Cognitive maps in the process of transitioning development from vocational education to the labor market were formulated. Firstly, a number of definitions of cognitive maps and own (author’s) proposal of definitions are presented. Secondly, analyzes of relationships between cognitive maps, attitudes toward transition to work and characteristics of professional development and dimensions of identity development and adulthood were analyzed as determinants of the effectiveness of transitioning from education to work. Therefore, a model of relationships between variables and the tools of measurement were presented. Own (Author’s) Scale of attitudes towards transition from occupational education to the labor market was presented and used, exploring two research models.
Thirdly, the attempt was made to determine the readiness to emigrate in search for a near-preferred social environment that focuses on similar values. It was assumed that the possibility of achieving important values is judged to be higher when people in a common environment share these values (Aronson et al., 2012). Fourthly, efforts were made to indicate the applicability of the results of the research in guidance and counseling of young graduates. The scientific objectives set out in this monograph will be discussed in more detail later.
The first aim of the monograph was to present the definition of cognitive maps and to indicate the applications of cognitive map theory in various scientific disciplines that deal with the effectiveness of goal achievement. OwnAuthor’s definition of a cognitive map was also cited (Hauziński, 2010). It was noted that in the precursor definition of cognitive map proposed by Tolman (1942, 1948) the cognitive map was referred to as a system that includes targeted behaviors and "matrix of beliefs and values" and "space of behavior" which are empirically verifiable intrapsychic phenomena (Cofer and Appley, 1972). This classic definition of cognitive maps highlights the possibility to measure the intrapsychic components of the cognitive map, which have a significant impact on the behavior that is used to achieve the goals. Referring to the TOTE proposal (Miller et al., 1980) it should be noted that the cognitive map in this sense is a set of mental plans or planned operations aimed at achieving the goal. In this context there is no need for the map to induce observable behavior but to induce a person to a cognitive activity such as planning, mental exploration, thinking, and other intrapsychological activities. These cognitive map definitions allow to distinguish their content, structural and functional differences and point to the need to synthesize the cognitive map. The theory of cognitive maps was used to solve practical environmental problems and thus,it was often referred to by researchers representing the area of environmental psychology and also the disciplines related to environmental psychology such as geography, urban planning and architecture. The environmental perspective emphasizes the user's relationships with the environment with specific properties and shows their bi-directional relationship. The first type of dependence involves shaping the environment in such a way that it promotes the development and realization of the goals of its users to the optimum level. The other type of dependency is the environmental determinant of user’s behavior through the implementation of specific projects. In the former case, the behavioral and psychological characteristics of the user, such as plans, patterns of behavior or environmental knowledge, and the potential of the potential environment are predominant. In the latter case, the environmental constraints that the user is dealing with are predominant. Analyzes of these relationships allowed for indication of a number of mechanisms regulating relations and relationships between the user and his or her life environment. These include cognitive maps, environmental knowledge, patterns of behavior, patterns and representations of space, space perception, psychological climate, environmental stimulation and stress, attachment to space, space mobility, identity of space. Cognitive maps are not just representations of memories that allow their spatial location (Dows and Stea, 1977) but as an orientation structure they emphasize the sense of place and information related to it. Based on the process of cognitive mapping, they create a sense of continuity of life and allow to confirm various aspects of the identity of the person. Because the environment of human life is characterized by different aspects, such as energetic, spatial, social ones, etc., their interaction influences not only the ability to undertake diverse behaviors but also different experiences. Therefore, dependence on place, place identity, place awareness and attachment to place develop (Bow and Buys, 2003; Brickner, Kerstetter, 2000). Place identity as a place attachment involves a set of emotional relationships with a place, a set of meanings and goals important to the lives of the people (Bow and Buys, 2003). The identity of the place is the basis and component of the identity of the inhabitants, it is also an expression of the limitations of people and places that people shape when their sense of belonging to the local community increases. The cited overview of issues related to constructing and using cognitive maps and constructing spatial knowledge and patterns of behavior in space is also related to the process of identity formation. Personal identity is shaped in the process of development, inter alia with the increase of knowledge about ourselves and the physical spatial environment, about our own family and social environment, the world of occupations and the labor market. It is formed, among others, by identifying, accepting, engaging in certain areas of activity and bypassing or rejecting others.
The second scientific goal, presented in the monograph, was to analyze the relationships between identity dimensions and adulthood as structural systems that determine the effectiveness of the transition process from education to work and attachment to occupation, the effectiveness and career decision, and the attitude towards transition from education to work. The contents of one's own future are important components of identity. They are formulated in the form of personal plans, expectations and professional ideas. Until recently, professional work and the social role associated with it (doctor, miner, salesman) provided a stable characteristics of a person. From the perspective of professional development, with the rise of professional maturity and professional decision-making, the representation of the world of professions and rules governing them is crystallized. It should be added that the contemporary labor market often requires competition rather than cooperation, which contributes to the increased attention to individual benefits. Different sources of attitudes towards the social world of the profession can be found. Downs and Stea (1977) emphasized the importance of anchor points of belief, attitude and emotion in space. Thus, the place of residence and work environment constituted the stability of the self image. In times of increasing social mobility, the source of identity sustainability and self image stability is no longer the world of occupations or neighborhood and it becomes a series of psychic properties. Social identity research required the creation of complex, multi-variable empirical models. The development of computational technologies has facilitated the planning of such studies, which employ a number of variables, not just gender, age, occupation, social class, creed, nationality (Zavalloni, 1975, p. 200) but also a number of individual characteristics. On the basis of such research it became possible to measure the dimensions of subjective identities and to show the relation between elements of social identity and phenomenological components of identity (Zavalloni, 1975). This overall perspective, taking into account the impact of the social environment on a person, has resulted in categories of description and explanation of unrelated phenomena. Schemes, role learning processes and cognitive maps learning (Zavalloni, 1975, p. 201) have been identified as categories that describe the social environment. Acquisition of diagrams, learning of roles and maps proceeds without consciousness and is reflected in the content of the representation, inter alia, from the recoding process. Studying the phenomenon of recoding requires a departure from the paradigm of nomothetic knowledge for an idiopathic perspective that enables the exploration of complex cognitive processes and the reference to explanations of symbol internalization and information processing mechanisms (Newell, Simon, 1972). Gottfredson (1981) emphasized the relationship between the development of professional imagination and the development of aspirations and the development of the concept of “I”. The “I” concept was defined as an image of one's self and knowledge of who he is and who he is not. The concept of “I” is complex, diverse and coherent and allows us, basing on the knowledge of our abilities, interests, personality and social situation, to design our own desirable future. Career ideas, in turn, are generalized knowledge of the profession, the necessary personality traits, occupational tasks and the employee's lifestyle and pay (salary?). The cognitive map of occupations, on the other hand, is the sum of varied knowledge about the world of occupations, the content of the work, and typical employees. Career preferences are based on the imagery of a profession and cognitive mapping. These are rather expectations than realistic knowledge of the profession. Self-efficacy refers to how well an individual can organize and perform the required activities in prospective conditions. The future, though planned, always contains many ambiguities, opportunities and threats that can be a source of tension and fears. There are strong indications that a positive attitude towards future events and a high level of decision-making and effectiveness are important individual resources to deal with difficulties (Bandura, 2006; Bańka, 2007). The higher the rating of one's own effectiveness, the more energetic and persistent efforts are made in planning and accomplishing goals. Because knowledge and competences are achieved through continuous effort, hence every factor that leads to resignation has a detrimental effect on the development of the individual (Bandura, 1981).
According to Bandura (2006), personality is the physical and social characteristics of an individual, which also includes the identity and style of action. In spite of the conflict of personal power and collective social structure, individual people shape social systems and these systems re-order and influence human life. People are able to deal with difficulties thanks to cognitive self-regulation and the ability to create futuristic perceptions that affect their present. They can design, evaluate and modify alternative directions of action to achieve the intended effects and to overcome the effects of the environment. Being effective means individual impact on one's own functioning within life limits. From this perspective, personal influence is part of the causal structure. People can self-organize, be proactive, regulate their situation, reflect on themselves and evaluate their chances of life and work (Bandury, 2006). Bynner's (1998) study showed that the better the grades the college student received, the shorter it took him to find and get a job. This relationship can be explained by referring to two theoretical positions, firstly to the theory of human capital, which associates school skills with being successful on the labor market and secondly with the theory of social exclusion, which indicates that in poorer and less educated families the social structure is “inherited” (Becker, 1964). The importance of education for success in the process of taking up a job means not only the completion of vocational courses butalso a great deal of linguistic and mathematical skills. At this point, the concept of social exclusion arises, suggesting that the factors of origin and early school achievement are largely related to social and cultural capital and positively correlate with employability (Bourdieu, Passeron, 1977).
The cognitive mapping model of transitioning from the education system to work presents mechanisms which, in line with the theoretical concepts of cognitive mapping and the concepts of identity development and development itself, can facilitate the psychological explanation of the gradual exit of young adults into the labor market. Cognitive maps, in that meaning, are the structure of the psychological, subjective, motivational and efficiency factors that make up the resources held by people moving from the education system to work. Involvement of young adults in transition from the education system to work is linked to their attitude towards learning and work. This attitude is shaped by social boundaries, family and school, and through personal educational experiences and decides on the level of self-motivation, motivation and determination in achieving good academic results and in building social support networks. The knowledge of the labor market conditions is reflected by the level of realism in its perception and in evaluating the possibilities of achieving career goals. The phenomenon known as the "shock of reality" shows the vast divergence between the realities of the labor market and the unrealistic image of youth. Strykowska (2010) discussed the mechanisms of change and resistance to it, distinguishing the process of change from the transitioning process. An essential element of any transition is the sense of loss resulting from breaking bonds and commitments with what was (?). Strykowska (2010, p. 15) emphasizes that abandoning old reality and identity is associated with a number of threats. Referring to graduates, one should point out that they are no longer students, that they part with many aspects of their current identity, and try to learn new social roles and set new goals in the process of constructing a professional identity. Transition from school to work is one of the important processes for the completion of close and distant goals and construction of plans for their completion. In particular, it forces the answer to the questions "who do I want to be" and "where do I want to live". The answer to the first question requires reflection on yourself and your surroundings, your roles, your resources, your esteemed values and your outlook. The answer to the second question requires reflection on the desired image of self in a relative social and geographical context. Young people are engaging in activities aimed at finding a place in the adult world, which once meant employment stability and economic stabilization that enabled self-fulfillment of adulthood. To this end, they refer to their own experiences, knowledge of the rules of social life but also explore the future, planning and setting tasks and distant goals. But beyond these actions, which can be called realistic strategies for achieving the objectives, the process of transition involves a number of mechanisms that are not necessarily available to consciousness, self-reflection and possible correction.
In the cognitive mapping study of the transition situation from the education system to work, the stages of theoretical construction of the relationships between variables (MAW1 and MAW2) and data collection and analysis of results were separated. At the data collection stage, a general manual and a series of questionnaires were used. Scales used to examine attitudes toward transitions from occupational education to the labor market, dimensions of development of identity and sense of subjective adolescence as well as scales of decision-making and self-efficacy in career, the scale of attachment to the profession and a portrait value questionnaire were used. In turn, the data analysis stage included the analysis of the results obtained in individual questionnaires and then the analysis of the relationships presented as the theoretical models of assumed MAW1 and MAW2 dependencies and finally the analysis of the results obtained from the study using the portrait questionnaire.
In the monograph Cognitive Maps in the process of developmental transitions from vocational education to the labor market own construction of the Scale of attitude towards the transition from the vocational education system to work (PEZP) and its use in two research models were recalled. The answer below the average Scale or subscale PEZP means a negative attitude towards the requirements of the transition to work. It presents a high level of anxiety and a low level of self-efficacy assessment in coping with work. A higher than average score is a positive assessment of one's own potential and a belief in self-efficacy in coping with challenges and shows positive emotional attitudes. Elements of generalized attitudes toward transition refer to the ease of entry into the labor market, their own resources for coping with this task, social support and the assessment of knowledge and experience acquired during studies and labor market conditions. PEZP Scale Theorems were grouped in four collections that were named, thus defining the names of the PEZP Scale subscales. The biggest part of the variance is explained by the first subscale called "exploration and evaluation of own resources in the transition to the labor market." It contains six items describing the assessment of one's own abilities and employability as well as the resources resulting from family support. The claims also refer to the perceived situation of graduates in the labor market. The second subscale “compromises? in the entry of the labor market" entered? the list of three issues assessing the situation of the threat of unemployment, the risk of unsatisfactory work and the experience gained in the labor market. The third subscale "assessment of barriers to entry (to enter the labor market?) into the labor market" shows the attitude to work under aspirations and the level of risk aversion to every job and professional commitment. The fourth subclause includes the attitudes towards employment decisions, the risk assessment of employment as an erroneous decision and Level of determination in search of permanent employment.