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Success in the transition to secondary school: longitudinal, cognitive and cultural perspectives

Mills, John (2010) Success in the transition to secondary school: longitudinal, cognitive and cultural perspectives. Cambridge University.

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Abstract

This study examined children’s peer reputation from three perspectives, within the context of the transition to secondary school. Participants were Year Seven pupils from five secondary schools across England and Wales (N = 608), within which a subset had participated in an earlier cross-sectional study and thus formed a longitudinal sample (N = 105). This study investigated: 1) To what extent the transition to secondary school is a ‘turning point’ in children’s social experiences, and how this relates to peer reputations in secondary school. 2) Whether differences in social understanding explain unique variance in children’s (peer-rated) social profiles, refining previously reported associations between theory of mind and popularity. 3) Whether cultural differences in performance on an attribution task corresponded with group differences in how peer reputation is related to peer acceptance / rejection among White British and Asian children. Results from the longitudinal sample indicated that change in sociometric status across the transition to secondary school was associated with social adjustment and aspects of peer reputation, generally consistent with the notion of a turning point; however predicted associations with theory of mind and aggression were not found. In the wider sample, theory of mind was associated only with leadership, while results from the attribution task showed that cultural differences were confounded by differences in socioeconomic status and showed no significant associations with peer reputation. Finally, exploratory analysis revealed that performance on the attribution task was related to theory of mind ability. Implications are discussed.

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