04 SES 13 A, Students with SEN at High Risk: The Link between Social Participation and Psychosocial Outcomes
European education, e.g., in England, Austria and the Netherlands but also education in the USA, is becoming more and more inclusive. The aim of inclusion consists not only in placing all children in mainstream classes but also in ameliorating social participation of students with and without SEN. In the context of inclusive education, social participation seems to be an important factor for the outcomes and effects of inclusion, therefore, this topic has reached a very prominent position in the educational inclusion debate in recent years. While literature reviews (Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl & Petry, 2013; Koster, Nakken, Pijl, & van Houten, 2009) showed different key themes of social participation (friendships/relationships, interactions/contacts, acceptance by classmates and perception of the pupil with SEN) which could be operationalized in different ways (e.g. via student or teacher questionnaires, interviews or observations). Overall, the research literature seems fairly clear that the social participation of students with SEN is quite challenging (e.g. Schwab, 2015).
The current studies focus on the social participation of Austrian, Belgian, UK and USA students with special educational needs (SEN) using different ways for assessing students’ social participation.
In the first presentation the social interactions, dynamics and friendship networks of students in four mainstream schools from USA and England are examined with a mixed methods approach, using a sequential transformative design. On the one hand 198 students from 4th and 5th grades filled out a social network questionnaire and on the other hand eight classroom teachers, four head teachers and 18 students were interviewed.
Complementary to this study, the second presentation focuses on 5th and 6th grade students with social emotional and behavioral disabilities (N = 32) from the Netherlands, investigated with semi-structured interviews. The focus will be on students’ experiences, especially on the kind of strategies they would use or are using when facing situations such as bullying and social exclusion. In the interviews the students were asked about their actual experiences and additionally, they were confronted with hypothetical situations (e.g. short stories about bullying).
The third study elucidates the link between two scales of social participation and four other factors of school-related well-being. The study is grounded on the intent of a multi-professional team to identify relevant quality indicators for inclusion in the context of a very experienced inclusive experimental school in Germany, the Laborschule Bielefeld. Over three years, an average of 294 students were surveyed on a yearly basis, representing 94.7% of all students. 9.5% of which were students with SEN. Students of both groups - on average - rated themselves high on both scales representing social participation, but no relevant differences were found. Structural equation modeling additionally showed that the social participation scales can be integrated into the broader concept of school-related well-being.
In the fourth study, social relationships in inclusive and regular classes were analyzed. Next to peer-relationships also student-teacher relationships were included in the design. 436 students from secondary schools in Austria (8th grade) participated at the longitudinal study, 8.7% were diagnosed as having SEN. Social relationships as well as symptoms of depression were assessed with student questionnaires. Results of a stepwise regression analysis show that 21% of the scores in the depression questionnaire could be explained by gender and relationships with peers and teachers. Peer relationships was the strongest predictor.
Overall, the symposium provides rich insights and allows for a more complete understanding of processes of social participation in inclusive schooling. The main results of all studies and the importance of social participation and psychosocial outcomes will be summarized and discussed, especially with regard to research and practice.
Bossaert, G., Colpin, H., Pijl, S. J., & Petry, K. (2013). Truly included? A literature study focusing on the social dimension of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17, 60-79. Koster, M., Nakken, H., Pijl, S. J., & van Houten, E. J. (2009). Being part of the peer group: A literature study focussing on the social dimension of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13, 117-140. Schwab, S. (2015d). Social dimensions of inclusion in education of 4th and 7th grade pupils in inclusive and regular classes: outcomes from Austria. Research in Developmental Disabilities. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2015.06.005
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