Source: Social Psychology of Education
Socially neglected students are those who are unnoticed by their peers. Over time, this neglect may have a negative impact on their socio-emotional development. Therefore, the present study aimed to focus on educators’ perceptions and support strategies regarding these students. Ten case studies were analyzed, in which educators reported that they had succeeded in supporting a student who was unnoticed by the peers.
It was found that prior to the support process, the educators described these students as lacking characteristics common to the peer group. Three objectives were identified in the educators’ support strategies: (1) strengthening the student in himself, (2) teaching the student social skills and (3) increasing the student’s involvement within the peer group. Success in the support process, however, was perceived by the educators as being primarily connected to achieving of the third objective. This indicates that educators attach great importance to the normative social involvement of socially neglected students. Alongside with these positive findings, some critical aspects regarding the essence of the educational support intervention and its objectives are raised.
The study is a qualitative study based on the “Learning from success” method. The study is based on semi-structured in-depth interviews.
Twenty-three educators with various roles took part in the study. The aim was to find experienced educators, so that they would be able to describe cases with different characteristics.
Three major findings emerged from this study. It was found that educators describe socially neglected students as lacking characteristics common to the peer group. Three objectives were identified in the educators’ support strategies: (1) strengthening the student in himself, (2) teaching the student social skills and (3) increasing the student’s involvement within the peer group. However, educators perceive success in the support intervention mainly in relation to the achievement of the third goal. These findings are positive in the sense that they point to practical directions for supporting these pupils within the school framework. Together with this, they raise some concerns that should be addressed in subsequent studies: Does the education system promote conformity and assimilation among socially neglected students? What about giving legitimization for diversity of social behavior among the students?
To conclude, socially neglected pupils are described in the literature as a group with low visibility. Supporting these students within the school framework is an important factor in promoting them as individuals who are involved in productive interactions in the classroom, and therefore perceive themselves to be full learners. In teacher-training programs, it is important to raise awareness of these students and their needs. In addition, there is a need to build on the support objectives and strategies which were identified in the study, to question the premises behind them and to develop and improve them. These steps are expected to allow all pupils to participate in the school practices and to develop an identity based on contribution to society and involvement in the community.