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Young People’s Interpersonal Relationships and Academic and Nonacademic Outcomes: Scoping the Relative Salience of Teachers, Parents, Same-Sex Peers, and Opposite-Sex Peers


by Andrew J. Martin, Herbert W. Marsh, Dennis M. McInerney & Jasmine Green — March 23, 2009

Background/Context: Although informative work has been conducted on the role of interpersonal relationships and their mechanisms, most such work focuses on one or two key relationships or on a relatively small set of outcomes that are either academic or nonacademic in nature or solely based on self-report. Inevitably, such approaches limit understanding of the relative salience of all key relationships and their links to the breadth of cognition, affect, and behavior in young people’s lives.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: To understand the relative reach and range of young people’s key interpersonal relationships, the present study conducts a scoping of teacher–student, parent–child, same-sex peer, and opposite-sex peer relationships among a set of self-report and objective academic (motivation, engagement, behavior, affect, and performance) and nonacademic (physical ability, physical appearance, honesty, and emotional instability self-concepts) constructs.

Population/Participants/Subjects: The sample comprised 3,450 high school students in Years 7 and 8 (51%; age approx. 12–14 years), Years 9 and 10 (36%; age approx. 14–16 years), and Years 11 and 12 (13%; age approx. 16–18 years) from six Australian urban high schools.

Research Design: The study is a large-scale quantitative one in which high school students were administered an instrument comprising self-report academic and nonacademic measures and a brief literacy and numeracy quiz.

Data Collection and Analysis: Using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modelling (SEM), analyses were aimed at assessing the empirical links between students’ interpersonal relationships and a variety of academic and nonacademic outcomes.

Findings/Results: Interpersonal relationships tended to be positively and significantly associated with academic and nonacademic measures. However, there were differences in patterns of findings such that teacher–student relationships and, to a lesser extent, parent–child relationships, were most highly correlated with academic outcomes, whereas peer relationships tended to be most strongly correlated with nonacademic outcomes.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings inform a greater understanding of the differential roles of teachers, parents, same-sex peers, and opposite-sex peers in relation to academic and nonacademic outcomes. Findings also provide a basis for an integrative framework for understanding, measuring, and enhancing interpersonal relationships during the high school years.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: March 23, 2009
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15593, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 6:09:19 AM

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About the Author
  • Andrew Martin
    University of Sydney
    E-mail Author
    ANDREW MARTIN, international senior research fellow, specializes in educational psychology and quantitative research methods. Recent publications include “Examining a Multidimensional Model of Student Motivation and Engagement Using a Construct Validation Approach” in the British Journal of Educational Psychology (2007) and “Enhancing Student Motivation and Engagement: The Effects of a Multidimensional Intervention” in Contemporary Educational Psychology (2008).
  • Herbert Marsh
    University of Oxford
    HERB MARSH, professor of education, specializes in substantive-methodological research applications in education and psychology. Recent publications include Self-Concept Theory, Measurement and Research Into Practice: The Role of Self-Concept In Educational Psychology (British Psychological Society, 2007) and, with coauthor A. O’Mara, “Reciprocal Effects Between Academic Self-Concept, Self-Esteem, Achievement and Attainment” in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2008).
  • Dennis McInerney
    The Hong Kong Institute of Education
    DENNIS MCINERNEY, chair professor of educational psychology, specializes in achievement motivation. Recent publications include, with coauthor V. McInerney, Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning (5th ed., Prentice Hall, 2008) and, with coeditor S. Van Ettenl, Research on Sociocultural Influences on Motivation and Learning (Vols. 1–7, Information Age Publishing).
  • Jasmine Green
    University of Sydney
    JASMINE GREEN is a research associate specializing in motivation and self-concept research. Recent publications include, with coauthors A. J. Martin and H. W. Marsh, “Motivation and Engagement in English, Mathematics and Science High School Subjects: Towards an Understanding of Multidimensional Domain Specificity” in Learning and Individual Differences (2007), and, with coauthors G. Nelson, A. J. Martin, and H. W. Marsh, “The Causal Ordering of Self-Concept and Academic Motivation and Their Effects on Academic Achievement” in International Education Journal (2006).
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