Tsiolkovskiy Kaluga State University, Kaluga, Russia
Background. The problem of students’ adaptation to a new educational level (normative educational crises, according to Slobodchikov, 2008) is considered. Unlike the literature (Barber & Olsen, 2004; Akçinar, 2013; Symanyuk & Pecherkina, 2016; Nisskaya, 2018), we explored this problem from the standpoint of human agency and studied all categories of students to determine the general patterns of overcoming normative educational crises.
Objective. The study aimed to explore the general criteria of agency — capacity to use psychological resources to solve problems and achieve goals — while overcoming normative educational crises (crises of adaptation to new learning conditions).
Design. The participants were 383 students aged 7–18 years (81 first graders, 84 fifth graders, 110 tenth graders, and 108 freshmen). Students’ agency and psychological resources were surveyed at the beginning of the first academic year at the new educational level. Adaptation criteria (informational, behavioral, and affective) were estimated at the end of the academic year. By using the k-means method of cluster analysis, each category of students was divided into clusters with similar agency indicators. We also compared agency indicators, abilities, and personal traits in these clusters by using U-tests and exploring correlation links between the psychological resources and adaptation criteria indicators in each cluster by Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient.
Results and Conclusion. In each age category of students, we observed many significant correlation links between the psychological resources and adaptation criteria indicators only in the cluster of students with a high agency level. We also found only isolated correlation links (or absence of links) between the psychological resources and adaptation criteria indicators in the clusters of students with a low agency level. This finding confirms our hypothesis that only students with a high level of agency use their psychological resources to successfully overcome normative educational crises. Students with a low agency level do not use their resources in full during normative educational crises: These students, despite their capacities, have a negative emotional state and problems in learning and behavior. This finding is also true for each age category of students. Thus, without human agency qualities, the intellectual and personal resources of students can remain unused during the period of adaptation and further training, as the results of the study demonstrated.
Keywords: human agency; normative age-related crises; normative educational crises of adaptation; psychological resources; first graders; fifth graders; tenth graders; university freshmen