Dissertation Abstracts

Factors Affecting Educational Achievements of Students from Economically Disadvantaged Families in Latvia

Author: Karklina, Ieva , ieva@petijums.lv
Department: Education Research Institute of Faculty of Pedagogy, Psychology and Arts
University: University of Latvia, Latvia
Supervisor: Dr.oec., Professor Andrejs Geske
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Latvian, with summary in English (60 pag

Keywords: students from econom , OECD PISA 2006 , social resilience in , Latvia
Areas of Research: Education , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Youth


Latvia has some of the highest poverty and social exclusion rates in the European Union. Consequently, the proportion of secondary school students with high risk of academic failure is also high. There exists a direct relationship between students’ socioeconomic background and educational achievements: on the whole, students from well–off backgrounds have higher educational performance than pupils coming from economically disadvantaged families. At the same time, studies have shown that a certain number of economically disadvantaged students are capable to positively adapt to critical situation and to earn high educational achievements despite all difficulties and problems caused by material deprivation in family.
The doctoral thesis deals with the factors contributing educational achievements of children from economically disadvantaged families in Latvia and focuses on the aim to find out the possibilities for improving school performance of children from such families.
The theoretical framework is constructed according to research model that includes P. Bourdieu, J. S. Coleman and C. Buchmann views on family and school capital effect on students’ achievements, B. Bernstein and A. Lareau approach to the interpretation of cultural capital, and ideas of individual social capital theorists’ – H. Flap and N. Lin –, as well as R. Burt and X. S. Briggs.
The research project includes analysis of information gathered from interviews with members of economically disadvantaged families, reflects on the circumstances of those families, and characterizes restrictions in provision of education caused by economic deprivation. Factors contributing to high educational achievements of students from economically disadvantaged families in Latvia, social resilience – result of interaction among those factors –, and as well as possibility of non–resilient students to enter the group of socially resilient students have been assessed based on data (by method of binomial logistic regression) from the internationally comparative education study OECD PISA 2006.
M. Ungar approach to social resilience as the concept construed in certain society and culture as result of interaction between positive changes contributing factors – is implemented.
The analysis of the research results that was carried out in accordance to the framework of capital theory, reveals the possibilities to segment economically disadvantaged families and confirms the hypothetical assumption that these families are not a homogeneous group – although they share a similar socio-economic status, they are different with regards to other forms of family capital: human, cultural and social capital. The thesis demonstrates examples of families who are facilitating their children’s social resilience – these are families whose parents actively use family non-economic resources to positively impact the achievements of their children despite limited economic capital. Socially resilient students from economically disadvantaged families use these other forms of family capital along with school-level capital and personal capital to reach high educational achievements.

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