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|Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
|Participation and Agency: the experiences of young people in a Scottish secondary school
|University of Stirling
|The purpose of this study is to better understand the classroom experiences of current secondary school students, in light of the present policy drive towards participation. Using an approach with ethnographic intent (participant observation, interviewing, shadowing and field notes) this research explores six students’ experiences, in one secondary school in Scotland. Emerging themes from the literature, regarding participation and participatory approaches, suggest that these can be understood in different ways, ranging from economic instrumentalism to democratic renewal. This study took a fresh theoretical approach, employing an ecological, temporal-relational understanding of the achievement of agency. This understanding acknowledges a young person’s awareness of, and capacity to engage with, a range of different possible actions, by means of a particular context at a particular time. This approach provided theoretical tools, with which to interpret aspects of these students’ school experiences. The findings are detailed in terms of teacher-student relationships, the cultural realm, and young people’s aspirations. Students’ achievement of agency in the school setting is complex, but one major finding is that the quality and type of teacher-student relationship are significant in enabling these students to achieve agency. Peer relationships and ties beyond the school gates are also significant. The ecological understanding of agency provides a basis for educators to better understand the interdependence of the individual and the environment and to explore how participation might afford a wider range of possibilities for young people. This reflection on participation is important if we want to shape educational ecologies to encourage practices which facilitate the achievement of agency by young people.
|Thesis or Dissertation
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