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Why are teacher recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education socially biased?

Simon Boone UGent and Mieke Van Houtte UGent (2011) European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts.
abstract
In recent years, EU policy has heavily stressed the role of education in facing the challenges posed by an increasingly globalised economy. To keep up with rapidly developing third world economies, it is deemed necessary that Europe’s human capital potential is fully exploited. In order to do so, European educational systems are to be organised in such a way that pupils are effectively allocated to the educational pathways that match their academic potential. However, research in leading European economies like France and Germany has shown that working class children are more frequently oriented to less demanding educational alternatives in secondary education than middle class children with a comparable achievement background. Besides the fact that this runs counter the widely shared ideal of equal opportunities, such a situation also means a potential loss of talents. Research that inquires into the causes of these differentials in educational recommendations is virtually inexistent. The aim of this study is to examine whether teachers’ educational recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) can also be shown to be socially biased and if so, what causes these differentials in advice. To do so, we use a mixed methods design combining survey data gathered from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in the months of May and June 2008 in 53 Flemish primary schools and qualitative data from 2 focus groups with primary school teachers. Our findings corroborate the evidence found in Germany and France: pupils stemming from low SES backgrounds are more frequently advised to enrol in less prestigious and less demanding educational options than pupils stemming from high SES families, even if they achieved equally well. Analysis of both focus groups suggests that primary school teachers tend to unwittingly evaluate pupils from low SES backgrounds less positively, due to their emphasis on specific pupil characteristics like self-reliance, planning capacity, punctuality – which are more characteristic of middle class pupils. We think that teacher training programmes should pay more attention to all potential sources of social bias in daily educational practice.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
in
European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts
conference name
10th Conference of the European Sociological Association : Social relations in turbulent times
conference location
Geneva, Switzerland
conference start
2011-09-07
conference end
2011-09-10
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
1908897
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1908897
date created
2011-09-26 15:46:03
date last changed
2011-09-27 11:05:15
@inproceedings{1908897,
  abstract     = {In recent years, EU policy has heavily stressed the role of education in facing the challenges posed by an increasingly globalised economy. To keep up with rapidly developing third world economies, it is deemed necessary that Europe{\textquoteright}s human capital potential is fully exploited. In order to do so, European educational systems are to be organised in such a way that pupils are effectively allocated to the educational pathways that match their academic potential. However, research in leading European economies like France and Germany has shown that working class children are more frequently oriented to less demanding educational alternatives in secondary education than middle class children with a comparable achievement background. Besides the fact that this runs counter the widely shared ideal of equal opportunities, such a situation also means a potential loss of talents. Research that inquires into the causes of these differentials in educational recommendations is virtually inexistent. The aim of this study is to examine whether teachers{\textquoteright} educational recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education in Flanders (Northern, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) can also be shown to be socially biased and if so, what causes these differentials in advice. To do so, we use a mixed methods design combining survey data gathered from 1339 parents of pupils in their last year of primary education in the months of May and June 2008 in 53 Flemish primary schools and qualitative data from 2 focus groups with primary school teachers. Our findings corroborate the evidence found in Germany and France: pupils stemming from  low SES backgrounds are more frequently advised to enrol in less prestigious and less demanding educational options than pupils stemming from high SES families, even if they achieved equally well. Analysis of both focus groups suggests that primary school teachers tend to unwittingly evaluate pupils from low SES backgrounds less positively, due to their emphasis on specific pupil characteristics like self-reliance, planning capacity, punctuality  -- which are more characteristic of middle class pupils. We think that teacher training programmes should pay more attention to all potential sources of social bias in daily educational practice.},
  author       = {Boone, Simon and Van Houtte, Mieke},
  booktitle    = {European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Geneva, Switzerland},
  title        = {Why are teacher recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education socially biased?},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
Boone, Simon, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2011. “Why Are Teacher Recommendations at the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education Socially Biased?” In European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts.
APA
Boone, S., & Van Houtte, M. (2011). Why are teacher recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education socially biased? European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts. Presented at the 10th Conference of the European Sociological Association : Social relations in turbulent times.
Vancouver
1.
Boone S, Van Houtte M. Why are teacher recommendations at the transition from primary to secondary education socially biased? European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts. 2011.
MLA
Boone, Simon, and Mieke Van Houtte. “Why Are Teacher Recommendations at the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education Socially Biased?” European Sociological Association, 10th Conference, Abstracts. 2011. Print.