Characteristics of peers in groups in a middle school: An exploratory study.
AdvisorMishra, Shitala P.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the characteristics of peers and groups of early adolescents (eleven through fourteen years of age; N = 594) in a middle school environment (grades six, seven, and eight). The study was conducted over one academic school year utilizing three methodologies: observation, interview, and questionnaire. Observer (etic perspective) field notes were analyzed on a daily and ongoing basis to provide data on patterns of grouping and group characteristics. Audiotaped semistructured interviews with the early adolescents (emic perspective) were analyzed by independent raters to provide data on the perceptions of the students regarding characteristics of: self; friends; groups and groupings and the participants at each grade level and across grades; factors of importance for participation in (or exclusion from) specific groups. Analysis was conducted for frequency of response to questionnaire items regarding characteristics. Results of the analyses revealed: (a) differences and consistencies of etic and emic perspectives regarding characteristics of groupings and the participants; (b) similarities and dissimilarities of groups (dyads, cliques, crowds, gangs described in other research); (c) group participation appeared to be related to by gender, grade level, personal physical size, maturational development, activities, personal security, common interests, levels of conformity to adult expectations, and social adeptness. The questionnaire results indicated slight differences for important characteristics for the self and for friends to possess. Limitations of the present research, and implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration