Predicting Student Engagement with Peer Academic and Social Reputations: Assessing Within-year Change

Open Access
Miller, Aaron Michael
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 11, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Scott David Gest, Thesis Advisor
  • School Engagement
  • Student
  • Self-concept
  • Academics
Student engagement in school is related to higher achievement and better behavioral outcomes. Peer status may be one way in which students gain an understanding of their own abilities. Peer academic reputation has previously been shown to influence student's interest in school, effort, and GPA. The present study explores the role that peer academic reputation (PAR) and peer social preference (PSP) play in within-year changes in three measures of student engagement. The study also examines whether these relationships are mediated by changes in student's academic and social self-concept. A sample of 1523 students was collected from 96 first, third and fifth grade classrooms in Pennsylvania and Illinois. OLS regression models tested the individual and joint contribution of PAR and PSP on fall-to-spring changes in teacher-rated effort and two student-report measures of school engagement, Striving and Affect. PAR in the fall predicted changes in effort above and beyond stability and controls, while PSP predicted changes in Striving and Affect. Relationships are partially mediated by their association with changes in student's academic and social self-concepts. Grade-level comparisons suggest that students in first grade have higher mean levels of self-reported Striving and Affect, and that PAR has a stronger influence on changes in teacher-rated effort for younger children. Results are considered in the context of prior research and methods for changing teaching practices.