CLEARConstructing Learning Outcomes in Europe: A multi-level analysis of (under)achievement in the life course
The CLEAR research project responds to the Horizon Europe’s Call HORIZON-CL2-2021-TRANSFORMATIONS-01-04: Addressing poor learning outcomes in basic skills and early school leaving at national, regional and local level in Europe and seeks to better understand the factors that affect the quality and the construction of learning outcomes in Europe.
The specific approach of CLEAR is centred on the process of constructing learning outcomes, which we interpret as the result of manifold intersecting factors and people: institutional arrangements, spatial and socio-economic determinants, discursive and socio-cultural influences, as well as individual experiences, dispositions, cognitive and psycho-emotional abilities.
CLEAR’s overall aim is to examine the combination of multiple factors shaping learning outcomes and thus affecting their quality. Based on a better understanding of the processes of constructing learning outcomes, CLEAR inquiries into the impact of policies to boost achievement and tackle underachievement, design participative activities at local level that spark innovative policy solutions and increase social upward mobility for young people.
The CLEAR research project is conducted in eight EU countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain – which represent more than half of the EU’s population with diverse governmental and education systems, economic and labour market structures, and socio-cultural contexts. By conducting comparative research in the countries studied, CLEAR will generate new comparative knowledge on the existing educational policies targeting learning outcomes of young people aged 18–29 and attaining secondary and post-secondary education and training. Hereby, the CLEAR project gives a special attention to groups that are multi-disadvantaged and/or in vulnerable situations, as they have been massively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic’s ramifications.
Conceptually, CLEAR adopts dynamic and relational concepts – Life Course, Intersectionality, Spatial Justice – that will help explore the several mutually intersecting dimensions of the issue – individual, institutional, structural, relational, and spatial. The three theoretical frameworks bridge education, sociology, social and youth policy studies, and political sciences making it possible to explore the five analytical dimensions, and to adequately conceptualise information for research site selection. Furthermore, combining these theoretical views brings together different disciplinary approaches, which enables us to address the complex methodological issues in a dynamic and interdisciplinary manner.
Methodologically, CLEAR relies on proven and field-tested comparative research and combines well-established designs of mixed-method, multi-level analyses with novel participatory strategies, thus actively stimulating informed decision-making to support policy design and implementation. CLEAR uses a plenitude of methods and conducts quantitative and institutional analyses, web-based expert surveys, and qualitative and comparative analyses. It also applies innovative participatory strategies and runs Innovation Forums with various audiences and local/regional experts. Our methodological contribution also includes identification of sparse or missing data at various governance levels and enhancing the data quality of relevant regional and national bodies, which will help to spark innovative policy solutions.