School-Based Peer Relationships and Achievement Motivation

Authored by: Jaana Juvonen , Casey Knifsend

Handbook of Motivation at School

Print publication date:  March  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138776166
eBook ISBN: 9781315773384
Adobe ISBN:


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Schooling is a social enterprise where students spend a substantial amount of time with same-age peers. They are therefore likely to affect one another’s attitudes and behaviors, including interest in schoolwork and willingness to work hard to do well in school. When classmates are heavily invested and engaged in learning, one would expect the peer effects to be positive, as opposed to when a substantial number of classmates are disruptive and disengaged. Such peer effects can be examined at the level of schools or classrooms, as well as at the level of small groups or cliques and friendship dyads. Although the overall academic norms or climate of the school may affect achievement motivation of individual students, within any one school or classroom the motivation level of students varies. In this chapter, we examine questions related to the role of peers and peer relationships. For example, do students’ interests and engagement vary as a function of the academic behaviors and aspirations of their close friends? Can socially marginalized students (e.g., those who are rejected, bullied, or friendless) feel motivated to do well in school, despite their social challenges? Do students conform to peer group norms that undermine achievement strivings in order to “fit in”?

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