Dr. Sepideh Hassani

Attitudes and social emotional competence as predictors for social inclusion

Betreuung: Susanne Schwab
Zeitraum: 2020-2023
Kontakt: sepideh.hassani@univie.ac.at


Social inclusion plays a crucial role in students’ well-being as well as in their social-emotional development, thus making it necessary to focus on factors and tools promoting this process. In light of this need, the main aim of this thesis is to contribute to additional evidence in the field of inclusive education by addressing the following research questions: (1) Are peers’ attitudes a predictor for friendships and therefore social inclusion? (1a) Are intervention programs that focus on peer network support effective in promoting social inclusion? (2) Do social-emotional learning intervention programs show positive effects with regard to the promotion and development of social-emotional competences and social inclusion? (2a) Do social-emotional learning interventions show positive effects on social-emotional competences for students with special educational needs?

Various research methods were applied in this thesis in order to address these research questions adequately. The first contribution (Hassani, Schwab, et al., 2022) used an advanced social network technique to tackle whether friendship choices are based on attitudes. The second contribution (Hassani, Alves, et al., 2022) evaluated within a systematic literature review an intervention program that relies on peer network support to foster the social inclusion of excluded students. The third contribution (Hassani, 2022, submitted) evaluated a self-developed social-emotional intervention program using a longitudinal pretest–posttest design with a waitlist control group. Finally, a second systematic review (Hassani & Schwab, 2021) synthesized results from past social-emotional learning interventions including students with special educational needs to evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions for this subpopulation.

Within this thesis, the results of the first contribution do not support the hypothesis that attitudes predict social inclusion. However, this research does illustrate some mechanisms behind the process of friendship selection, which may have practical implications for teachers. The evaluation of the social-emotional learning intervention program shows some positive effects regarding enhanced relationship skills reported by teachers and decreased internalization of behavior problems reported by students in intervention classes. Finally, the second systematic literature review (Hassani & Schwab, 2021) presents some evidence of the effectiveness of social-emotional interventions, some of which points to the promotion of social-emotional skills in students with special educational needs.



Hassani, S. (2022, submitted). Fostering social competences and making new friends: Results of an intervention program.

Hassani, S., & Schwab, S. (2021). Social-emotional learning interventions for students with special educational needs: A systematic literature review, Frontiers in Education, 6(808566). DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2021.808566

Hassani, S., Alves, S., Avramidis, E., Schwab, S. (2022). The Circle of Friends intervention: A research synthesis, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 37(4), 535-553, DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2021.1911522

Hassani, S., Schwab, S., Boda, Z. (2022). Primary school students’ attitudes towards peers displaying hyperactivity: Examining impacts of homophily and inter-group contact on students’ social inclusion. Social Development, 31, 765–781.  DOI: 10.1111/sode.12581