Peer Preference, Perceived Popularity, and the Teacher–Child Relationship in Special Education

 Peer Preference, Perceived Popularity, and the TeacherChild Relationship in Special Education

This four-wave longitudinal study examined bidirectional associations among pupils’ social status (preference and popularity) and teacher–child relationship characteristics (quality, support, satisfaction, and conflict) in special education. Participants included 586 pupils (86% boys) initially attending Grades 4 and 5 (Mage Wave 1 = 10.82 years, SD = 0.86) and their teachers. Reports of teacher–child relationships were collected from teachers and pupils through questionnaires. Peer nominations were used to assess preference and popularity. Autoregressive cross-lagged models indicated that preference predicted changes in satisfaction between school years. Conflict in the teacher–child relationship predicted preference, and preference and popularity predicted conflict within and between school years. Bidirectionality of the associations depended on the aspect of the teacher–child relationship and the dimension of social status. Conflict was more robustly related to social status than satisfaction, support, and pupil-reported relationship quality. The associations within school years were not more robust than associations between school years.

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