Academic well-being and structural characteristics of peer networks in school

Arja Rimpelä, Jaana M. Kinnunen, Pirjo Lindfors, Victoria Eugenia Soto, Katariina Salmela-Aro, Julian Perelman, Bruno Federico, Vincent Lorant

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Abstract

Peer networks at school and students’ position in these networks can influence their academic well-being. We study here individual students’ network position (isolation, popularity, social activity) and peer network structures at the school level (centralization, density, clustering, school connectedness) and their relations to students’ academic well-being (school burnout, SB; schoolwork engagement, SE). Classroom surveys for 14-16-year-olds (N = 11,015) were conducted in six European cities (SILNE survey). Students were asked to nominate up to five schoolmates with whom they preferred to do schoolwork. SB and SE correlated negatively (-0.32; p < 0.0001). Students had on average 3.4 incoming (popularity; range 0-5) and 3.4 outgoing (social activity; 0-5) social ties. Percentage of isolated students was 1.4. Students’ network position was associated weakly with academic well-being—popular students had less SB and higher SE, and socially active students had higher SE. School-level peer networks showed high clustering and school connectedness, but low density and low centralization. Clustering was associated with higher SB. Low centralization and high school connectedness protected from SB. Dense networks supported SE as did high average school connectedness. Correlations between these network indicators and academic well-being were, however, low. Our study showed that both students’ network position and network characteristics at the school level can influence adolescents’ academic well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2848
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Peers
  • School burnout
  • Schoolwork engagement
  • Social network analysis

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