An Exploratory Study on the Social Cognitions of High School Freshmen Students’ Social Skills, Peer Popularity and School Self-Efficacy

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Benjamin Lorber
Kevin Tan
Shongha Kim


The developmental period of the high school years is characterized by the eminence of social cognitions in driving behaviors. Students’ beliefs about their social skills, peer popularity, and school efficacy (one’s self-confidence in school) are critical in promoting educational success. This study is informed by social cognitive theory, which highlights the way individuals learn behaviors through observing others in their social contexts. The study explores the social cognitions of a cohort of 9th grade students (n=218) in a semi-urban high school in Central Illinois. Data was collected and compared at two time points in 9th grade: semester 1 and 2. Preliminary findings revealed social skills beliefs are not significantly correlated with school self-efficacy or peer popularity at semester 1. However, at semester 2, social skills mindsets are positively correlated with school self- efficacy (r = 0.421, p ≤ 0. 001) and peer popularity (r = 0.225, p ≤ 0.001). Findings suggest students’ beliefs in the importance of their social skills is not significant for the beginning transition into high school. However, toward the end of their freshmen year, students become aware of the importance of their social skills in increasing their beliefs about peer popularity and school self-efficacy.

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