The paper "Relational Integration in Schools Through Seating Assignments" of Márta Radó and Károly Takács has been published on Journal Artificial Societies and Social Simulation.
Available online: DOI: 10.18564/jasss.4115
Traditional desegregation policies have improved but not fully solved the problems associated with the reproduction of inequalities and interracial prejudice in schools. This is partly because social networks are inherently segregated within integrated schools and the benefits of contact have not fully materialized. Therefore, new kinds of policies are needed to further improve the situation. This paper investigates the consequences and efficiency of seating arrangements on academic outcomes and prejudice using an agent-based model that reflects real-life asymmetries. We model interpersonal dynamics and study behavior in the classroom in the hypothetical case of a single teacher who defines students’ seating arrangements. The model incorporates the mechanisms of peer influence on study behavior, on attitude formation, and homophilous selection in order to depict the interrelated dynamics of networks, behavior, and attitudes. We compare various seating arrangement scenarios and observe how GPA distribution and level of prejudice changes over time. Results highlight the advantages and disadvantages of seating strategies. In general, more heterogeneous deskmate pairs lead to a lower level of inequality and prejudice in the classroom, but this strategy does not favor talent management. Further, we evaluate outcomes compared to the absence of external intervention whereby students choose their own deskmates based on homophilous selection. Our model takes into account the fact that homophilous selection may be distorted due to the ‘Acting White’ phenomenon and pre-existing prejudice. Accounting for these factors implies slower convergence between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
Keywords: Deskmates, Academic Performance, Intervention, Social Networks, Prejudice, Acting White