First Advisor

Thomas Kindermann

Date of Publication

Winter 3-28-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Academic achievement -- Education (Middle school) -- Social aspects -- Case studies, Achievement motivation in children -- Social aspects -- Case studies, Interpersonal relations in children -- Case studies, Social influence -- Children -- Case studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 140 pages)


Academic engagement has been found to significantly predict students' future achievement. Among adolescents, the peer context becomes an increasingly important point of socialization and influence on beliefs and behavior, including academic engagement. Previous research suggests that those peers with whom an adolescent spends much of their time significantly predict change in engagement over time (Kindermann, 2007). Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998) postulates that exosystem effects (those influencing factors that are not directly connected to individuals) play an important role in development, and social network theorists have suggested that the position one occupies within the greater network is a key factor that determines one's power of influence (Borgatti, 2005). An individual's own position in a network emerges from his or her own connections, as well as from the structures formed by the connections of his or her affiliates (the exosystem). Utilizing an existing dataset, social networks analysis techniques were used to examine how three different forms of centrality (degree, closeness and eigenvector), which are markers for micro- and exo-system effects, relate to classroom engagement and its change over time. Results showed that although centrality in a network is positively related to academic characteristics at one point in time, students who have large numbers of immediate connections (degree centrality) tend to decrease in engagement over time. In contrast, eigenvector centrality showed a positive interaction with peer group influence on change in engagement over time. For those students who had highly interconnected peers the positive effect of peer group engagement was increased.


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