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I just published an article on this exact topic last year (ref
below). If you can't get an electronic copy thru your library I'd be
glad to send one to you.
Overall, we found only modest agreement between teachers and peers
regarding friendships and larger informal social groups -- using a
simple kappa statistic, for example, the mean kappa across 13
teachers was in the .30 to .35 range (somewhat higher in 5th grade
than in 1st grade). This is consistent with the earlier sociometric
literature in suggesting that teachers are not terribly good at
describing the peer relationships of their students.
What we did not publish was the incredibly wide range of kappa values
across teachers. Some teachers were remarkably "accurate": kappa's
> .70 against the peer consensus (defined via Cairns' methods), but
others had no greater than chance agreement with peers (k < .00 for
some teachers). We did not have a sufficient number of teachers (n
=13) or appropriate teacher-level variables to make sense of this
variation, but I would have to assume it could both reflect and lead
to meaningful differences in how they manage their classrooms. I
have a colleague here at Penn State in Special Education (Tom Farmer)
who has similar data in a larger study of 60+ classrooms but I do not
believe he has published on this particular issue.
I would be very interested in whatever you find and agree that there
is virtually no published literature on this point -- at least none
that I could find.
Gest, S.D. (2006). Teacher reports of children's friendships and
social groups: Agreement with peer reports and implications for
studying peer similarity. Social Development, 15, 248-259.
On Feb 5, 2007, at 9:38 PM, Matthew Pittinsky wrote:
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> A colleague and I are working on a paper that addresses the
> accuracy with
> which teachers perceive the student friendship patterns in their
> (degree of accuracy and sources of variation). An education
> example of
> Krackhardt's (1987) work on "cognitive social structures," in the
> sense that
> teachers are important classroom actors who engage in a wide
> variety of
> consequential decisions and actions that are likely influenced by
> perceptions of who is friends with whom in the classroom (e.g.
> seating and
> workgroup assignments, spillover in negative/positive sentiment).
> We have a nice set of data to do some exploratory work on teacher
> at the network, clique, student pair, and individual student levels.
> My question is this: has anyone come across studies of the accuracy or
> consequences of teacher perceptions of classroom friendship
> patterns? We
> are familiar with a series of studies conducted in the 1940's and
> 50's on
> teacher accuracy perceiving student sociometric status (e.g.
> Bonney, 1943,
> 1947; Gage, Leavitt & Stone, 1955; Gronlund, 1951, 1955, 1956). Moreno
> (1934) considered the issue in his first use of a sociometric
> instrument (I
> think). We also are familiar with studies by Cairns, Gest and their
> colleagues on social cognitive maps which address student
> perceptions of
> classroom friendship patterns. But we can't seem to find any work
> on the
> teacher side of things since the late 1950s. We suspect studies
> exist and
> we're just missing them.
> Any suggestions would be appreciated!
> Thanks in advance...
> Matthew Pittinsky
> Teachers College, Columbia University
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Scott D. Gest, Ph.D.
Human Development & Family Studies
Pennsylvania State University
110 Henderson South Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-3464 office
(814) 863-6207 fax
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