Fitting misfits?

Passfähige Sonderlinge?

The project focuses on the question whether non-traditional students have means to complete studies successfully. This question is discussed against the backdrop of the Bourdieuian capital theory. At that, particular attention is paid to the socio-cultural fit of non-traditional students and their equipment with social, cultural, and economic capital. For modeling social-cultural fit a concept is developed that is based on the works of Otte on lifestyles and considers the distribution of students in social space.

Empirical analyses draw on data of the project “Passages from Employment to Studies – PETS”. This data is based on a survey amongst freshmen, a panel survey and information on examinations, which was matched with the survey data. Analyses concentrate on vocational experiences of non-traditional students, their socio-cultural fit, their study motives and life goals, their routes to university, challenges during studies, and their study achievement. In the course of this, differences and similarities between non-traditional students and their fellow students with general qualification for university entrance are documented from a comparative perspective.

Changes in vocational orientation of pupils in the transition system

Wandel der Berufsorientierung von Schülerinnen und Schülern im Übergangssystem

Even today vocational choice is of fundamental importance regarding an individuals’ permanent positioning in society. Beinke describes it even as a vital act (2006: 12). At that, youths in the transition system are often forced to modify their vocational aspiration for example due to supply of training places. In this context it is largely unknown how vocational aspiration of pupils in the transition system changes in the course of a school year. Socialization theory assumes that attending these educational programs generates new action orientations for the youths. Furthermore, development models that describe the process of vocation choice as a concretization of vocational aspiration in the life course (Gottfredson 1981; Herzog/Neuenschwander/Wannack 2006). Additionally, it has to be emphasized that this process is reciprocal. Thus the positioning of the youths in different practices of socialization is an expression of the relation between personal action orientations and social action orientations (Grundmann 2006: 218). According to that youths concretize their vocational aspiration in the course of the school year. Assumingly, these concretizations move towards the focus of the educational program.

To answer these questions regarding the vocational orientation in the course of a school year a panel study at a business college in North Rhine-Westphalia is carried out. All pupils in prevocational education programs and vocational basic education programs were surveyed four-times during the school year 2011/12. In total the sample includes pupils form 18 classes in the transition system.

In cooperation with Sylvia Müller.

The professors’ perception of the Bologna Process

Die Wahrnehmung des Bologna-Prozesses durch Professorinnen und Professoren

The project’s epistemological interest is mainly studying different actors’ (policial) perception and individual attitudes towards the Bologna Process. Due to the elevated (power political) position of professors at universities – and thus during the reforms – this group is focused initially. According to that, professors are the status group which played a key role during establishing the new bachelor and master study programs. Notwithstanding this key role, the importance of professors during the reforms was examined occasionally (Fischer/Minks 2007). This projects aims at reducing this research gap.

Starting with these basic assumptions we aim at studying the professors’ perception of the Bologna Process in a sophisticated manner. At that not only the impact of different facets of the Bologna Process but also the impact of other reforms of recent years on everyday work at universities will be analyzed. Moreover, the professors’ contribution to the reform will be focused. By this means major causes of (persistent) contradictions and (ongoing) resistance against the reforms are identified. Likewise, the results might hint at solutions strategies. In the wake of the interconnections it can be assumed that not only inter- and intrapersonal but also contextual factors determine the perception of the Bologna Process. For this reason, a comparative design is chosen which accounts for the reforms’ different implementation at universities.

In cooperation with Björn Wendt.

The transition system. Wrong track or success story?

Das Übergangssystem. Irrweg oder Erfolgsgeschichte?

The doctoral project focuses on the German vocational education system, especially on the so-called “transition system” (Übergangssystem) which is not sufficiently considered in empirical education research. At the heart of the project are indirect ways to fully qualifying vocational education – that is the first threshold. In this context quantitative data will be used to give an overview about the transition system and the transition chances, respectively the transition difficulties. These analyses will be complemented by guideline-based interviews that focus on the perspective of pupils, for whom the transition phase is characterized by uncertainty mainly. Besides it will be shown how the general framework for the transition to the market for vocational education changed since the 1960s in Germany. At that one focus will be the reconstruction of actions of educational politics that were passed to ease the transitions for disadvantaged groups. Finally, an attempt to establish a fit of different stakeholders’ interests is made. That way a foundation to develop measures to reduce difficulties regarding the transition of youths in the transition system to fully qualifying vocational education.

Assessment of Competencies - KERMIT

Kompetenzen Ermitteln - KERMIT

KERMIT assesses the competencies and attainments of students over several school years. KERMIT determines to which extent the competencies of students meet the requirements of the national standards of education and the educational plans of Hamburg. The test results inform teachers about strengths and weaknesses of their students. KERMIT is a tool to develop teaching and school. Examining the KERMIT results helps teachers to improve their teaching. School administration can also use the results for technical and organizational management. Furthermore, aggregated results inform the educational administration and politics about the status quo of the pupils’ learning level in Hamburg.

Project management: Margarete Benzing

Further informationen: project's website, SOFISwiki

Passages from Employment to Studies

Passagen aus Erwerbstätigkeit in das Studium

Increasing the permeability between occupation and academic education is a part of Germany’s education policy and other OECD-countries. One option is opening the institutions of higher education to students without a general qualification for university entrance (“Abitur”). Doing so enhances the heterogeneity of functional and instrumental competence, academic and occupational experience as well as expectations to studies within the student body of the universities. This is especially challenging during the introductory phase of Bachelor studies. The amount of students without Abitur is very low (less than 2 %), though. Not until the late 2000s the Länder laws on higher education have been modified to admit “non-traditional” students – without Abitur but with vocational education and following work experience – to universities.

The following questions are addressed in the project:

  • How do success in studies and duration of studies vary between traditional and non-traditional students during the introductory phase? Which school- and occupational-biographic as well as socio-economic (relating to social background) causes can explain found differences?
  • How do reasons for studying and perception of learning commitment, perceived problems during learning as well as strategies of planning of studies deviate in regard to different access paths to studies?
  • To what extent are traditional and non-traditional students working during their studies?
Project management: Prof. Dr. Holger Lengfeld

Further information: project's website, SOFISwiki

Criticism against the vocational education system

Kritik des beruflichen Bildungssystems

Not only since the results of international comparative studies like PISA and TIMSS the school achievements of German pupils and the German school system are discussed openly. As early as in the 1950s Helmut Schelsky labeled the school as the primary, crucial and almost only social directing place for rank, position and life chances in our society. As a result, the school-leaving qualification and the type of school, as the place where formal educational achievement are acquired, gain importance.

To date, this increased attention is concentrated on the general education system and not on the vocational educational system. Within the project “Criticism against the vocational education system” we focus on this field. The subject is not limited to the dual education system but includes upper secondary vocational colleges in its entirety. The transitions of pupils to these colleges and from there to the job market, respectively to further training programs, are in the focus of interest. Moreover, criteria of decision-making regarding transitions will be pointed out. In addition, the project pursues the questions, in what way the vocational education system contributes to reproducing social inequality.

Project management: Prof. Dr. Matthias Grundmann, Dr. Norbert Heimken