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Role of Peer Groups in Adolescents' Educational Expectations and Adjustment

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 36 Issue: 8 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 995-1009
Noona Kiuru; Kaisa Aunola; Jukka Vuori; Jari-Erik Nurmi
Date Published
November 2007
15 pages
This Finnish study examined the extent to which the members of adolescents' peer groups shared similar educational expectations, as well as the extent to which overall and school-related adjustments were linked with these expectations.
The results showed that peer group members were similar in their educational expectations, which suggests that peer groups are important contexts for how adolescents view their future educational pursuits. Regarding overall and school-related adjustment, the findings showed that both girls' and boys' peer group members were similar in their problem behavior; however, for other aspects of adjustment, results were different for boys and girls. Girls' peer groups were similar in academic achievement, learning difficulties, and negative attitudes toward school; whereas, boys' peer groups were not similar in these characteristics. Among girls, a high level of adjustment typical of the peer group--including high achievement and low levels of problem behavior, learning difficulties, and negative attitude toward school--was associated with high educational expectations among peer group members. By contrast, among boys only one adjustment variable was associated with educational expectations in the peer group, i.e., problem behavior. When planning interventions intended to promote adolescents' positive attitudes toward pursuing higher education, peer group membership should be taken into account. A total of 394 ninth-graders facing the transition to secondary education completed questionnaires that measured their short-term and long-term educational expectations, their academic achievement, learning difficulties, negative attitudes toward school, problem behavior, and self-esteem. Participants' peer groups were identified by using a sociometric procedure developed by Coie et al. (1982). 3 tables, 3 figures, and 87 references