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Engagement and Disengagement During Critical Transitions from School to Work

Transitions Across Schools and Cultures

ISBN: 978-1-78190-291-2, eISBN: 978-1-78190-292-9

ISSN: 0749-7423

Publication date: 31 October 2012


The transition from comprehensive school to either an academic or a vocational track and from academic track to tertiary education are the key educational transitions during adolescence and young adulthood in many European educational systems. The present chapter approaches engagement and disengagement during these key educational transitions in the context of the 4-C (channelling, choice, co-regulation, compensation) life-span model of motivation and phase-adequate engagement model. In accordance with the life-span model of motivation and the phase-adequate engagement model, school transitions are triggers that channel the engagement and disengagement processes. The former process reflects school-related engagement, whereas disengagement is a key element of the school-burnout process. Engagement in the school context is defined as a positive, fulfilling work-related state of mind characterized by vigor and energy, dedication, and absorption. School burnout comprises three dimensions in terms of exhaustion due to school demands: a cynical and detached attitude toward the school, feelings of inadequacy as a student, and disengagement. Cynicism is manifest in an indifferent or distal attitude toward school work in general, a loss of interest in it, and not seeing it as meaningful. Inadequacy refers to a diminished sense of competence, achievement, and accomplishment as a student.


Salmela-Aro, K. (2012), "Engagement and Disengagement During Critical Transitions from School to Work", Karabenick, S.A. and Urdan, T.C. (Ed.) Transitions Across Schools and Cultures (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 79-108.



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