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Coping with the transition from elementary school, with particular consideration of positive and negative emotions


The Transition from Elementary School

The transition from elementary school to secondary school is – at least in the German school system – one of the most important rites of passage in young students’ educational careers. It is considered a critical and normative life event and is associated with specific emotions and expectations: Not only the increased student workload, but also new social configurations in secondary school represent a challenge for students.

Goal of this Study

The goal of this dissertation project is to examine the emotional expectations associated with the transition and the specific factors influencing them as well as the subsequent process of actual coping with the transition from elementary to secondary school on an empirical basis. This research perspective must always also be considered against the backdrop of social and ethnic origin, since studies of school performance have pointed time and again to differences in skill acquisition and in school-related resources.

Data Basis and Research Questions

The data basis is provided by the TIMSS transition study entitled “Der Übergang von der Grundschule in die weiterführende Schule – Leistungsgerechtigkeit und regionale, soziale und ethnisch-kulturelle Disparitäten” (The Transition from Elementary to Secondary School – Fairness of Grading and Regional, Social, and Ethnic/Cultural Disparities). In structural equation models and taking into account the multi-level structure as well as a longitudinal consideration of coping, the following issues are addressed:

  • What emotions do fourth-grade students express regarding the transition?
  • Are there apparent differences in the emotions expressed in light of students’ social and ethnic origin?
  • How do objective performance feedback and subjective self-perceptions of ability affect the emotions related to the transition?
  • Are there apparent effects of the class context on transition-related emotions and those related to performance?