This study examined associations between characteristics of teenagers’ relationships with their mothers and their later socializing behavior and peer relationship quality online. At age 13, teenagers and their mothers participated in an interaction in which mothers’ and adolescents’ behavior undermining autonomy and relatedness was observed, and indicators of teens’ depressive symptoms and social anxiety were assessed. At age 20, youth self-reported on their online behaviors, youths’ social networking webpages were observationally coded to assess peer relationship quality online, and symptoms of depression and social anxiety were reassessed. Results suggested that problematic mother-teen relationships were predictive of youths’ later preference for online communication and greater likelihood of forming a friendship with someone met online, yet poorer quality in online relationships. Findings are discussed within a developmental framework suggesting the importance of considering youths’ family interactions during early adolescence as predictors of future online socializing behavior and online interactions with peers.
Improving teaching quality is widely recognized as critical to addressing deficiencies in secondary school education, yet the field has struggled to identify rigorously evaluated teacher-development approaches that can produce reliable gains in student achievement. A randomized controlled trial of My Teaching Partner–Secondary—a Web-mediated approach focused on improving teacherstudent interactions in the classroom—examined the efficacy of the approach in improving teacher quality and student achievement with 78 secondary school teachers and 2237 students. The intervention produced substantial gains in measured student achievement in the year following its completion, equivalent to moving the average student from the 50th to the 59th percentile in achievement test scores. Gains appeared to be mediated by changes in teacher-student interaction qualities targeted by the intervention.
With substantive evidence suggesting that adolescents’ disclosure is likely a protective factor against problem behaviors, as well as evidence that many adolescents will go to great lengths to avoid sharing information with parents, one may conclude that parents’ face a formidable task. Previous studies have identified parental acceptance as a concurrent correlate of adolescents’ behavioral disclosure, but have neglected to investigate potential ways that parents could encourage their adolescents to feel comfortable disclosing emotional information. The present study extends the literature by using a longitudinal, multi-method, multi-reporter design to examine whether maternal acceptance is predictive of emotional disclosure over time among a racially/socioeconomically diverse sample of 184 adolescents (53% female). Results indicate that adolescents who perceive their mothers as high in acceptance during early adolescence exhibit greater relative increases in both self-reported emotional communication and observed emotional disclosure to their mothers 3 years later. Interestingly, mothers’ perceptions of their own acceptance does not provide any additional predictive value. These findings support the notion that adolescents’ emotional disclosure is an ongoing process that can be fostered in early adolescence, and emphasize the importance of considering adolescents’ perceptions of the relationship to successfully do so.
We investigated the effects of My Teaching Partner—Secondary (MTP-S), a teacher professional development intervention, on students’ peer relationships in middle and high school classrooms. MTP-S targets increasing teachers’ positive interactions with students and sensitive instructional practices and has demonstrated improvements in students’ academic achievement and motivation. The current study tested the prediction from systems theory that effects of MTP-S on students would extend beyond the academic domain—that is, the ecology of teachers’ behaviors towards students should also influence the ecology of students’ behaviors towards one another. Participants were 88 teachers (43 randomly assigned to MTP-S and 45 assigned to a control group that received the regular professional development offerings in their school) and 1423 students in their classrooms. Observations and student self-report of classroom peer interactions were collected at the start and at the end of the course. Results indicated that in MTP-S classrooms, students were observed to show improvement in positive peer interactions, although this pattern was not found in self-report data. However, moderation analyses suggested that for students with high disruptive behavior at the start of the course, teacher participation in MTP-S mitigated a typical decline towards poorer self-reported peer relationships. The relevance of findings for the social ecology of classrooms is discussed.