02 SES 07 B, Transition Paths and Strategies
In Canton Ticino (CH), different options for students who obtain a degree in upper secondary technical-professional education (MPT) exist. The Directorate of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) was interested in identifying and understanding itineraries and motivations of young Italian-speaking Suisse students with an MPT degree,. An investigation was asked to the Centre for Innovation and Research on Educational Systems (CIRSE).
Research questions of the present study are:
- Which paths do young students from Ticino undertake after technical-professional degree?
- Which are motivations driving their choices?
- Which are the most relevant influencing factors in students’ decision making process?
Transitions in education have been investigated by different authors (i.a.: Beherens, 2007; Bonica & Cardano, 2008; TREE, 2003, 2007), which highlighted their quality of un-linearity and complexity (Donati, 1999; Perriard, 2005; Donati & Lafranchi, 2007). Furthermore, transitions are related to the process of counselling, where different possible approaches persist, such as models focussing on personality and identity, or the relationship between identity and professional roles, and those who emphasise the importance of social representations in decision making process (for a more detailed review, see Guichard & Huteau, 2003).
Van Gennep (1909), later recalled by Turner (1967, 1969), defined transition as a frontier-land, where the passage from a condition to another takes place; he also stated that this process of change cannot be described as a punctual event; it should rather be considered as part of a process, even not linear. In his model, transition can also be described as the second (liminal) phase of a rite of passage (Van Gennep, 1909).
In order to investigate this process, possible theoretical approaches are those referring to the rational action theory (Coleman, 1990; Crozier e Friedberg 1977; Olson, 1978), postulating that individuals take actions in order to maximise their personal satisfaction or utility, and balance costs and benefits in order to optimize the lasts.
Different theories developed alternative models to the rational-action theory, highlighting the role of relational systems and personal bonds in the process of choice. Among these, Granovetter (1973, 1983), states that inter-individuals ties might be strong or weak depending on several factors such as duration, emotional intensity, intimacy and reciprocal services. Depending on the type of tie that an individual maintains with others, consequences on personal choices and opportunities would be different. Other researchers (Trickett & Buchanan, 1997; Perret-Clermont & Zittoun, 2002), underlined the potential offered by informal ties of young students with specific network, which ““may be potentially of great significance during certain pivotal life stages” (Trickett & Buchanan, 1997). In fact, exchanges with peer and relatives play an important role during transitions, promoting the diffusion of information and providing emotional support. Also inter-generational relations seem to prevail, through knowledge transmission and providing of symbolic resources related to personal experiences and offering identification models to young students (Perret-Clermont & Zittoun, 2002).
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