De idee dat je vrienden wordt met bepaalde types of bij bepaalde clubjes wil behoren wordt door een nieuwe studie op de helling geplaatst. Wat blijkt namelijk, de keuzevakken die je neemt op school heeft een grote invloed op het ontstaan van vriendschapsbanden meer dan of iemand al dan niet cool is of een zelfde ras of achtergrond heeft. Welke keuzevakken dit effect kunnen hebben kan per school kan.
In de ene school zal er vriendschap ontstaan bij de leerlingen die samen wiskunde nemen, in een andere school kan het dan bijvoorbeeld tijdens de lessen Spaans zijn. Hierbij zou vooral de klasgrootte een invloed hebben, kleinere groepen lijken meer vriendschap mogelijk te maken. De vriendschapsbanden zouden trouwens ook een belangrijke invloed hebben op de prestaties en de sociale ontwikkeling.
Misschien wel interessant voor de discussie rond klasgrootte.
Uit het persbericht:
“People generally want to think that kids are choosing their friends from the well-known categories like jocks and nerds – that it’s like “The Breakfast Club” and the same at every school,” said Kenneth Frank, professor in MSU’s College of Education.
“But our argument is that the opportunities an adolescent has to choose friends are guided by the courses the adolescent takes and the other students who take the courses with them. Moreover, the pattern of opportunities differs from school to school.”
Frank and colleagues analyzed survey data and academic transcripts from some 3,000 students at 78 high schools across the United States. The researchers developed a new computer algorithm and software to identify the unique sets of students and courses from the transcripts in each school.
Students were more likely to make friends in small classes, often electives, which set them off from the general student population. Friendships were more likely to be created in Latin 4 and woodshop, for example, than in a large physical education class that is required of everyone in a particular grade.
Students who take the same set of courses tend to get to know each another very well and focus less on social status, such as how “cool” someone is. They’re also less likely to judge classmates on visible characteristics like race and gender.
In addition, Frank said girls are more likely to take more demanding math classes if other girls in their shared sets of courses took advanced math. “In other words,” he said, “the peer groups that formed around shared courses had implications for students’ academic effort as well as their social world.”
The findings have implications for school administrators as well. Schools that simply offer classes without thought to mixing up high- and low-achieving students run the risk of driving them apart socially and academically, Frank said.
To combat this, he said schools could better highlight the value of certain academic pursuits – such as math – and also group students together in ninth grade so the low-achievers have high-achievers in their classes potentially throughout high school.
“This would give the students in the lower group a ‘beacon’ of sorts – or others who could be there as a marker to help them move along.”
Abstract van het onderzoek:
Although research on social embeddedness and social capital con- firms the value of friendship networks, little has been written about how social relations form and are structured by social institutions. Using data from the Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the authors show that the odds of a new friendship nomination were 1.77 times greater within clusters of high school students taking courses together than between them. The estimated effect cannot be attrib- uted to exposure to peers in similar grade levels, indirect friendship links, or pair-level course overlap, and the finding is robust to alter- native model specifications. The authors also show how tendencies associated with status hierarchy inhering in triadic friendship nomi- nations are neutralized within the clusters. These results have im- plications for the production and distribution of social capital within social systems such as schools, giving the clusters social salience as “local positions.”