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Pupils' participation in te process of solving their learning difficulties

Tadeja Kodele (2017) Pupils' participation in te process of solving their learning difficulties. PhD thesis.

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    Abstract

    The participation of children in important matters is becoming an increasingly important and desirable concept in many areas in contemporary times (e.g. in court procedures, social care, schools). Various authors (Hart, 1992; Shier, 2001; Kirby et al., 2003; Lansdown, 2010) differentiate the concepts and levels of child’s participation. But when formulating the definitions of this concept they all derive from the Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which obliged the signatory states to respect the child's rights to protection, provision and participation. The authors individual level of participation determine from the degree to which children have the opportunity to express their opinions on relevant processes for them, but they do not necessarily have to be taken into account, to the extent that children with adults share power and responsibility for taking relevant decisions, their opinions are also taken into account. All authors emphasize the importance of adult support, which means that children can always turn to adults for help in this process. Primary school is compulsory for all and the ability to participate in existing school legislation is one of the most important goals of education in Slovenia (Article 2, ZOsn, 2013). Therefore, a thorough reflection on enabling and encouraging participation is necessary. In the early and mid-20th centuries, some authors (e.g. Freire, 1993; Neill, 1999; Dewey, 2012) included the participation of pupils in their pedagogical work. But the more noticeable changes that were reflected in both the changed teaching method and the participatory role of the child throughout the pedagogical process, began to emerge in school systems in the last two decades of the last century. Despite the requirement to provide children with participation in the decision-making process in the countries that are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the opportunities for child's active participation are often dependent on the beliefs and goodwill of adults that involve children in making important decisions for them. Adults often do not understand that children have the ability to contribute to decision-making, thus underestimating the child's abilities and disregarding their opinion, because they may not be expressed in a way that suits adults. So if we want children to participate in the school context, we (adults) have to be those who we need to enable it, encourage and lead. In order to apply the concept of participation in the school space, the following pedagogical concepts would be relevant in particular: the recognition of the child as a capable being, the pedagogy of listening, the concept of interpersonal space, ontological engagement, the concepts of inclusiveness and the concept of equity 3 R. These concepts originate first of all from the assumption, that pupils are competent interlocutors and adult’s co-workers. In addition, they define the role of an adult (school professional) in relation to the child and emphasize what adults need to constantly reflect on and ensure that child participation in everyday school practice can occur. In the theoretical part, the key concepts of participation (Hart, 1992; Shier, 2001; Kirby et al., 2003; Lansdown, 2010) and obstacles to the realization of participation are precisely presented. In the following, a lot of attention is devoted to understanding childhood and the image of a child in the past and nowadays as an important factor in realizing participation in practice. In addition to recognizing the child as a capable being, other relevant concepts (pedagogy of listening, concept of interpersonal space, ontological engagement, concepts of inclusiveness and the concept of equity 3 R) are also presented in detail for the topic discussed. A larger chapter is devoted to the phenomenon of learning difficulties and the pupils’ participation in the process of solving their learning difficulties. In the empirical part, the results of the theoretical analysis of Slovene formal and professional documents from the field of primary school are presented first, through the perspective of understanding and encouraging the participation of children. In the second part of the research, which was carried out with the help of questionnaires among school counselors of all Slovenian primary schools (n = 189), an overview of the state of participation of pupils in general was made, and in particular the participation of pupils with learning difficulties in the process of solving their learning problems. This part of the research was further upgraded with a qualitative analysis, which was aimed at researching in more detail the relationship between school professionals and pupils with learning difficulties to participation, as well as the participation of pupils with learning difficulties in identifying learning difficulties, in planning, implementing and evaluating learning help through a case study at three selected primary schools as well the link between the school climate and the participation of the pupils with learning difficulties. The findings show that in both formal and professional documents from the field of primary school, as well as in the answers of the majority of school counsellors, the definition of the concept of participation is rather general and non-binding. For this reason, it is often difficult to recognize and evaluate the role of the pupil in this process, which in turn implies the dependence of pupil’s participation on the beliefs and readiness of a particular school worker to provide it. The results confirmed the correlation between the performance of school professionals about pupils as competent interlocutors and the enabling of participation of pupils with learning difficulties. Participants in the research identified pupils as competent collaborators and interlocutors in the process of solving learning difficulties, although their competence was often conditioned by various factors (e.g. child’s age, maturity, support at home). Similarly, one of the main obstacles to participation on the side of the school was the reluctance of participation by school professionals. The results also show that the effectiveness of learning help at school and the enabling of pupils' participation, according to school professionals, are conditioned by the help pupils receive at home from their parents. According to the results of the research, we can confirm that there is a positive correlation between the institution's culture and the level of participation of pupils with learning difficulties. The results also show that school professionals and pupils with learning difficulties recognize participation as the factor that significantly contributes to the reduction or decrease of learning difficulties, increase students' motivation for school work, and more effective learning help. On the other hand, the answers of some research participants show that both the participation of pupils in general as well as the pupils with learning difficulties in the process of solving their learning problems remains a challenge. It is stressed that the key to overcoming this challenge is the relationship that is being established in this process between a school professional and a pupil. They both recognize the relationship that enables the pupil to be heard and taken into account, in which a pupil acquires a sense of self-worth and experiences respect, as a key factor in facilitating participation and, consequently, more effective learning help.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
    Keywords: participation, pupils with learning difficulties, conditions for participation, recognition of child as a capable being, beliefs of school professionals
    Number of Pages: 286
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Irena LesarMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=11847753)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 4890
    Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2017 07:48
    Last Modified: 05 Dec 2017 07:48
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/4890

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