9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN10 Sociology of Education

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Social Inequalities III Building I, 2E6

Self-Esteem of Academic and Vocational Students: Does Inter-School Tracking Sharpen the Difference?

Research into the consequences of tracking occupies a significant place within sociology of education. It is demonstrated that lower tracks students develop an anti-school culture, to overcome the status deprivation resulting from being in a lower track. Research has mainly focused on cognitive outcomes, yet it has been shown that attending a lower track affects the global self-esteem. The differences between tracks have usually been demonstrated within schools. But, in Flanders, as in other European regions, schools themselves can be distinguished according to the curriculum they offer, giving rise to academic schools on the one hand and technical/vocational schools on the other hand. Besides these ?categorical? schools, there are also so-called ?multilateral? schools, incorporating academic, technical and vocational tracks. We question how school type?multilateral or categorical?relates to academic students? and vocational students? self-esteem, and whether the relation between track position and self-esteem varies according to school type. Inter-school tracking might be expected to encourage stigmatising of vocational students because of the firm distinction between academic and vocational students, arousing negative self-feelings in the vocational students. It is also possible that vocational students in multilateral schools take the academic students as a comparative reference group, leading to relative deprivation and negative self-feelings.
Analyses are based on a subsample of the Flemish Educational Assessment (FlEA)?data gathered in 2004?2005 from 11.872 third and fifth grade students in a sample of 85 secondary schools. There are 10 multilateral and 56 categorical schools (22 academic, 4 vocational, 30 technical/vocational). Analyses are limited to the 3758 academic and the 2152 vocational students enrolled in these schools. Multilevel analyses (HLM6) show that academic students enrolled in multilateral schools have a slightly higher self-esteem than those in categorical schools. As for the vocational students? self-esteem, school type does not seem to make any difference. Academic students have a significant higher self-esteem than vocational students. This difference is larger in multilateral schools than in categorical schools. Our findings suggest that in multilateral schools academic students compare themselves with the vocational track students, leading to a higher awareness of status gratification, resulting in a higher self-esteem.