Browsing by Author "Raatikainen, Eija"

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  • Raatikainen, Eija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    The aim of this study is to explore trust at school and its meaning for 9th grade students. The intent is to investigate students views about trust and mistrust in school relationships. Three research questions are posed: 1) what meanings do students give to their experiences of trust and mistrust at school and how do they evaluate connection of these experiences to their well-being and enjoyment in the classroom? 2) what and how important, is the teacher s role according to the students writings, and 3) what might the different pedagogical and administrative structures of schools reveal about trust and mistrust in a particular school culture? The data consists of 134 writings of 9th grade students (secondary school) from three schools in one of the biggest cities in Finland. The schools differ from others in terms of their pedagogical or structural backgrounds. The study is restricted to the micro-level of, disposition of Educational Sociology, focusing on trust in schools relationships. The theoretical framework of the study is trust, as a part of social capital; however trust is also approached from the sociological, the psychological and philosophical perspective. The methodological approach is narrative research concerning school practice . Analysis of narrative consist mostly content analysis, but also some elements of holistic-content reading, thematic reading and categorical content. The analysis found three main themes: 1) individual stories of trust, 2) the teachers role in making trust possible in the classroom, and 3) school as a community of trust. According to the study trust at school (1) is a complex phenomenon consisting of people s ability to work together and to recognize the demands that different situations present. Trust at school is often taken for granted. In the students experiences trust is strongly connected to friendship, and the teacher s ability to connect with students. Students experiences of mistrust stem from bulling, school violence, lack of respect as well as teachers lacking basic professional behavior. School relationships are important for some students as source of enjoyment, but some feel that it is difficult to evaluate the connection between trust and enjoyment. The study found that students trust of teachers (2) is linked to the teacher s professional role as a teacher, a caring human being open to dialogue. In other words, the students describe teachers abilities to create a sense of trust in terms of three expectations: the teacher was better, the same or worse than expected. Better than expected, means the teacher engender a high degree of trust and has excellent communication skills. Same as expected means the teacher comes across as familiar and secure, while lower than expected means the teacher creates no trust and has poor communication skills. Finally, it was shown that trust at school (3) should not only exist between some individuals, but between (all) members of the school community. In other words, according to the study there is some evidence that trust is strongly committed to school culture. Further, trust seems to depend on (school-) cultural background, values, beliefs, expectations, norms as well as staff behaviour. The basic elements of an optimum level of trust at school are favourable school structure and pedagogical background; however, good relationships between teachers and students as well as high professional skills are also needed. Trust at school is built by good communication, working together and getting to know each other.