First Advisor

Thomas A. Kindermann

Date of Publication

Summer 7-10-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Academic achievement -- Social aspects, Engagement (Philosophy), Social influence, Teacher-student relationships, Education -- Parent participation, Interpersonal relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 185 pages)


Building on research that has focused on understanding how peers contribute to students' engagement, this dissertation explores the extent to which peer group influences on students' engagement may add to and be contextualized by qualities of the relationships they maintain with their teachers and their parents. To focus on how each of these adult contexts work in concert with peer groups to jointly contribute to changes in students' engagement, the two studies used data on 366 sixth graders which were collected at two time points during their first year of middle school: Peer groups were identified using socio-cognitive mapping; students reported on teacher and parent involvement; and teachers reported on each students' engagement. In both studies, models of cumulative and contextualized joint effects were examined. Consistent with models of cumulative effects, peer group engagement, parent involvement, and teacher involvement each uniquely predicted changes in students' engagement. Consistent with contextualized models suggesting differential susceptibility, peer group engagement was a more pronounced predictor of changes in engagement for students who experienced relatively low involvement from teachers. Similarly, peer group influences on changes in students' engagement were stronger for students who experienced relatively low involvement from their parents. In both cases, these peer effects were positive or negative depending on the engagement versus disaffection of each student's peer group. Both studies also used person-centered analyses to reveal cumulative and contextualized effects. Most engaged were students who experienced support from either both teachers and peers, or both parents and peers; the lowest levels of engagement were found among those students who affiliated with disaffected peers who also experienced either their teachers or parents as relatively uninvolved. Both high teacher and high parent involvement partially protected students from the motivational costs of affiliating with disaffected peers. Similarly, belonging to engaged peer groups partially buffered students' engagement from the ill effects of low teacher and parent involvement. These findings suggest that, although peer groups and teachers and parents are each important individually, a complete understanding of their contributions to students' engagement requires the examination of their joint effects.


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