Students belonging and participation in Social Education

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


The Danish educational system is associated with equal access to education and a high educational mobility, and all students are entitled to receive state grants during their education. As a part of the Danish educational system, the educational program for a Bachelor Degree in Social Education is characterized by a very high educational mobility which is reflected in the fact that the majority of the students come from lower economic background and have parents with low educational degrees. Despite the equality discourse circulating in the educational program for a Bachelor Degree in Social education, we are witnessing an uneven distribution of belonging and participation among the students. We approach diversity as a question of belonging for all students. Following this, the longitudinal study is based on the research question: How to produce more diverse educational settings and a more even distribution of belonging and participation?
The longitudinal study of students´ participation and belonging draws on studies that conceptualize students’ participation and processes of in/exclusion in educational settings as a matter of belonging. From other studies we know that educational and pedagogical practices that enhance students ´sense of belonging and ´connection´, are crucial for the diversity dimension within the educational setting (Thomas 2015). In youth studies, belonging refer to young peoples´ social and emotional work in relation to connect to people, places and issues that matters to them (Cuervo & Wyn 2014). The concept of belonging is both a personal, intimate feeling and an orientation toward the surrounding places and social settings (Antonsich 2010). In relation to educational settings, Gravett & Ajjawi (2021) emphasize belonging as a phenomenon intertwined with processes of identities and learning and as a phenomenon unfolding in relation to the academic content, the social relations in classroom and the places of campus.
The study is also grounded in poststructuralist and feminist gender and intersectionality studies (Butler 1993, Davies 2006, Staunæs 2003, Kofoed 2004, Wetherell 2008) that pay attention to how the construction of gendered, racialized, ethnicized, and classed differences and identities are being regulated and negotiated in the everyday life in different social settings – i.e., educational settings. Drawing on this theoretical perspective we think of students´ sense of belonging and participation as intertwined with social cultural categories - such as gender, ethnicity, and social background - and the way social categories intersect and affect each other in the educational setting and classroom culture. The interplay between different social categories and the impact on students´ belonging and participation is related to the cultural practices in classroom. Social categories work as ´tools´ by which students (and teachers) are dis/connecting to - and in- and excluding - other students and produces the criteria for what is recognized as appropriate student and inappropriate student. In that sense social categories and the intersection between social categories effect differentiation and difference-producing practices in the classroom culture and the possibility for belonging and participation.
The presentation will present some preliminary findings from the qualitative parts of the study conducted during the students first year at the Social Education programme. The presentation is based on three themes: 1) group work, 2) Student participation, 2) the framework and structures of the education.
Methods/methodology (up to 400 words)
The paper draws on a longitudinal study of students´ participation and belonging in the educational program for a Bachelor Degree in Social Education that lasts 3,5 year. The longitudinal study is conducted at University College Copenhagen from 2022 to 2026. The study combines classroom ethnographic study and qualitative interviews with a survey study and an intervention study. The design of the survey study and the intervention study will be based on the findings from the qualitative part of the study (classroom ethnographic study and qualitative interviews). In the classroom ethnographic study 15-20 students, and their classmates, are followed during the 3, 5 years. The classroom ethnographic study mixes participation observation in classroom with qualitative interviews with the students. The interviews are carried out every year during the students ‘ education. As a way of studying processes of belonging the ethnographic classroom study is zooming in on the student’s participation strategies, positioning, negotiations, dis/identifications to other students and how these student performances intertwined with social categories.
Since the data from the study is conducted during the students first year at the Social Education programs, are the findings we present preliminary. In the study, we operate with a number of categories that we continuously discuss, refine and adjust. However, there are three themes that are interesting to delve into and discuss with colleagues. The three themes are : 1) Group work, 2) Student participation, 2) The framework and structures of the education. A very large part of the education is organized as group work, and the students spend a lot of time and energy on participating in groups and getting into groups. The group work allows different positions, and the students are at stake in both academic and social time-lapsed ways. The students participate and do not participate in different ways, in the teaching, in the group work, and in the social life among fellow students. The students take and are offered different positions and forms of participation that are linked, for example, to the talented white woman with high study intensity, the non-participating weak student in the periphery, students with minority backgrounds who sit with outerwear and who orient towards fellow students with minority backgrounds. Finally, the classrooms and the way the education is organized have an impact on the students' belonging, and the opportunity to create a connection between study, social life and private life. The training emerges with white walls, long hallways, locals that are changing and with trandomly set tables and chairs. Organizations with changing teachers with different themes. Teaching at changing times that challenges preparation and work commitments

Antal sider3
StatusUdgivet - 2023


  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv
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  • Undersøgelsesdesign, teori og metode