Unintended Segregation in the Classroom: Disparities in Sense of Community
This presentation will summarize a body of newly-conducted research that focuses on students’ sense of community as it relates to their own ethnic group and that of others within a classroom environment. The researchers have collected these data over the past five years demonstrating that the concept of “connectedness” serves as an effective indicator of student satisfaction with their learning experience—students who are made to feel a part of a community are more satisfied with the quality of their education and tend to develop similar life goals. This most recent research, however, measures sense of community among students visa vie their classmates of the same ethnicity and those of other backgrounds. The results suggest that the construct of sense of community is helpful in establishing cultural identity; however, in some classrooms, members of specific groups do not connect to classmates outside of their own circle of ethnicity. Selected instructional approaches that students to gain a higher sense of community and a deeper sense of shared goals with all class members is possible. Accordingly, students who receive this kind of education are more likely to be accepting of their follow students and come to see diversity as a manifestation of richness of resources of their classrooms.
Keywords: Sense of Community, Classroom Climate, Unintended Segregation
Dr. Robert Lucking
Professor/Graduate Program Director, College of Education, Old Dominion University
Dr. Joan Hecht
Lecturer, College of Education, Old Dominion University