14 SES 06 A, Schooling of Ordinary and Vulnerable Youth. Transitions between Levels of Schooling and Transitions to Adulthood (Part 2)
Like those in some European countries, the upper secondary school system in Taiwan is characterized by its differentiated features. After completing the 9-year compulsory education, students make their transition to upper secondary school, which is composed of different tracks. While the senior high school offers general education aiming to prepare students for higher education, the senior vocational school intends to train youngsters to engage in actual productive work after leaving schools. Therefore, entering upper secondary school is an educational transition of importance for Taiwanese students.
Moreover, the admission to upper secondary school is determined by the entrance examination in Taiwan. It is therefore not astonishing that children from higher social classes have a better chance to enter senior high schools (Tsai & Chiu, 1993). However, most relevant studies regarding educational transition have focused their attention entirely on class differences in academic performance, it is therefore necessary to further explore the mechanisms of how class origins affects students’ educational attainment.
In the past decades, one of the significant trends in the study of inequalities in educational attainment has been the resurgence of rational choice models focusing on educational decision making. Such approach attempts to explain the class differentials in educational attainment through individual-level models of educational choice, as the choices pupils and their parents make are determined by expected benefits, costs, and probability of success for different educational alternatives (Breen & Jonsson, 2005). In line of descent from the distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ effects advanced by Boudon (1974), the consequence of rational action by pupils and parents could be understood as secondary effects, while primary effects are expressed via the association between family background and children’s academic performance (Erikson & Rudolphi, 2010; Goldthorpe, 2000).
Assuming that class differentials in educational attainment are the aggregated result of individual actors’ instrumental rational decisions, some models have been proposed to treat primary and secondary effects in empirical investigations (Breen & Goldthorpe,1997; Erikson & Jonsson, 1996). Furthermore, a growing body of studies has been undertaken to test the rational choice models empirically. Stocké (2007) and Stubbe (2009) both apply the rational choice framework to decision-making regarding school tracks in the German educational system. Furthermore, Maaz, Hausen, McElvany and Baumert (2006) suggested integrating psychological expectancy–value models to make the mechanisms behind decision-making processes more transparent. Jonkmann, Maaz, McElvany and Baumert (2010) tested the aforementioned model from a German nationwide representative sample, indicating that the influence of family background could be mediated. Thus, it is of interest to replicate the rational choice model in Taiwan, and to explore the class differentials in educational transition to upper secondary school.
To sum up, the main objectives of this study are:
(i) This study intends to test the rational choice model in Taiwan, in order to explore the class differentials in educational transition.
(ii) By applying the similar theoretical framework, but conducted in different contexts, this study attempts to enhance the comparative perspective for Taiwanese education research.
Breen, R. & Jonsson, J. O. (2005). Inequality of opportunity in comparative perspective: Recent research on educational attainment and social mobility. Annual Review of Sociology, 31, 223-243. Erikson, R. & Rudolphi, F. (2010). Change in social selection to upper secondary school: primary and secondary effects in Sweden. European Sociological Review, 26(3), 291-305. Erikson, R., & Jonsson, J. O. (1996). Explaining class inequality in education: The Swedish test case. In R.Erikson & J. O.Jonsson (Eds.), Can education be equalized? The Swedish case in comparative perspective (pp. 1–63). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Jonkmann, K., Maaz, K., McElvany, N. & Baumert, J. (2010). Die Elternentscheidung beim Übergang in die Sekundarstufe I: Eine theoretische Adaption und empirische Überprüfung des Erwartungs-Wert-Modells. In K. Maaz, J. Baumert, C. Gresch, & N. McElvany (Eds.), Der Übergang von der Grundschule in die weiterführende Schule: Leistungsgerechtigkeit und regionale, soziale und ethnisch-kulturelle Disparitäten [The transition from primary school to secondary school] (pp. 253-282). Bonn: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Referat Bildungsforschung. Maaz, K., Hausen, C., McElvany, N., & Baumert, J. (2006). Stichwort: Übergnge im Bildungssystem. Theoretische Konzepte und ihre Anwendung in der empirischen Forschung beim Übergang in die Sekundarstufe [Keyword: Transitions in the educational system. Theoretical concepts and their application to research at the transition to secondary level]. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 9, 299–327. Stocké, V. (2007). Explaining educational decisions and effects of families' social class position: An empirical test of the Breen-Goldthorpe model of educational attainment. European Sociological Review, 23(4), 505-519. Tsai, S.-L. & Chiu, H.-Y. (1993). Changes in Educational Stratification in Taiwan. In: Y. Shavit & H.-P. Blossfeld (Eds.), Persistent Inequalities: a Comparative Study of Educational Attainment in Thirteen Countries (pp. 193-227). Colorado: Westview Press.
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