04 SES 16 A, Social Participation in the Context of Students Belonging to a Minority
It has increasingly been argued that students identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN) will particularly gain social benefits (Lindsay, 2007) by being more included in general education classrooms. Inclusive settings are seen as providing more opportunities for social participation, such as increased friendships, social interactions with peers and active participation in social and play activities (De Boer, Pijl, & Minnaert, 2010). Despite the rhetoric, there is substantial evidence to show that this distinct minority group of students predominantly remain socially excluded and are likely to have fewer friends (Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl, & Petry, 2013; Mamas, 2013). Two main research questions have been addressed: 1. What is the position of SEN students in their classroom social networks? 2. What does the structure of the network may reveal about the social participation of SEN students? This paper draws on a study conducted in three countries; USA, Cyprus, Switzerland. In particular, a critical case study design (Yin, 2017) has been adopted to examine the concept of social participation from a social network theory perspective in 6 classrooms. This study draws on the theory of social capital (Putman, 2001). A notion of social capital is that social relationships provide access to resources that can be exchanged, borrowed and leveraged to facilitate achieving goals. Therefore, classroom social networks built up through friendship ties or other relational ties may provide access to social capital. Data were collected through a social network survey and social network analysis was employed to analyze the data. In total, 112 students completed the survey across all classrooms. Conducting social network analysis has enabled for a deeper understanding of the structure of classroom social networks as well as identifying the position of individual students within the network, especially those with SEN. The findings from each case/classroom were revealing of the social participation of students identified as having SEN and provided an additional layer of understanding with regards to the social responsiveness and inclusion of each classroom. In line with previous studies on social participation of students with SEN, the position of these students in their classroom’s social networks varied but many students with SEN were found to be on the periphery of the various networks rather than at the center. However, these results cannot be generalized but can provide in-depth insights into the social participation of SEN students.
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(1), 60-79. De Boer, A., Pijl, S. J., & Minnaert, A. (2010). Attitudes of parents towards inclusive education: A review of the literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(2), 165-181. Koster, M., Pijl, S. J., Nakken, H., & Van Houten, E. (2010). Social participation of students with special needs in regular primary education in the Netherlands. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 57(1), 59-75. Lindsay, G. (2007). Educational psychology and the effectiveness of inclusive education/mainstreaming. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(1), 1-24. Mamas, C. (2013). Understanding inclusion in Cyprus. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28(4), 480-493. Putnam, R. D. (2007). E pluribus unum: Diversity and community in the twenty‐first century the 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture. Scandinavian political studies, 30(2), 137-174. Yin, R. K. (2017). Case study research and applications: Design and methods. Sage publications.
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