Social Networks and Schooling Outcomes among Refugees and Host Students
Daniel Shephard

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Teachers College, Columbia University

Primary Discipline

More than 12 million refugee children have been forced to leave their homes and disrupt their education as they seek refuge in new and sometimes hostile places. In order to provide these children with an education, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners have promoted a policy of including refugees in public schools since 2012. This goal of inclusion within the public-school system manifests itself in distinct institutional structures, sometimes involving separate schools, shifts, or classrooms for refugee students. Little is known about the individual and social effects of these institutional structures on students from both the refugee and the host communities. Jordan provides a unique case to investigate this phenomenon because over 130,000 refugees attend public schools in different institutional settings, including integrated, double-shift, and camp-based schools. During a full academic semester, this longitudinal study will combine in-depth qualitative observations and a 3-wave sociometric survey to explore how institutional forms of refugee student inclusion affect the social and academic trajectories of both refugee and host-community students. The findings of this study will contribute to the literature on social cohesion, education in emergencies, and social network formation during early adolescence.
About Daniel Shephard
Daniel Shephard is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative and International Education with a specialization in Sociology at Teachers College, Columbia University. His current research focuses on how school structures and social networks influence students’ social and academic trajectories within contexts of large-scale forced displacement. His dissertation will investigate how the structures of schools hosting refugee students shape interpersonal networks and how those structures and networks influence academic outcomes and social cohesion among both local and displaced students in Jordan.Daniel has experience working on dozens of educational research projects using qualitative and quantitative methods. He collaborated on a multi-year qualitative investigation of teacher and learner well-being in the context of accelerated education programs for displaced students in Uganda and South Sudan; a qualitative study of learners’ experiences of vocational training and apprenticeship programs in Nigeria; a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a psychosocial intervention with refugee and local learners in a basic numeracy and literacy program in Lebanon; and educational research in China, Rwanda, Tajikistan, the United States, Yemen, and other countries. He has published in Educational Researcher, Child and Youth Services Review, International Journal of Social Welfare, Global Social Welfare, Governance, the Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, and has an accepted paper at the Journal on Education in Emergencies. In addition to his research experience, Daniel spent three years as a teacher. He holds a Master of Science in Evidence-Based Social Intervention from the University of Oxford and a BA from Gordon College.

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