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Project description

Exploring the Differences in Access to Social and Cultural Capital Between Advantaged and Disadvantaged Children (a UK/USA Comparison).

Primary participants

Principal Investigators:

Professor Chris Brown, School of Education, chris.brown@durham.ac.uk

Professor Simon James, Department of English Studies,s.j.james@durham.ac.uk

 

Visiting Fellows:

Professor Alan Daly, University of California San Diego

Professor Doug Downey, Ohio State University

Professor Georgeta Ion, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

About Mind the Gap

The educational attainment gap illustrates the differences in academic outcomes attained by economically advantaged and disadvantaged children. The gap is evident when children begin school and reaches 19.3 months by the end of secondary school. The gap illustrates the importance of intervening early to attend to the learning needs of disadvantaged students.

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Rationale: The educational attainment gap is a global phenomenon, a measure of the difference in academic outcomes attained by economically advantaged and disadvantaged children. The gap illustrates the importance of intervening early to attend to the learning needs of disadvantaged students. But how best to do so? A possible answer can be found in increasing attention paid to an important precondition for effective learning: the access to social and cultural capital provided by one’s family and interpersonal connections, and the wider experiences these afford. Adopting a ‘capital shortage’ network lens helps to spotlights that children from disadvantaged backgrounds can often fail to flourish in school and beyond because the social and cultural capital they acquire through their networks can fall short, or stand in tension with, what they require to succeed both in school and in society generally. Simultaneously, meaningful access to formal and informal networks that allow children to tap into additional social and cultural capital, can enable them to realise key developmental outcomes

 

Project aims: in light of this context, the purpose of the project is to employ both capital and network theory to explore the social and cultural capital that might be accessed by advantaged and disadvantaged children and hypothesise what impact any differences will have for key skills, knowledge and behaviours required for them to flourish both in school and beyond (e.g. including engaging in acts of creativity and complex problem solving). Anticipated outputs from our project comprise:

  1. A systematically conducted literature review
  2. Two case studies of social and cultural capital networks (one based in the North East of England, the other in a school district in La Jolla, San Diego California).
  3. The generation of hypotheses in relation to the potential impacts any differences in cultural or social capital networks might have on student outcomes. We will seek to test these hypotheses in future funded studies.

Fellows: Joining the project are the following distinguished academics:

  • Professor Alan Daly, University of California San Diego, Department of Education Studies. Professor Daly’s research focuses on educational reform and policy, leadership, teacher development, equity and reducing the educational attainment gap.

  • Professor Doug Downey, Ohio State University, Department of Sociology. Professor Downey’s research is primarily motivated by questions about inequality—who gets what and why?  

  • Professor Georgeta Ion, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Department of Applied Pedagogy. Professor Daly’s research focuses on examining school and HE instructional improvement, student teacher collaboration, and leadership, as well as projects aimed at transformative research-informed educational change.