The current state of middle schooling: A review of the literature

Year: 2005

Author: Dowson, Martin, Richards, Garry, Johnson, Kate, Ross, Michael

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The current investigation was initiated by evidence from the literature indicating the presence of significant numbers of unhappy and underachieving students in the middle level of education (Anderman and Midgley, 1996, Anderman, Maehr and Midgley, 1999, Eccles, Wigfield, Midgley, Reuman, MacIver and Feldhlaufer, 1993, Harter, Whitesall and Kowalski, 1992, Kaplan and Owings, 2000, Ryan and Patrick, 2001). The main hypothesis guiding this literature is that school structures, environments and cultures negatively affect students’ motivation, producing negative psychological reactions, which in turn can lead to declines in middle-school students’ engagement and achievement at school. This research aims to specifically identify what structures, environments and cultures may inhibit this (dis)engagement and (under)achievement. This paper identifies the key elements that constitute effective middle schooling through a review of recent literature. Such an approach offers a clear account of the current state of middle schooling in Australia, which is useful for school- and curriculum- level planning and program development.