Exploring the Schooling Experience of Disengaged Girls Aged 15-16 Years

Laurent, Uthel (2008). Exploring the Schooling Experience of Disengaged Girls Aged 15-16 Years. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f289


The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives and schooling experiences of 15-16 year-old girls judged by their teachers to be disengaged. This research, which was based on an interactionist ethnographic approach, also served as a pilot for future research on disengagement. A sample of three teachers and five students participated in individual interviews, which were recorded and transcribed. The narrative-based thematic analysis yielded five main themes which reflected various aspects of the lived experiences of the girls.

The findings revealed that as students sought to create their sense of self they seemed preoccupied with certain interests which appeared to be more of a priority in their lives. The corollary was that school, though recognised for its instrumental value, appeared to be less relevant to them. As such, students showed signs of coping with their circumstances by engaging in behaviours consistent with various forms of disengagement from school and learning.

From an interactionist ethnographic approach, documenting the experiences of young people is crucial as their voices have great potential in shaping the future direction of educational research into school disengagement (Hammersley, 1999; Ball, 2003). In this regard, this project has great potential in paving the way for future research to illuminate the process of disengagement. Hence, the use of complementary sources of data might shed light on the structural influences and social resources that pupils may draw upon to shape their student and self identity.

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