How do different schools deal with cultural diversity and (why) does it matter for achievement gaps?
Many countries face severe ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in education. Combining recent insights from educational sciences and social-cultural psychology, this project formulates a novel route to understand and tackle these disparities - a route that studies how a school’s diversity model (SDM; i.e., approach to diversity) impacts achievement via psychosocial mechanisms at the teacher and pupil levels. Specifically, we aim to identify which school characteristics (school composition and SDM) relate to minority and low SES pupils’ academic achievement (objective 1), and which psychosocial mechanisms account for this link (objective 2).
Concretely, we propose to study these questions with both quantitative and qualitative techniques in 10-12 year olds since this is the age when children start to form academic as well as socio-cultural identities. Firstly, we will examine to what extent the three SDMs that dominate the literature – i.e., assimilation, colorblindness, multiculturalism – are present at Flemish primary schools across different domains (such as linguistic and religious diversity) and how they interplay with school composition variables (WP1). Subsequently, we will study how SDMs relate to pupils’ academic self-concept (WP2) and teacher beliefs (WP3). Finally, we will test our full theoretical model on how school characteristics relate to academic achievement via the mediating role of pupils’ academic self-concept and teacher beliefs (WP4).