The Role of Prosocial Attitudes and Academic Achievement in Peer Networks in Higher Education

Jasperina Brouwer*, Maaike Engels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

After the transition to university, students need to build a new peer network, which helps them to adapt to university life. This study investigated to what extent students’ prosocial attitudes and academic achievement facilitate the embeddedness in friendship and help-seeking networks, while taking structural network characteristics into account. Participants were 95 first-year bachelor’s degree students and were part of learning communities consisting of 12 students at a university in the Netherlands. Measures included student-reports of prosocial attitudes, peer nominations of friendship and help-seeking networks, and officially registered grades (GPA). Longitudinal social network analysis, stochastic actor based modeling with the package RSiena, revealed that both students’ own prosocial attitudes and achievement played a role in their friendship formation, whereas only students’ own achievement made the
formation of their help-seeking relationships more likely. When students were friends, it was more likely that they approached each other for help and vice versa. Similarity in achievement level contributed to relationship formation in friendship and help seeking networks. Overall, the results underscore the importance of both student’ prosocial attitudes and achievement for their social adjustment (i.e., making friends) and only achievement for their academic adjustment (i.e., seeking help) during the first-year of university within the context of small-scale teaching.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28-Dec-2020

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