23 SES 12 A, Transitions in Education, Evaluation and Practices of Support
The transitions from one school level to the next have been highlighted in the educational debate in recent years, in Iceland as well as in other counties (Broström and Wagner, 2003; Griebel and Berwanger, 2006; Einarsdottir and Wagner, 2006), addressing continuity and flexibility. A special journal, the International Journal of Transitions in Youth, and a Themed Monograph of the European Early Childhood Education Research Journal (No. 1, 2003), have been dedicated to this issue as well as the European Research Network on Transitions in Youth. However, limited information has been available on these issues, especially concerning teaching and learning or class-room practices across school levels. In this presentation recent results from a research project on educational transitions will be described.
The objective of the research was to contribute to the body of knowledge on the transition from preschool to compulsory schooling (age levels 5/6) and from compulsory school to upper secondary school (age levels 15/16).
The research was conducted within the theoretical framework of Dewey’s theory on continuity of experience in education, “the category of continuity or the experiential continuum” (Dewey, 1938/1963, pp. 33–50), which he repeatedly addresses in his work (e.g. Dewey, 1916/1966). According to Dewey, what the student “has learned in the way of knowledge and skill in one situation becomes an instrument of understanding and dealing effectively with the situations which follow” (p. 44). He claimed that “the principle of continuity of experience means that every experience both takes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way the quality of those which come after” (p. 35). Furthermore, it is the teachers´ task to give students assignments founded in their earlier experience and to create connections to the new one. Only then will new experience become educational. Although these ideas were presented almost a century ago, they are still alive in the scientific literature (see e.g. Elkjaer, 2000) and employed for analyzing teaching and learning (e.g. Carver and Enfield, 2006). Furthermore, this theoretical approach has been developed further by researchers (see e.g. Fishman and McCarthy, 1998).
The research questions emphasize continuity vs. discontinuity: firstly, in school structures, both external (including laws and national curricula) and internal; secondly, in the methods of teaching and learning, including school content, with an emphasis on student initiative and independence in learning; and thirdly, in the links and relationships between school levels.
Broström, S. & Wagner, J. T. (Ed.) (2003). Early childhood education in five Nordic countries: Perspectives on the transition from preschool to school. Århus: Systime Academic. Carver, R. L. & Enfield, R. P. (2006). John Dewey’s philosophy of education is alive and well. Education and Culture, 22(1), 55–67. Cowan, P. A. (1991). Individual and family life transitions: A proposal for a new definition. In P. A. Cowan & M. Hetherington (Ed.), Family transitions (pp. 3–30). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Dewey, J. (1916/1966). Democracy and education. An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: The Free Press. Dewey, J. (1938/1963). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books. Einarsdottir, J. & Wagner, J. T. (Ed.) (2006). Nordic childhoods and early education. Philosophy, research, policy, and practice in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Elkjaer, B. (2000). The continuity of action and thinking in learning: Re-visiting John Dewey. Outlines: Critical Practice Studies, 2(1), 85–101. Fishman, S. M. & McCarthy, L. (1998). John Dewey and the challenge of classroom practice. New York: Teacher College Press. Griebel, W. & Berwanger, D. (2006). Transition from primary school to secondary school in Germany. International Journal of Transitions in Childhood, 2, 32–38. Hargreaves, D. (2004b). Personalising learning: Next steps in working laterally. London: Specialist Schools Trust. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Oskarsdóttir, G. G. (2000). Frá skóla til atvinnulífs. Rannsóknir á tengslum menntunar og starfs [The transition from school to work. Research results]. Reykjavík: The University of Iceland Press. Pianta, R. C., Cox, M. I. & Snow, K. L. (Ed.) (2007). School readiness and the transition to kindergarten in the era of accountability. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks.
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