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Between- and Within-Child Associations of Friendship Quality and Social Functioning and Academic Achievement Throughout Middle Childhood

Scharphorn, Laura (2013) Between- and Within-Child Associations of Friendship Quality and Social Functioning and Academic Achievement Throughout Middle Childhood. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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During middle childhood, children begin to spend less time at home and more time with friends. Past work on friendships has suggested that friendship quality is positively associated with social and academic functioning. However, this work has focused on adolescents and has been limited by using short-term research designs and between-child comparisons, restricting the scope of investigation to friendships occurring at school, and examining friendships in isolation from children’s relationships with their mother and teachers. Since friendships offer a potential point of leverage in supporting children’s academic and social functioning, understanding them in middle childhood, when friendships become developmentally-salient in children’s lives, is needed.
The present study is a multi-method, ecologically-grounded investigation of the associations between friendship quality and children’s social functioning and academic achievement throughout middle childhood. This study used data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) to conduct between- and within-child analyses across third through sixth grades to examine these research aims: (1) investigate whether friendship quality is associated with children’s social and academic functioning; (2) examine the independent contribution of friendship quality to children’s positive functioning over and above mother and teacher relationship quality; (3) examine whether friendship quality magnifies high-quality mother or teacher relationships to promote greater functioning; (4) investigate whether the importance of friendship quality for supporting social and academic functioning increases as children progress toward adolescence; (5) study whether classroom-based friendships are associated with more positive functioning than friendships that are not classroom- or school-based; and (6) investigate whether friendship quality is particularly important in aiding positive development for children with lower engagement. Results indicated that children with higher levels of friendship quality displayed lower levels of internalizing problems, and that children who grew in friendship quality also increased in reading and math grades and social skills across middle childhood. Results also indicated that friendships uniquely contribute to children’s positive functioning and generally remain unmitigated by age, proximity in school, and levels of engagement. Promoting friendship quality seems to be a promising avenue by which to support children’s social and academic functioning during middle childhood.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Scharphorn, Lauralbs17@pitt.eduLBS17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairBachman, Heatherhbachman@pitt.eduHBACHMAN
Committee CoChairWanless, Shannonswanless@pitt.eduSWANLESS
Committee MemberLeBaron Wallace, Tannertwallace@pitt.eduTWALLACE
Committee MemberLi, Junleijul27@pitt.eduJUL27
Date: 10 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 December 2012
Approval Date: 10 January 2013
Submission Date: 11 December 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 136
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Psychology in Education
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: friendship quality, middle childhood, academic achievement, social functioning, friends, growth trajectories
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2013 15:07
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 06:15


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