Students' affective reactions to their early secondary schooling experiences in Trinidad and Tobago



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Office of the UNESCO Representative in the Caribbean


A longitudinal study was conducted with a 10 percent representative sample of one entry year cohort of first cycle secondary schools students in Trinidad and Tobago. This sample consisted of 2,125 students in 64 classroom groups from every school type and education district. Towards the end of each school year, students were asked whether or not they liked coming to school and why, what classroom events evoked interest, which ones feelings of being unsure, and how they responded to each case. Three classroom groups were also observed and students and school personnel interviewed. Results indicated that most students liked coming to school even though the number so responding decreased each year. Students’ reasoned responses regarding their affective reaction fell into the following categories for each of the three years (1, 2 and 3), with the respective frequency of response indicated in parentheses: 1) interaction with other students (19.6 percent, 21.4 percent, 24 percent); interaction with teachers (20.9 percent, 6.8 percent, 3.9 percent); 3) the specific school (34.7 percent, 37 percent, 31.1 percent, 4) the programme offered (38.7 percent, 32.4 percent, 34.9 percent); 5) beliefs about purposes of schooling that had a career or future oriented focus (22.8 percent, 33.8 percent, 30.9 percent); and 6) a need to please others (1.3 percent, 1.5 percent, 1.4 percent). Experience in school evoked a range of feelings and emotions. Among the more positive was a feeling of belonging, which was most prevalent among girls. The more negative emotions were fear, shame, and a variety of others deriving from school-based hurts. More males than females spoke of events filled with fear and shame.


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educational psychology, secondary school