Preventing Social Isolation and Segregation in Schools

Small Group Project 2024-25


Rustamdjan Hakimov, Fanny Landaud & Camille Terrier
Small Group Project 2024-25

The social networks in which we participate are strongly segregated by ethnicity, income, gender, age, profession, or religion, among other divides (Jackson, 2021, Currarini, Jackson and Pin, 2009; McPherson et al., 2001). Recent evidence shows that social isolation and segregation starts from an early age (Bhargava, 2022), and can have large and lasting effects on individual chances in life as people depend on their networks for information, opportunities, and norms of behaviour (Rubineau and Fernandez, 2013; Zeltzer, 2020; Banerjee et al., 2019). 

This project sheds light on the role played by schools and teachers in enlarging and diversifying student social networks, and in forming non-cognitive skills, such as cooperation and confidence. In partnership with the French Ministry of Education, we will test whether a peer-learning pedagogy that encourages frequent interactions between students aged 9 to 11 in primary school leads to more dense and diverse social networks than more traditional top-down pedagogies based on teacher-student interactions. The peer-learning platform is based on the three pillars of collaborative projects, in-person peer help, and in-person peer evaluations.

We will use a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) to analyze whether interactions with a greater and more diverse fraction of classmates reduces social isolation and segregation, and whether it affects student self-esteem, wellbeing, and victimization. To measure the effects of the peer-learning intervention, we have designed a survey to measure three levels of student network (work networks, play networks, and friendship networks). We then tie this to outcomes of cooperation, tolerance, self-esteem, classroom violence, and general wellbeing. These are all fundamental outcomes that matter tremendously for students and their success in school, in the labour market, and in life. Thanks to the involvement of the French Ministry of Education, the project has the capacity to become a flagship education project with important policy implications.

Contacting Fellows

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