Classroom Peer Relationships and Behavioral Engagement in Elementary School: The Role of Social Network Equity

Elise Cappella, Ha Yeon Kim, Jennifer W. Neal, Daisy R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Applying social capital and systems theories of social processes, we examine the role of the classroom peer context in the behavioral engagement of low-income students (N = 80) in urban elementary school classrooms (N = 22). Systematic child observations were conducted to assess behavioral engagement among second to fifth graders in the fall and spring of the same school year. Classroom observations, teacher and child questionnaires, and social network data were collected in the fall. Confirming prior research, results from multilevel models indicate that students with more behavioral difficulties or less academic motivation in the fall were less behaviorally engaged in the spring. Extending prior research, classrooms with more equitably distributed and interconnected social ties-social network equity-had more behaviorally engaged students in the spring, especially in classrooms with higher levels of observed organization (i.e., effective management of behavior, time, and attention). Moreover, social network equity attenuated the negative relation between student behavioral difficulties and behavioral engagement, suggesting that students with behavioral difficulties were less disengaged in classrooms with more equitably distributed and interconnected social ties. Findings illuminate the need to consider classroom peer contexts in future research and intervention focused on the behavioral engagement of students in urban elementary schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-379
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume52
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

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Social Support
elementary school
social network
equity
Students
classroom
student
Time Management
Systems Theory
Research
system theory
Motivation
social process
social system
research results
social capital
Organizations
low income
organization
questionnaire

Keywords

  • Behavioral difficulties
  • Behavioral engagement
  • Classroom organization
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

Classroom Peer Relationships and Behavioral Engagement in Elementary School : The Role of Social Network Equity. / Cappella, Elise; Kim, Ha Yeon; Neal, Jennifer W.; Jackson, Daisy R.

In: American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 52, No. 3-4, 12.2013, p. 367-379.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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