Conference Agenda

RN10_01a: Aspiration, choice, selection in secondary education (1)
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Antigoni Alba Papakonstantinou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Location: UP.3.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Change in Young People’s Educational Aspiration Profiles within Secondary Education

Mira Kalalahti, Janne Varjo

University of Helsinki, Finland

The educational aspirations of young people are often multi-layered and sometimes paradoxical. Abstract ideas about education and the transition to work do not always correspond with the specific expectations and options available. Additionally, migrant background and other structural factors bring about ideas and expectations of upward mobility, perceived returns to education, and experiences of discrimination that affect educational aspirations. (Jonsson & Rudolphi 2011; Hegna 2012; D’hondt et al., 2016.)

The overall aim of this study is to analyse the change in educational aspirations and attitudes during the first educational transition in the Finnish education system. Our mixed-method research draws on a three-year follow-up survey (N = 198) and two sets of thematic follow-up interviews (n = 45 + 45). The follow-up began when the students were making their first post-comprehensive choices (from 9th grade of basic education to upper secondary education) and ended when they were facing post-secondary choices.

With the survey data, we prepared profiles of the young people twice – in the final year of basic education, and secondary education – and interpreted the changes in educational aspirations and attitudes in relation to individual factors (school engagement and achievement) and structural factors (immigrant background and gender). The storylines from the follow-up interview data (linked interviews from 2015 and 2018) will give a more extensive and detailed understanding of the implications and resolutions of the quantitatively measured background factors, with a special focus on immigrant background.

Out Of Reach And Out Of Control. Does Futility Culture, Futility And Self-efficacy Mediate School Composition Effects On Higher Education Enrollment?

Isis Vandelannote, Jannick Demanet

University Ghent, Belgium

Although higher education attendance rates have increased over time, social inequality in higher education enrollment and university attainment still persists. Given the benefits of possessing a university degree, it is crucial to investigate barriers – encompassing individual and secondary school determinants – that prevent students from enrolling in higher education or academic bachelor programs. This study investigates whether socio-economic composition affects higher education enrollment and the attended program (academic or professional bachelor). While previous research failed to explain how secondary school composition affects higher education enrollment, we investigate students’ self-efficacy, sense of futility and futility culture as underlying mechanisms. Research showed that low SES schools are characterized by higher futility cultures, and their students by higher futility feelings and lower self-efficacy beliefs. Additionally, academic futility and self-efficacy affect students educational careers, hence, we expect that these factors are consequential for post-secondary education pathways, and therefore may mediate secondary school composition effects on higher education enrollment and the attended program. Logistic multilevel analyses were carried out on data (2013-2017) from 943 Flemish students, across 30 secondary schools, who were followed throughout secondary education and in their post-secondary situation. Preliminary results showed that students from high SES schools were more likely to attend higher education because these schools were characterized by low futility cultures. In contrast, self-efficacy was more important than sense of futility or futility culture in predicting whether students attended academic bachelor programs. Educational policies should aim at increasing a sense of control over educational outcomes among students, especially among disadvantaged students.

Educational and Career Choice of Russian School-leavers

Elena Minina, Ekaterina Pavlenko

Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation

Using interview data provided by Russia’s longitudinal study of educational trajectories of young people (TrEC), the presentation identifies and describes several decision-making strategies employed by Russian high school students in their choice of occupation. Drawing on the careership theory developed by Hodkinson and Sparkes, we investigate the logics young people draw on in deciding their future careers and in describing their emerging professional identities. We further identify a number of classed cultural narratives imbedded into the decision-making strategies. We find that school children of higher socio-economic background overwhelmingly reply on the narrative of a higher education degree serving as a basic ‘pass’ to the labour market and a ‘guarantee’ against unemployment in the future, whilst children of disadvantaged backgrounds tend to draw on the narrative of vocational education as a ‘fast track’ to adulthood. We further demonstrate that the narratives of all groups of Russian school-leavers are characterised by a high degree of serendipity, low professional ambition, lack of information about the labour market and over-reliance on academic achievement in certain school subjects in the choice of profession. Guided by blind faith in higher education, the majority of teenagers tend to prioritise access to higher education by all means, often at the expense of a preferred occupation/academic programme. The analysis draws on a sample of 111 16- and 17-year olds representing Russia’s various regions. The methodological approach adopted within this study is discourse-analytic and grounded. The findings are contextualised within the studies of educational inequality and state-of-the-art career counselling frameworks.

A Search for the Determinants of Educational Expectations of 10th Graders in Four European Cities: The Role of School SES Composition and Student Engagement

Laura Van den Broeck1, Kristjana Stella Blondal2, Eifred Markussen3, Marina Elias4

1Ghent University, Belgium; 2University of Iceland, Iceland; 3Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU), Norway; 4Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Social inequality in youngsters’ educational expectations, a well-known predictor of future educational attainment, differs substantially between countries. In Europe, educational opportunities are less unequal in the Nordic countries compared to other European countries, indicating the need to transcend the traditionally studied effects of individual level variables on students’ educational expectations. This article seeks to increase the contextual understanding of social inequality in expectations to attend higher education by focusing on school composition effects cross-nationally, based on data of four cities in four European countries - Barcelona (Spain), Ghent (Belgium), Bergen (Norway), and Reykjavík (Iceland) - with varying degrees of school segregation. Furthermore, we contribute to a more profound understanding of the mechanisms involved in educational expectations by investigating the intervening role of student engagement. Results of stepwise multilevel analyses (R) on data of 7527 students in 122 high schools in the four cities, part of the baseline survey of the International Study of City Youth (ISCY) collected in 2013-14, showed that SES composition positively predicts students’ expectations for higher education, but only in the two systems with substantial school segregation. Two out of three indicators of engagement significantly relate to expectations, possibly relevant for policy makers wanting to raise attendance in higher education.