Subproject 5

The formation of educational decisions and the development of individual competences in the phase of transition from primary to secondary school

In the first phase of the project (2006-2008), subproject 5 had its focus on the formation of educational decisions, which designate the transition from primary school to lower secondary education. Three theoretical approaches were used to predict educational choices and to explain the effects of social origin of children, which has been the main point of interest: The Rational Choice Theory, the paradigm of Status Maintenance and the concept of bounded rationality, which leads to Fast and Frugal Heuristics.

One goal has been to examine the relative explanatory capability of these theories to predict educational decisions. Additionally we examined the explanatory differences of the three approaches regarding different social groups and varying stages of the educational career.

The current research work (2008-2010) continues the research work of the first phase of the project and analyzes the educational development after the transition into the various school types of lower secondary education. To maintain the panel character of the dataset, the central measuring instruments of the first phase of the project have been retained.

Three key aspects characterize the current project work:

  1. Studying the parental strategies for the stabilization or revision of educational decisions.
  2. The impact of different situational contexts in different types of secondary school on the progress of the children under study, by adding the new classmates of the panel children in about 100 of their new schools to the sample.
  3. The influence of different institutional contexts (such as Importance of transitional recommendations, the importance of parental wishes and admission examination) on the educational outcomes in different federal states.

In addition to the federal states (Bavaria and Hesse) that had been taken into account for the BiKS study, data from the Mannheimer Bildungspanel will be included. To understand the process of decision-making as deeply as possible, we combine quantitative and qualitative methods. Through guided interviews we want to reconstruct negotiation processes between parents, negotiation processes between children and parents and the influence of teachers and their recommendations. Thus, subjective decision-making strategies and criteria of the parents that influence their behavior (stabilization or revision of the school track) may be revealed.

Applicant Body