The GOETE project has completed its first year. In this first year much effort has been put in the preparation of the comparative research. In this preparatory phase, eight country reports on institutional, socio-economic and cultural contexts of educational trajectories were produced. These reports are based on statistical data and extant educational research from the different national contexts. The findings served to prepare the empirical field work inasmuch as national specific differences came to the fore and could be accounted for in the design and instrument construction phase of the various work packages. The results of this research phase – a State of the Art Report on structures and problems of educational trajectories in Europe – will be made available soon via the GOETE website.
The first phase also included the production of a glossary with key concepts aimed at providing a shared conceptual framework for the GOETE project across national and disciplinary boundaries. The glossary can be accessed online (www.goete.eu/glossary).
Besides, the GOETE consortium has worked during this first year of the project in the design, construction, and implementation of research instruments for the empirical field work:
- The construction of the research sample with regard to the research regions, school types and students involved: In each country three urban areas were chosen representing a range of different socio-economic, political and institutional contexts. For the student and parent survey in each of these regions schools in deprived, affluent and average neighbourhoods were selected while the survey on school principals involved all schools in this area. The qualitative case studies will take place in one disadvantaged school per region.
- The development of questionnaires for the surveys with students, parents and school principals involved the challenge of allowing for a standardised operationalisation of the GOETE objectives, sensitivity for contextual specifities as well as for comparability across countries. Questionnaires have also been translated and pre-tested in the eight countries.
- Access to schools proved difficult in many countries. On the one hand, varying legislation and procedure related to ethical issues required lengthy permission processes with the national/regional/local authorities. On the other hand, many schools were reluctant to participate due to an increasing involvement in and workload through educational research they are being confronted with.
- The design of the comparative analysis of teacher training was developed implying a collection of contextual information on the institutional regulation of teacher training as well as guidelines for expert interviews and document analysis.
- The design of the qualitative case studies required a discussion process about the appropriate balance between openness and structure. It has been agreed that rather addressing only schools the focus of the qualitative studies lies on “educational social spaces” around single schools. Rather than pre-defining interview partners beforehand, this will be achieved by sampling according to a snowballing process inside and outside the selected schools as the empirical process continues.
- Finally, the preparation and planning of expert interviews and discourse analysis with regard to high level governance analysis have been initiated.
The field work is expected to be completed by end of 2011. During this period national and comparative briefing papers on the surveys with students, parents and school principals as well as on emerging issues on teacher training in Europe will document the work progress.