Boarding Schooling and Social Interaction flexibility

Researcher Name: Aya Mohamed Safan

Submitted to: Yara Zidan







1      Introduction. 2
1.1      Background Information. 2
1.2      Rationale. 2
1.3      Research Problem/Gap. 3
1.4      Variables and Keywords. 3
1.5      Aim of the study. 4
2      Literature Review.. 4











1         Introduction

1.1        Background Information

The history of boarding schools goes back goes back to American Indian boarding schools established in the end of the nineteenth century to assimilate children into mainstream the American culture. Nowadays, the paramount objective of boarding Schools is to provide a substitution between the principle contributors of the education, namely school and home, under the assumption that this will create better influence on students. However, little is known about the impacts this substitution really delivers (Behaghel, 2017).  Various studies were conducted to tackle the subject boarding schooling from diverse perspectives; as to social, cultural, and education capitals. Nevertheless, very little research discussed the effect of boarding schools environment on students’ social interaction flexibility. Also, none of these studies have studied the effects of boarding schools on any aspect in Egypt. Thus, a major gap that this research paper is handling is the effect of boarding schooling on Egyptian undergraduate students’ social interaction flexibility.


1.2        Rationale

The unique setting of boarding schools helps undergraduate students enhance influential academic and social skills. Students are expected to reconcile to a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds; that nurtures social and communication flexibility. Moreover, boarding schools setting foster profound friendship ties among students (Krieg, 2017). On the other hand, Students attending boarding schools endure the sudden and often irreversible loss of their essential connections; as family support, friends, and familiar routine (Shirley, 1986). A long term effect of such new environmental and psychosocial factors is difficulty integrating back into their home communities (Hirshberg & Sharp, 2005). Therefore, the objective of this research is to observe the effects of boarding schooling on undergraduates’ social interaction flexibility.


1.3        Research Problem/Gap

            Various studies aimed to inspect the impacts of boarding schooling on social, cultural, and educational aspects. Investigating the social side of this environment covered several cases such as homesickness, bullying and sexual abuse, and broken attachments trauma. Little research targeted the effect on social interaction and integrating into the community. Also, all the research conducted on boarding schools was in countries with a long history of boarding schools like the United Kingdom, United States, Russia, and China. In like manner, the researcher aims to conduct a study considering the influence of boarding schooling on Egyptian undergraduate students’ social interaction flexibility.


1.4        Variables and Keywords

            Boarding schools are an intensive form of controlled residential educational environment, in which students live at school, and visit their families only for weekends and vacations (Behaghel, 2017). Considering the Egyptian traditions that oppose opposite gender conjoint accommodation, the boarding schools involved in the study are single-sex boarding schools.  Moreover, the targeted boarding schools are schools that allow only boarding students, others have both boarding students and day students are not included.


            Social interactions are the demonstrations, activities, or practices of at least two individuals commonly situated towards one another, that is, any behavior that tries to influence or assess each other’s subjective encounters or intentions (Rummel, 1976). Social interaction networks are of friends, associates, and connections that an individual can benefit from having (Bass, 2014).


1.5        Aim of the study

            In previous studies emphases positive and negative sides of boarding schools. Boarding schools offer a unique academic community, daily routine that invokes self-discipline, significant social and personal development, and a culture of collaboration and responsibility. Other negative perspectives are the presence of bullying and related problems, broken attachments boarding schools syndrome, difficulty integration back into the community, and homesickness (Urban, 2007).  In this study, the researcher aims to explore the social effect side of boarding schooling on Egyptian undergraduate students.




2         Literature Review


            In a study by Urban (2007), an investigation compared the positive and negative effects related to the features of boarding schools and day-schools. The conclusions are based on an analysis of the experiences and opinions of partner organizations of Woord en Daad, collected through written interviews. The study examines effects on education, practical skills, and social attitudes. In the analysis of the findings it is concluded that parental care and community are factors that are difficult to replace. Anti-social behavior, cultural illiteracy, and alienation from society are mentioned as a negative aspect of boarding schools. The fact that students stay intern in a boarding school can cause an institutional focus; on the other hand, day-schools offer an open learning environment. This study shows that the feeling of living in a restricted closed atmosphere in a boarding school has its own effect on mental development of the children. Parental love and parental care will not be there in a boarding school. Absence of freedom will lead to psychological problems or desired development may not be there.


            A supporting study of the mental and psychological effects is a conducted study on the effects of boarding schooling on the mental health of Eskimo adolescents by Kleinfeld and Bloom (1977).  The researcher evaluates the development of social and emotional problems in a sample of village Eskimo adolescents who entered different boarding high schools. Sociologic and emotional problems were measured by using reportable events through interviews. The Health Opinion Survey, a measure of psychophysiological symptoms such as loss of appetite and insomnia, was given to students when they first entered high school and again at the end of the freshman and sophomore years. Among the 132 freshmen, 49% had school-related problems; 25% of school-related problems were judged serious. No statistically significant differences appeared between the freshmen and the continuing sophomores in the probability of disturbance or in the incidence and Severity of school-related problems. This study suggests that boarding schools contribute to a high incidence of social and emotional disturbance among Eskimo adolescents. Such a high incidence of social and emotional problems is not in itself surprising in a population undergoing rapid cultural transition. However, these disturbances are not primarily initial adjustment difficulties that subside later on, but are continuing disturbance as the statics didn’t change over time.


            As example of continuing disturbance is proposed when Schaverien (2011) shed light on symptoms and behaviors of broken attachments boarding school syndrome. Children sent to boarding schools face sudden loss of their loss of attachment figures (parents, siblings, and pets); for many this constitutes a significant trauma. Even if children are not mistreated, being left in the care of strangers is traumatic. The child then no longer recognizes the need for intimacy developing boarding school syndrome. The trauma is usually remain hidden unconscious until the person is emotionally compelled to explore it.  


In another study conducted by Behaghel, Chaisemartin, and Gurgand (2017) the effects of a boarding school on students’ well-being levels were investigated.  Students offered a seat were randomly selected out of the pool of applicants. The treatment group consisted of the 258 students who received a seat; the control group consisted of the 137 students. The findings show that boarding school students’ well-being is reduced by 32 percent of a standard deviation in the first year. After two years, levels of well-being had caught up with that in the control group. The study also tested self-esteem that included both academic and social self-esteem as students have to face higher academic demands, cope with the separation from friends and family, and relinquish a certain amount of freedom. Results show that after one year, levels of well-being are lower among boarders, but in their second year, students adjust and well-being catches-up. Students are expected to suffer from loss of their sense of identity and wellbeing as a result of being away from their families in the first years. Actually Many students reflected positively on the social aspects of the boarding school and boarding home experience. In particular, they talked about the lifelong friendships developed at these schools. This study shows a positive development aspect in students’ social life and wellbeing in boarding schools.


            In 2014, Bass examines how boarding school can be a schooling alternative for African American youth that positively meets their social and educational needs. A total of 32 questionnaires were received by students, equal number of male and female respondents, and 19 interviews were conducted. Students were selected based on the recommendation of the faculty and staff members of the institutions. Results on the social capital showed that Social capital gained in school often means social capital lost at home due to less interaction with family and neighbors. Students often lose the touch of society after staying in a boarding school. Also, sometimes there may be problems arising out of the children that have imbibed anti-social leanings, learnt elsewhere.


            Finally, Hirshberg and Sharp (2005) gathered information on how boarding school experiences affected Alaska Natives, their families, and communities on the long term. The sample, which consisted of 61 Alaska Native adults, was recruited via e-mail listservs, flyers, and public radio network. The participants were interviewed looking for patterns and commonalities.  About 60% of the participants were generally pleased with the experience. The results revealed important factors relating to satisfactory experiences like a positive climate, independence and discipline, and lifelong friendships. Other negative outcomes were post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobias, difficulty integrating back into their home communities, Loss of Culture and Identity. When a student gets out of a boarding school it often takes time for him or her to cope up with the open world for not being familiar with everything that goes on out there.

            Lastly, attending a boarding school is a life-changing experience on many aspects that is interruption of daily life and an encounter with a new environment. The researcher believes that the major gap is that not enough research conducted precisely on Egyptians to examine the effects of boarding schooling on social behaviors. This leads to a question that is worthy of investigating, which is: “How does boarding schooling affect undergraduate students’ social interaction flexibility?”


















Bass, L. (2014). Boarding Schools and Capital Benefits: Implications for Urban School Reform. The Journal of Educational Research, 107, 16-35.  doi:10.1080/00220671.2012.753855

Behaghel, L., Chaisemartin, C. D., & Gurgand, M. (2017). Ready for Boarding? The Effects of a Boarding School for Disadvantaged Students. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 9(1), 140-164. doi:10.1257/app.20150090

Hirshberg, D., & Sharp, S. (2005). Thirty years later: the long-term effect of boarding schooling on Alaska natives and their communitiies. Institute of Social and Economic Research University of Alaska Anchorage.

Rummel, R. J. (1976). Social Behavior and Interaction. In Understanding conflict and war (Vol. 2). Beverly Hills: Sage Publ.

Krieg, J. (2017, March 03). How Do Boarding Schools Promote Life Skills? Retrieved November 25, 2017, from

Kleinfeld, J., & Bloom, J. (1977). Boarding schools: effects on the mental health of Eskimo adolescents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 134(4), 411-417. doi:10.1176/ajp.134.4.411 

Schaverien, J. (2011). Boarding School Syndrome: Broken Attachments A Hidden Trauma. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 27(2), 138-155. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0118.2011.01229.x

Urban, M. W. (2007). Boarding Schools, why (not)? Woord en Daad. Retrieved November 18, 2017, from