The role of language competence in building peer relationships in early childhood : a social network perspective

Source document: Studia paedagogica. 2021, vol. 26, iss. 2, pp. [11]-29
  • ISSN
    1803-7437 (print)
    2336-4521 (online)
License: Not specified license
Engaging in positive relationships with peers is highly important for children's learning and development. In the present study, social network analyses were used to investigate how children's language competence affects their peer relationships in the context of early childhood classrooms. A total of 13 classrooms (N = 248 children) participated. Children's language competence was measured using tests for oral communicative competence and receptive vocabulary knowledge. Furthermore, a sociometric method was used to obtain network data. Outcomes of social network analyses showed that children are more likely to form relationships with children with high and similar levels of receptive vocabulary knowledge. In addition, weak support was found for the hypothesis that children form relationships with children with high levels of oral communicative competence.
  • This work was supported by Nationaal Regieorgaan Onderwijsonderzoek (NRO) [grant number 40.5.18500.023].
[1] Betancourt, L. M., Brodsky, N. L., & Hurt, H. (2015). Socioeconomic (SES) differences in language are evident in female infants at 7 months of age . Early Human Development, 91(12), 719–724. | DOI 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2015.08.002

[2] Bierman, K. L., & Powers, C. J. (2009). Social skills training to improve peer relations . In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Social, emotional, and personality development in context. Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 603–621). The Guilford Press.

[3] Bornstein, M. H., Hahn, C. S., & Haynes, O. M. (2004). Specific and general language performance across early childhood: Stability and gender considerations . First language, 24(3), 267–304. | DOI 10.1177/0142723704045681

[4] Bradbury, A. (2019). Rethinking 'fixed-ability thinking' and grouping practices: Questions, disruptions and barriers to change in primary and early years education . FORUM: For Comprehensive Education, 61(1), 41–52. | DOI 10.15730/forum.2019.61.1.41

[5] Cheung, H. S., & Elliott, J. M. (2017). Child shyness and peer likeability: The moderating role of pragmatics and vocabulary . British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 35(4), 531–545. | DOI 10.1111/bjdp.12192

[6] Conti-Ramsden, G., & Durkin, K. (2012). Language development and assessment in the preschool period . Neuropsychology Review, 22(4), 384–401. | DOI 10.1007/s11065-012-9208-z

[7] Cook, K. S., & Rice, E. (2003). Social exchange theory . In J. Delamater (Ed.), Handbooks of sociology and social research. Handbook of Social Psychology (pp. 53–76). Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

[8] Cropanzano, R., & Mitchell, M. S. (2005). Social exchange theory: An interdisciplinary review . Journal of Management, 31(6), 874–900. | DOI 10.1177/0149206305279602

[9] Dunn, L. M., & Dunn, L. M. (1997). Examiner's manual for the PPVT-III Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (3rd Ed.). American Guidance Service.

[10] Embrechts, M., Mugge, A., & Van Bon, W. (2005). Nijmeegse Pragmatiek Test. Handleiding . Harcourt Test Publishers.

[11] Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., & Weisleder, A. (2013). SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months . Developmental Science, 16(2), 234–248. | DOI 10.1111/desc.12019

[12] Flashman, J. (2012). Academic achievement and its impact on friend dynamics . Sociology of Education, 85(1), 61–80. | DOI 10.1177/0038040711417014

[13] Froehlich, D. E., & Brouwer, J. (2021). Social network analysis as mixed analysis . In A. J. Onwueg-buzie & R. B. Johnson (Eds.), Reviewer's guide for mixed methods research analysis. Routledge.

[14] Froehlich, D. E., Rehm, M., & Rienties, B. C. (Eds.). (2020). Mixed methods social network analysis: Theories and methodologies in learning and education . Routledge.

[15] Furrer, C. J., Skinner, E. A., & Pitzer, J. R. (2014). The influence of teacher and peer relationships on students' classroom engagement and everyday motivational resilience . Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, 116(13), 101–123.

[16] Handcock, M. S., Hunter, D. R., Butts, C. T., Goodreau, S. M., & Morris, M. (2008). Statnet: Software tools for the representation, visualization, analysis and simulation of network data . Journal of Statistical Software, 24(1), 1548–7660. | DOI 10.18637/jss.v024.i01

[17] Hardin, B. J., Lower, J. K., Smallwood, G., Chakravarthi, S., Li, L., & Jordan, C. (2010). Teachers, families, and communities supporting English language learners in inclusive pre-kindergartens: An evaluation of a professional development model . Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 31, 20–36. | DOI 10.1080/10901020903539580

[18] Hodges, B. (2009). Ecological pragmatics: Values, dialogical arrays, complexity, and caring . Pragmatics & Cognition, 17(3), 628–652. | DOI 10.1075/pc.17.3.08hod

[19] Hoff, E. (2013). Interpreting the early language trajectories of children from low-SES and language minority homes: Implications for closing achievement gaps . Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 4–14. | DOI 10.1037/a0027238

[20] Hoff, E., & Tian, C. (2005). Socioeconomic status and cultural influences on language . Journal of Communication Disorders, 38(4), 271–278. | DOI 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2005.02.003

[21] Holder, M. D., & Coleman, B. (2015). Children's friendships and positive well-being . In M. Demir (Ed.), Friendship and happiness: Across the life-span and cultures (pp. 81–97). Springer Science + Business Media.

[22] Homans, G. C. (1961). Social behavior and its elementary forms . Harcourt, Brace and World.

[23] Huttenlocher, J., Waterfall, H., Vasilyeva, M., Vevea, J., & Hedges, L. V. (2010). Sources of variability in children's language growth . Cognitive Psychology, 61(4), 343–365. | DOI 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.08.002

[24] Hymes, D. H. (1972). On communicative competence . In J. B. Pride & J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics: Selected readings (pp. 269–293). Penguin.

[25] Justice, L. M., Petscher, Y., Schatschneider, C., & Mashburn, A. (2011). Peer effects in preschool classrooms: Is children's language growth associated with their classmates' skills? Child Development, 82(6), 1768–1777. | DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01665.x

[26] Kiuru, N., Aunola, K., Lerkkanen, M.-K., Pakarinen, E., Poskiparta, E., Ahonen, T., Poikkeus, A.-M., & Nurmi, J.-E. (2015). Positive teacher and peer relations combine to predict primary school students' academic skill development . Developmental Psychology, 51(4), 434–446. | DOI 10.1037/a0038911

[27] Luo, R., Pace, A., Levine, D., Iglesias, A., De Villiers, J., Michnick Golinkoff, R., Sweig Wilson, M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2021). Home literacy environment and existing knowledge mediate the link between socioeconomic status and language learning skills in dual language learners . Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 55, 1–14. | DOI 10.1016/j.ecresq.2020.10.007

[28] Lusher, D., Koskinen, J., & Robins, G. (2013). Exponential random graph models for social networks: Theory, methods, and applications . Cambridge University Press.

[29] Marks, R. (2013). "The blue table means you don't have a clue": The persistence of fixed-ability thinking and practices in primary mathematics in English schools . The Forum, 55(1), 31–44. | DOI 10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.31

[30] Martin, C. L., Fabes, R. A., & Hanish, L. D. (2014). Gendered-peer relationships in educational contexts . Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 47, 151–187. | DOI 10.1016/bs.acdb.2014.04.002

[31] McNamara, T. (2001). Language assessment as social practice: Challenges for research . Language Testing, 18(4), 333–349. | DOI 10.1177/026553220101800402

[32] McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks . Annual review of sociology, 27(1), 415–444. | DOI 10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415

[33] Menting, B., Van Lier, P. A. C., & Koot, H. M. (2011). Language skills, peer rejection, and the development of externalizing behavior from kindergarten to fourth grade . Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(1), 72–79. | DOI 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02279.x

[34] Messick, S. (1989). Validity . In R. L. Linn (Ed.), The American council on education/Macmillan series on higher education. Educational measurement (pp. 13–103). Macmillan Publishing Co.

[35] Mulder, H., Hoofs, H., Verhagen, J., Van der Veen, I., & Leseman, P. P. M. (2014). Psychometric properties and convergent and predictive validity of an executive function test battery for two-year-olds . Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1–17. | DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00733

[36] Pijl, S., Frostad, P., & Mjaavatn, P. (2011). Segregation in the classroom: What does it take to be accepted as a friend? Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, 14(1), 41–55. | DOI 10.1007/s11218-010-9135-x

[37] Pungello, E. P., Iruka, I. U., Dotterer, A. M., Mills-Koonce, R., & Reznick, J. S. (2009). The effects of socioeconomic status, race, and parenting on language development in early childhood . Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 544–557. | DOI 10.1037/a0013917

[38] R Core Team (2007). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing .

[39] Robins, G., Pattison, P., Kalish, Y., & Lusher, D. (2007). An introduction to exponential random graph (p*) models for social networks . Social Networks, 29(2), 173–191. | DOI 10.1016/j.socnet.2006.08.002

[40] Rubin, K. H., Bukowski, W. M., & Bowker, J. C. (2015). Children in peer groups . In R. M. Lerner, M. H. Bornstein, & T. Leventhal (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science, vol. 4, Ecological settings and processes, (pp. 175–222). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[41] Rubin, K. H., Bowker, J. C., Barstead, M. G., & Coplan, R. J. (2018). Avoiding and withdrawing from the peer group . In W. M. Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 322–346). The Guilford Press.

[42] Ryan, S., & Mercer S. (2012). Implicit theories: Language learning mindsets . In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.), Psychology for language learning (pp. 74–89). Palgrave Macmillan. | DOI 10.1057/9781137032829_6

[43] Savignon, S. J. (2017). Communicative competence . In J. I. Liontas (Ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of English language teaching (pp. 1–7). Wiley. | DOI 10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0047

[44] Schlichting, L. (2005). Peabody picture vocabulary Test-III NL . Harcourt Test Publishers.

[45] Shutts, K., Pemberton Rober, C. K., & Spelke, E. S. (2013). Children's use of social categories in thinking about people and social relationships . Journal of Cognition and Development, 14(1), 35–62. | DOI 10.1080/15248372.2011.638686

[46] Statnet Development Team (Krivitsky, P. N., Handcock, M. S., Hunter, D. R., Butts, C. T., Klumb, C., Goodreau, S. M., and Morris, M.). (2003–2020). Statnet: Software tools for the statistical modeling of network data [Computer software].

[47] Troesch, L. M., Keller, K., & Grob, A. (2016). Language competence and social preference in childhood: A meta-analysis . European Psychologist, 21(3), 167–179. | DOI 10.1027/1016-9040/a000262

[48] Van der Wilt, F., Van der Veen, C., Van Kruistum, C., & Van Oers, B. (2018a). Why can't I join? Peer rejection in early childhood education and the role of oral communicative competence . Contemporary Educational Psychology, 54, 247–254. | DOI 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2018.06.007

[49] Van der Wilt, F., Van der Veen, C., Van Kruistum, C., & Van Oers, B. (2018b). Popular, rejected, neglected, controversial or average: Do young children of different sociometric groups differ in their level of oral communicative competence? Social Development, 27(4), 793–807. | DOI 10.1111/sode.12316

[50] Van der Wilt, F., van der Veen, C., van Kruistum, C., & van Oers, B. (2019). Why do children become rejected by their peers? A review of studies into the relationship between oral communicative competence and sociometric status in childhood . Educational Psychology Review, 31, 699–724. | DOI 10.1007/s10648-019-09479-z

[51] Vatalaro, A., McDonald Culp, A., Hahs-Vaughn, D. L., & Barnes, A. C. (2018). A quasi-experiment examining expressive and receptive vocabulary knowledge of preschool head start children using mobile media apps . Early Childhood Education Journal, 46(4), 451–466. | DOI 10.1007/s10643-017-0877-3

[52] Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis: Methods and applications . Cambridge University Press.

[53] Wentzel, K. R. (2017). Peer relationships, motivation, and academic performance at school . In A. J. Elliot, C. S. Dweck, & D. S. Yeager (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation: Theory and application (pp. 586–603). The Guilford Press.

[54] Wolbring, G. (2014). Ability privilege: A needed addition to privilege studies . Journal for Critical Animal Studies, 12(2), 118–141.

[55] Wu, X., Hart, C. H., Draper, T. W., & Olsen, J. A. (2001). Peer and teacher sociometrics for preschool children: Cross-informant concordance, temporal stability, and reliability . Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 47(3), 416–443. | DOI 10.1353/mpq.2001.0018