Teacher Support, Peer Acceptance, and Engagement in the Classroom: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study in Late Childhood

Abstract

Although research has examined the bivariate effects of teacher support, peer acceptance, and engagement, it remains unclear how these key classroom experiences evolve together, especially in late childhood. This study aims to provide a detailed picture of their transactional relations in late childhood. A sample of 586 children (M age  = 9.26 years, 47.1% boys) was followed from fourth to sixth grade. Teacher support and engagement were student-reported and peer acceptance was peer-reported. Autoregressive cross-lagged models revealed unique longitudinal effects of both peer acceptance and teacher support on engagement, and of peer acceptance on teacher support. No reverse effects of engagement on peer acceptance or teacher support were found. The study underscores the importance of examining the relative contribution of several social actors in the classroom. Regarding interventions, improving both peer acceptance and teacher support can increase children’s engagement, and augmenting peer acceptance can help to increase teacher support.

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Authors’ Contributions

T.W. conceived the study, performed the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript; H.C. conceived the study and helped to draft the manuscript; S.D.L. assisted with the interpretation of the data and gave feedback on the manuscript; M.E. assisted with the critical reading and gave feedback on the manuscript; K.V. conceived the study and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by two grants from the Research Foundation—Flanders (1S13917N, G.0728.14N).

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Correspondence to Tessa Weyns.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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This study is in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards and was approved by the ethical review board of the faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium.

Informed Consent

Active parental informed consent was obtained annually for all individual participants included in the study.

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Weyns, T., Colpin, H., De Laet, S. et al. Teacher Support, Peer Acceptance, and Engagement in the Classroom: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study in Late Childhood. J Youth Adolescence 47, 1139–1150 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0774-5

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Keywords

  • Teacher support
  • Peer acceptance
  • Engagement
  • Late childhood