Lifelong Learning Programme

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Homepage > Training > Understanding pupils

The module focuses on the psychological aspects to be addressed and taken into account to understand the pupils’ personal aptitudes and characteristics, to identify those aspects that must be considered to personalize their education path, motivation to study and the risk factors that can lead to the decision of abandoning school.

Understanding pupils

Table of Content

Chapter 1: Introduction
Understanding pupils during different steps of school: an European overview.
One of the main tasks in the process of teaching and counselling is to help pupils to understand them-selves, i.e., to develop the pupils' capacity of self-cognition/ self – awareness.. In career planning self-cognition means learning to recognize personal characteristics relevant to the career, recognize social environment and social roles.

These competences are developed at all levels of secondary education and vocational training, but due to the specific needs and experiences determined by the pupils' age, different aspects of the competences are emphasized at each level.

At the level of primary education personal individuality, uniqueness, variety of personal characteristics and hobbies are emphasized, without any links of these characteristics to the career. Capacity to know your qualities and acknowledge your originality is developed via many activities of primary school; the most important among them – lessons and activities of non-formal education. At primary school the objective is for the pupils to know their closest social environment and identify themselves within it. So far there is no focus on links to career. At this stage it is essential to acquire a basic understanding of social contacts.

Adolescence is a very important period in terms of career. During this period children start a more deliberate preparation for their career, define more specific career goals.

At the level of the first phase of basic education the variety of social contacts and dynamics of social roles are emphasized. Pupils analyse networks of personal contacts, nature of social contacts, their own social roles and those of their relatives. These competences are developed during the lessons and activities of non-formal education. Development of the objective self-cognition, revealing of interests, aptitudes and values is emphasized at the level of basic education. At this particular phase pupils have to make their first career decisions, which are directly related to the knowledge of personal characteristics, skills, aptitudes, values, career interests and present competences.

It is important for the pupils to have a formulated and justified psychological portrait of themselves at the end of the second phase of basic education (10th grade), which includes skills, personal traits, values, interests and competences. The level of secondary education and vocational training involves deepening of the understanding of diversity and dynamics of social contacts, variation of social roles in the context of life and career.

The foundations of career self-management skills (for example decision making, self-awareness, self-confidence) are laid at an early age. However career education and guidance in the primary school are limited or non-existent, and little systematic provision is made to explore the world of work. Career education is increasingly present in the curriculum at the lower secondary school level, either as a separate subject or included in another subject. In lower secondary school personal career guidance frequently targets pupils at key decision making points (when they are choosing subjects; prior to the end of compulsory schooling; at the transition to upper secondary level or to work).

Some countries have developed strategies to help students integrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning work that they have learnt from different teachers. These include the use of portfolios, where students record their career-related learning and experiences. Such a portfolio is referred to as a ‘job passport’ (Austria), an ‘education log’ (Denmark), and a career-choice passport’ (Germany). It can help students to manage their own learning and see its relationship with their career plans.

In Finland, teachers and other partners have an operational description of their respective activities so that delivery of services is guaranteed. This ensures an improvement of the minimum-level service provision, while at the same time promoting institutional responsibility for career education and guidance at the school level.

Several countries are encouraging schools to develop partnerships in the provision of career guidance. Often such partnerships include calling on significant stakeholders – such as parents, alumni, and representatives from the business community, trade unions, and non-government organizations – to make an input into the career education programmes.
Online Resources
  • This website provides information, counselling and guidance services helping persons in different age categories to choose their own pursuits in the area of education, training and employment and to undertake an active role in the development of their own professional career.
  • The portal provides information, advice and methodical assistance for teachers, pupils and parents in career education and guidance.
  • MOKSLAI.ltThe article outlines psychological aspects of adolescent social-cognitive development.
  • The Importance of Getting to Know Your StudentsThe article outlines the importance of understanding pupils as unique individuals.
  • The Secret Weapon: Getting to Know Your Students / Education worldThe article highlights the importance of empathy and care needed in understanding pupils.

Table of Content

Comments on this section

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Date: 2016.09.13

Posted by Aneta - Lithuania

It provides a lot of useful information that is essential towards pupils’ understanding.

Date: 2016.09.13

Posted by Beata Višniak-Bakšienė - Lithuania

This section contains specific information that makes it possible to define the classes’ structure, provides future activities and direction.

Date: 2016.08.03

Posted by L. Barrada - Spain

For the e-learning package, I am sure I will use some of the chapters in the near future. I keep them to use them with my own resources.

Date: 2016.07.10

Posted by Palumbo Luana - Italy

This section is very important because it gives all the tools to understand the pupils’ needs, the level of their skills, their dreams about a future job. For teachers it is also useful because it offers a series of tests to know and exalt the pupils’ potentialities. Teachers can also inform pupils about the concrete possibilities of working and living abroad.
The contents of the package are undoubtedly very useful, because they permit the deep knowledge of all the possibilities offered by the labour market.
In particular the “Job profiles section offers an exhaustive explanation of how the labour market requests new profiles or is modifying the existing ones., Finally it will be important to improve the section of test so students can start to think about their skills and aptitudes

Date: 2016.07.07

Posted by I. Jacquard - France

The contents are really interesting and there are a lot of online resources.

Date: 2016.07.06

Posted by Emanuela Gheorghiu - Romania

The first module Understanding pupils highlights important theoretical psychological aspects which should be considered in order to understand and identify students’ personal aptitudes and characteristics; these aspects are useful when personalizing students’ education pathway towards the most suitable career and life style for them.
The last chapter strikes a balance between theory and practice by providing teachers and counsellors with best practices, experiences and success stories related to career planning, guidance and counselling.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.