What is more important to improve the quality of schools? Lot of money? Or strong relationships between teachers, parents and students? A new study by Ohio State University researchers show that relationships at schools has more impact on improving student learning than does financial support. The results are scheduled to appear online in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk.
Social capital is the name scientists give to the network of relationships between school officials, teachers, parents and the community that builds trust among stakeholders of education. The study found that social capital had a three- to five-times larger effect than financial capital to improve learning outcomes of students.
"When we talk about why some schools perform better than others, differences in the amount of money they have to spend is often assumed to be an explanation," said Roger Goddard, co-author of the study.
"We found that money is certainly important. But this study also shows that social capital deserves a larger role in our thinking about cost-effective ways to support students, especially the most vulnerable."
The study also suggests that schools can't "buy" social capital just by spending more money. Social relationships require a different kind of investment!
Research shows that the more teachers collaborate, the more they work together on instructional improvement, the higher the test scores of their students. That's because collaborative work builds social capital that provides students with access to valuable support.
"We need intentional effort by schools to build social capital. We can't leave it to chance."