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Friendship in the multicultural classroom

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand how second graders in the multicultural classroom form friendships. I also observed how they form friendships within and without their culture group. How do students define friendships? And how do teachers foster friendship in the multicultural classroom? My research addressed these questions of friendships based on the work of Hallinan and Tuma (1979) and many other researchers. Many researchers proposed that children are more likely to choose friends who have similar beliefs, attitudes, and values. In the multicultural classroom, students' friendships were established through negotiation, togetherness, being nice, not fighting and avoiding conflict. This study took place at an inner city K-6 elementary school located in Southeast Portland. The participants were second grade students. Information was gathered in the natural setting, such as classroom, lunchtime, recess and playground, through a variety of methodological approaches including observations and interviews. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this qualitative study. After collecting and organizing field notes and interviews, various patterns emerged in these particular second grade children perception of their friendships. My research revealed that the children's conceptions of friendship did progress from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract especially in the diverse classroom. Moreover, children conceive friendship as being nice, sharing, negotiation and common interests.


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