Theses Doctoral

Refugee- and Host-Community Students’ Experiences of Three Models of Refugee School Inclusion in Jordan: Integration, Cohesion, and Belonging

Shephard, Daniel David

Tens of millions of children live in contexts of large-scale forced displacement, resulting in negative impacts on their access to and experience of schooling. To address their educational needs, international and national education actors have increasingly committed to educational policies supporting the inclusion of refugee students in the national public-school systems of host countries since 2012. The three primary models of refugee school inclusion include (1) refugee students studying the host-country’s curriculum with national staff but in geographically separate spaces (geographic separation); studying in the same system and in the same physical schools but with refugees concentrated at a different time of day (temporal separation); studying together with host-community students in the same system, same place, and during the same time (normal inclusion). However, very little is known about how refugee- and host-community students experience these models of refugee school inclusion. This dissertation provides one of the first analyses of students’ experiences of all three models of refugee school inclusion.

I investigate the ways that the models of refugee school inclusion influence the relational integration of Jordanian and non-Jordanian sixth graders, their development of social capital through channels of social influence and cohesion, and their school belonging. I investigate these experiences using a longitudinal, mixed methods, multi-site case study in Jordan that deploys a three-wave longitudinal student survey including the collection of sociocentric social network data (n = 387), over 90 hours of qualitative school observations, qualitative student interviews (n = 20), and a cross-sectional teacher survey (n = 34). I combine multiple analytical approaches, including social network analysis, hierarchical linear models, and multicycle qualitative coding.

In the first paper (Chapter 4), I find that students’ relational integration is higher among students attending the afternoon shift at temporal separation schools—where non-Jordanians are concentrated in the afternoon hours of the school—in contrast to students attending either the morning shift at temporally separated schools or morning shifts at normal inclusion schools. I also find that more heterogenous schools experience more integration and that Jordanians are more integrated than non-Jordanians. In the next paper (Chapter 5), I demonstrate the large impact that students have on each other’s attitudes towards diversity in support of social cohesion via their relational networks focused on helping with schoolwork or spending time outside of school. I also find that differential social influencing patterns between Jordanians and non-Jordanians risk increasing polarization and stratifying access to social capital. In the last paper (Chapter 6), I show that students attending schools that are geographically separated in Za’atari refugee camp have the highest sense of school belonging in terms of students’ relationships with teachers, schools, and learning. This is true even when comparing Syrian students at camp-based schools with Jordanian students at normal inclusion schools.

This dissertation shows that refugee education models of temporal separation and geographic separation may at times result in more integration, belonging, and higher school quality compared to placing all students with refugee backgrounds in normal inclusion schools where they attend a morning shift. This dissertation also shows the risk of over-relying on one or two studies or outcomes of a model of refugee school inclusion in order to determine how desirable it is. More than anything, this dissertation demonstrates how little we still understand about how policies of refugee school inclusion relate to students’ experiences and the need for more research on these mechanisms for both refugee- and host-community students.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Comparative and International Education
Thesis Advisors
Mendenhall, Mary
Bearman, Peter Shawn
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 10, 2023