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High school never ends : normative and comparative peer effects of students’ expectation culture on higher education outcomes

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Despite the massification of higher education (HE), students from disadvantaged backgrounds are still underrepresented in HE institutes, especially in universities. Barriers upon HE enrollment, thus, persist and need to be addressed to reach equal educational opportunities. One such established barrier is having attended low socioeconomic composition secondary schools, but its underlying mechanisms remain unclear. As peers are crucial influencers during adolescence, this paper identifies the educational expectations of same-aged school peers as an underlying mechanism. Therefore, the first objective is to investigate whether shared post-secondary educational expectations among students within a school – or, peer expectation culture – explains socioeconomic composition effects on higher education enrollment. Additionally, following reference group theory, we argue that having ambitious peers might negatively affect a student’s HE enrollment through comparative group processes, thereby challenging the supposed positive, normative effect of ambitious peers. Logistic multilevel analyses of longitudinal data (2013-2019) from 1250 students across 30 Flemish secondary schools showed that peer expectation cultures mediated socioeconomic composition effects on HE outcomes. Attending schools with ambitious expectation cultures increased the likelihood of attending HE in general, and universities specifically, which confirms normative effects. However, this study also revealed comparative peer group processes: ambitious students in schools with ambitious peer expectation cultures were less likely to attend university compared with their counterparts in schools with less ambitious expectation cultures. These results underscore the long-term consequences of the student composition and culture in secondary school on post-secondary educational outcomes and draw attention to the possible negative influence of ambitious peer cultures.

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MLA
Van den Broeck, Laura, et al. “High School Never Ends : Normative and Comparative Peer Effects of Students’ Expectation Culture on Higher Education Outcomes.” ESA Midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings, 2020.
APA
Van den Broeck, L., Vandelannote, I., Demanet, J., & Van Houtte, M. (2020). High school never ends : normative and comparative peer effects of students’ expectation culture on higher education outcomes. ESA Midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings. Presented at the ESA midterm 2020, Dublin (virtual conference).
Chicago author-date
Van den Broeck, Laura, Isis Vandelannote, Jannick Demanet, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2020. “High School Never Ends : Normative and Comparative Peer Effects of Students’ Expectation Culture on Higher Education Outcomes.” In ESA Midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van den Broeck, Laura, Isis Vandelannote, Jannick Demanet, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2020. “High School Never Ends : Normative and Comparative Peer Effects of Students’ Expectation Culture on Higher Education Outcomes.” In ESA Midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings.
Vancouver
1.
Van den Broeck L, Vandelannote I, Demanet J, Van Houtte M. High school never ends : normative and comparative peer effects of students’ expectation culture on higher education outcomes. In: ESA midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings. 2020.
IEEE
[1]
L. Van den Broeck, I. Vandelannote, J. Demanet, and M. Van Houtte, “High school never ends : normative and comparative peer effects of students’ expectation culture on higher education outcomes,” in ESA midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings, Dublin (virtual conference), 2020.
@inproceedings{8673769,
  abstract     = {{Despite the massification of higher education (HE), students from disadvantaged backgrounds are still underrepresented in HE institutes, especially in universities. Barriers upon HE enrollment, thus, persist and need to be addressed to reach equal educational opportunities. One such established barrier is having attended  low socioeconomic composition secondary schools, but its underlying mechanisms remain unclear. As peers are crucial influencers during adolescence, this paper identifies the educational expectations of same-aged school peers as an underlying mechanism. Therefore, the first objective is to investigate whether shared post-secondary educational expectations among students within a school – or, peer expectation culture – explains socioeconomic composition effects on higher education enrollment. Additionally, following reference group theory, we argue that having ambitious peers might negatively affect a student’s HE enrollment through comparative group processes, thereby challenging the supposed positive, normative effect of ambitious peers. Logistic multilevel analyses of longitudinal data (2013-2019) from 1250 students across 30 Flemish secondary schools showed that peer expectation cultures mediated socioeconomic composition effects on HE outcomes. Attending schools with ambitious expectation cultures increased the likelihood of attending HE in general, and universities specifically, which confirms normative effects. However, this study also revealed comparative peer group processes: ambitious students in schools with ambitious peer expectation cultures were less likely to attend university compared with their counterparts in schools with less ambitious expectation cultures. These results underscore the long-term consequences of the student composition and culture in secondary school on post-secondary educational outcomes and draw attention to the possible negative influence of ambitious peer cultures.}},
  author       = {{Van den Broeck, Laura and Vandelannote, Isis and Demanet, Jannick and Van Houtte, Mieke}},
  booktitle    = {{ESA midterm 2020, European Sociological Assocation, Proceedings}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  location     = {{Dublin (virtual conference)}},
  pages        = {{40}},
  title        = {{High school never ends : normative and comparative peer effects of students’ expectation culture on higher education outcomes}},
  year         = {{2020}},
}