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Ekstrand, B. (2015). What it takes to keep children in school?: A research review. In: Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research. ECER 2015, European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest, 7-11 September, 2015: . Paper presented at ECER 2015, European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest, 7-11 September, 2015.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What it takes to keep children in school?: A research review
2015 (English)In: Education and Transition. Contributions from Educational Research. ECER 2015, European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest, 7-11 September, 2015, 2015Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Unauthorized absence from school is a problem that has been increasingly noted by the National Agency for Education, county councils, communities, and media in Sweden. There are elementary school students in Sweden who have not attended school for several years (Springe 2009), the phenomenon is found all over the world. There is an increased political interest in these questions worldwide, and most politicians emphasize school and the capacity to read and write as prerequisites for democracy (Reid 2012a). At the same time, schooling is questioned. Research has shown that school and development do not necessarily go hand in hand and that schooling increases segregation, inequalities, class differences, and gender structure. It is beyond the scope of this article to problematize schooling in this regard, but these school-related problems are entangled in several ways, and this question is returned to in the conclusion.

The point of departure in this research review must be that elementary education is a prerequisite for democracy and that ensuring future generations’ ability to read and write is to a large extent a task for schools. It is well documented that failure in school and early dropout can have negative effects (cf. Bradshaw, O’Brennan, and McNeely 2008). Research indicates that the road to criminality, drug abuse, and social exclusion is open (Nelson and Baldwin 2004; Henry, Thornberry, and Huizinga 2009) and that there is a straight line from truancy to dropout, youth crime, gang membership, teenage pregnancy, poor health, and reliance on social service (Kronholz 2011). Truancy is a more pre-eminent risk predictor even compared to average grades, according to Hallfors et al. (2002). This dark picture could be countered by Hill and Jepsen (2007, 600), who have demonstrated that many teen mothers and high school dropouts “experience success in the labour market, with earnings well above the poverty line and full-time jobs.” These successful individuals turn back to post-secondary schooling when they are in their mid-twenties. The authors have recommended policies that assist young people who have taken missteps. Truancy can also be linked to high potential academically; students that are under-challenged at school (Sälzer et al. 2012). There are many dimensions and perspectives in this study; the individual, institutional, organizational, societal. In a research review like this one, however, the illumination of the relation between research and development is a strong incentive and an object of the study.

In spring 2012 a community in Sweden sought out a researcher who could get to the root causes of the perceived local problem of unauthorized absence from schools. The questions raised in this community were how school absence could be prevented and attendance be stimulated through interventions in the school as well as in the local community. One part of this project was a review of research results focusing on prevention and attendance; this article presents the result of this research review. What does research globally demonstrate about what schools and communities can do to stimulate attendance and to prevent unauthorized absence?

Method

The collection of research builds on searches in the Swedish database Libris, for research catalogued in Sweden, and in the databases Academic Search Elite, ERIC, DOAJ, Ingenta Connect, and to some extent Google Scholar for international research. In Sweden, research in this field usually is catalogued under the keyword truancy, although different words are used in relation to the character of the absence. For example, in Sweden some students are called hallway ramblers: they go to school but do not assimilate the education because they do not attend lessons. Others, called home sitters, choose the Internet at home playing, reading and learning whatever they want instead of a lesson at school (Strandell 2009). In databases covering international research, the keywords mirror gradations from late arrival and scattered absenteeism to persistent truancy and dropouts. This project builds on material catalogued under the keywords that proved to be most frequent: truancy, absenteeism, and dropout, combined with prevention and attendance. Generally, the phenomenon labelled unauthorized absence from compulsory school is an intentional and active decision to skip a lesson, a school day, or a period. A huge amount of research focusing on truancy builds on the view that the problem either originates with individual mentally, psychologically, or socially deficiency, or stems from individual factors, such as milieu, parents or guardians, and peers. Research focusing on individuals, their deviations, and their risks has been excluded from this study (studies searching for correlations between truancy and drugs, truancy and sexuality, truancy and early pregnancies, truancy and criminality, etc.). The ambition in this study has been to examine research that focuses on prevention and attendance. This research field has apparently been given much less priority. The sample, greatly narrowed down for inspection, contains 155 peer-reviewed research articles collected from around the globe, represents geographical, cultural, social, and demographic differences, but the similarities outweigh these differences.The research examined has been published in the 21st century. It contains a large number of meta-analyses and some meta-meta-analyses. The sample, with few exceptions, represents extended quantitative studies and evidence-based research. This means that the material covers much more research and a longer time span than expected.

Expected Outcomes

Research today indicates that school must have meaning for the individual (cf. Englund 2007) and that school needs to challenge students (cf. Biesta 2005). Individuals who absent themselves experience schoolwork as meaningless, entailing no challenges, and react to it. Truancy is resistance and a demonstration against traditional school culture, class reproduction, and bad treatment. These students are questioning the legitimacy of the educational system (Zhang 2007). This review unambiguously demonstrates a need to divert attention from the characteristics of individuals and truancy to study what success in school requires, drawing out children’s strengths rather than weaknesses. First, changes on all levels are needed to update schools and develop a positive school culture: at the governmental level, at the community level, within the school organization, and among staff. Second, students need adults to bond with - adults who care for, listen to, respect, and engage both socially and educationally. Third, core competencies are a prerequisite for all learning; self-reflection, attitudes and communication skills. Self-esteem and the ability to make decisions produce a sense of one’s ability to manage schoolwork (cf. Ahlström 2010). If core competencies are encouraged, they will transform enhanced learning outcomes and reinforce schoolwork. And it is possible to learn the ability to bounce back (cf. Andrén 2012). This study does not reveal anything about schools in real life. Perhaps it is a good guess that if a study of real-life interventions in schools had been conducted, it would have resulted in a picture of counting, more regulations and disciplinary restrictions - a reality that accords with the new public-management era (cf. Ball 1995, Ball 1997) and contemporary politics in the governing-by-numbers discourse (cf. Lawn and Grek 2012). This contrasts with everything we know from decades of research and recommendations.

References

Archambault, Isabelle, Michel Janosz, Jean-Sébastien Fallu, and Linda S. Pagani. 2009.” Student engagement and its relationship with early high school dropout.” Journal of Adolescence no. 32:651–670. Ball, Stephen 1997. “Policy, sociology and critical social research: A personal review of recent education policy and policy research.” British Educational Research Journal no. 23:257–274.Biesta, Gert. 2005. “Against learning. Reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning.” Nordisk Pedagogik no. 25:54–66. Bradshaw, Catherine P., Lindsey M. O’Brennan, and Clea A. McNeely. 2008. “Core competencies and the prevention of school failure and early school leaving.” New Directions for Child & Adolescent Development no. 2008 (122):19–32. Claes, Ellen, Marc Hooghe, and Tim Reeskens. 2009. “Truancy as a contextual and school-related problem: a comparative multilevel analysis of country and school characteristics on civic knowledge among 14 year olds.” Educational Studies (03055698) no. 35 (2):123–142. Englund, Tomas, ed. 2007. Skillnad och konsekvens: mötet lärare-studerande och undervisning som meningserbjudande. [Difference and consequenses: the meeting between teacher and student and education as offering meaning]. Lund: Studentlitteratur Fraser, Barry J. 1987. “Identifying the salient facets of a model of student learning: A synthesis of meta-analyses.” International journal of educational research no. 11 (2):187–212.Henry, Kimberly L., Kelly E. Knight, and Terence P. Thornberry. 2012. “School disengagement as a predictor of dropout, deliquency, and problem substance use during adolescence and early adulthood.” J Youth Adolesc no. 41 (2):156–166. Hiatt, James S. 1915. The Truant Problem and the Parental School. Bulletin, 1915, No. 29. Whole Number 656. United States Bureau of Education, Department of the Interior.Lawn, M. , and S. Grek. 2012. Europeanizing Education: governing a new policy space. Oxford: Symposium Books Ltd.Reid, Ken. 2014a. An Essential Guide to Improving Attendance in Your School: Practical Resources for All School Managers. London: Routledge.Rutter, Michael. 1987. “Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry no. 57 (3):316–331.Southwell, Neil. 2006. “Truants on truancy—a badness or a valuable indicator of unmet special educational needs?” British Journal of Special Education no. 33 (2):91–97. Sälzer, Christine, Ulrich Trautwein, Oliver Lütke, and Margrit Stamm. 2012. “Predicting adolescent truancy: The importance of distinguishing between different aspects of instructional quality.” Learning and Instruction no. 22:311–319. Zhang, Ming. 2007. “School Absenteeism and the Implementation of Truancy-Related Penalty Notices.” Pastoral Care in Education no. 25 (4):25–34.

National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-55827 (URN)
External cooperation:
Conference
ECER 2015, European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest, 7-11 September, 2015
Available from: 2016-08-29 Created: 2016-08-29 Last updated: 2016-08-30Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2015). What it takes to keep children in school: a research review. Educational review (Birmingham), 67(4), 459-482
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What it takes to keep children in school: a research review
2015 (English)In: Educational review (Birmingham), ISSN 0013-1911, E-ISSN 1465-3397, Vol. 67, no 4, p. 459-482Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Unauthorized absence from school, commonly labelled truancy, absenteeism, and dropout, is a problem that has been increasingly noted in recent years by the National Agency for Education, county councils, communities, and media in Sweden. It is also a prioritized issue in Europe and worldwide. Many students leave school without credentials or a compulsory-school leaving certificate; this is believed to have consequences for the individual as well as for society. Elementary education is regarded of importance for the welfare of the individual, his or her future, potential employment opportunities, and as a measure against criminality, drug misuse, and social exclusion. From a societal perspective, elementary education is perceived to be crucial for future work and development in society, as well as a prerequisite for democracy. What encourages school attendance and prevents unauthorized school absence? This article presents a review of the results and recommendations of 155 research reports focusing on absence prevention and school attendance. The review points to the need for an outspoken and elaborate shift in perspective from a focus on individual characteristics and individually related factors to the responsibility of the school and the community. Forces that draw students to school are a feeling of school success reached by strengthening core competencies, the possibility of bonding with adults, and a school climate that students deem positive.

Keywords
truancy, absenteeism, dropouts, prevention, attendance
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50331 (URN)10.1080/00131911.2015.1008406 (DOI)000360610700004 ()
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2014). Prerequisites for persistence in distance education. In: ECER 2014, European Conference on Educational Research, Porto, 2-5 September: . Paper presented at ECER 2014, European Conference on Educational Research, Porto, 2-5 September.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prerequisites for persistence in distance education
2014 (English)In: ECER 2014, European Conference on Educational Research, Porto, 2-5 September, 2014Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50332 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2014, European Conference on Educational Research, Porto, 2-5 September
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2016-03-15Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2013). Forskningsanknytning i högre utbildning i allmänhet och lärarutbildning i synnerhet. In: Dialogkonferens. Pedagogisk Forskning i Skåne, Lund, 28 augusti: . Paper presented at Dialogkonferens. Pedagogisk Forskning i Skåne, Lund, 28 augusti.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Forskningsanknytning i högre utbildning i allmänhet och lärarutbildning i synnerhet
2013 (Swedish)In: Dialogkonferens. Pedagogisk Forskning i Skåne, Lund, 28 augusti, 2013Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Higher Education is expected to build on a scientific ground and the link between teaching and research is meant to be strong. This is an old assertion strongly connected in a historical perspective to an extensive amount of research about the theory and practice nexus. Albeit more than three and a half decenniums of reforms and efforts in Sweden, since teacher education became a part of the university and higher education system 1977, teacher education in Sweden is still criticized in this matter. In this project the ambition is to map research on research-based teacher education and complementary. The aim is to analyse questions raised and research result outcomes in this research genre. The result indicates that research on a research-based teacher education foremost focuses and discusses organizational, institutional and administrative factors; treatment of content in teacher education is rare. The result is analysed in a broad perspective of sociological theories of knowledge. Using information science research, a model linking teaching to research is suggested in the aim to enhance teacher education and teacher student qualifications emphasizing the critical ones.  Keywords: theory practice nexus, research-based education (research-led education, research-oriented education), teacher education, research content, information science, sociology of knowledge.

Keywords
theory practice nexus, research-based education (research-led education, research-oriented education), teacher education, research content, information science, sociology of knowledge
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50334 (URN)
Conference
Dialogkonferens. Pedagogisk Forskning i Skåne, Lund, 28 augusti
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2016-03-15Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2013). Prerequisites for persistence in distance education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 16(3)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prerequisites for persistence in distance education
2013 (English)In: Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, ISSN 1556-3847, Vol. 16, no 3Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the last two decades, distance education has grown worldwide and is now established as a reliable educational method. Accompanying this development, questions about low rates of student persistence have come to interest governments, institutions, and university management. This article is based on an original local study at a university in Sweden investigating what it takes to get students to continue their enrolment in courses or programs. Teachers' views were captured in interviews and focus groups. These views were analyzed in the context of research in the field catalogued under the keywords "retention" and "persistence" in "distance education" and "distance learning." The results indicate that the teachers would like to see a shift in focus from students to the organization and its technical and administrative teacher and learner support. Staff attitudes, institutional structure, and the management views towards distance education seem to be critical factors.

Keywords
Distance education, persistence, retention, management, teachers, attitudes, views
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50335 (URN)
Available from: 2016-03-08 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2013). Recent developments in educational research in several European countries. Part I: developments in Sweden. In: Presented at ECER 2013, European Conference on Educational Research, Istanbul, 10-13 September: . Paper presented at ECER 2013, European Conference on Educational Research, Istanbul, 10-13 September.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recent developments in educational research in several European countries. Part I: developments in Sweden
2013 (English)In: Presented at ECER 2013, European Conference on Educational Research, Istanbul, 10-13 September, 2013Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50333 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2013, European Conference on Educational Research, Istanbul, 10-13 September
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2019-05-03Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2012). Ett helhetsgrepp för ökad genomströmning i nät- och distansundervisning.: en internutredning. Dnr2012-111-33.. Kristianstad: Högskolan Kristianstad
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ett helhetsgrepp för ökad genomströmning i nät- och distansundervisning.: en internutredning. Dnr2012-111-33.
2012 (Swedish)Report (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kristianstad: Högskolan Kristianstad, 2012
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50337 (URN)
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2016-03-15Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2012). Recent developments in educational research in several European countries, Part I and II: developments in Sweden. In: Presented at ECER 2012, European Conference on Educational Research, Cadiz, 18-21 September: . Paper presented at ECER 2012, European Conference on Educational Research, Cadiz, 18-21 September.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recent developments in educational research in several European countries, Part I and II: developments in Sweden
2012 (English)In: Presented at ECER 2012, European Conference on Educational Research, Cadiz, 18-21 September, 2012Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50336 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2012, European Conference on Educational Research, Cadiz, 18-21 September
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2019-05-03Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2011). Recent developments in educational research in several European countries: recent developments in educational research in Sweden. In: Presented at ECER 2011, European Conference on Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September: . Paper presented at ECER 2011, European Conference on Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Recent developments in educational research in several European countries: recent developments in educational research in Sweden
2011 (English)In: Presented at ECER 2011, European Conference on Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September, 2011Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50338 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2011, European Conference on Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2019-05-03Bibliographically approved
Ekstrand, B. (2011). Research methodologies in higher education: research methodologies in higher education critically mapped. In: ECER 2011, European Conference in Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September: . Paper presented at ECER 2011, European Conference in Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Research methodologies in higher education: research methodologies in higher education critically mapped
2011 (English)In: ECER 2011, European Conference in Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September, 2011Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-50339 (URN)
Conference
ECER 2011, European Conference in Educational Research, Berlin, 12-16 September
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2019-05-03Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-0246-3039

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