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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