School performance and reference group orientation to achievement : a pilot study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Education at Massey University
The main purpose of the study was to test the thesis that a relationship exists between a pupil's performance at school and the orientation towards achievement obtaining from his 'reference group'. This concept was understood principally in terms of social psychology, although conceptual strands from sociology were woven into the theoretical considerations. The study examined the interrelationships of the main variables with socioeconomic status, ethnic origin, class s tream, pupil teacher affect and ses of proposed occupation. An (untestable) causal logic was implicit in the design, namely that a reference group orientation to achievement served as a mediator between the independent variables of (1) SES, Ethnic Origin, IQ, Class Stream and previous grades and (2) the dependent variables of Teacher-pupil affect, Pupil-teacher affect, SES of proposed occupation and present grades. The report contains a justification of the thesis, an account of the pilot study conducted with eighty four fourth form pupils from three streamed classes of a co-educational secondary school, the findings and a discussion of the implications of the study. The empirical phase called for the gathering of data by interview, questionnaire and a search of school records. As well it entailed the development of an index to measure reference group orientation to achievement. The subsequent statistical analysis relied principally on cross tabulation and step-wise multiple regression analysis. The results revealed that reference group orientation to achievement did not appear to mediate between independent and dependent variables but rather that it acted independently intervening to yield a higher correlation with present grades and SES of proposed occupation than any of the variables tested. Further, Reference Group Orientation to achievement emerged as a partial function of SES and ethnic origin, also correlating positively with a simple measure of pupil definition of the school situation and with pupil sociometricrejection.