09 SES 06 B, Peer Relations, Classroom Interactions, and Individual Achievement and Motivations
Our study is focused on investigation of relations between students’ academic achievement and popularity among peers in different academic contexts. We suggest that the relation between good grades and popularity can be used in school assessment. In “good schools” high-achieving students are popular, while in “troubled” school where most children are disengaged from learning, students with good grades are unpopular and thus sanctioned by the peers. In order to disentangle the relations between student’s academic achievement and popularity among peers we carried out the research using sociometric methods.
Popularity among peers is considered to be one of the indicators of their successful integration into the school life. Unpopular students, who are loosely connected with their peer network, often demonstrate poor mental health and lower psychological well-being, and have higher risk of school drop-out. Sociometric popularity measured as number of likes and dislikes of their classmates indicates the student’s place in the structure of class friendship network (Cillessen, Borch 2006, Rubin 2007, Rodkin et al 2000).
It is clear that factors affecting popularity are context-specific: a student who is popular in one group may be quite unpopular in another. In popularity studies context is usually understood as gender or race/ethnic composition of school or grade. The effect of unbalanced gender composition on perceived popularity is strongly noticeable in environments with different behavioral norms for girls and boys (Adler et al, 1992). Under conditions of race/ethnic homophily the minority group has either to adopt the norms of the majority or create its own, relatively isolated, “sub-culture” (Meisinger et al 2007).
Our study is focused on the effect of context on the relation between popularity and individual academic achievement. We aim to clarify how different academic contexts influence popularity of students.
We have three hypotheses to consider: (1) in groups with high academic motivation student’s academic success is positively related to popularity among peers; (2) in groups with low academic motivation student’s academic success is negatively related to popularity among peers; (3) relation between individual academic achievement and popularity is gender-specific: stronger for girls and weaker for boys.
1. Adler, P. A., Kless, S. J., & Adler, P. (1992). Socialization to Gender Roles: Popularity among Elementary School Boys and Girls. Sociology of Education, 65(3), 169–187. doi:10.2307/2112807 2. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Borch, C. (2006). Developmental trajectories of adolescent popularity: A growth curve modelling analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 29(6), 935–959. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2006.05.005 3. Meisinger, E. B., Blake, J. J., Lease, A. M., Palardy, G. J., & Olejnik, S. F. (2007). Variant and invariant predictors of perceived popularity across majority-Black and majority-White classrooms. Journal of School Psychology, 45(1), 21–44. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2006.09.005 4. Rodkin, P. C., Farmer, T. W., Pearl, R., & Van Acker, R. (2000). Heterogeneity of popular boys: Antisocial and prosocial configurations. Developmental Psychology, 36(1), 14–24. doi:10.1037/0012-16126.96.36.199 5. Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M., & Parker, J. G. (2007). Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups. Handbook of Child Psychology. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0310/abstract 6. Van Houtte, M. (2006). School type and academic culture: evidence for the differentiation–polarization theory. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 38(3), 273–292. doi:10.1080/00220270500363661
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