What Will You Think of Me? Racial Integration, Peer Relationships and Achievement Among White Students and Students of Color
Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
Studies the relationship between the connection to peers at school and academic engagement and achievement.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Journal of Social Issues
Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 57-74
- Students of color are more socially isolated than their White peers.
- Teacher assessments confirm this trend in student self-reported data.
- For students of color, having friends at school significantly and positively influenced achievement goals.
- Having friends is related to how students of color perceive academic tasks.
- The more friends the more likely student finds school work fun and important and less difficult. These relationships do not exist for the white students.
- Data in this study replicate prior work confirming the greater social isolation of students in racially heterogeneous schools.
- Regression analyses revealed no independent relationship of ethnicity or the number of friends reported by a student to his or her ratings of how important, difficult, or fun he or she found working on academic tasks.
- Among students of color, the more friends reported by a student, the more important, fun, and less difficult he or she found working on academic tasks. No relationship was found between White students’ friendships and his or her appraisals of academic tasks.
- Findings suggest that although friendships are important to all students as they think about their futures, students of color see more limits on how far they can go socially "friends," yes; "popular," not likely.
- Students of color particularly felt that there were fewer people at school to whom they felt extremely or even moderately close. It is important to note, however, that it is not the case that students of color have no friends at school, but many do not have any friends listed as part of their inner circle.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Latinos, Peer Effects, Social Capital
Method of Analysis:
Four New England elementary and middle schools
Unit of Analysis:
- The study takes place in four New England elementary and middle schools. The schools are newly integrated and the system started a busing program a year prior to the study.
- 80 participants from three 6th grade and one 7th grade class. The ethnic make up of each class corresponds to that of the school and district. Half the sample are students of color (most Latino).
- The data are the first three waves of a longitudinal study on adolescent identity development. Data collected over spring semester.
- Data include an in-class questionnaire to assess thoughts and feelings on school, family, friends/peers, activities, and themselves; social networks assessment; evaluation forms completed by teachers about their students social categories and peer relationships; and 2-3 page nightly diaries by the students--responding to questions about experiences at school (semi-structured).
- DV: High school fantasies and goals/plans, number of achievement goals, number of social goals
- IV: Race, Number of friends