ADJUSTMENT TO SCHOOL CHANGE: AN INVESTIGATION OF PATTERNS AND CORRELATES IN 11th CLASS STUDENTS
Dr. Indu Bansal (HOD)
Sociologists, as well as educators, agree that the chief function of the secondary school is to develop in young people modes of behavior commensurate with the ideals and objectives of a democratic social order. The latter postulates a maximum of self-direction in the course of which new and more complex relationships are established between the individual and the environment. In most cases the transition from the elementary to the secondary level confronts the pupil with the necessity for making adjustments to a new life situation.
Transition from high school to senior secondary: The transition to middle school or junior high school from elementary school interests develops mentalists because, even though it is a normative experience for virtually all children, the transition can be stressful. It is because the transition takes place at a time when many changes in the individual, in the family, and in school are taking place simultaneously (Simmons & Blyth, 1987).These changes include puberty and related concerns about body image, increased responsibility and independence in association with decreased dependency on parents, change from a small, contained classroom structure to a larger, more impersonal school structure, change from one teacher to many teachers and a small, homogeneous set of peers to larger, more heterogeneous set of peers, and increased focus on achievement and performance and their assessment. The written work is more frequent, reading assignments are lengthier, standards are higher, and the competition is more acute. They often must study harder, improve their study habits, and take school more seriously.
There can be positive aspects to the transition. Students are more likely to feel grown up, have more subjects from which to select, have more opportunities to spend time with peer and to locate compatible friends, enjoy increased independence from direct parental monitoring, and may be more challenged intellectually by academic work.
When students make the transition from high school to senior secondary, they also experience the top-dog phenomenon, the circumstance of moving from the top position (in elementary school, the oldest, biggest, and most powerful students in the school) to the lowest position(in senior secondary level, the youngest, smallest, and least powerful student in the school).
Student mobility /School change:
Children going to their neighborhood public school, or, if their family could afford it, to a private school has been a thing of past. Today the options and choices have multiplied. It is truer in case of senior secondary school from elementary school or high school. The increase of parental options may also contribute over time to increased mobility. Student mobility refers to changes in school enrollment at times other than those prompted by program design (Staresina, 2004).
Before outlining the current research on the impact of student change / mobility on academic achievement, it is helpful to describe the variety of reasons for student change and variables to adjustment in new environment.
Although many (58%) of these changes are related to residential moves, 42% are initiated by the school or related to issues and problems arising at the school (Kerbow, 1996). Urban schools serving children whose families live in poverty often display high mobility rates.
In United States over their entire elementary and secondary careers, most students make at least one non-promotional school change (Rumberger et al., 1999). Many educators believe that student mobility is an inevitable result of students changing residences. However, research has also found that between 30% and 40% of school changes are not associated with residential changes (Kerbow, 1996; Rumberger et al., 1999). There have also been indications that welfare reform may affect moving, with parents moving to accept jobs.School factors such as overcrowding, class size reduction, suspension and expulsion policies, and the general academic and social climate also contribute to student mobility.
Many families move due to reasons beyond their control such as marital disruption or separation, death, eviction, job termination, or other negative circumstances (Mao, et al., 1998; Rossi, 1995). However, many families change residence voluntarily due to perceived needs of their family or to take advantage of improved employment opportunities. Many families change residence in search of larger homes following the birth of children, or to gain access to good schools and neighborhoods (Rossi, 1995).
Variables to school adjustment
Learning Environment: Size of school, size of classroom, sitting arrangement, and children work groups are some of the physical aspects of the learning environment that might affect children's adjustment to new school. Large classes (over 20 students) contain more cliques, less individualized student activity, more teacher discipline for misbehavior, and more negative student attitudes (Minuchin & Shapiro, 1983).
Classes are larger, instructors have differing teaching styles, the pace is faster, and In general, aspects of the physical setting of the school are difficult to separate from variations in teacher behavior, curriculum, and other components.
Some classroom environments are experienced more by women students as "chilly"; that is, women students may be addressed inappropriately and treated as less competent than male students.
The Peer Group: During adolescence, the social world of the child expands dramatically. Instead of sitting in the same classroom and having only a few teachers, students move between classes and may have as many as seven or eight teachers. Adolescents develop peer relationships that satisfy mutual needs leading to the formation of gang, crowds and cliques. This is not so in case of school change.
School Subjects: School subjects influence the student's personality both directly and indirectly. Directly, they affect (1) his characteristic pattern of responding to people and situations, and (2) his view of different school subjects and areas of life as sex appropriate or inappropriate (as masculine or feminine).Indirectly, they influence his personality through the effect they have on his attitude toward school and education in general. His attitude then affects his adjustments and the way he judges himself as well as the way others judge him.
Social support: Social support refers to various types of aid and succor provided by members of one's social networks. Friends may be good for mental health, as a moderator of stress. Establishing relationships may be a struggle for students who do not fit the institution's norms. This situation often results in initial feelings of marginalization and isolation. There also are often different types of relationships with teachers and peers than students may have experienced in previous educational settings.
For most intermediate students, the transition to the classroom requires an adjustment of academic habits and expectations.
Personality variables: Besides above discussed background variables, personality variables also play significant role in adjustment. Personality differences in coping with change contribute to different adjustment experiences among students. Neuroticism and extraversion are related to psychological and socio-cultural adaptation. Agreeableness and conscientiousness are also linked to psychological well-being (Ward et al. 2004).
Consequences of school change at Intermediate/ higher secondary level: The first year of school change can be difficult for many students. The drop in school satisfaction may occur regardless of how academically successful the students have had been. The transition and the mismatch between the young adolescent and the school can be especially problematic for poor urban/rural youth in resource poor schools.
In particular, school-related environment transitions are important because these occur during a period of drastic change in physical and psychological development. It is rather common knowledge that the first year of intermediate is one of the hardest and most difficult experiences of their lives. It is an adjustment and growth process that takes a lot of effort, patience and common sense, but above all, requires hard work.
Marked deterioration in school adjustment that may frequently follow the scheduled normative transition to senior school is not a short-term symptom. But it may have enduring consequences for adaptation. For example, later school failure and dropout, crime, and substance abuse have been reported to be highly associated to prior lower grades, higher rates of absenteeism, and lower self-esteem.
It certainly necessitates support from and collaboration among teachers, parents, counselors, and administrators in order to pave the way for the smoothest transition possible. Issues involving new academic challenges as well as emotional and social needs need to be addressed.
Investigation on interpersonal relationships (affecting children's academic motivation) contended that involvement, or the quality of a student's relationships with peers and teachers, is a powerful motivator. Researches also indicated that children's loneliness and social dissatisfaction relate negatively to school change and school achievement. Moreover older children are apprehensive about leaving friends and establishing their identity in a new place.
A few empirical studies have documented achievement differences between mobile and non-mobile students (Ingersoll et al. 1989). The majority of studies examining the consequences of student mobility have focused on the educational effect of student mobility at the elementary or middle school level. Overall, the research findings (Benson et al. 1979; Crockett et al. 1989; Holland et al. 1974; Jason et al. 1992) suggest that mobile students experience problems adjusting both academically and socially to their new environment (Rumberger and Larson, 1998). Frequent mobility is associated with a delay in students' academic progress of an average six months (Temple and Reynolds, 1999).
It should be noted that not all mobility is equal. For example, students who change schools and enter better quality schools (e.g., magnets or academic academies) experience fewer negative consequences than students who transfer into other public schools (Temple and Reynolds, 1998).
Based on the research conducted in a local public university in Malaysia, the adjustment difficulties faced by first year students were found to be academic problems, health problems, financial crisis as well as social and personal problems (Ahmad, Noran, Azemi & Zailani 2002).
- Kerbow, D. (1996). Patterns of urban student mobility and local school reform. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 1(2), 147-169.
- Staresina, L. (2004). Student mobility. Education Week (pp. 2): Education Week. Retrieved Feb. 1, 2005, from
- Rumberger, R. W., Larson, K. A., Ream, R. K., & Palardy, G. J. (1999). The educational consequences of mobility for California students and schools. Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education. ED 441 040.
- Rossi, P.H. (1955). Why Families Move: A Study in the Social Psychology of Urban Residential Mobility. The Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois.
- Mao, M.X., Whitsett, M.D., & Mellor L.T. (1998). Student Mobility, Academic Performance, and School Accountability. ERS Spectrum, 16 (1), 3-15.