Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Social Distance--A Class Demonstration

When I first entered teaching (before the widespread use of the internet), I read about Emory Bogardus' research on social distance (see for a more complete definition).  I was very intrigued by what I read and ended up creating my own version of it in order to measure the collective attitudes in my own classes.  What groups would face acceptance or rejection by my classes?

I wanted to take the idea and modify it to gather an actual score.  Below are links to both additional resources as well as the questionnaire itself and my score sheet for tabulation.

This is the link to the actual scale (this is a .docx version so you can modify it as you see fit).

From a presentation I did in 1995:

Directions for Social Distance Scale
 Overview:       This survey is called the "Social Distance Scale" which was originally created by Emory Bogardus in the 1930's and modified for use at Munster High School by Charles Schallhorn in 1988 and in subsequent years.  Social Distance is the degree of sympathetic understanding we have for a member of another ethnic or cultural group.  By allowing ourselves to be placed in a situation where we would be living or working closer with a person different from ourselves, the lower our social distance score would likely be.  In our view, a lower score is better for it indicates a more tolerant and accepting attitude toward those who are different.  
Directions for class use:1.   Distribute forms.  Tell students to keep their responses to themselves.2.     Be sure appropriate gender is circled.3.     Instruct students to place an "X" or check mark on each line for their responses to each of the 12 questions and 6 cultures/groups.4.     Tell them not to write in the space marked "S.D. Score" (it's for you to tally, not for them to score inaccurately)5.     Collect and Score  
Scoring of Social Distance Scale:  To score each column, look for the "lowest yes" response in each column.  For example, if a student marked "yes" for letters A-J, but marked K and L as "no," then the lowest "yes" score is J.  That would yield a score of 3.  L=1, K=2, J=3, I=4, H=5, G=6, F=7, E=8, D=9, C=10, B=11, and A=12.  Should a person be so xenophobic and bigoted as to put "no" for all 12 responses, give that a score of 13.                
Once the individual scores are tabulated, use the social distance quotient sheet for class totals to see which group has the lowest social distance quotient.  That is essentially the group with the lowest average.  Remember, the lower, the better.  In my primarily Caucasian school, white Protestants and Jewish people have scored the lowest and Arabs and retarded/mentally-challenged people will score the highest.  If you are interested in specific data, please contact me.**
**I no longer have specific data.  However, examining data from one's own classes and even beyond can potentially open up some eyes in terms of comfort levels with different groups on campus.

Further Links to Bogardus:

The Teaching High School Sociology Web Site


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