What do the Students Say?


Download article | By OECD/CERI Secretariat | Published in Demand-Sensitive Schooling, 2006


This article examines students’ perceptions and expectations of schooling. Students view schooling as important for its social aspects, learning and getting ahead in life. In many countries, students are satisfied overall; complaints tend to focus on the relevance and interest of courses. Regarding content of teaching, students tend to be most critical about the schools’ ability to prepare them for changing labour markets, namely to teach ICT skills, modern languages and teamwork. In general, data show that younger students are more satisfied than older ones; students in higher tracks are more satisfied than students in lower tracks; girls are more satisfied with schooling than boys. In fact, girls tend to be more ambitious and readier to face challenge than boys. Also, studies show that high expectations are correlated with geographic residence, socioeconomic status, and parental education attainment, especially the mother’s.


On choice, this article mentions some information from secondary education concerning the room to choose between different subjects around the compulsory core school curriculum. It also looks at exit behaviour through absenteeism. In general, the opportunities for students to exercise their voice are limited and not always seen as effective. Students tend to regard being listened to and engaged in their lessons as the more important aspect of voice. Teachers are most appreciated for good social and interpersonal skills and the ability to pay attention to individual student’s abilities, interests and needs.


In future research, it will be important to distinguish between the learning aspects of schooling and the social context in which it takes place to be able to understand, for example, why older students are less satisfied. Is it because learning at a younger age is less overshadowed by the pressure to get high marks or is it because schools fail to offer the right social environment for older students? The same can be asked regarding gender: are girls happier because they are more ambitious when it comes to schooling or is the social environment of schooling more suitable to girls?




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