Behavioral Engagement, Peer Status, and Teacher–Student Relationships in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study on Reciprocal Influences

Abstract

Although teachers and peers play an important role in shaping students’ engagement, no previous study has directly investigated transactional associations of these classroom-based relationships in adolescence. This study investigated the transactional associations between adolescents’ behavioral engagement, peer status (likeability and popularity), and (positive and negative) teacher–student relationships during secondary education. A large sample of adolescents was followed from Grade 7 to 11 (N = 1116; 49 % female; M age = 13.79 years). Multivariate autoregressive cross-lagged modeling revealed only unidirectional effects from teacher–student relationships and peer status on students’ behavioral engagement. Positive teacher–student relationships were associated with more behavioral engagement over time, whereas negative teacher–student relationships, higher likeability and higher popularity were related to less behavioral engagement over time. We conclude that teachers and peers constitute different sources of influence, and play independent roles in adolescents’ behavioral engagement.

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Author Contributions

ME performed the statistical analysis, participated in the interpretation of the data, and provided input on the intellectual content of the manuscript. HC designed the study and the specific research hypotheses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and provided input on the intellectual content of the manuscript. KVL designed the study and provided feedback on the intellectual content of the manuscript. PB designed the study and provided feedback on the intellectual content of the manuscript. WVDN supervised the methodological and statistical aspects of the study, and provided feedback on the methodological and statistical content of the manuscript. SC designed the study and provided feedback on the intellectual content of the manuscript. LG designed and coordinated the study, and provided feedback on the intellectual content of the manuscript. KV designed the study and the specific research hypotheses, supervised the data analysis and interpretation of the data, and provided input on the intellectual content of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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This research project was funded by FWO (Research Fund – Flanders, G.0728.14) and by the research council of KU Leuven (Grant GOA/12/009: “STRATEGIES project”).

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Correspondence to Maaike C. Engels.

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Engels, M.C., Colpin, H., Van Leeuwen, K. et al. Behavioral Engagement, Peer Status, and Teacher–Student Relationships in Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study on Reciprocal Influences. J Youth Adolescence 45, 1192–1207 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0414-5

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Behavioral engagement
  • Likeability
  • Peer status
  • Popularity
  • Teacher–student relationships