Increasing Students’ Social Capital through Community Involvement in Rural and Regional Education

  • Jane Watson University of Tasmania
  • Suzie Wright University of Tasmania
  • Jeanne Maree Allen Griffith University
  • Ian Hay University of Tasmania
  • Neil Cranston University of Tasmania
  • Kim Beswick University of Tasmania
Keywords: community, rural education, school completion, social capital, students



School and community interaction is an important topic in education, as evidence suggests that communities that value their local schools engender more positive long-term outcomes and a strengthening of the social capital for the students from those schools. Although school and community interaction has been explored from the schools’ perspective, less research has occurred from the perspective of the key stakeholders and leaders of a community, particularly in rural, regional, and disadvantaged areas. The context for this exploration is the Australian state of Tasmania, and the research findings may have implications for policy makers, school leaders, and teachers both nationally and internationally. Eighty-six community leaders and community members from rural, regional, and disadvantaged areas of the state responded to a survey, which included indicating the level and type of involvement they and their organisations had with local schools. The evidence from their comments suggests that community, business, and social leaders can play an important role in building social capital and as advocates for their local schools, as well as being a source of information, advice, and service to schools. In particular, this paper provides a foundation for future research with community members on their involvement in schooling and the impact of this involvement on students’ social capital.

Author Biographies

Jane Watson, University of Tasmania
Professor Emerita of Mathematics Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Suzie Wright, University of Tasmania
Research Project Manager
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Jeanne Maree Allen, Griffith University
Associate Professor of Education
School of Education
Griffith University
Ian Hay, University of Tasmania
Professor Emeritus
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Neil Cranston, University of Tasmania
Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Kim Beswick, University of Tasmania
Professor in Mathematics Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania


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