Since 2010, the Centre has been carrying out a longitudinal study of psychosocial development in adolescence with particular regard to participation in Transition Year. Participating students in selected schools participated annually in 2011 (Third Year, Transition Year, and Fifth Year students); in 2012 (Transition Year and Fifth Year students), and in 2013 (Fifth Year and Sixth Year students). Students’ responses to detailed questionnaires provided data on their engagement with school, aspects of their social and personal development, and their homework and study habits. Students’ perceptions, praise, and criticisms of the Transition Year programme in their own school are also available.
These measures are being used to investigate relationships between participation in Transition Year and the selected outcome measures. Initial results suggest that, on average, differences in psychosocial characteristics were more apparent at the end of Third Year (i.e., between students who went on to take part in TY and those who did not) than arose over time as a result of participation (Clerkin, 2016). However, the same students generally provided strong endorsements of their TY experience in self-generated written comments (e.g., in relation to work experience, motivation, relationships, social awareness, and perceptions of themselves). The tension between these findings will be the focus of further analysis of the data, including person-centred analyses.
In addition, for a subset of students who provided permission by opting in to a follow-on study, the information arising from this longitudinal research will be used to examine associations between Transition Year participation and performance in the Leaving Certificate Examination in greater detail.
As a precursor to this study, a review of the Transition Year programme and associated research, placed in context for an international readership, was carried out and published as an open-access paper (Clerkin, 2012).
The Centre has also been engaged in work to chart the growth in uptake of Transition Year in recent years, at both school- and student-level. Clerkin (2013) reports patterns of change for the period 1992 (immediately preceding the ‘mainstreaming’ of TY in 1994) to 2011. This work will be updated in the coming years.
Clerkin (forthcoming in Irish Journal of Education) reports the varying patterns of homework and studying behaviours reported by students across each of the participating grade levels, and in particular, between TY participants and non-participants in Fifth Year and Sixth Year.