Using Stories to fight Prejudice: Linking Research and Educational Practice

Added by: A. Nozdrovická, 17.6.2019, 517 visits


On Thursday, 13 June 2019, the closing event of the project APVV 14-0531 INTERMIN took place at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the Comenius University in Bratislava (FSES). The Institute for Research in Social Communication of SAS and FSES cooperated on the project in 2015-19. The workshops were attended by over 50 teachers, representatives of NGOs, academics dedicated to the multicultural education, as well as representatives of state institutions such as the State School Inspectorate or the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Government for Roma Communities.

The main objective of the project was to create and experimentally test educational tools that are based on peer stories and aim to reduce prejudice against the Roma and other stigmatized minorities. These activities can help teachers in primary schools dealing with the topic of stereotypes and intergroup relations. The project is exceptional by linking expertise in basic research with NGOs and educational practice. It is also special in the Slovak context in that it offers educational tools the effectiveness of which has been rigorously empirically tested, and that draw on recent findings in social psychology research.

The main experimental testing was carried out in spring 2018. In seven primary schools we worked with 482 7th and 8th grade pupils. Classes in each school were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Pupils in both groups completed the questionnaire 5-10 days prior to the activities and 5-10 days after the last intervention. Questionnaires surveyed attitudes towards Roma and other groups (refugees, Muslims, blacks, Hungarians, people with disabilities), as well as trust, social distance, perceived anxiety and behavioral intentions towards the Roma. We also asked about the frequency and quality of direct and extended contact, and the school and classroom normative climate to promote tolerant intergroup relations.

In addition to the questionnaire, pupils from the classes in the experimental group also completed three interventions, which consisted of 45-minute group activities carried out once a week. Activities were devoted to solving the problem of the relationship of a Roma boy with a non-Roma girl, working with unfinished stories of young people of different origins and analyzing a short video on the life experience of a Roma girl. All stories used are authentic.

Working with peer stories has reduced social distance, increased confidence and strengthened the positive behavioral intentions towards the Roma in our sample. Interventions have also improved attitudes towards secondary outgroups (black people, Hungarians, people with disabilities), but we have not witnessed the secondary transfer of positive attitudes to some other groups that have not been explicitly mentioned in the activities (refugees and Muslims). We also failed to reduce the anxiety that some pupils felt in relation to other groups. The effectiveness of the intervention has been influenced by the overall school normative climate, in particular by applying standards that promote tolerance and respect in school life.

In addition, in collaboration with Finnish and Italian colleagues, we worked with peer stories to reduce prejudice against immigrants, and tested the effects of reading literary fiction - specifically, the stories about Harry Potter - for reducing prejudice. Overall, nearly 900 pupils from 16 Slovak primary schools participated in the experiments. In addition to scientific studies, the project outputs involve two methodological manuals for teachers. They are available on the project website We organized the seminar in collaboration with the Milan Šimečka Foundation, which has been dealing with issues of cultural diversity in education for nearly 30 years.

Barbara Lášticová

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Andrej Findor a Barbara Lášticová vedú workshop.
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Účastníčky workshopu pracujú na zadaní.
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Metodická príručka pre učiteľov a učiteľky