Date of Award

6-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

This research study investigated the impact of peer social status on first graders' social interactions and the construction of mathematical concepts during small group collaboration for mathematics under two conditions: when the groups were composed of students with equal social status and when the groups were composed of students with diverse social status. The research took place in a first grade urban classroom with 16 students in Western New York. The researcher, as an objective observer, studied all students during Investigations activities. In addition, three different focus groups were observed: a high social status group, a low social status group, and a diverse social status group.

This study found that the types of groupings students are involved in have a noticeable effect on social interaction and achievement. When students are grouped with classmates of approximately equal social status, they interact more freely and positively and achieve a clear understanding of the mathematical concept or task. When students are members of a group composed of students with diverse social status, social interactions tend to be inhibited, especially for students of lower-range social status, and students do not gain as much from the experience as their peers in equal status groupings do. The findings in this study imply the importance of considering peer social status when grouping students for activities in the classroom.

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