THE ROLE OF TEACHERS ON STUDENTS´ PEER GROUPS RELATIONS: A critical review on their influence on school engagement and academic achievement

Javiera Elisa Muñoz-Hurtado


The purpose of this essay is to analyse why and how teachers should concern themselves with informal peer interactions in the school. It is widely acknowledged that peer group relations are fundamental for children’s development, affecting both, school engagement and students’ academic achievement. However, it has been less discussed what is the role of teachers on these relations. To accomplish the goal of the essay a critical analysis of the literature on the two following topics is conducted: 1) peer relationships in the school context, considering the concepts of homogeneity and engagement, and taking into account the three informal dimensions of peer relations: friendship, status and centrality; 2) teachers’ influence on peer relation, considering their roles as protectors, ‘architects’ or social referents, as well as considering their participation in two different pedagogical approaches: the performance mode or the cooperative mode of teaching. It is concluded that teachers should concern themselves with children’s informal relationships at school, as they consciously or not, influence those relationships. If teachers take an active role in promoting positive and healthy relationships at school, they will be promoting children’s development and fostering school performance. Considering the literature, it is suggested that teachers should adopt a cooperative mode of teaching, act as social referents for their students’ behaviour and avoid negative feedback to aggressive-rejected children to prevent further rejection. However, it is remarked that this is a task to be fulfilled not only by the teachers, but by the school system as a whole.

Palabras clave

Peer groups; teacher-student relationship; academic engagement; peer relations; children development.

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