04 SES 05 A, Secondary Education
Education is seen as a major vehicle to improve national well-being, economic growth and the quality of people’s lives, and there is a strong belief that schooling can reduce the social and economic gap between children and young people of different backgrounds. However, despite numerous reforms to reduce inequality in education, the gap persists (Labaree, 2010). In vocational upper secondary education, drop-out rates and non-completion of vocational competence is of great concern (Markussen mfl. 2011), as they increase the risk of unemployment and social exclusion (Lundahl, 2012, Hernes, 2010, Bäckman et al, 2011). In this paper we report from the research project “Students’ at risk. Pathways to vocational competence”. The study is designed as a critical case study of an alternative vocational upper secondary school in Norway that offers the first two years of three VET programs from which the students can choose (Programmes for Technical and Industrial Production, Health and Social Care, Programme for Service and Transport), recruiting a diversity of students with special needs and troublesome school histories. The overarching aim of the study is to explore how the school works to attain its goals in preparing young people for completing grades and competences in vocational programmes. In this paper we focus in particular on how young people experience and assess their current schooling, and ask:
How do the students describe their experiences of former and current schooling, and hopes and plans for their further vocational career?
How can we understand these experiences in the actual school context?
The empirical findings based on participant observation, student files and student interviews, will be theoretically reflected upon and discussed in view of critical social theory (Bourdieu&Passeron, 1977, Bernstein, 1996) based on four themes: 1) the baggage of former school experiences, 2) current school situation and vocational pathways, 3) ways ahead, hopes and regained confidence and agency, and 4) reconnecting students or reproducing social differences?
Bourdieu, P. & Passeron, J. (1977). Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications Bäckman, O., Jakobsen, V., Lorentzen, T., Ôsterbacka, E. & Dahl, E. (2011). Dropping out in Scandinavia. Social exclusion and labour market attachement among upper secondary dropouts in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Arbetsrapport/Institutet för framtidsstudier 2011: 8. Hernes, G. (2010). Gull av gråstein. Tiltak for å redusere frafall I videregående opplæring. Fafo-rapport 2010: 3. Laberee, D.F. (2010). Someone has to fail. The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling. Cambridge, Massachsetts & London, England: Harvard University Press Lundahl, L. (2012). Leaving shool for what? Notes on school-to-work transitions and school dropout in Norway and Sweden (85--108), In Strand, T. & Roos, M. (eds.) Education for Social Justice, Equity and Diverity. An Honorary Volume for Professor Anne-Lise Arnesen, Zürich, Berlin: LIT Verlag. Markussen, E., Wigum Frøseth, M. & N. Sandberg (2011) Reaching for the unreachable. Identifying Factors Predicting Early School Leaving and Non-completion in Norwegian Upper Secondary Education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 55, No. 3, June 2011, 225–253.
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