Page: 147-166 Author: BUCHTÍK, M. Key words: social cohesion, solidarity, school class, measurement, index, reliability, validity
In this article we present a simply and widely applicable tool for the primary diagnosis of the cohesion of classes. The article explains the theoretical grounding of the instrument in a multidisciplinary approach and its use in practice, and above all offers a wide-ranging discussion of its validity and reliability. The outcome of this discussion is a battery of ten statements that can be used by themselves or as part of more extensive survey, or as a starting point for more comprehensive work with the class collective.
An interdisciplinary approach has been adopted the theoretical framework, and so there is discussion of the contributions of authors not just from the field of education, but also from sociology, social psychology, social dynamics and psychotherapy. We indicate parallels between the different approaches.
On the basis of this discussion and comparison with other concepts we chose for our research survey the multidimensional concept developed by Ade Kearns and Ray Forrest, and first published by these authors in 2000. They define five domains through which cohesion can be measured: common values, social order and control, social solidarity, social capital and networks, identity and belonging. Each domain has certain characteristics, from which we chose those relevant to the investigation of cohesion in school collectives. The analytical part of this work is based on the research survey, “Cohesion and Solidarity in Class Collectives” (n=465). The survey was conducted at the gymnasium (grammar school) Postupická 3150, Praha 4. In the first step of the analysis, we used confirmation factor analysis to test the validity of the theoretical model. Then, on the basis of objective premises and analysis of the reliability of the scale, we define an abbreviated ten-element model to identify the level of social cohesion in class collectives. This simplified model is derived from the original more complex model, with retention of the equal representation of the different domains. The high level of reliability of the scale is additionally demonstrated. We tested out its internal and external validity and can confidently assert that the model (set of questions) will be useful for further research.
The index may therefore be used for the purposes of measuring social cohesion in class collectives. It does not, however, reliably measure the individual dimensions. This is only possible using the original index with the complete range of components. For the sake of completeness and transparency, at the end of the article we provide an overview of the statements included in research questionnaire (see table).
PhDr. Martin Buchtík, Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Social Sciencies, Institute of Sociological Studies, U Kříže 8, 158 00 Praha 5 – Jinonice, Czech republic; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org