Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lisbeth Pike

Second Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Third Advisor

Julie Ann Pooley

Fourth Advisor

Lauren Breen

Abstract

Recent research suggests that students' classroom engagement, increased academic effort, and subsequent success or failure arc not only influenced by individual differences in skills and pre-dispositions, but also by the school context. However, there is a need to further investigate the school context in relation to the well-being of the collective through concepts such as power and control. Therefore, this research sought to critically explore young adolescents' perceptions and experiences of their school context. Furthermore, how year seven students experience their school prior to the transition into high school was investigated. Using a semi-structured interview schedule, 8 male and 7 female year seven students were questioned on their experiences and perceptions of their school context. Using a thematic analysis, a question-ordered matrix was constructed to aid the detection of themes and sub-themes from the data. Four major themes were identified as a result. These included; the People within the school context, Social roles, School values, and the Pre-transition period from primary to high school. These findings suggest that there are a number of significant factors in addition to relational aspects within the school context that impact on young adolescents, which have the ability to shape positive and negative experiences. This qualitative study offers a 'counter adult-centric' (Prilleltensky, Nelson, & Peirson, 2001) view of young adolescents' experiences within their school. It also illustrates the value in giving young adolescents the opportunity to experience influence, responsibility, self-determination, and meaningful participation within their school. Several avenues for future research were identified, including the need to investigate the transition via longitudinal methods and exploring the experiences of other people involved within the school context.

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