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Socially Anxious Science Achievers: The Roles of Peer Social Support and Social Engagement in the Relation Between Adolescents’ Social Anxiety and Science Achievement

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Socially Anxious Science Achievers: The Roles of Peer Social Support and Social Engagement in the Relation Between Adolescents’ Social Anxiety and Science Achievement

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Socially anxious youth are at an increased risk for academic underachievement, withdrawal from school, and negative peer relationships. Given that learning tasks in science classes rely heavily on peer collaboration and social skills, this study aimed to investigate the link between high-school adolescents’ social anxiety and their science achievement while also determining whether and how peer social support and social engagement mediated the relation. Data was collected from 805 high-school students (48.7% female; 30.9% in 9th, 24.0% in 10th, 25.3% in 11th, 19.8% in 12th grade; 51.2% White, 29.8% Black, 11.4% Biracial, 7.6% Other). The results showed that socially anxious adolescents were more likely to report lower social engagement, which in turn predicted lower science performance. In addition, adolescents with social anxiety tended to experience less peer social support, which led to lower social engagement and subsequent lower science performance. These findings have important implications for guiding teaching practice and school-based interventions that support socially anxious adolescents in learning tasks.
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Journal of Youth and Adolescence
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01224-y
EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
Socially Anxious Science Achievers: The Roles of Peer Social Support
and Social Engagement in the Relation Between AdolescentsSocial
Anxiety and Science Achievement
Christina L. Scanlon1Juan Del Toro1Ming-Te Wang1
Received: 29 December 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2020
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020
Abstract
Socially anxious youth are at an increased risk for academic underachievement, withdrawal from school, and negative peer
relationships. Given that learning tasks in science classes rely heavily on peer collaboration and social skills, this study
aimed to investigate the link between high-school adolescentssocial anxiety and their science achievement while also
determining whether and how peer social support and social engagement mediated the relation. Data was collected from 805
high-school students (48.7% female; 30.9% in 9th, 24.0% in 10th, 25.3% in 11th, 19.8% in 12th grade; 51.2% White, 29.8%
Black, 11.4% Biracial, 7.6% Other). The results showed that socially anxious adolescents were more likely to report lower
social engagement, which in turn predicted lower science performance. In addition, adolescents with social anxiety tended to
experience less peer social support, which led to lower social engagement and subsequent lower science performance. These
ndings have important implications for guiding teaching practice and school-based interventions that support socially
anxious adolescents in learning tasks.
Keywords Social anxiety Social engagement Peer support Science achievement Student engagement
Introduction
Social abilities, peer relationships, and school engagement
are essential for adolescentsacademic and psychological
wellbeing (Wang et al. 2019; Wang and Hofkens 2019).
During adolescence, the school context becomes a primary
setting where youth continue to develop social competencies
through daily interactions with peers and engagement in
classes. A problem arises, though, when an adolescent lacks
the necessary skills to successfully navigate social demands
within the classroom environment. Not only do under-
developed social skills interfere with an adolescents ability
to form and maintain close peer relationships (Tillfors et al.
2012), but they also contribute to academic disengagement,
especially in subjects characterized by collaborative work
(Osborne 2010). For example, science-related learning tasks
often center around problem-solving, teamwork, and com-
munication, thus simultaneously fostering science engage-
ment and providing opportunities for social growth (Osborne
2010; Smith et al. 2009). Much like a youths reading ability
can affect their ability to solve word problems in math, a
youths social ability may preclude their science perfor-
mance because of social competencies embedded within a
given science-related task.
One of the primary contributors to adolescent social
shortcomings is social anxiety, or intense fear or unease
related to othersscrutiny in social situations (e.g., social
interactions, being observed, performing in front of others
(American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2013). Accord-
ing to de Lijster et al.s(2018) systematic review, problems
in academic and social functioning culminate during ado-
lescence, thus contributing to the development of social
anxiety. In fact, social anxiety disorder represents one of the
most common and pervasive mental health challenges
posed toward young adolescents, with the most recent data
from the National Institute of Mental Health showing a
9.1% prevalence rate in US adolescents ages 1318, with
1.3% experiencing severe impairment (Merikangas et al.
2010).
*Christina L. Scanlon
CLS143@PITT.EDU
1University of Pittsburgh, 5940 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, 230 South
Bouquet Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
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Social anxiety interferes with the development of pro-
social skills and acquisition of close peer relationships
during adolescence, thereby placing these youth at risk for
procuring poor social skills, experiencing low-quality
friendships, and disengaging from academic work. Indeed,
researchers have found that socially anxious youth have
social skill decits and poor interpersonal relationships with
others (Motoca et al. 2012; Tillfors et al. 2012), and
although ndings regarding the relation between social
anxiety and achievement have been mixed, socially anxious
youth do report feeling that anxiety impairs their ability to
function optimally within the school setting (de Lijster et al.
2018). In fact, very little is known about the mechanisms by
which social anxiety inuences science achievement. As
such, the current study examines whether social anxiety
predicts science achievement during adolescence and to
what extent peer support and social engagement mediate the
link between social anxiety and science achievement.
Theoretical and Empirical Framework
Self-system theory contends that human motivation is a
function of three universal, innate basic psychological needs
(Skinner and Pitzer 2012): the need for competence (i.e., the
feeling that one is capable), the need for relatedness (i.e., the
feeling of being connected to others), and the need for
autonomy (i.e., the feeling of independence). Studies have
shown that when these psychological needs are met, youth
are more likely to internalize their motivation, engage in
their studies, and value academic tasks (Niemiec and Ryan
2009; Skinner et al. 2008).
The need for relatedness carries particular weight for
those studying adolescentsscience engagement and
achievement, as relatedness affects many aspects of an
adolescents academic and social experiences (Skinner and
Pitzer 2012). Scholars have found that studentsfeelings of
relatedness predict their academic achievement and correlate
with their expectations for success, interest in academic
material, perception of competence, and both emotional and
behavioral engagement (Juvonen et al. 2012; Skinner and
Pitzer 2012). Relatedness also serves as a protective factor
against negative emotions (e.g., boredom, anxiety, frustra-
tion, and stress), and engaged, higher performing students
tend to elicit more support from teachers, parents, and peers,
which then increases future feelings of relatedness (Furrer
and Skinner 2003). Conversely, students who feel as though
they do not belong or have difculty relating to those around
them are more likely to have fewer experiences with com-
petence and lower academic achievement than their more
socially regulated peers (Wang and Holcombe 2010). These
socially disconnected youth have also reported difculties
becoming constructively involved in their coursework,
hence causing further social alienation and a decreasing
readiness to learn (Rice et al. 2013). In sum, student relat-
edness and engagement exist together in a positive feedback
cycle in which relatedness prompts engagement, which in
turn prompts future feelings of relatedness.
The Role of Social Anxiety in the Science Classroom
Social anxiety and academic achievement
One of the most signicant barriers to fullling the need for
relatedness is social anxiety. Researchers have found that
social anxiety interferes with a persons ability to relate to
others (Biggs et al. 2012; Tillfors et al. 2012). With social
interactions representing a major hallmark of adolescent
development, social anxiety not only forms a barrier to
youths social development, but it also undermines their
ability to engage academically, especially in courses reliant
on peer interaction and cooperation (de Lijster et al. 2018).
While researchers have looked at a general state of
anxiety and schooling-specic anxiety (e.g., school phobia),
few studies have focused on the relation between social
anxiety and academic achievement. It can, however, be
extrapolated from existing literature that a direct or indirect
negative relation may exist between generalized anxiety
(i.e., non-specic types of anxiety) and academic achieve-
ment, as anxiety has been associated with poor educational
attainment and dropping out (de Lijster et al. 2018). In fact,
one study found that 24% of students who had dropped out
of high school cited anxiety as their primary reason for
doing so (Van Ameringen et al. 2003).
Given that it particularly affects studentsinteractions
with peers, several plausible mechanisms may explain
social anxietys relation to academic achievement. For
instance, some researchers have attributed the link between
anxiety and academic achievement to difculties with
attention and perceived risk (see de Lijster et al. 2018).
Moreover, socially anxious students may be more prone to
underachievement due to their unwillingness to solicit help
from classmates or teachers (Erath et al. 2007). It remains
unclear, though, whether this same explanation holds true
for middle- or high-school students, and unfortunately, little
extant research has explored how social anxiety may affect
adolescentsacademic achievement. Research has shown
that students learn best when material is taught in an active
style that promotes peer collaboration and small group work
(Smith et al. 2009); yet, there is a pressing need to under-
stand the processes by which social anxiety affects aca-
demic engagement and achievement, especially in subject
domains where peer collaboration and group work set the
stage for academic success.
The science classroom, then, becomes an environment
laden with social consequences for the budding adolescent.
Science learning involves generating analogies, metaphors,
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
problems, and models that build meaningful connections
between new and old information, and peer interactions and
group discussions have long been instructional tools that
capitalize on the cooperative, collaborative nature of science
as a discipline (Osborne 2010). By participating in these
activities, students learn high-level cognitive concepts and
have opportunities to engage in questioning, explaining, and
elaborating (Smith et al. 2011); however, these techniques
require students to have a certain aptitude for prosocial
interactions. As such, those without the skills to form
questions, entertain othersideas, or feel comfortable
enough to speak up in a group may fall behind in their
problem-solving abilities and overall science achievement
(Smith et al. 2009,2011).
Because of the deleterious effects associated with gen-
eralized anxiety and generalized academic achievement, it is
reasonable to postulate that social anxiety may interfere
with success in science classrooms where achievement is
predicated on a studentsprosocial abilities. For example,
one study found that the rate of participation during in-
group discussion was central to studentsscientic learning
during collaborations (Osborne 2010). In other words, the
more a student took part in peer discussion, the more that
student consequentially learned. While many factors inu-
ence studentsscience participation (e.g., SES, gender,
personality), students who are introverted, experience
anxiety, or feel uncomfortable in a given classroom situa-
tion are less likely to fully participate in group discussions
or collaborative activities (Oliveira and Sadler 2008). As
such, social anxiety nefariously festers within the socially
saturated science classroom, thereby posing a threat to
participation, productivity, and overall science learning.
Social anxiety, peer social support, and academic
achievement
Social support from others is a central element of the
developmental trajectory traversing middle childhood and
adolescence. Coinciding with advances in cognitive and
emotional development that allow for increased perspective
taking and heightened emotional intelligence (Byrnes 2006;
Rosenblum and Lewis 2006), middle- and high-school
youth begin the processes of developing stable friendships
(Brown and Klute 2006), exploring the challenging world
of romantic relationships (Bouchey and Furman 2006), and
constructing their own sense of identity (Nakkula and
Toshalis 2013). Likewise, adolescence marks a period
during which social competencies carry increasing impor-
tance, thus affecting adolescentsabilities to form and
maintain peer relationships (Wentzel 2012). In turn, these
peer relationships aid in the development of further proso-
cial behaviors, school engagement, and academic achieve-
ment (Li et al. 2011; Wang et al. 2018).
Researchers have indicated that social anxiety interferes
with the development and maintenance of healthy peer
relationships in adolescence, nding that social anxiety is
related to difculties with prosocial interactions that lead to
fewer positive peer interactions and subsequent barriers to
social development (Motoca et al. 2012). Indeed, socially
anxious adolescents report having few friendships, low
levels of peer support, and high levels of peer victimization
(de Lijster et al. 2018), three factors that in tandem con-
tribute to negative social experiences. For example, an
adolescents socially anxious behaviorssuch as the
inability to maintain eye contact or withdrawal from social
contextsmay be perceived as irritating or uncomely,
therefore contributing to decreased peer acceptance and
increased peer victimization (Tillfors et al. 2012). When the
socially anxious adolescent encounters negative affect in
response to their attempts to be prosocial, they are dis-
couraged from future attempts at prosocial interactions
(Biggs et al. 2012). As such, youth with social anxiety often
sink deeper into social withdrawal with each rebuffed
attempt at being prosocial, as the demonstration of awkward
or uncouth social behavior decreases the quality and
quantity of peer relations (Greco and Morris 2005).
As can be seen, behaviors associated with social anxiety
can inuence peer social support or interpersonal relation-
ships with peers (Tillfors et al. 2012). In addition, peer
social support may serve as a mediator between social
anxiety and academic achievement, as students who
experience support and acceptance from their peers are
more likely than their lesser-supported classmates to
experience gains in both academic effort and achievement
(Wang and Eccles 2012,2013; Li and Lerner 2013).
Because individuals with social anxiety harbor decits in
social development, socially anxious adolescents may
experience poor peer social support, which in turn may lead
to suboptimal academic achievement. When considering the
science classroom (i.e., a context in which success often
hinges on studentsability to interact in a prosocial man-
ner), peer social support may inuence the likelihood of
current and future engagement and achievement in science-
related tasks and professions (Wang et al. 2019). Hence, it is
paramount for researchers to poise peer social support as a
mediating variable between student social anxiety and sci-
ence achievement.
Social anxiety, social engagement, and academic
achievement
Relatedness serves as a primary psychological need fullled
by meaningful relationships, and for adolescents especially,
needs for relatedness are often met in the school context
through their social engagement (Wang and Hofkens 2019;
Wentzel 2012). Social engagement refers to the extent to
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
which adolescents are motivated to interact with others and
value their interpersonal relationships (Wang and Hofkens
2019). It involves adolescentswillingness to invest in the
interaction, formation, and maintenance of relationships
with teachers and peers at school. To be clear, social
engagement differs from peer social support in that it refers
to the act of being socially involved in the classroom, while
peer social support refers to the feelings of being accepted
and supported by ones peers (Wang and Hofkens 2019).
While researchers have found associations between these
constructs (i.e. students who feel accepted by peers are more
likely to engage; Li et al. 2011; Ryan and Shin 2011), it is
possible that a student can feel that they have elevated
levels of peer social support without being socially engaged
in the classroom. For example, a student may feel supported
by their peers, but remain uninterested in the content of the
class, which leads the student to disengage from the
material.
Researchers have revealed that social engagement is
tightly linked to adolescentsacademic and socio-emotional
wellbeing, as adolescents who are socially engaged tend to
have more advanced social competencies, such as conict-
resolution skills and knowledge of what constitutes appro-
priate social interactions (Kiefer and Ryan 2011). For
example, Furrer and Skinner (2003) examined relatedness
between students and peers, parents, and teachers, nding
that engagement in these social relationships correlated with
better academic performance and increased psychological
coping mechanisms. Additionally, social engagement ben-
ets a students socio-emotional well-being by providing
outlets to deal with stressors and increasing feelings of
connectedness and belongingness to the school setting itself
(Juvonen et al. 2012).
While the research on social anxiety and social engage-
ment is limited, some scholars have suggested that the
symptoms of social anxiety may affect a students social
engagement. For example, students with social anxiety
often report having difculty talking in front of the class or
feeling anxious while in class (Van Ameringen et al. 2003).
Since social anxiety includes both difculties in peer
interactions and fears of being evaluated negatively, stu-
dents with social anxiety often present low levels of social
engagement (Christenson et al. 2012). In particular, students
with social anxiety may exhibit withdrawal behavior in the
classroom by avoiding certain types of social engagement
(Biggs et al. 2012), such as participating in small group
discussions or asking peers and teachers questions.
Social engagement may also mediate the relation
between social anxiety and academic achievement such that
symptoms of social anxiety cause students to become less
socially engaged in the classroom. Lack of social engage-
ment, then, would lead to lower academic achievement.
Although social engagement has not yet been tested in this
particular mediation role, researchers have looked at the role
of anxiety and stress in relation to engagement: There is a
link between psychological distress, engagement, and
achievement such that distress is negatively associated with
school engagement, thus contributing to poor academic
achievement (Roeser et al. 2002). Moreover, recent litera-
ture has touted the importance of social engagement within
the school context, presenting the concept as a niche com-
ponent of academic engagement with direct implications for
overall student academic achievement (Wang and Hofkens
2019). In doing so, the previously uncelebrated role of
social engagement shows promise as a viable intervention
target to help students struggling to meet relatedness needs,
which in turn may help students bolster peer support net-
works as well as their ability to achieve academically.
The Current Study
While many studies have explored the relations between
school engagement and achievement, this study proposed a
more nuanced view of engagement by examining the roles
of peer social support, social engagement, and social anxi-
ety in science classrooms. Of particular note is the dearth of
research examining the role of social anxiety in the science
classroom, especially considering the consequences posed
to socially anxious youth when confronted with primarily
social academic tasks (e.g., lab work with partners). While
some researchers have examined the role of social anxiety
in college classrooms (e.g., Brook and Willoughby 2015),
few have examined science classrooms in middle or high
schools. As such, it is imperative that the inuence of social
anxiety on academic achievement, peer social support, and
social engagement be studied in adolescents due to the risk
of social anxiety increasing at the same time relatedness
becomes central to positive youth development. Given the
role of social engagement and peer social support in pro-
moting academic performance in classroom settings (Wang
and Hofkens 2019), examining both constructs as mediators
between social anxiety and academic achievement would
present a pathway for intervention that bolsters both
engagement and achievement in socially anxious youth.
This study examined the link between adolescents
social anxiety and science achievement and whether the
link was mediated by adolescentspeer social support and
social engagement. Three specic hypotheses were pro-
posed in this study. The rst hypothesis was that social
anxiety would be negatively associated with science
achievement either directly or indirectly. The second
hypothesis positioned social engagement as a mediator
between social anxiety and science achievement in con-
sideration of evidence showing that social anxiety was
associated with poor social skills and fear of interacting
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
with peers (Biggs et al. 2012; Erath et al. 2007). The third
hypothesis illustrated peer social support as a mediating
variable, given that social anxiety was related to lower
levels of peer social support. In other words, it was pre-
dicted that students experiencing higher levels of social
anxiety would be more likely to experience low peer social
support, which would then lead to lower science grades.
Methods
Participants
Participants were high-school students enrolled in a large-
scale longitudinal research project examining the role of
contextual and motivational factors on student engagement.
The sample included 805 ninth- (30.9%), tenth- (24.0%),
eleventh- (25.3%), and twelfth-grade students (19.8%;
48.7% female; 51.2% White, 29.8% Black, 11.4% Biracial,
7.6% Other; 59.2% qualied for free/reduced price lunch;
ages ranging from 1418 years old) from three public high
schools in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
Procedure
All participants were invited totakepartinthestudyusing
school-based recruitment. At each school, the researchers
discussed the study with science teachers and received their
consent accordingly. These science teachers distributed con-
sent forms informing students and parents about the studys
purpose and procedures. More than 98% of eligible partici-
pants consented to the study, with participant rates being equal
across grades. Participating students completed computer-
based surveys that took approximately 45 minutes to complete.
To accommodate for potential literacy issues, all survey
questions were audio-recorded, and headphones were made
available to students. Research staff were present and available
during the survey administrationtoaddressanystudent
questions about the surveys purpose or content. In apprecia-
tion of their time and participation, research staff provided
students with a small gift after completing the survey.
Measures
Social anxiety
Studentssocial anxiety was assessed using the widely used
and well-validated Social Phobia subscale of the Screen for
Child Anxiety-Related Disorders (SCARED; Birmaher et al.
1997,1999). This six-item, self-report subscale measured
the degree to which students experience social anxiety on a
ve-point Likert agreement scale (1 =not true at all;5=
very true;α=0.91), with example items such as I feel
nervous with people I dont know well,and I feel nervous
when I am with other children or adults and I have to do
something while they watch me.
Peer social support
Peer social support was measured using the Peer Social
Support subscale from the Classroom Life Measure (John-
son et al. 1983). The subscale has received adequate relia-
bility and validity in prior studies (Rowe et al. 2010). This
ve-item, self-report subscale measured the degree to which
students experience social anxiety on a ve-point Likert
agreement scale (1 =not true at all;5=very true;α=
0.87), with example items such as In science class, other
students care about my feelings,and I can count on other
students for help when I need it in science class.
Social engagement
Social engagement was measured using the four-item Sci-
ence Social Engagement Subscale (see Wang et al. 2019).
This scale was developed and validated using a sequential
mixed-methods design. The authors conducted open-ended
interviews with secondary-school science teachers and
student focus groups to learn how they conceptualized
social engagement. From the qualitative data, the authors
developed survey items and the nal items of social
engagement were rened based on the measurement model.
This scale specically measured studentsengagement with
their peers and teachers in the classroom context using a
ve-point Likert agreement scale (1 =not true at all;5=
very true;α=0.73), with items such as When working
with others, I dont share my ideas,and I dont ask for
help even if I need it.
Science achievement
Studentscumulative science course grade and science
standardized test scores were collected from the school
records to represent indicators of science achievement. The
test scores were recalibrated to a scale of 0100, with a
mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10, and the scores
across years are directly comparable.
Covariates
Student demographic characteristics were obtained from
school records (e.g., adolescentsrace, gender, and free or
reduced-price lunch status). Missing race and gender
information were supplemented by adolescentsself-
reports. All models included adolescentsgender (1 =boy;
0=girl), race (1 =White;0=racial minority), grade level,
prior science achievement, free or reduced-price lunch
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
status (1 =free/reduced price lunch;0=paid lunch), and
science class.
Analytic Plan
Path analysis was used to examine whether the association
between social anxiety and science performance was
mediated by social engagement and peer social support in
the science classrooms (i.e., whether the effect of social
anxiety in the fall on the science course grade at the end of
the school year was mediated by social engagement and
peer social support in the spring). The distribution-of-the-
product approach was used as a valid, robust approach to
test indirect effects (MacKinnon et al. 2002,2004). Speci-
cally, RMediation developed by Toghi and MacKinnon
(2011) was used to implement the approach which produces
the condence interval for an indirect effect based on the
point and standard error estimates of the coefcients that
constitute the indirect effect. If the condence interval did
not include zero, then the indirect effect was signicant.
All analyses were conducted in Mplus 8.3 (Muthén and
Muthén 19982019). Because of the clustering nature of the
data (e.g., students nested within science classrooms) and
the studys focus on student-level effects, the authors used
Type =complexcommand in Mplus along with robust
maximum likelihood estimation method (MLR). This
method corrects the standard errors of the model parameters
for the clustering effects. In addition, MLR is a full infor-
mation maximum likelihood method which accommodates
missing at random data by incorporating missing data pat-
terns in the model estimation process without deleting any
incomplete cases (Yuan and Bentler 2000).
Results
The descriptive statistics for the continuous variables and
the correlations among the key variables and covariates are
shown in Table 1.
Main Effect
According to Fig. 1, adolescentssocial anxiety did not
predict science course grades (b=0.03, SE =0.04, p=ns)
or science standardized test scores directly (b=0.02,
SE =0.04, p=ns).
Mediation Effect
Social engagement as the mediator
As shown in Fig. 2, adolescentssocial anxiety was asso-
ciated with lower social engagement (model with science
Table 1 Descriptive statistics and zero-order bivariate correlations among key study variables
1234 5 6789 10
1 Race 1
2 Gender 0.04 1
3 SES 0.47** 0.01 1
4 Grade Level 0.04 0.03 0.10** 1
5 Science Grade (one-year prior) 0.45** 0.18** 0.41** 0.18** 1
6 Social Anxiety 0.04 0.09** 0.07* 0.04 0.03 1
7 Social Engagement in Science 0.23** 0.02 0.23** 0.04 0.28** 0.13** 1
8 Social Support in Science 0.28** 0.02 0.24** 0.01 0.29** 0.12** 0.34** 1
9 Science Course Grade 0.39** 0.19** 0.33** 0.01 0.62** 0.03 0.29** 0.29** 1
10 Science Test Score 0.40** 0.05 0.46** 0.36** 0.60** 0.01 0.28** 0.29** 0.61** 1
Means (SD) 0.55 (0.50) 0.51 (0.50) 0.59 (0.49) 10.34 (1.11) 80.09 (13.33) 2.65 (1.08) 3.33 (0.97) 3.22 (1.00) 75.60 (13.75) 1482.87 (60.39)
*p< 0.05; **p< 0.01
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
course grades: b=0.16, SE =0.05, p< 0.01; model with
science standardized test scores: b=0.16, SE =0.05, p<
0.01). In addition, greater social engagement was associated
with higher science course grades (b=0.20, SE =0.05, p<
0.001) and higher science standardized test scores (b=
0.21, SE =0.05, p< 0.001). As a result, there was a sig-
nicant indirect effect of social anxiety on science perfor-
mance through social engagement (model with science
course grades: b=0.03, SE =0.01, p< 0.05, 95% CI
[0.06, 0.01]; model with science standardized test
scores: b=0.03, SE =0.01, p< 0.01, 95% CI [0.06,
0.01]). Specically, social anxiety was linked to lower
social engagement, which in turn was linked to poorer
science performance.
Peer social support as the mediator
Models t the data perfectly. As shown in Fig. 2, adoles-
cents with higher social anxiety tended to receive lower
peer social support (model with science course grades:
b=0.14, SE =0.05, p< 0.01; model with science stan-
dardized test scores: b=0.14, SE =0.05, p< 0.01). Peer
social support was not associated with science performance
(model with science course grades: b=0.10, SE =0.07,
p=ns; model with science standardized test scores: b=
0.09, SE =0.05, p< 0.10). As a result, peer support did not
mediate the association between social anxiety and science
performance.
Peer social support and social engagement as sequential
mediators
Although peer social support was not found to mediate the
association between social anxiety and science perfor-
mance, there was a signicant indirect effect of social
anxiety on science performance through peer social support
and then social engagement (model with science course
grades: b=0.01, SE =0.00, p< 0.05, 95% CI [0.02,
0.002]; model with science standardized test scores: b=
0.01, SE =0.00, p< 0.01, 95% CI [0.02, 0.003]). In
other words, social anxiety was linked to lower peer social
support and then to lower social engagement, which in turn
was linked to lower science performance (see Fig. 3).
Fit indices and post-hoc analyses
The indices for model examining science course grades
as the outcome indicate that the model t the data well:
Social Anxiety
Social Anxiety
Science
Course Grade
Science
Standardized
Test Score
0.03 (0.04)
0.06 (0.04)
Fig. 1 The direct link between social anxiety and science performance
Social Anxiety
Social En gagement in
Science Class
Peer Social Support in
Science Class
Science Course Grades
-.16 (.05)** .20 (.05)***
.43 (.05)***
)50.(
0
1.**
)5
0.
(
41.-
Social Anxiety
Social En gagement in
Science Class
Peer Social Support in
Science Class
Science Standardized Test
Scores
-.16 (.05)** .21 (.05)***
.43 (.05)***
-.14 (.05)** .09 (.05)
Fig. 2 The mediation model with social engagement and peer social
support as co-occurring mediators. Specic indirect effect via social
engagement: b=0.03, SE =0.01, p< 0.05, 95% CI [0.06, 0.01];
specic indirect effect via social engagement: b=0.03, SE =0.01,
p< 0.01, 95% CI [0.06, 0.01]. **p< 0.01, ***p< 0.001
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
χ2(155) =573.67, p< 0.001, RMSEA 0.06 90% CI [0.05,
0.06] CFI 0.92 TLI 0.91 SRMR 0.08. Multi-group analyses
examining whether gender and grade level moderated the
observed pathways did not result in a signicant improve-
ment in model t [gender: Δχ2(3) =2.18, p=ns; grade
level: Δχ2(9) =11.37, p=ns), suggesting that neither
demographic category emerged as a signicant moderator.
The indices for model examining science standardized
test scores as the outcome indicate that the model t the data
well, χ2(155) =583.12, p< 0.001, RMSEA 0.06 90% CI
[0.05, 0.06] CFI 0.92 TLI 0.91 SRMR 0.09. Multi-group
analyses examining whether gender and grade level mod-
erated the observed pathways did not result in a signicant
improvement in model t [gender: Δχ2(3) =2.01, p=ns;
grade level: Δχ2(6) =7.77, p=ns), suggesting that neither
demographic category emerged as a signicant moderator.
Discussion
Social anxiety poses a signicant threat to prosocial devel-
opment during adolescence, and this threat has con-
sequences for academic participation and performance (de
Lijster et al. 2018), especially in science classrooms where
cooperation, participation, and deliberation are inherent to
the learning process (Osborne 2010). Not only does social
anxiety jeopardize active participation in science classrooms,
it also affects youths overall social engagement in school as
well as their likelihood of having a positive peer support
network (Biggs et al. 2012; Motoca et al. 2012; Tillfors et al.
2012). To better understand how these variables affect sci-
ence learning, this study examined the mediating roles of
peer social support and social engagement in the relation
between social anxiety and science achievement.
Although social anxiety did not have a direct effect on
science performance, results indicated a negative association
between adolescentssocial anxiety and their social
engagement and peer social support in science class (see
Fig. 2). In addition, the link between social anxiety and
science performance was mediated by social engagement:
Socially anxious adolescents were more likely to report
lower social engagement, which was then linked to lower
science performance. Finally, peer social support and social
engagement performed as sequential mediators, meaning
that adolescents with higher social anxiety tended to
experience less peer social support, when then led to lower
social engagement and subsequent lower science perfor-
mance (see Fig. 3).
Social Anxiety and Science Achievement
Because of the harmful effects associated with generalized
anxiety on generalized academic achievement (see de Lij-
ster et al. 2018), it seemed reasonable that social anxiety
would directly interfere with success in science classrooms,
as achievement in these environments is often predicated on
a studentsprosocial abilities (Wang et al. 2019). Results
indicated that social anxiety only indirectly predicted sci-
ence performance through social elements of the science
classroom, namely peer social support and social engage-
ment during science-related tasks. Given that social inter-
actions are a major hallmark of adolescent growth, it is
developmentally apropos that social anxiety would serve as
a barrier to developing a healthy, supportive peer group that
later affects social engagement and academic achievement.
Social Anxiety, Social Engagement, and Science
Achievement
While social anxiety negatively correlated with both social
engagement and peer social support, only social engage-
ment mediated the relation between social anxiety and
science achievement. When a students relatedness needs
are met through prosocial peer interactions, they develop
social skills necessary for school engagement, the formation
of friendships, and academic achievement, thus naturally
supporting their ability to develop competence and auton-
omy (Niemiec and Ryan 2009). Students with social anxi-
ety, though, have difculty socially engaging with others
even in the most innocuous of settings, often feeling
Social Anxiety Peer Social Support in
Science Class
Social Engagement in
Science Class Science Course Grades
Social Anxiety Peer Social Support in
Science Class
Social Engagement in
Science Class
Science Standardized
Test Scores
**
*
)
5
0.(02.
*
*)50.(3
4.
*
)
4
0
.(
0
1.
-
-.10 (.04)* **)50.(12.***)50.(
3
4.
Fig. 3 The mediation model with peer social support and social
engagement as sequential mediators. Specic indirect effect via peer
social support and social engagement: b=0.01, SE =0.00, p< 0.05,
95% CI [0.02, 0.002]; specic indirect effect via peer social sup-
port and social engagement: b=0.01, SE =0.00, p< 0.01, 95% CI
[0.02, 0.003]. *p< 0.05, **p< 0.01, ***p< 0.001
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
pressure as if they were performing in front of or being
critiqued by others (APA 2013). Moreover, adolescents
with social anxiety have difculty initiating conversations
and seeking out social opportunities with peers because of
general discomfort in social situations (Biggs et al. 2012). It
is plausible to assume, then, that school-related tasks
involving social interaction would provoke uneasy feelings
from a youth suffering with social anxiety, resulting in a
lower level of social engagement than their less socially
anxious peers. In particular, science achievement requires
participation in learning tasks that involve peer collabora-
tion, questioning, and elaboration, lest the student jeo-
pardize their full understanding of higher-level science
concepts (Osborne 2010). Therefore, students with higher
social anxiety experience lower levels of social engagement
in science-related tasks, which in turn results in lower sci-
ence achievement scores.
Social Anxiety, Peer Social Support, Social
Engagement, and Science Achievement
The third prediction situated peer social support alongside
social engagement as a concurrent mediator between social
anxiety and science achievement. Findings did not support
this hypothesis; rather, it was found that peer social support
served as a sequential mediator in a chain that links social
anxiety to peer support, peer support to social engagement,
and social engagement to science achievement. In other
words, adolescents with higher social anxiety experienced
less support from peers, thus contributing to a reduction in
social engagement, which then resulted in lower science
achievement.
Adolescents higher in social anxiety reported feeling less
peer social support, aligning with research showing that
students with social anxiety have difculty initiating and
maintaining positive relationships with peers (Biggs et al.
2012). When a student feels important to key social part-
ners, such as peers, they are more likely to exert effort,
persistence, and participation in school activities (Furrer and
Skinner 2003). Conversely, students with unmet relatedness
needs are more likely to have fewer experiences with
competence and lower academic achievement than their
more socially regulated peers (Niemiec and Ryan 2009).
These socially disconnected youth report difculties
becoming constructively involved in their coursework,
resulting in further social alienation and a decreasing
readiness to learn (Li and Lerner 2013; Li et al. 2011).
It makes sense, then, that peer social support and social
engagement served as sequential mediators, as students who
do not receive strong social support from their peers are less
likely to socially engage in academic tasks (Juvonen et al.
2012). With the social nature of science classes, the need for
prosocial skills and peer support amplies, thereby placing
the socially anxious youth at a disadvantage in classrooms
relying on social interaction as a means of learning. As
science-related tasks frequently require prosocial interaction
within the classroom, those contending with a lack of peer
social support would have difculty socially engaging in
classroom activities or responding cooperatively to class-
room tasks (Erath et al. 2007), thus resulting in a decreased
ability to comprehend the material as reected in their sci-
ence course grade and science standardized test scores.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the mediation effects
were stronger in the model examining course grades than in
the one measuring standardized test scores. This difference
may have been due to the nature of these particular science
achievement measures: While standardized test scores
reect the individuals understanding of science-related
material, science course grades may be based on an amal-
gamation of participation, effort, skill, and understanding in
both individualized and/or group science-related tasks. In
other words, science course grades may be a more inher-
ently social measure of science achievement than science
standardized test scores, thereby explaining the stronger
mediation impact of social anxiety on science course grades
than on science standardized tests.
Limitations and Future Research Directions
There are several limitations that should be taken into
consideration when interpreting this studys results. First,
this study examined social anxiety as a character trait rather
than social anxiety as a psychiatric disorder. The sample for
this study consisted of general high-school students who
were asked to report on their social anxiety levels on a
continuum. Results were not intended to be generalized to
students with social anxiety disorder, which implies a more
pervasive state than a character trait. Social anxiety, as
measured in this study, likely uctuates over time, posing
the possibility of temporal variations in peer social support
and social engagement that may differentially impact sci-
ence achievement over time. To address this limitation,
future research should consider longitudinal approaches to
understanding the uctuation of social anxiety over time as
well as designs comparing students with trait-based and
state-based social anxiety.
In addition, this study cannot infer causality between
variables due to its correlational nature; however, this study
suggests important links between social anxiety, peer social
support, social engagement, and science achievement that
should be considered in future research. Along with the
correlational nature of the study, students self-reported on
all major independent variables. Given that youth with
social anxiety may have a negative bias surrounding their
perceptions of their role in social relationships (Biggs et al.
2012; Erath et al. 2007), it may be the case that students
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
with higher social anxiety are not accurate reporters when
answering questions regarding peer social support. In
addition, the level and discipline of science classes and the
schools in which these classes occur may have affected the
nature and frequency of studentssocial interactions and
science engagement. To improve upon this studys design,
future research should consider longitudinal inquiries that
assess social anxiety from multiple vantage points (i.e.,
peer, teacher, parent, observer) and across multiple schools
and science disciplines.
Moreover, science achievement was measured using
student grades and standardized tests scores, and it is
debatable as to whether these measures truly represent a
students achievement in any given academic domain.
Interestingly, though, researchers have found an association
between certain personality traits, such as conscientiousness
and openness, and domain-specic achievement in sec-
ondary education (Meyer et al. 2019). Therefore, future
research should carefully consider the use of achievement
tests alongside other indicators of science achievement,
such as science interest, task value, and self-efcacy. Fur-
thermore, moderators of the relation between social anxiety
and science achievement measures should be explored to
nd potential group differences regarding gender, race/
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and personality type.
Despite these limitations, this study contributed to the
social anxiety and learning literature. It marks the rst
exploration of the complicated link between social anxiety
and science achievement. Given that social anxiety inter-
feres with youths social skills and the nature of social
engagement, this study demonstrates a clear link between
these constructs. Moreover, this study tested a mediation
model that elucidates the roles of peer social support and
social engagement as behavioral and psychological
mechanisms between social anxiety and science achieve-
ment. Considering the social nature of science classes and
the reliance on collaboration in understanding scientic
concepts, it is imperative to understand the essentiality of
getting students to socially engage in classes.
Implications for Practice
With social anxiety posing signicant threats to science
performance via a pathway through both peer social support
and social engagement, it is critical that researchers, edu-
cators, and interventionists continue exploring this line of
inquiry. Science educators, especially those working with
adolescents prone to social anxiety, should be aware of the
role that social anxiety plays in developing peer support
networks and socially engagement in learning. As the sci-
ence classroom is primarily social, science educators should
be aware that the social nature of their classroom may dif-
ferentially impact students based on their level of prosocial
abilities. As such, science educators must remain vigilant
and committed to elements of differentiated instruction that
may deter feelings of social anxiety in their students.
While science educators should be aware of the infor-
mation presented by this study, interventionists may stand
to gain the most. We now know that peer social support
plays a particularly salient role in the science classroom,
inuencing whether students are socially engaged in
science-related classrooms and their eventual ability to
achieve in the sciences. Interventions may involve direct
social skill instruction or classroom team-building exercises
to help students feel more comfortable around their peers,
particularly in classrooms where social engagement pre-
dicates learning and achievement.
Conclusion
Harkening back to the lessons embedded within self-system
theory, social interactions in the school setting provide
adolescents with a canvas ripe for strengthening their
relatedness, exploring their competence, and exercising
their autonomy (Wang and Hofkens 2019). However, the
current study shows that youth struggling with social
anxiety may experience decits in their ability to form and
maintain a positive peer support network, thus decreasing
their social engagement in academics, which in turn
decreases their ability to perform academically. Therefore, it
is critical that we continue to highlight the role that social
anxiety plays in a students ability to form healthy, proso-
cial peer relationships so that they can fully engage and
experience success in academic settings.
AuthorsContributions C.L.S. drafted the introduction, literature
review, and discussion sections; J.D.T. conducted the analysis and
drafted the result section; and M.T.W. designed the study; wrote
portions of the introduction, method, result, and discussion sections;
and provided feedback on the full draft. All authors read and approved
the nal manuscript.
Funding This study was supported by the National Science Founda-
tion Grant 1503181 to Ming-Te Wang.
Data Sharing and Declaration The datasets generated and/or analyzed
during the current study are not publicly available, but they are
available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conict of Interest The authors declare that they have no conict of
interest.
Ethical Approval All procedures performed in studies involving
human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of
the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964
Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
standards. A review conducted by the Institutional Review Board
approved the study to be consistent with the protection of the rights
and welfare of human subjects and to meet the requirements of the
Federal Guidelines.
Informed Consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual
participants included in the study.
Publishers note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to
jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional afliations.
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Christina L. Scanlon is a doctoral candidate in Applied
Developmental Psychology through the School of Educations
Psychology in Education Department. Her research recognizes the
roles that organizational culture and on-the-job emotion regulation
strategies play in the professional lives of teachers, mental health
practitioners, and youth workers and examines how these elements of
professionalism inuence youths developmental and motivational
outcomes.
Juan Del Toro is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the
University of Pittsburgh. Del Toros research examines setting-specic
perpetrators of ethnic-racial discrimination (e.g., peers versus law
enforcement) and socialization (e.g., parents versus schools) in relation
to youths adjustment outcomes in order to inform source-specic
interventions and policies.
Ming-Te Wang is a Professor of Psychology and Education and
Research Scientist of Learning Research and Development Center at
the University of Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate in Human
Development and Psychology from Harvard University. His major
research interests include motivation, emotion, and learning,
educational and heath disparities, stereotype threat and learning, and
psychosocial intervention.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
... Several studies discussed factors related to school and the school environment, as being linked to prosocial behavior. These were: attending school [146], attending secondary schools [86], a greater sense of school connectedness [173], school engagement [167], university programs [174], strong support from teachers and achieving high grades [31], and the student's relatedness needs [175]. ...
Article
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Background: Mental health during a person’s adolescence plays a key role in setting the stage for their mental health over the rest of their life. Hence, initiatives that promote adolescents’ wellbeing are an important public health goal. Helping others can take a variety of forms, and the literature suggests that helping others can positively impact a person’s wellbeing. However, there is a lack of data that synthesizes the impact of helping others on adolescents’ wellbeing. Therefore, this review aims to synthesize the available evidence related to helping others and to youth wellbeing. Methods: A scoping review search was undertaken with no date restrictions. CINAHL, Medline and PyschINFO, were searched for studies that analyzed the relationship between helping others and youth mental health. Results: Data from 213 papers were included in the scoping review. Three main themes were observed: (1) the relationship between helping others and mental health outcomes among youths (positive and negative); (2) factors associated with youth engagement in prosocial behavior (facilitators and barriers); (3) the impact of interventions related to helping others, and to youth mental health (positive and negative). Conclusions: An overwhelmingly positive relationship exists between youth prosocial behavior and its influence on youth mental health.
... discussed if the social dimension should be treated as an engagement dimension or viewed as a part of the context within which engagement occurs. This study acknowledges that learning is social (Lave & Wenger, 1991), takes place in a social world (Bhaskar, 2013), and that social withdrawal is an indicator of disengagement (Finn, 1989;Finn & Cox, 1992;Scanlon et al., 2020). This study expands on the findings of Wang (et al., 2017) and Bergdahl (et al., 2020) and proposes that students with social insecurities (including social phobia) display engagement differently than students with no social insecurities. ...
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It can be challenging for teachers to engage students online; to know whether students are engaged or not. Online engagement can be perceived differently than in-class engagement. Research has shown that teacher perceptions of student engagement affect how they interact with students as well as students' grades. It is critical to understand how teachers perceive engagement, not least in an online setting, to inform practices and research. This study explores Swedish teachers' understanding of student online engagement and disengagement. A Mixed Method Grounded Theory study was designed as an intervention with an interview-diary-interview format. Twenty interviews with teachers (n = 10) who regularly teach hybrid, remote or distance classes in K-12 education were analysed using descriptive statistics and content analysis. The results show that teachers express understanding at the macro and micro level of engagement and would report different combinations of engagement and disengagement at different levels of engagement. The results informed an engagement model with a complex construct without inherent boundaries; teachers rated student engagement both below and above the suggested scale. The contribution to theory with included models is discussed.
... A study in 2018 among 413 adolescents in the United States found that family social support mediated students' depression and academic achievement; the higher the social support, the lower the depression level and the better academic achievement [45]. A recent study in the United States in 2020 found that peer social support and social engagement performed a mediating role between adolescents' social anxiety and academic achievement; socially anxious adolescents receive less peer support, which will lead to lower social engagement and poor academic achievement [46]. As discussed, if students with poor mental health cannot actively seek social support, their academic achievement will be further affected. ...
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This study evaluated the mediating role of social support in the relationships between mental health and academic achievement and used a sample of 640 college students from lower socioeconomic status (LSES) compared to 501 from higher socioeconomic status (HSES) in China. Self-report measures of depression, anxiety, Internet addiction, self-esteem, perceived social support, and grade point average (GPA) were measured online. Group differences were examined with Chi-square analyses. Results. (1) There were significant differences in mental health, academic achievement, and social support between LSES and HSES. (2) Anxiety, depression, and Internet addiction were significantly negatively correlated with academic achievement; self-esteem and social support were significantly positively correlated with academic achievement. (3) Social support has a mediating role between mental health and academic achievement. These results proved that it is necessary to pay more attention to their mental health and develop social support to improve their academic achievement for LSES students. Previous studies have paid little attention to the LSES students, but these students are more prone to psychological problems. Therefore, this study focuses on the LSES students.
... Past research establishes the important role peers play in the provision of emotional and social support (Wang & Eccles, 2012), which is foundational for increasing young people's agency and confidence both in the global sense and in utilizing their relationships and resources in pursuit of their goals (i.e., self-initiated social capital). For example, past research shows that strong peer networks are associated with: young people's willingness to seek help (Menna & Ruck, 2004); feelings of collective efficacy, social responsibility, and civic engagement (Flanagan, 2013;Wray-Lake & Abrams, 2020); and, that greater peer social support is associated with greater social engagement (i.e., motivation to interact with others; Scanlon et al., 2020). Similarly, another study showed that peers' efficacy beliefs were positively associated with young people's engagement in job search activities (i.e., a greater number of applications completed) and indirectly associated with their job search outcomes (Ruschoff et al., 2018). ...
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Social capital strengthens emerging adults’ ability to reach life goals, but little is known about how peers and near-peers (slightly older and/or more experienced peers who serve in mentorship or coaching roles) support social capital development especially among young people of color. To address this gap, the current study examined how social capital derived from peers and near-peers contributes to emerging adults’ ability to actively mobilize social capital in pursuit of their education or career goals (i.e., self-initiated social capital) and, in turn, their education and career outcomes. A total of 841 emerging adults who participated in one of five community-based education and/or workforce support programs were surveyed (72% female; Mage = 20.1, SD = 1.84; 35% Latinx, 30% Black, 19% Asian, 16% Other). Peer social capital was indirectly associated with outcomes (i.e., progress towards education/career goals, commitment to paying-it-forward, collective efficacy to change systems) via greater self-initiated social capital, whereas near-peer social capital was both directly and indirectly associated with outcomes. The mechanisms by which peer and near-peer social capital support emerging adults as they work towards their goals may differ and have important program implications.
... Anxiety is a dynamic emotional state of tension, uneasiness, concern, and other uncomfortable feelings induced by the coming and potential danger of a person (Bauer, 1965). Reasonable anxiety is conducive to improving the brain's reaction speed and alertness, thereby improving learning effectiveness and engagement (Chen, 2019;Hordacre et al., 2016;Nasir, 2020), whereas unnecessary anxiety decreases the interest of students in learning and academic success (Khng, 2016;Ramirez et al., 2016;Scanlon et al., 2020;Cheng, 2013;Soltanlou et al., 2019). For example, in a recent study focused on Chinese medical college students, higher levels of anxiety were correlated with factors closely linked to COVID-19, such as a COVID-19-diagnosed patient (Cao et al., 2020). ...
... Highly anxious students experience more discomfort in the classroom (Cohen et al., 2019), tend toward having lower grades and Scholastic Aptitude Test scores (Hembree, 1988), and are more likely to drop out of a STEM program (Cassady and Johnson, 2002;England et al., 2019). The negative relation between academic performance and anxiety has been well documented for specific subtypes of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder (de Lijster et al., 2018), evaluation or test anxiety (Richardson et al., 2012), and subject-specific anxiety (e.g., math; Beilock and Maloney, 2015), and some recent evidence also shows a similar relationship with social anxiety (Brook and Willoughby, 2015;Scanlon et al., 2020). Several features of STEM classrooms themselves have also been identified as anxiogenic for students, including large class sizes (McKinney et al., 1983); a heightened atmosphere of competition among students; instructors who appear to students to be unapproachable or unsupportive (Daempfle, 2003); and a lack of representation of visible minorities and women in educational leadership (Mallow, 2006;Johnson, 2007). ...
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This article reports a study investigating the effects of guided group work and teacher participation on students’ perceptions of individual and collaborative success. One hundred and fifty-two eighth graders joined a teaching intervention involving various learning activities, including concept debate, review of arguments, presentation and reflection tasks. The results of questionnaire-based surveys revealed that the students who engaged in group work with teacher guidance exhibited the strongest sense of collaborative success. Whilst the students who participated in independent learning expressed a preference for individual success, dichotomous results were obtained amongst the students who engaged in self-directed group work. Findings from classroom excerpts and follow-up interviews highlight the prominent role of the teacher in facilitating students’ joint construction of conceptual knowledge, which in turn exerts a notable impact on students’ awareness of achieving collaborative success. The study's broad implications for the promotion of peer collaboration and guided group work in classroom learning activities are discussed.
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Problematic smartphone use (PSU) has recently attracted a lot of attention, especially among adolescents. The knowledge about the role peer engagement might play in the development of PSU is still limited. We aimed to investigate the bidirectional relationships between PSU, the quantity of online (i.e., passive and active social media messaging on smartphone) and offline peer engagement (i.e., intensity of face-to-face meeting with friends) and the quality of peer engagement (i.e., perceived competence in close friendships) among adolescents. Data from a three-wave longitudinal study among 2100 Dutch high school students (56.7% boys) was used. Cross-lagged models indicated that: (1) perceived competence in close friendships at T1 negatively predicted PSU at T2 and PSU at T2 negatively predicted perceived competence in close friendships at T3; (2) there were positive and reciprocal cross-lagged correlations between PSU and passive social media messaging on smartphone; (3) there were positive and reciprocal cross-lagged correlations between intensity of face-to-face meeting with friends and active social media messaging on smartphone. This implies that adolescents who perceive a low competence in close friendships and/or intensively check their smartphone for messages from their peers may be particularly vulnerable to developing problematic smartphone use over time.
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Social anxiety is associated with reduced educational achievement. Given that concentration is a predictor of educational achievement, and social anxiety symptoms are associated with reduced concentration in class, this prospective study examined the possibility that social anxiety may impair educational achievement through reduced classroom concentration. A sample of 509 participants (53.8% female; M age: 12.77 years [ SD = 0.81]) recruited from secondary schools completed questionnaires assessing social anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and concentration in class. Educational achievement was assessed by internal grades within schools. An indirect effect of social anxiety on later educational achievement via concentration was observed, over and above baseline achievement and depression symptoms; adolescents with higher levels of social anxiety tend to have more difficulties concentrating in class, which in turn is associated with poorer academic outcomes. Findings underscore the challenges socially anxious adolescents will face trying to learn in school, and the need for education providers and clinicians to consider the effect of social anxiety symptoms on concentration and learning.
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School engagement researchers have historically focused on academic engagement or academic-related activities. Although academic engagement is vital to adolescents’ educational success, school is a complex developmental context in which adolescents also engage in social interactions while exploring their interests and developing competencies. In this article, school engagement is re-conceptualized as a multi-contextual construct that includes both academic and social contexts of school. The authors begin by describing how the characteristics of these contexts provide the opportunities and resources for adolescents to engage in academic learning and social interactions throughout school. Motivational theories are then used as an operational framework for understanding how adolescents become engaged in school, which is followed by a discussion about how adolescents’ academic and social engagement interact to shape their academic achievement. The article concludes with implications for practice and future research.
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This study examined the relationship of personality traits with academic achievement, while controlling for cognitive ability. We considered two domains (Mathematics and English as a foreign language) and three achievement measures, capitalizing on a sample of N = 3637 students in upper secondary education (year 13, age M = 19.92 years) in Germany. First, we aimed to replicate previous results on grades and test scores. Second, we aimed to extend the body of research by adding final examinations—a school-based performance test—as a third measure. Our findings indicate an incremental predictive validity of personality traits for domain-specific academic achievement beyond cognitive ability. Conscientiousness predicted grades and final exams in both domains. Results for test scores were domain-specific: conscientiousness predicted mathematics test score, whereas openness was associated with English test score. Relationships with personality traits varied depending on the domain, the measure used, and the covariates included in the model.
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The most commonly used method to test an indirect effect is to divide the estimate of the indirect effect by its standard error and compare the resulting z statistic with a critical value from the standard normal distribution. Confidence limits for the indirect effect are also typically based on critical values from the standard normal distribution. This article uses a simulation study to demonstrate that confidence limits are imbalanced because the distribution of the indirect effect is normal only in special cases. Two alternatives for improving the performance of confidence limits for the indirect effect are evaluated: (a) a method based on the distribution of the product of two normal random variables, and (b) resampling methods. In Study 1, confidence limits based on the distribution of the product are more accurate than methods based on an assumed normal distribution but confidence limits are still imbalanced. Study 2 demonstrates that more accurate confidence limits are obtained using resampling methods, with the bias-corrected bootstrap the best method overall.
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A Monte Carlo study compared 14 methods to test the statistical significance of the intervening variable effect. An intervening variable (mediator) transmits the effect of an independent variable to a dependent variable. The commonly used R. M. Baron and D. A. Kenny (1986) approach has low statistical power. Two methods based on the distribution of the product and 2 difference-in-coefficients methods have the most accurate Type I error rates and greatest statistical power except in 1 important case in which Type I error rates are too high. The best balance of Type I error and statistical power across all cases is the test of the joint significance of the two effects comprising the intervening variable effect.
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Peers become increasingly important socializing agents for academic behaviors and attitudes during adolescence. This study investigated peer influence and selection effects on adolescents' emotional (i.e., flow in schoolwork, school burnout, school value), cognitive (i.e., school effort), and behavioral (i.e., truancy) engagement in school. A social network approach was used to examine students of post-comprehensive education in Finland (N = 1419; mean age = 16). Students were asked to nominate peers to generate peer networks and to describe their own school engagement at two time points (one year apart). Network analyses revealed that the degree to which peer influence and selection effects occurred varied by dimension of school engagement. Over time, peers influenced students' emotional, cognitive, and behavioral engagement. Similarity in behavioral engagement, but not in emotional and cognitive engagement, increased the likelihood of forming new peer relationships. Additionally, some of the peer influence and selection effects on school engagement were moderated by student academic achievement.
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Background: Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent during adolescence. Although literature points out that anxiety symptoms are related to problems in social and academic functioning, the extent of these problems among adolescents with clinical anxiety disorders has not been systematically reviewed before. Methods: Electronic databases were searched up to October 2017, with keywords representing anxiety disorders, adolescents, and social or academic functioning. The inclusion criteria were studies with a sample of adolescents (10-19 years) with anxiety disorders that provided data regarding their social or academic functioning. 3431 studies were examined, of which 19 met the inclusion criteria. Results: Adolescents with anxiety disorders had a lower social competence relative to their healthy peers. They reported more negativity within interpersonal relationships, higher levels of loneliness, and victimization. Most adolescents with anxiety disorders felt impaired at school, however, findings of their average school results, compared to peers, were mixed. In addition, they had a higher risk for school refusal and entered higher education less often. Impairments in social and academic functioning differed across type and the number of anxiety disorders. Limitations: Most studies examined social phobia or anxiety disorders in general and methodological approaches varied widely between studies. Conclusions: This systematic review indicates that adolescents with anxiety disorders experience a range of significant problems in both social and academic functioning. These findings suggest that the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescence should focus on improving functioning across domains.
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Increasing school engagement is critical for improving academic achievement and reducing dropout rates. In order to increase student engagement and identify those students who are most disengaged from school, we need to conceptualize and measure student engagement appropriately. This study used a mixed method sequential exploratory design to develop and validate a student survey measure of school engagement that reflects a multidimensional conceptualization of engagement. Psychometric tests were conducted with a large racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of 5th-12th graders in the United States (N = 3,632). Findings demonstrated that a bifactor multidimensional model fit the data appropriately and provided evidence of measurement invariance, construct, and predictive validity. Results provided a psychometrically sound foundation for capturing the behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of student engagement and disengagement in school.
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Sure, and longitudinal studies in the social and behavioral sciences generally contain missing data. Mean and covariance structure models play an important role in analyzing such data. Two promising methods for dealing with missing data are a direct I,maximum-likelihood and a two-stage approach based on the unstructured mean and covariance estimates obtained by the EM-algorithm. Typical assumptions under these two methods are ignorable nonresponse and normality of data. However, data sets in social and behavioral sciences are seldom normal. and experience with these procedures indicates that normal theory based methods for nonnormal data very often lead to incorrect model evaluations. By dropping the normal distribution assumption, we develop more accurate procedures for model inference. Based on the theory of generalized estimating equations, a way to obtain consistent standard errors of the two-stage estimates is given. The asymptotic efficiencies of different estimators are compared under various assumptions. Ne also propose a minimum chi-square approach and show that the estimator obtained by this approach is asymptotically at least as efficient as the two likelihood-based estimators for either normal or nonnormal darn. The major contribution of this paper is that for each estimator, we give a test statistic whose asymptotic distribution is chi-square as long as the underlying sampling distribution enjoys finite fourth-order moments. Ne also give a characterization for each of the two likelihood ratio rest statistics,when the underlying distribution is nonnormal. Modifications to the likelihood ratio statistics are also Riven. Our working assumption is that the missing data mechanism is missing comptetely at random. examples and Monte Carlo studies indicate that, for commonly encountered nonnormal distributions, the procedures developed in this paper are quite reliable even for samples with missing data that ar-e missing at random.
Chapter
A highly regarded motivation researcher, Kathryn Wentzel, shared her perspectives in a commentary on the chapters in Part III. Wentzel explored questions relating to student competence including its definition, relation to engagement, and the role of support from important contexts (home, school, peers, and community) in fostering competence and engagement. The chapter concludes with directions for future research.