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Regular version of the site

Research Design and Methodology

The project comprises one national and several regional cohorts of school and university students (see Table 1). 

There are three types of panels. The first type is the “strategic panels”, which are currently represented by the national panel of school students. The second type of panel is “experimental panels” dedicated to methodological experiments. The experimental panels include four panels in the Yaroslavl region and the Republic of Tatarstan, which started at the beginning of the project in 2009. The final type is the “Designated purpose panels” based on the management request, and aimed at developing a reliable base for research-based policy in the sphere of education.

Like in several other longitudinal projects (e.g. TREE in Switzerland and YITS in Canada based on PISA students sample) the main study is based on the international test sample participants who are then followed up.  The main study which is called the National Panel is a follow up study of TIMSS 2011 8th grade students sample therefore it combines cross-sectional international component with a longitudinal study on a national level (about 5,000 respondents in 42 regions of Russia who were later interviewed in 9th grade and 2 years later).

In addition, the same respondents participated in the PISA 2012 study as an additional field. This makes this panel of respondents unique as their competences were measured by two international tests and now we are able to follow their occupational and educational pathways.

 General architecture Trajectories in Education and Careers

Age of participants15-1617-18181920212223242526
Sample size 33774138423936183866395437393732374335603398
Share of TIMSS-2011 sample69% 85% 87% 74% 79% 80% 76% 76% 77% 73%69%
Status of respondents9th grade students, parents11th grade students and secondary vocational schools11th grade students and secondary vocational schools1-2nd year university students3rd year university students4th year university studentsworking and 5th year university studentsworkingworkingworkingworking
















There are also several regional panel carried out in the study.  Firstly, Yaroslavl’ regions and the Republic of Tatarstan were chosen as pilot regions and panel of 9 grade students and university students of senior courses were launched there in 2009-2010. Secondly, panels of university freshmen started in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Thirdly, the studies of 2 cohorts of school students (5 and 9 graders) were integrated in the research.

The main method of data collection is self-filling of questionnaires in the presence of an employee of the educational institution or the interviewer. Other methods of data collection are also used if they appear to be more convenient for the respondents: personal interview, telephone interviews, CAWI.

Another unique feature of the project is the combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection achieved via additional in-depth interviewing of a sub set of panel participants. This design feature is based on the project’s goal to combine the traditional benefits of quantitative analysis with the advantages of cultural-oriented interpretive analysis.  This sub-program is called “Tracer Atom”.


The study is administered, integrated and operated by the Centre for Cultural Sociology and Anthropology of the Institute of Education, Higher School of Economics. The academic council of the study coordinates the process. The Centre has partnerships with several research centers and groups, as well as individual scholars. The key partner centers are the International Laboratory for Educational Policy Analysis (Institute of Education, HSE), Centre for Social and Economic Development of Schools (Institute of Education, HSE), Education as a Lifelong Process – Comparing Educational Trajectories in Modern Societies (“eduLIFE”, European University Institute, Florence, Italy), Group for Studies of Childhood (Institute of Education, HSE), Center for Cultural Sociology (Yale University, USA).

The integration of partners is structured following the thematic division of the project framework. This framework recognizes six blocks of conceptual questions. The thematic blocks are: (1) Life trajectory as “life form”; (2) Stages of typical trajectories; (3) Objective and subjective factors shaping educational trajectory; (4) Impact of education on occupational trajectory; (5) “Portrait” of a generation; (6) Social reproduction and formation of classes. The seventh element of the research tools is an extra-thematic block of life course information, which serves as a base and facilitator for all of the thematic directions.

Specialists of the Moscow Centre for Cultural Sociology (MCCS) of the Higher School of Economics coordinate the development of the methodology and instruments for the study. Since 2012, the main partner of MCCS in conducting of quantitative research is the "Public Opinion Fund" (www. fom.ru). The qualitative interviews is directly conducted by the MCCS. 


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