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Peer Influence on Classroom Attention

Diane Felmlee, Donna Eder and Wai-Ying Tsui
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Sep., 1985), pp. 215-226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033682
Page Count: 12
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Peer Influence on Classroom Attention
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Abstract

This study looks at peer influence processes within the elementary classroom by examining the extent to which inattentive behavior on the part of one student increases the likelihood of additional student inattention. The data consist of behavioral measures of attentiveness obtained from 16 video-taped lessons of first-grade reading groups. Qualitative analyses revealed several instances in which distracting verbal and nonverbal behavior by one individual appeared to cause others to stop attending to the reading lesson. Quantitative analyses, using a continuous-time, stochastic model, confirmed the hypotheses generated from the qualitative analyses. Distracting inattention on the part of one student had a significant impact on the rate at which other students became inattentive, while controlling for a set of individual and group characteristics, with inattention shift rates more than tripling in magnitude following an incident of distraction in the classroom. Implications for the study of contextual effects and peer influence are discussed.

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