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A study in Finland examined rural students' experiences of the transition from a small rural primary school (grades 1-6) to a bigger village secondary school (grades 7-9). Qualitative data were obtained from essays written by 132 students in 13 small rural primary schools, 1 village school, and 1 city school. Students wrote the essays as 6th-graders in elementary school and again as 7th-graders in secondary school. Results indicate that the transition requires different kinds of adaptation from rural and city students, the most significant factors for rural students being changes in the school's physical, social, and pedagogical environment. Many rural students were disappointed with social relationships in the classroom or with the teaching, and faced social or cognitive problems. The change from the class, teacher-based learning environment of the primary school to the subject, teacher-based learning environment of the secondary school demanded a considerable amount of adaptation from students. The secondary school learning environment became more impersonal, formal, and competitive, and teachers became more controlling just at the point when adolescents were seeking more autonomy. Finally, students' achievement did not necessarily correspond to how well they had adjusted to their new school. Recommendations include more equal communication between secondary teachers and students and better cooperation between primary and secondary schools. Communities should reconsider whether to close small rural schools because the resulting extended transportation time results in unequal opportunities to cope with secondary school. (Contains 27 references.) (TD)

Descriptors: Consolidated Schools, Educational Environment, Elementary Secondary Education, Foreign Countries, Qualitative Research, Rural Schools, Rural Urban Differences, Secondary School Students, Small Schools, Student Adjustment, Student Attitudes, Student Experience, Teacher Student Relationship, Transfer Students

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Autor: Pietarinen, Janne


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