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School sector variation on non-cognitive dimensions: are denominational schools different?

Avram, S and Dronkers, Jaap (2010): School sector variation on non-cognitive dimensions: are denominational schools different?

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Abstract

Denominational schooling makes up an important part of European educational systems. Given its specificity, denominational schooling can be expected to place a greater weight on values teaching and moral education. As such, it may be more effective in bringing about certain attitudes and opinions. It also may be more successful in creating a warm and caring atmosphere, thus helping students to better emotionally connect to the school community. This paper set out to empirically test some of these hypotheses by making use of three waves of data collected in the framework of the Program for International Student Assessment study. We compare public and publicly supported private (as a proxy to denominational) schools on two dimensions, namely the emotional integration with the rest of the school community, and the concern and feelings of responsibility towards the environment. But for Austria, Belgium and Spain, no evidence could be found that the type of the school has any impact on the reported psychological adaptation to the school. In these three countries, publicly supported private schools tend to be more successful in integrating their students. Also students in public and private dependent schools were equally environment oriented, taking into account several student and school characteristics. The lack of schooling sector differences in attaining non-cognitive aims may have at least three causes. First, ecological issues could be salient enough not to necessitate any special religious or moral reinforcement in order to gain traction. Second, public schools may use religious education or ethics just as fruitfully and consequently, they are just as successful in values and norms transmission. Third, it is possible that schools play a minor role in introducing students to environmental dilemmas and concerns, this role being taken over by the family or the media.

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