Peer influence on children’s reading skills: A social network analysis of elementary school classrooms

Abstract:

Research has found that peers influence the academic achievement of children. However, the mechanisms through which peers matter remain underexplored. The present study examined the relationship between peers’ reading skills and children’s own reading skills among 4,215 total second- and third-graders in 294 classrooms across 41 schools. One innovation of the study was the use of social network analysis to directly assess who children reported talking to or seeking help from and whether children who identified peers with stronger reading skills experienced higher reading skills. The results indicated that children on average identified peers with stronger reading skills and the positive association between peer reading skills and children’s own reading achievement was strongest for children with lower initial levels of reading skills. The study has implications for how teachers can leverage the advantages of peers via in-class activities.

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