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Volume 7 Issue 2 (July 1998), Pages no-no, 143-272

Individual Differences in Children’s Understanding of the School (pages 250-268)

Following previous research (Buchanan‐Barrow and Barrett, 1996) which investigated the developmental trends in children’s understanding of the school, this paper reports a study which explored wider influences on children’s thinking in an examination of individual differences within those broad trends. First, the role of socio‐economic class, gender and birth‐order were examined for possible relationship to the children’s understanding. Second, the attitudes of children, parents and teachers towards their school were investigated in order to assess possible links with the children’s thinking. Children, aged 5‐11, from two primary schools, were interviewed, with separate questionnaires being completed by their parents and teachers. Although the findings suggested developmental trends associated with age, there were also clear indications of other patterns associated with all the social categories examined in this study. Furthermore, there was evidence of context‐effects, with links between the children’s attitudes and their understanding of the school and also between parental and children’s attitudes. Given the extent and significance of the factors which emerged, children’s social understanding would appear to be complex and liable to vary according to their social group memberships.

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