Adolescent social support network: Student academic success as it relates to source and type of support received
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Social support is a multifaceted construct offering a multitude of benefits. The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of social support on high school adolescents and their success in school. The focus was on the source of support and on the type of support given. The sources of social support were: teachers, parents, close friends, classmates, and the school. The types of support were: emotional, informational, instrumental, and appraisal support. These types of support from specific sources were believed to have an impact on important indicators of academic success including; academic average, school attendance, school satisfaction, and behavior. In addition, preliminary analyses were conducted to assess the variables of gender and grade level to determine if they have an impact on perceived social support. A total of 471 high school adolescents from grades 9 to 12 from a suburban school district participated in this study. The subjects completed the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale (Malecki, Demaray, & Elliott, 2000) and a demographic questionnaire. The students self reported the frequency and importance of social support received and their indicators of success. The findings indicated that females perceive more support than males from all of the sources and of all types of support given. Though they perceive more support, it appeared they were not receiving the type of support that contributed to their school success, instrumental and appraisal support. Though males perceived less support overall, emotional support had the greatest contribution to their school success and was the type most frequently given. Close friend support was perceived most frequently however, supportive behaviors from parents had the strongest correlations with the dependent variables. Finally, though teacher informational support was perceived frequently, teacher emotional support contributed to student success in school. The conclusions of this study are intended to heighten awareness of the importance and the impact of a social support network for the adolescent. Each source in the network has some form of support that can be offered, impacting various aspects of the adolescent's behavior and success. Investigations of student's perceptions of social support will assist educators and parents identify crucial supportive behaviors that can be targeted for interventions.
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