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

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Classroom Peer Relationships and Behavioral Engagement in Elementary School: The Role of Social Network Equity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this