Education and Inequality

As you have seen from the readings and discussions, and most likely, your personal experiences, schooling has a profound effect on life chances and economic outcomes. In turn, educational experiences are often shaped by such factors as race, social class, ethnicity and gender in any national context and vary dramatically across the globe. In addition, family and socioeconomic backgrounds both affect academic achievement.

Sociologists examine both school and non-school factors to explain educational inequality and educational achievement gaps. School factors include curriculum and pedagogy, teacher quality, school funding, tracking and ability grouping, and other school and country-level factors. Non-school factors include poverty, community, family involvement, peer-group interactions, and health and environmental factors. Although some scholars stress school-factors and others emphasize the relative role of non-school factors, it appears that that the interaction of both sets of factors captures the conditions of inequality in education and explains differences in educational achievement among groups. 

For this final project, you will write an essay on education and inequality, focusing explicitly on the school and non-school factors and their interplay. The goal of this essay is to bring the theoretical and conceptual strands of a sociological investigation of education together in examining a particular instance in which the interdependencies of these factors are apparent to you, meaningful, and can be understood in terms of larger historical and social processes. As you write, keep your singular goal in mind to showcase your new mastery of the material we covered in this class and to offer your thoughts on any particular aspect of inequality in education where these links and connections are evident to you. Your essay does not need to cover all aspects of inequality in education, of course, but rather should focus on a more narrow, specific instance or example of inequality in education.

Your final write-up should be at 4 to 5 pages long and include a bibliography of at least 3 scholarly sources (from our reading list or beyond). I will expect this reflection paper to be well written, spellchecked and checked for grammar.

Make sure you include a bibliography for the sources you reviewed and cite. Please be very particular about attributing your sources if you are using somebody elses words in your essay, you have to give credit. All rules for plagiarism apply.

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