THE ROLE OF SCHOOL LIFE PROCESSES IN PROMOTING SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS AMONG ITALIAN CHILDREN: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
University of Padova, Italy
Prior research has shed light on the contribution of social and emotional skills (SES) to the individual success in multiple spheres of personal and social life, promoting positive outcomes related to education, employment, health, civic participation, and relationships. SES result from the interaction between multiple forces and socialization agencies, are malleable, and therefore may be learned and fostered through the support of parents, teachers and the community. The socio-emotional development of children takes place in all schools across the world, even unconsciously, affecting their competencies and the type of people they are going to become. The present study focuses on the SES of school-aged children in Italy as effect of educational actions, paying particular attention to the implicit dimension of teaching, that is, to the impact that various aspects of school life can have on these shills. More precisely, several factors such as socio-demographics, social relationships and emerging characteristics from internal school life processes are identified, and their influence on the reinforcement of the children’s SES is investigated.
Based on the OECD-SSES framework, which defines and measures children’s SES, 651 students (10 olds) were interviewed, within eleven schools in the city of Turin, in order to explore their soft competences. Quantitative methods were employed, and the administered questionnaire included a self-assessment tool of five skills: stress resistance, sociability, collaboration, creativity, and perseverance. Data analyses were conducted at different levels. After exploring the SES’s distribution in the total sample, numerous bivariate analysis tests were performed to identify significant differences in the levels of skills possessed by students. The bivariate analyses highlighted several independent variables associated with the respondents’ SES to be included as predictive elements of higher levels of competences in multiple regression models.
The study takes in consideration the SES of 10-years old children in Turin, and explores social, relational and educational factors related to the competences possessed by them. Parents’ socio-demographics, emotional closeness to teachers, feelings of security in the school context, and extracurricular activities are associated with higher levels of SES. Implications for educational practices and the strengthening of these crucial skills are discussed.
DEVELOPING STUDENTS’ NON COGNITIVE SKILLS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL: INSIGHTS FROM AN ACTION-RESEARCH IN PROVINCE OF TRENTO
1Povince of Trento, Italy; 2University of Trento, Italy; 3LUMSA University, Italy
In recent decades, schools have been increasingly stressed to enhance the non-cognitive characteristics of their students, to promote their sense of achievement and educational success, and to support their active citizenship. A stream of research, from the 1990s onwards, defined these characteristics as Non-Cognitive Skills (NCS; West et al., 2016). In the current debate, these skills are considered strategic for subsequent career paths, and adequate life experience, as a 'complete' citizen (Sherman et al., 1997; Schoon, 2008). Also, mostly, they are considered as ‘malleable,’ which means that schools are important drivers of their development in early life-span stages. Students' NCS development has become so present in the school processes that they have been included in the school self-evaluation process. Two main issues, among others, are related to NCS development in schools. These issues are the main research questions of this proposal: 1) is it possible to evaluate and even certificate these competencies? 2) Also, related to this, is it possible to explicitly and intentionally teach NCS inside curricular activities? The literature reports series of problems with the widespread presence of self-report measures, even in cases of well-established tools, related to the perceptive bias of the interviewed subjects (‘reference bias,’ see Duckworth & Yeager, 2015). The impact on the self-assessment of schools would, therefore, become extraordinary. Another element concerns activities by schools to improve non-cognitive skills activated by the evidence collected. Generally, this activity is carried out without precise knowledge of the constructs underlying the non-cognitive competencies, of the measures of these constructs and without the active involvement of the teachers both in the 'diagnostic' and the instructional phases. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the activity carried out in the Province of Trento supporting schools in the students' non-cognitive skills development, inside a three years long mixed-methods action research, in which NCS is considered as the integration among personality traits (Caprara, 2013), psychological capital (Luthans et al., 2007), and motivation to learn (Deci e Ryan, 2000):
• Data collected at the student level from different data sources such as self-report questionnaires and teachers' external evaluations through formative assessment rubrics; the final sample consists of more than 3000 students, and 200 teachers, in the final stage of middle school.
• Data-analysis summary reports (confirmatory factor analysis, descriptive statistics on latent variables for every single class and correlations between NCS and attitudes and frequency of curricular and extracurricular students' activities) included in the project, released by the provincial system for schools, with emphasis on the classroom level, used by teachers to improve the learning environment for their students;
• Use of summary reports, to organize 'reflection and design' workshops with teachers and researchers to prepare new educational activities and learning strategies on NCS in the classroom, following the teachers training model 'Input-Practice-Reflection.' Data collected show that linking evidence from the classroom level with the development of curricular NCS learning strategies is a powerful way to let schools and teachers being main actors in students' NCS development in middle school.
GOOD SCHOOL, GOOD LIFE: EXPLORING THE ROLE OF NON COGNITIVE SKILLS
university of Genua and ANVUR, Italy
Good school, good life: exploring the role of non cognitive skills
Competence is more than just knowledge and skills, and distinctions between cognitive and non-cognitive skills has weakened. The relationship between noncognitive attributes and academic outcomes (such as grades or test scores) is now largely demonstrated, and a new global goal for education systems and lifelong learning is to define, teach and measure key competencies, both cognitive and non cognitive, that individuals need to acquire to face the challenging demands of complex society. OECD, through the DeSeCo Project, at the end of the ‘90, identified a small set of key competencies: a new OECD Study on Social and Emotional Skills is currently examining the assessment of 19 social and emotional skills of 10- and 15-year-old students.-
Both cognitive and non cognitive skills are formed early in the life cycle, mainly determined by early family factors, and poor non cognitive skills may accumulate over time and lead to less desirable educational and economic outcomes in adulthood. Even if the sooner, the better, noncognitive attributes developed during adolescence through specific programs could reduce initial gaps, and have been shown to have a significant and lasting impact on success in life, although the effects vary in different social groups and subjects.
Noncognitive skills include a range of personality characteristics (character skills) that influence a wide range of life and school outcomes. They do so not only through their direct effects, but also through their indirect effects on the development of cognitive capacities and the attainment of educational qualifications The literature discuss a wide range of personality characteristics, the ways they are measured and the variety of measurement instruments for each personality characteristic, reliably measuring these skills could help to identify 'what works' to enhance social and emotional skills as well as to have information on the distribution for each student or at the aggregate level. This information would empower teachers and parents to better address children in need
There is an intensification of reflexivity upon the human being, and a growing interest in the ‘whole child’, i.e. in personal development beyond the learning outcomes. Adopting a child-centered model focused on the set of individual skills and behaviors that children have acquired prior to school entry, and enhancing the concept of character, and some related notions, as they emerge in the contemporary discourse on education, could help education policy agendas to remove structural and cultural conditionings, moving towards a greater educational and social equity.
 RYKEN D.S., SALGANIK L.H. (a cura di, 2007), Agire le competenze chiave, FrancoAngeli, Milano
 HECKMAN J.J., KAUTZ T. (2016, ed.or. 2014) Formazione e valutazione del capital umano, Fondazione per la Scuola – Il Mulino, Bologna
 SEIDER S. (2012), Character Compass. How powerful School Culture can point students toward success, Harvard Education Press, Cambridge (Ma)
 CHIOSSO G., POGGI A., VITTADINI G. (a cura di, 2021), Viaggio nelle character skills. Persone, relazioni, valori. Fondazione per la Scuola – Il Mulino, Bologna
ZERO-SUM EDUCATION? THE DIFFICULT BALANCE BETWEEN RECOGNITION OF SUBJECTIVITIES AND OBJECTIFICATION
Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
Recognition is a crucial concept for current reflection on education. Each of us needs recognition for our positive self-representation. In the educational relationship both teacher and student expect to be recognized. The recognition of one's role as a teacher is sometimes identified with respect for institutions, one's hierarchical role, one's authority, sometimes one's authoritativeness. The recognition of the student is more difficult. Being in training, he cannot be recognized for his social role. If he comes from an economical and educational solid background, he can have more chances of positive self-representation. If he comes from more unstable contexts and the school fails to offer answers to his need, he will tend to find confirmation of himself in narrower contexts, in juvenile or criminal subcultures that will accentuate the conflicts.
Recognition (Honneth 1993, Honneth Bankovsky 2021) is fundamental for positive self-representation (Luhmann 2000, 2002) and social inclusion. Today the forms of contempt are prevalent (violence, dehumanization, marginalization).
The negative self-representation of children related to negative school assessment consolidate marginalization increasing the phenomena of NEETs, underachievement and drop out.
Could the young people we define as “difficult” (because they are scarcely involved in a traditional and rational educational context that leaves out the affective and emotional dimension) be thought of as an opportunity for innovation rather than disorder? Would this break the circle of their marginalization and exclusion? Education can be mere social reproduction of power relations and inequalities associated with them or instead emancipation of subjects. Emancipation, empowerment have positive repercussions on individuals’ lives but they also do on communities. Emancipation can break the climate of mistrust that prevents altruism, attention to the other, self-esteem, even utilitarian activation. Distrust makes prosperity and growth (in an economic or existential sense) impossible. To work on emancipation, schools must return to being an instrument of social mobility and educate more about freedom and responsibility rather than "surveiller et punir".
The educational relationship is based on trust. The need for order and discipline that reduces the educational relationship to negative marks and sanctions for unaccepted behaviors, distances children from institutions and strengthens negative identities. Can investing in trust in young people, by building self-esteem, produce positive openings towards others and improve civic sense?
Boys and girls do not get involved if they feel they are being inserted into a negative script in which they are entrusted exclusively with the role of losers without any power to change the rules of the game. Bourdieu (2006. 2015) spoke of symbolic violence. To involve them, the games must not be "rigged" with ending and roles already pre-established by the system. Young people and citizens love new media because they feel that they can have a greater influence on the definition of reality and on the outcomes of the actions deriving from this definition. A non-zero-sum game enhances the emancipatory aspects of the new forms of communication without underestimating the control and dangers that go through them.
Bentham 1983, Crespi 2004, Foucault 1976, Sennett 2004, Serpieri 2020
SCHOOL-WORK ALTERNATION AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR ENHANCING UPPER SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS IN ITALY
Libera Università S.S. Maria Assunta LUMSA, Italy
Abstract: Until the start of the 2000s “knowledge society” had been the watchword, even in academia. Following the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is now more frequent to come across the expression “skills society”, both in training and work settings. More specifically, an interest in competencies has developed the years. This terminology has been defined in a variety of ways, depending on the perspective (managerial, psychological, sociological, pedagogical) and the context. In this paper, we focus mainly on non-Cognitive Skills as identified by economic theory and the Social and Emotional Skills analysed by the OECD. The centrality of these skills to educational and professional success is well known. Instead, uncertainty arises as regards acting on these skills in educational processes. More specifically, is it possible to provide effective solutions to enhance these skills? The paper will discuss how legislation governing training and work in Italy – e.g., apprenticeship contracts and school-to-work internships – might play a role in the development of social-emotional skills of young people in upper secondary school. The aim here is not to scientifically validate the practices identified, but to use them to raise new research questions. Specifically, the aim is to verify whether the experiences of young people's interaction with businesses can be organized as a learning solution in order to develop social-emotional skills even at an age considered advanced to do so (14-19 years).
Method: Bibliographical research will be used to frame the issue. Furthermore, some educational choices made in Italian upper secondary schools will be analyzed to identify good practices, without sampling the cases selected.
Cefai, C.; Bartolo P. A.; Cavioni. V; Downes, P. (2018), Strengthening Social and Emotional Edu-cation as a core curricular area across the EU. A review of the international evidence, NESET II report, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Heckman, J.J. and T. Kautz (2012), Hard evidence on soft skills, Labour Economics, Vol. 19(4), pp. 451-464
OECD (2015), Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris
West, M. R., Kraft, M. A., Finn, A. S., Martin, R. E., Duckworth, A. L., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2016), Promise and paradox: Measuring students’ non-cognitive skills and the impact of schooling, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(1), 148–170