two arenas for these students? What are important factors for their mastery of academic learning and for their social well-being?
The main theoretical perspective will be life course theory. The life course can be regarded as the sum of a person’s trajectories, ‘composed’ of past, present and future events in education, work, family and leisure life (see e.g. Elder & Johnson 2003), manifesting itself as framing opportunities and/or restrictions on action and interaction. Central concepts in life-course theory are life events, transitions and turning points (ibid.). The transition from lower to upper secondary school might be understood as a turning point, representing a path chosen by the individual, or an institutionalized cultural re-direction of the life course. By using the short-term perspective on transitions, one may identify the changes in the conditions and transactional processes. Effects of social contexts on development may also be cumulative rather than interactive. Transitions can be identified by a marked and permanent change in social norms and expectations, such as the transition from one educational level to another for vulnerable youths at school. Transitions often involve changes in status or identity, both personally and socially, and may open up opportunities for behavioural change (George 1993; Elder & Johnsen 2003; Elder, Johnsen, & Crosnoe, 2004).
Another potential theoretical perspective is network theory, studying structural and relational features of personal relations in groups at the micro level. A typology of adaptive situations of vulnerable youth (formerly SEN students) distinguishes between a socially exploring situation and a socially inclusive or integrating situation where people are offensive and open, take greater social risks and are more explorative than people in an isolating or bonding situation, reflecting a small and intimate network (see Kvalsund & Bele 2010). The present study analyses the transitional results and try to extract meaning from the adaptive patterns of the vulnerable young persons in the light of the network qualities of this typology.
Bazeley, P. & Richards, L. (2000). The NVIVO. Qualitative Project Book. London, Thousand Oaks, California, New Dehli: SAGE Publications Ltd. Elder, G. H. J., Johnsen, M. K., & Crosnoe, R. (2004). The Emergence and Development of Life Course Theory. In J. T. Mortimer & M. J. Shanahan (Eds.). Handbook of the life course (pp. 3-19). New York: Springer. Elder, G. H. J. and M. K. Johnson (2003). The Life Course and Aging: Challenges, Lessons, and New Dimensions. In R. A. Jr. Settersten (Ed.), Invitation to the life course: Towards new understanding of later life (pp. 49-81). Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing. George, L. K. (1993). Sociological perspectives on life transition. Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 352-373. Halse, Ø. & Haug, P. (Eds.) (2008). Prosjektet Kvalitet i opplæringa (KIO). Tilbakemelding til skulane. [The project ‘Quality in education’ (KIO). Report to the schools]. Notat nr. 4. Volda: Høgskulen i Volda/Møreforsking Volda. Hattie, J. C. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-analyses Relating to Achievement. London, New York: Routeledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Haug, P. (2011). Kvalitet i opplæringa. In P.Haug (Ed.), Kvalitet i utdanninga [Quality in education]. Chapter 1 in forthcoming book, spring 2011. Kvalsund, R. & Bele, I. V. (2010). Adaptive Situations and Social Marginalisation in Early Adult Life: Students with Special Educational Needs. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 12(1), 59-76. Williams, G. (2001). Theorising disability. In G. L. Albrecht, K. D. Selman & M. Bury (Eds.). Handbook of disability studies (pp. 123-144). London: Sage.
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