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The Emotional Experience of the Elementary School Transition and the Role of Family Process Elements

The individual significance of the transition from elementary school to secondary school is usually studied against the backdrop of the development of students’ academic performance. Much less often, by contrast, have researchers studied the emotional patterns (positive and negative emotions) that emerge among students faced with the transition, which can be among the factors affecting how they cope with the change. Within the scope of research on the theory of critical life events, the importance of social support from the family is emphasized in this context.

Taking a representative random sampling of fourth graders collected during the ÜBERGANG (Transition) study as an example, this dissertation project aims to study the influence of family background on transition-related emotional evaluation processes. Particular areas of focus include not only supportive parent behavior, but also the existing social practices (spending time together, eating meals together, etc.) and cultural practices (engaging in cultural activities such as going to the theater, opera, or classical music concerts together) within the family.

The project asks the following concrete questions:

  • What effect do various components of supportive parental behavior and the social and cultural practices within the family have on the emotional evaluation of the transition from elementary school?
  • Are the effects of the social and cultural practices mediated through supportive parental behavior?

Following this study, a second study will ask to what extent the goal orientations developed over the course of students’ further school careers are related to the emotional evaluations of the transition as shown in advance.