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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: October 2009

2 - Teacher and classmate influences on scholastic motivation, self-esteem, and level of voice in adolescents


The classroom setting represents not only an educational arena but a powerful social context in which the psychological adjustment of children and adolesents can be affected. This chapter will focus specifically on the role played by teachers and classmates. Teachers not only instruct, but serve to represent and communicate a particualr educational philosophy, including the standards by which students will be evaluated. They not only provide feedback regarding students' academic performance, but have a major impact on students' motivation to learn. Not only do they convey specific approval or disapproval for scholastic achievement, but teachers communicate their more general approval or disapproval for the child as a person (see Birch & Ladd; Wentzel, this volume). Classmates serve as potential companions and friends, meeting important social needs of the developing child. However, they also represent a very salient social reference group that invites intense social comparison. In addition, the approval or disapproval that classmates display can have a major effect on a child's or adolescent's sense of self (see also Berndt & Keefe; Kindermann, et al. this volume).

In this chapter, I will examine the impact of teachers and classmates on three constructs that represent different indices of adjustment within the school context. These include: (a) intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for classroom learning, (b) self-esteem, and (c) level of “voice,” namely the ability to express one's opinions in the classroom. Specific attention will be given to the antecedents and mediators of the constructs, leading to an emphasis on individual differences.

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Social Motivation
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