Category Archives: 2020 / Nr.1 & 2 / LXVIII

RP – 2020/1

VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY. AN ANALYSIS OF THE SOCIAL SITUATION OF NEETS IN ROMANIA | Sebastian ŢOC
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Abstract: In this article, I analyze the situation of vulnerable young people in Romania, with a focus on NEETs, one of the categories at risk of social exclusion in the European countries. The main objective is to understand the vulnerabilities of young people in relation to the outcomes of the education system, labor market, and the efficiency of the social protection system. The first part of the paper aims to describe the social inequalities to which young people in Romania are exposed. The second part proposes a descriptive analysis of the NEETs profile in Romania and the European Union. I use quantitative data provided by Eurostat to outline the diversity of NEETs in Romania, complemented with secondary qualitative data collected from NEETs and social workers from a research report published by the Institute of Educational Science in Romania (ISE, 2015). The third part focuses on the problems that young people face when leaving the education system, as well as on labor market inequalities and issues related to the efficiency of social transfers in Romania. The last part aims to analyzing Youth programs in the context of austerity after the global economic crisis of 2008.

Keywords: NEETs, social inequalities, vulnerability, youth programs

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LOW QUALITY OF THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS – MAIN CAUSE OF THE EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING | Adela Mihaela ŢĂRANU
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Abstract: The association of three concepts – quality, equity, inclusion –represents the transversal axis of international and European educational policy documents nowadays, hence being an important aim for all education systems. According to the UNESCO strategic documents on education for the period up to 2030 and to the development objectives for this millennium, the creation of inclusive educational systems stands as the surest path to social inclusion. Inclusion is an aspect consistent with value and with the principle of equity, aimed at ensuring the right of all children to develop and reach their full potential. The European Commission defines equity as the extent to which individuals can benefit from and access educational opportunities, educational interventions and outcomes, along with those of professional education and training.
At an international level, the early school leaving indicator assesses the extent to which a given system manages to fight inequalities in terms of exclusion. Accordingto the Eurostat 2019 data on Romania, at a level of 16.4% in 2018, the early school leaving and training rate (for individuals aged 18 to 24) remains one of the highest rates in the EU. The percentage is significantly higher compared to the EU average and to the national target for 2020. The study argues that in spite of the policies for improving the quality of education over the past decade, most of the measures are focused on approaching the social barriers regarding the access to education, and less on increasing the quality of the education provided in schools (education as a process).

Keywords: early school leaving, educational policies, equity, inclusive education, quality education

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STUDENTS WITH LOW-SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND THEIR REPRESENTATIONS ON SCHOOL LEARNING. A CASE STUDY | Octavia BORŞ
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Abstract: In Romania, highly educated people are more likely to acquire a higher occupational status than their parents as they progress in their career (Jecan & Pop, 2012) and higher incomes with every completed school year (Varly et al., 2014). On the other hand, the gap between the students’ results mirrors the socio-economic inequalities among them (Botezat, 2019; Feşnic, 2019; Ivan, 2019; Tufiş, 2008; Ţoc, 2016). In order to gain an in depth understanding of how inequality is perpetuating, the case study this article is based on aims to explore, describe and discuss the teachers’ representations on students with low socio-economic status and the students’ representations on learning. The analysis uses data collected in February 2018 through interviews with teachers, the class’s tutor, students and nonparticipatory observation. The case study reveals that in the teachers’ discourse, the students are presented as lacking interest and responsibility for studying. Also, the students describe themselves as ’lazy’ because they do not do their homework or answer the teachers’ questions. A closer look at these ideas suggests that the students are identifying with their teachers’ deficit narrative; also they disregard their need for support in learning and think of learning as an individual act. In the classroom the students display resistance, however their narrative about learning does not question the pedagogic authority and also reveals their self-disciplinatory efforts.

Keywords: learners’ identity, learning, social class, socio-economic status, support

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SOCIAL RESOURCES OF SCHOOLS FROM DISADVANTAGED AREAS | Aura ŢABĂRĂ, Ovidiu BUNEA
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Abstract: The article presents the conclusions of a research carried out in 2019 in Iaşi County, aiming to describe and measure the main school social resources, based on the teachers’ opinion. The research aimed to identify the strengths and weaknesses in order to perform a diagnosis of the schools considered. The questionnaire-based research was carried out in three urban schools and three rural schools located in socially and economically disadvantaged areas. A total of 5237 students attend the six schools involved, with 345 teachers employed, of whom 156 provided answers to the questionnaire. The instrument was built by operationalizing the concept of Child Friendly School, promoted by UNICEF, using five indicators: effectiveness, inclusion, children’s trust in school, safety, relationship with parents. The highest score was achieved by the “children’s trust in school” indicator, followed by “effectiveness”; in the second category, there are “inclusion” and “relationship with parents”, while “safety” scored the lowest. Overall, it turned out that the respondent teachers have a good opinion regarding the confidence that the children have in school and in the accomplishment of their mission, but critically evaluate the schools’ relationship with the parents and safety in schools.

Keywords: Child Friendly School, effectiveness, inclusion, school social resources

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THE PRESENCE OF ROMA LIFE’S EXPERIENCES, TRADITIONS AND HISTORY IN THE ROMANIAN TEXTBOOKS – A CONTENT ANALYSIS FROM A SOCIAL JUSTICE PERSPECTIVE | Cristina TUNEGARU
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Abstract: Roma people have been victims of oppression in Romania for many centuries, “in the long course of the Gypsy experience in Eastern Europe, none has been worse than that in Romania” (Crowe & Kolsti, 1991, p. 61). Nowadays, education can play a key role in assuring that the Roma are treated with respect and dignity, in assuring that they receive recognition, while dismantling the stigma.
This paper is the outcome of a study of the representation of minority students in Romanian textbooks. While many educational reforms were targeted to increase Roma students’ attendance and results – schools with Roma language teaching, textbooks in Roma native language, affirmative actions for high school and university students of Roma origin – it’s an open question as to whether the Romanian textbooks are sufficiently inclusive and effective in combating racial discrimination and stereotyping.
By employing a social justice perspective, I argue that textbooks systematically discriminate against Roma children by under- and misrepresenting the Roma experiences, traditions and history. My argument unfolds through two main directions from the data analysis. Firstly, we examine primary and middle school (2nd grade – 6th grade) textbooks in search for representations of Roma realities and culture. Secondly, we explore the presentation or absence of historical facts regarding Roma. This exploratory study hopes to become a starting point for a discussion about applied curriculum in Romania, specifically the textbook component. Limited comparative data was collected and stark differences can be inferred between the attention devoted to Hungarian culture and realities versus the Roma, but further research is warranted.

Keywords: minorities, oppression, Roma, social justice

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WALKING THE TIGHTROPE: CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED IN NOVICE TEACHERS’ PRACTICE | Miruna Luana MIULESCU
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Abstract: The first years of teaching experience are crucial for beginning teachers as they face numerous challenges. Moreover, the way novices succeed in handling challenges during their first year of field work is a key determinant of their decision to continue working in the system or not. In this respect, a notable theme within the literature considers the experiences and challenges of beginning professionals, as more and more researchers talk about the “praxis shock”, “reality shock” or “transition shock” to better depict the process through which new teachers pass in order to get accustomed to their new professional context. Our study seeks to investigate the challenging experiences that novice kindergarten teachers encounter, as well as the strategies they adopt in order to overcome them. The participants of the present study are beginning teachers (n=16) with a maximum of three years’ teaching experience from six public inner-city kindergartens. By making use of a phenomenological qualitative inquiry, data was collected through participating at semi-structured interviews, focus groups and by filling in logbooks. After the data was recorded and transcribed, five main themes were identified. The key findings indicate that a new professional context can often lead to uncertainty and discomfort. Moreover, beginning teachers’ “challenging moments” descriptions generally emphasize their struggles concerning their own professional development, the school organizational aspects, as well as their relationships with students, colleagues, principals and parents. The results of the study show the need to restructure the collaboration process between novices and kindergartens, in order to improve collaborative relationships and provide the appropriate context for the professional development of kindergarten teachers at the beginning of their careers.

Keywords: challenging experiences, novice teachers, qualitative study, teacher education

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DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP COMPETENCES OF FUTURE EDUCATION PROFESSIONALS. APPROACHES IN THE CONTEXT OF THE COVID-19 SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES | Mirela ALEXANDRU, Iulia Nyia CUI, Carmen DOBRI, Cristian-Vasile GHIŢĂ, Mihaela-Elena IONICĂ, Alina Andreea MUŞESCU, Veronica Lulu Viorica SEREA, Leyla SAFTA-ZECHERIA
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Abstract: Social distancing measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have led almost overnight to the digitalization of educational activities in Romania and elsewhere. This transformation has rendered visible the need to develop adequate and responsible online behavior to an unprecedented extent and has led us to ask: “Which are the digital citizenship competencies of the future professionals in the field of education?”. To answer this question, we administered an online questionnaire focusing on identifying digital citizenship competences of undergraduate students in educational sciences in Romania. Digital citizenship competences were structured along three dimensions: respect, education and protection. Our study has shown that respondents had well developed digital citizenship competences in terms of knowledge and attitudes and that there is a need to insist more on skills that translate attitudes and knowledge into action. Moreover, the study has shown that social distancing measures and the associated rapid digitalization of educational activities can be interpreted both as stress factors, as well as an opportunity to develop digital citizenship competences through experiential learning.

Keywords: digital citizenship, education during COVID-19 pandemic, pre-service teacher training

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A CRITICAL LOOK AT THE PORTFOLIO AS A TOOL FOR REFLECTIVE LEARNING: STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS | Elena MARIN
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Abstract: The new challenges faced by the future teachers make them assume a new role, that of reflective practitioner. Therefore, university programs should give future teachers the opportunity to engage in practical experiences that will stimulate their reflective skills and which can help create a strong and authentic teaching career. In this sense, a series of interventions, at a simulated level, were put into practice by the students in Pedagogy enrolled in year II at the University of Bucharest. After participating in the proposed activities, the students had to write a reflective essay. A series of focus-groups were organised in order to identify the students’ opinion towards the use of a reflective essay as a way of professional training. The results show that the reflective essay is a tool that plays a significant role in building better and more meaningful learning experiences and helps in providing evidence-based methodological decisions.

Keywords: pre-service teachers, portfolio, reflective practice, university

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THE EFFECTS OF EXTRACURRICULAR AND EXTRASCHOOL ACTIVITIES ON SCHOOL PERFORMANCE | Andrea BARABÁS
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Abstract: The socio-economical background of the family influences the school efficiency, but beside this, many other factors have outstanding effect on pupils’ results. Most of these factors can be found outside of the educational institutions. The studies which focus on the performance of schooling highlight the idea that extracurricular activities have enormous benefits on the school performance as well as on the overcoming of school failure and abandonment. Our research is focusing on the extracurricular and extraschool activities as well as their effect on the development of competencies. We would like to find out how the extracurricular/ extraschool activities influence the results of competence measurements. We created our background questionnaires, that analyse the effects of influencing factors, since there aren’t such questionnaires in the national assesments in Romania. Our study is based on the analysis of the KOV-ET-OM-2017 database (N = 1054), which contains the results of the competency assesment of the 4th grade students belonging of the Hungarian minority from Covasna county and information related to contextual factors from the background questionnaires. The outcome of the research highlights the fact that the extracurricular activities have beneficial effect on the development of the school competences. Among the activities organized by the schools, the camps and the activities supporting the prodigies seem to be the most effective.

Keywords: afterschool, extracurricular activities, extraschool activities, school performance

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ACADEMIC SKILLS SELF-EFFICACY AND COLLEGE-GOING OUTCOME EXPECTATIONS AS PREDICTORS OF UNDERGRADUATES’ SATISFACTION WITH THEIR CHOSEN AREA OF STUDY AND DROPOUT INTENTIONS | Raluca LIVINŢI, Dragoş ILIESCU
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Abstract: Building on the integrative model from the Social Cognitive Career Theory, the present study investigates in a longitudinal approach the association between students’ academic skills self-efficacy, college-going outcome expectations, and intention to drop out of their academic studies, as mediated by satisfaction with their chosen area of study. It also investigates whether vocational fit/congruence adds an increment to the aforementioned variables in explaining the intention to drop out of university. The sample included 167 freshmen students in various areas of study who filled in questionnaires of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and vocational fit in the first weeks at university. In the second semester, six months later, they filled in instruments that measure satisfaction with the chosen area of study and dropout intentions. The results showed that the best fit was that of a model in which satisfaction with the area of study is a full mediator of the relationship between self-efficacy and dropout intentions and between outcome expectations and dropout intentions. The Iachan and Zener-Schnuelle fit indices alone were a predictor of dropout intentions. However, its addition to the model does not bring an explanatory increment but rather leads to a poorer fit of the model. Implications are discussed.

Keywords: academic skills self-efficacy, college-going outcome expectations, Holland congruence index, Social Cognitive Career Theory, university dropout

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INDUCING SHAME AND GUILT WHEN LEADING AND FACILITATING LEARNING IN YOUNG SCHOOL CHILDREN: THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ANXIETY-ASSOCIATED SYMPTOMATOLOGY | Letiţia ANCULETE,  Graţiela SION
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Abstract: Imposing and controlling learning actions which use the self-reflective emotions of shame and guilt of the school students, generate symptoms, behaviors and attitudes associated with anxiety (fear of evaluation, fraud – generated by fear of failure, fear of speaking in front of the classroom, fear of asking questions, etc.).
Anxiety disorders tend to start early in life and give rise to long-term negative consequences. A meta-analysis of the onset age for anxiety disorders shows that separation anxiety and specific phobia have an onset 10 to 11 years of age and indicates that elementary school years could be a significant risk phase for the development of the anxiety disorders.
The research was conducted between January 2018 and May 2019 in 10 urban and rural communities in Romania. 341 school children aged between 5 and 12 years old, from 20 Romanian educational institutions, participated together with their parents and teachers (23 respondents), using an omnibus questionnaire which measures the level of correlations between shame, guilt and clinical symptoms associated with anxiety in children.
One of the research objectives was to verify the extent to which anxiety is observable in the school and family environment. The results revealed a correlation between shame, guilt and anxiety. At the same time, it was found that there were no differences between school and family environment in terms of anxiety symptoms, and that – in general – parents and teachers could observe the behavioral and attitudinal characteristics that signal the presence of anxiety.

Keywords: anxiety, educational environment, guilt, shame

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