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Teachers’ Guidelines

Homepage > Teachers’ Guidelines > Understanding Early School Leaving

An overview of the current situation of early school leaving in Europe

Understanding Early School Leaving

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5. Difficulty in the Eyes of the Students
The module describes the conditions and the risk factors that contribute to determine situations of school-related stress and Early School Leaving under the viewpoint of the students. The focus is on needs and requests exposed by students, who ask to have the opportunity for: (a) doing engaging and practice-based experiences at school and (b) learning professionalizing and effective practical knowledge.

Exploring the problem of Early-School Leaving is connected with the necessity to analyse the signals that precede situations of school dropout and the contexts within which they are manifested: students often declare fragile motivations, decision-making incapacities, states of unease, transition phases, episodes of failure and descending trajectories as reasons for Early-School Leaving (Colombo, 2010), but not necessarily. The scientific literature suggested that these elements are not considered subjective attributes to be dealt with solely with individualized support devices for students, but features of the environments in which the student has learning experiences, and on which to intervene in a systemic way. What we want to highlight is how the phenomenon of school dropout finds roots in the situated experience of the students, in their paths of school failure, prelude of irregularities and desertions, but also in their disaffection for what they study, which they consider too far from what they will do as professionals in the future (Cranton & Cohen, 2013; Zurla, 2004). This hypothesis solicited to assume the investigated phenomenon of Early-School Leaving as the outcome and, at the same time, the epiphenomenon of the theoretical distance that students feel about what they study at school with regard to their future work. In this respect, early school leaving cannot be analysed through a linear cause-effect scheme; the meaningful determinants of school failure and school dropout are represented by a set of factors mutually interrelated (Lynch, 2000).

Among elements that contribute to influence the school experience in terms of satisfaction for the undertaken path, the school performance, the meanings of the idea of school and knowledge, the concept of self as a learner, the relationship with teachers, peers and parents are the most influent factors that students, especially the high school ones, consider as the most relevant (Gable, Wolf, 2012; Bracci , Grange, 2018). Secondary school students still complain about the distance between the theoretical knowledge from working practices and the persistence of decontextualized learning in formal educational environment (Howe & Ito, 2017; Kaneklin, 2008; Vicari, 2008); they prefer to learn a profession and to acquire a professional expertise. Students believe that teachers have no understanding of their problems and in fact are completely indifferent to them and this can flow into poor teacher / student relationships. Often, school does not evaluate the ‘life skills’ ( learned by the students in everyday life and consider this type of skills out of the outcomes of the formal education, so the students do not feel appreciated by the school. They feel as they were not well guided in choosing their courses/school or that the learning pathways are too long. Their needs are to receive more sympathetic listening to their problems and better course and career guidance. In this framework, great methodological contributions draw out from the integration at school of teaching and learning models based on research and practical experience, such as action learning (O’ Neil & Marsick, 2009), practice-based learning (Billett, Harteis & Gruber, 2014), inquiry-based learning (Haq, 2017). Those practical methods of teaching and learning offer students the conditions to integrate what they learn at school with what they expect to do once in the labour market. Allowing students to experiment action-oriented knowledge and educational devices and tools that facilitate the application of what they learn, represents today an objective to be achieved also in order to prevent phenomena of Early School Leaving.
Online Resources
Other Sources
  • Billet, S., Harteis, C., & Gruber, H. (Eds.). (2014). International handbook of research in professional and practice-based learning. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Bracci F., Grange T. (2017). Indagare il disagio scolastico: una ricerca situata. Civitas Educationis, 2, 2017.
  • Colombo M. (2008). Abbandono scolastico e strategie di comunicazione per l’innalzamento dei livelli di istruzione nella Provincia di Brescia. In Eugeni R., Taccolini M. (a cura di). Un bene comune: i rischi di abbandono del sistema formativo nella Provincia di Brescia. Milano: Vita e Pensiero, pp. 39-136.
  • Cranton P., Cohen, L. (2013). Learning through Teaching: A Narrative Analysis. In Wang V. (ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching and Learning in K-20 Education, Hershey, PA: Igi Global, pp. 17-33.
  • Day, C. (2017). Competence-based education and teacher professional development. In Competence-based vocational and professional education (pp. 165-182). Springer, Cham.
  • Gable R., Wolf M. (2012). Instrument Development in the Affective Domain: Measuring Attitudes and Values in Corporate and School Settings. 2nd Ed., New York: Springer.
  • Grange Sergi T. (2011). Differenziazione pedagogica e equità formativa nella scuola. Nuove sfide e antichi dibattiti. In Piu C., Piu A. De Pietro O. (Eds.). I tempi e i luoghi della formazione. Roma: Monolite editrice, pp. 73-80.
  • Haq, I. (2017). Inquiry based Learning. ABC of Learning and Teaching in Medicine, 11.
  • Howe, J., & Ito, J., (2017) Al passo col futuro. Come sopravvivere all'imprevedibile accelerazione del mondo. Milano: Egea.
  • Krajcik, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2006). Project-based learning (pp. 317-34). na.
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  • Lynch K. (2000). Research and theory on equality in education. In Hallinan M. T. (Eds.). Handbook of sociology of education. New York: Kluwer Academic, pp. 85-105.
  • O’Neil, J., & Marsick, V. J. (2007). Understanding action learning. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.
  • Savery, J. R. (2015). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Essential readings in problem-based learning: Exploring and extending the legacy of Howard S. Barrows, 9, 5-15.
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  • Zurla P. (a cura di) (2004), Volti della dispersione scolastica e formative: un’indagine in Provincia di Forlì-Cesena, Milano, FrancoAngeli.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.