Diversity Seeks Organization: The Role of School Principals in the Integration of Minority Students

Agnes Tarnowski

As demographic change alters the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic makeup of schools throughout Germany, the question of integration has increasingly attracted academic and public attention. The dissertation project explores the principals’ role in integrating minority students in secondary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia by developing a theoretical framework on school organization and administration that combines concepts from integration and education research as well as organizational theory. The study answers the following questions: How do principals define integration? How do they make sense of diversity issues, such as inter-ethnic tensions among students, in their schools? Which strategies do they apply to organize the integration of minority students? To compare the integration efforts of schools, a mixed-method design is used. First, large-scale quantitative data of seventh-grade students in 39 schools is analyzed. Second, in the sequential qualitative research phase, an in-depth study is conducted at selected schools. By comparing the integration efforts of different schools, the study aims to understand the obstacles to and opportunities for integrating minority students and identifies factors contributing to the creation of culturally integrative schools.

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