Perspectives on attitudes, engagement, expectations and aspirations pre- and post-secondary school

  • Elizabeth-Anne GAIR

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Amidst on-going initiatives aimed atraising attainment and promoting social inclusion, a key stage identified for improvement in the HMIE report: Improving Scottish Education (2006) is that of primary/secondary transition. Current programmes that can address this issue are A Curriculum for Excellence 3-18 (SEED, 2004) which allows schools curriculum flexibility and the Integrated Community Schools policy (HMIE, 2004) which offers a multi-agency approach to improving achievement, health and well-being for all pupils through collaborative working between cluster schools. International researchers have found that repetition of topics, disregard / distrust of transfer information and failure to build on the work of the primary school (McGee et al., 2003), inappropriate teacher support (Stemler et al., 2006), misinterpretation of pupils' attitudes by school / teacher (Gnaldi et al., 2005), inadequate parental support, difficulties in the family environment (Marjoribanks, 2005; Casanova et al., 2005) and exclusion by peers and student's self-image (de Bruyn, 2005) are possible contributors to post-transitional decline in academic effort. De Bruyn (2005) argues that engagement is a strong predictor of academic achievement and Marjoribanks (2003) hypothesizes that post-transition academic performance has a significant impact on the formation of adolescents' educational aspirations. This thesis seeks to discover perspectives in relation to pupils' attitude, their engagement in learning activities, and the aspirations of learners - pre- and post- transition to secondary school. The thesis also reports on the exploration of expectations - those of learners and stakeholders (parents, school management, teachers and home/school link staff) at this crucial point in an individual's education.Additionally, it explores whether the presence of aspirations before and after transition might relate to the formation of a positive attitude to learning and to providing focus for pupils engaged in the move to secondary school. The thesis compares learners' education and career aspirations with those of their parents. It reveals perceptions of the role of aspirations in influencing Primary 7 learners' and Secondary 1 students' attitude and engagement in learning, from the perspectives of the learners themselves, their parents and educators. The thesis finds that parental involvement and support, and the family work / study ethic are perceived as strong pre- and post- transitional influences on learners' attitude to, and engagement in learning, and on their aspirations for tertiary education and career. Additionally, given the sustained focus on transition within academic research and educational policy, this thesis finds an absence of written policies on transition and inconsistent practices between different schools - within and between clusters.
Date of Award18 Sep 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDaniela Sime (Supervisor)

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