Editorial Damijan Štefanc
The first issue of the Journal of Contemporary Educational Studies in 2020 brings nine thematically varied articles, five in Slovenian and four in English.
The first article is a contribution by Damijan Štefanc and Mojca Kovač Šebart. They address the problem of formative assessment in general compulsory education, first presenting the concept of formative assessment before moving into its historical development and key theoretical and terminological issues. In the second part of the paper, Štefanc and Kovač Šebart address critical insights into the concept, particularly from the perspective of recent tendencies towards the learnification of education and instruction. They also point to critiques of formative assessment vis-à-vis the key aims and goals of general education. The final part of the paper deals with issues in the relationship between formative and summative assessment, given the clear message from some Slovenian authors that formative assessment should at least partially take over the functions of summative assessments. The authors argue that these intentions could lead to unintentional educational and didactic consequences.
The article Ethical principles in action research by Jelena Maksimović and Boris Kožuh addresses the issue of ethical principles and standards in all stages of research projects. The authors examine the questions of ethics in planning and conducting action research, and they also look into the relationships of power among the participants, the participants’ confidentiality, autonomy and dignity. As the authors argue, contemporary societies – where all scientific findings are incessantly and carefully checked – produce numerous research studies in all fields of science, which comes with a range of ethical challenges, questions, and dilemmas. In education, this is also true of so-called action research, which regularly translates new findings to (educational) practice so as to improve it. Maksimović and Kožuh emphasise that the spiral and cyclical processes of action research confront researchers with important challenges and call for a thorough preparation ensuring the implementation of and respect for ethical standards.
The next article deals with the issue of teaching literature in contemporary general upper secondary school (i. e. gimnazija). Adrijana Špacapan writes about how Slovenian school legislation and curricular documents follow the concepts of the humane intellectual and the citizen of the world, and a school dedicated to assessing values and searching for meaning and wisdom. The author states that Article 2 of the General Upper Secondary School Act, which lists the goals of the programme, does not provide a clear image of the high school graduate or any humanist dimensions, although the Organisation and Financing of Education Act includes respect for the Other and developing skills for life in a democratic society among the goals of education. Thus, Špacapan inquires how to implement the broader educational goals of literature teaching, but especially how to develop students’ ethical sensitivity in current educational circumstances, within systemic didactics of literature teaching, and in the context of the ethical turn in literary studies.
The fourth article deals with preschool education. In it, Jerneja Jager and Mateja Režek present the results of a pilot project of creating an integrated system of support programmes for children and their families in two Slovenian local communities. The pilot project started from the assumption that a high level of inequality when accessing support services in today’s Europe has a great impact on the living conditions of the most vulnerable groups of children. Therefore, some countries have moved towards the integration of individual support programmes and building up networks that combine, for instance, preschool education programmes, family support programmes, programmes for children with special needs in regular preschool groups, etc. The authors confirm that a coherent policy at institutional and inter-institutional levels is crucial for a successful integrated action (the establishment of integrated systems of support programmes for children and their families). It includes training management workers and educators, exchange of examples of good practice among organisations, peer-group meetings and pedagogical supervision of specialised staff.
The last Slovenian-language contribution to this issue of the journal provides us with an entirely different focus, with Mojca Jermaniš discussing educational policy of the European Union in the field of adult education. According to the author, educational policies in the field of adult education are intertwined with regional, economic and labour-market policies. Governments employ adult education policies to improve the employability and mobility of employees in companies, sectors, and professions, while companies focus on specific training programmes in keeping with production and working process needs. Since employers limit their employees’ training to the specific requirements of each individual workplace, EU member states will have to look for more adequate instruments for an equal distribution of education and training in the workplace to all employees.
The English-language section of this issue publishes four thematically diverse articles. Anikó Fehérvári writes about the issue of dropping out in Hungary. She relies on various international and Hungarian databases, presenting the Hungarian situation and trends, as well as individual, organisational, institutional, and systemic factors that influence dropping out in the country. In the article, the author empirically studies the perceptions of teachers regarding dropping out, and she finds that teachers believe that they and their schools play an important role in preventing dropout. However, they predominantly tend to attribute drop out to other schools and other factors rather than themselves (parents, society, the media).
The following contribution, Inclusive culture in preschool institution – pedagogical competences of preschool teachers in Croatia, is by three authors, Matilda Karamatić Brčić, Rozana Petani, and Marijana Miočić. They stress that inclusive education contributes directly to the development of quality inclusive practice at every level of the education system. The authors’ empirical findings suggest the need in Croatia for the professional training of educators to enable a quality implementation of inclusive education in preschool institutions.
The topic of Kateřina Lojdová’s article is how the roles in direct pedagogical work of the student teacher and the cooperating teacher differ. Based on a case study, she finds the main differences in classroom management and fewer differences in instructional management. The author emphasises the need for the improved training of cooperating teachers, especially in the area of helping student teachers in classroom management.
The last article is by Brane Mikanović, Vesna Trifunović, and Gordana Budimir Ninković. They write about family and continued education of primary school students. The authors examined the correlation between individual family characteristics and the students’ educational aspirations, especially their aspirations for the highest (i.e. tertiary) levels of education. Their empirical research study established that most of primary school students aspire to continue their education by enrolling in the tertiary level of education, but they could not prove a correlation between these aspirations and the material status of the family.