A retrospective study of adolescent student resilience within Soviet and post-Soviet educational change
Burgess, David Quentin
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This is a study of adolescent student experience within the context of social, political and economic change. It examines the retrospective meaning five post-Soviet individuals made of their school-based, familial and social experiences prior to and following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The study employs a framework based upon student resilience and success.This study reviews literature within four areas of focus. First, it examines the nature of change, and operationally divides change into two rudimentary subsets: drawn change (that which slowly alters a societal path over long period of time) and moment change (that which is often linked to crisis and dynamically redirects a societal path over a very short period of time). A discussion of literature follows that examines the historical occurrence of education within the context of social and political change, wherein social and political links are drawn to education. Third, the material available on the subjects of resilience and success is reviewed, from which a model of resilience is employed as a piece of the conceptual framework. The union of the models of change and resilience is then discussed. The fourth area of literature-based focus constructs the historical, cultural, social, political and economic context from which the participants in this study (and their early educational experience) came.Following the review of literature, a description of the methodology and epistemology held by the researcher is presented. Constructivism within hermeneutic phenomenology is discussed at length, followed by an account of the researcher’s position, and then a detailed explanation of the qualitative research design.The participants selected were former adolescent students within the Soviet education system both prior to and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. All participants were residents of Canada at the time of study. One female and four male individuals participated within one-on-one semi-structured conversational interviews. In four cases, secondary questioning (or member checking) took place through the use of in-person or electronic mail communication. Data from all interviews were transcribed and analysed with specialized computer software. Each participant described in depth his or her school-, familial- and social-based experiences both prior to, during and after the changes that took place within the Soviet Union (perestroika, glasnost’ and the dissolution of the Soviet Union). Also discussed was their understanding of success and resilience, described within the context of their own experience. Five themes appeared to emerge. Participants described their experience as one where the structures and values within their families did not change at any point within the broader social, political and economic changes. Second, they relied upon their past experience and examples surrounding them to make behavioural decisions during the time of the change. Third, they described tacit understanding of locus of control and were thus less affected by changes beyond their control. Fourth, each described levels of stability within their immediate (familial and school-based) experience. Fifth, at the broader societal level of experience, a generally optimistic ethos existed that over shadowed the similarly present air of fear and disorder. Participant experience provided a basis for the reconceptualization of the theoretical framework, and specifically the resiliency model wherein protective factors were divided into key areas: past personal experience, immediate personal experience and broader social experience.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeWalker, Keith D.; Robinson, Sam; Haines, Len; Carr-Stewart, Sheila; Wimmer, Randy
Copyright DateAugust 2003