chapter  11
Uncertainty in trans ition: the influ ence of group cohe sion on learn ing
ByTegan Cruwys, Amber M. Gaffney, Yvonne Skipper
Pages 16

As students move through the educa tional system, they will regu larly face the chal lenge of trans ition ing to a new learn ing envir on ment (e.g. trans fer ring from primary to second ary school or enter ing univer sity; see also in this volume, Greenaway, Amiot, Louis and Bentley, Chapter 10, and Jetten, Iyer and Zhang, Chapter 6). Previous research suggests that these trans ition points are ‘high­ risk’ times for students and can lead to disen gage ment from the educa tional system (Benner, 2011; Taylor, 1991). This in turn can lead to a drop in grades and to poor long­ term outcomes, such as social exclu sion and poor mental health (Aronson, Quinn and Spencer, 1998; Henderson and Dweck, 1990). In this chapter, we outline and eval u ate an uncer tainty-iden tity (Hogg, 2000, 2007, 2012) model of educa tional trans ition. We propose that trans itions are asso ci ated with signi fic ant self-uncer tainty – that is, students can feel uncer tain about them­ selves, their social groups and their compet ence in new learn ing envir on ments (Arnett, 1999). These self­ uncer tain ties motiv ate indi vidu als to seek out and affil i ate with groups that are partic u larly well suited for uncer tainty reduc tion. Commonly, these are cohes ive groups with clear norms prescrib ing beha viour (Hogg, 2014). However, not all cohes ive groups value educa tion. In fact, some such groups promote goals that de­ prior it ise educa tional goals in favour of other activ it ies (e.g. sport, party ing). Although affil i ation with such groups may reduce self­ concep tual uncer tainty and provide indi vidu als with other bene fits of group member ships, conform ity to anti­ educa tional norms could comprom ise a student’s success in his or her new learn ing envir on ment. We provide evid ence for this model in a sample of students trans ition ing to univer sity and discuss the implic a tions for learn ing inter ven tions, emphas ising the poten tial bene fits of foster ing cohes ive groups with pro­ educa tion norms.