SENTIRSI FORTI [feeling strong], a project that aims to overcome the difficulties in restarting the school: the importance of academic self-concept in junior high school students after the COVID-19 emergency, is funded by the CARITRO Foundation.

Recent studies on the educational impact of the school lockdown caused by COVID-19 have identified the average delay of a student in at least two months (Burgess & Sievertsen, 2020) compared to the normal development across a school year. The above is the default delay for each student in basic skills (reading and writing and math skills) and in the related socio-emotional skills, in periods of lockdown, if no actions are taken (before, during, and after) in order to contain the crisis and at the same time to enhance students' cognitive and psychosocial resources.

The aims of the project are:

  • strengthen the concept of self, in order to allow direct and indirect effects on the student's overall educational success and on the ability to define one's own identity;
  • promote an improvement of cognitive skills (reading and comprehension of the text, mathematical skills), restructuring, in students, levels of academic self-concept put to the test during the school lockdown, to optimize the functionality of this individual resource, that has a fundamental role in subsequent school careers and the general development of the person;
  • allow a motivational "restart": indeed, the self-concept alone does not increase school grades but can have positive motivational effects in the study and commitment to school activities;
  • support teachers in the management (both at individual and class level) of the academic self-concept of their students.

The recipients of this research are: junior high school teachers and students of a group of Trentino comprehensive institutes.

The teachers will participate to:

  • interventions concerning academic self-concept, short introductory courses to the topic, accompanying activities (seminars and/or webinars on operational guides with teaching methodologies on academic self-concept and the management of students' non-cognitive resources), and to guided experimentation in the classroom.

Students will experience the activities proposed by the teachers (supported in this by experts from the Department of Education and Culture of the PAT and by an expert in pedagogy) at the personal (e.g., socio-emotional skills), class (cooperation, socialization, positive feedback, formative assessment, peer tutoring), cognitive (promotion of skills in Italian and Mathematics), and non-cognitive (ability to metabolise negative judgments, resilience) level.

The project coordinator is Franco Fraccaroli (Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science). Francesco Pisanu (Department of Education and Culture, Evaluation Office of School Policies of the Autonomous Province of Trento) also participates in the project.