URC

SOCIALIZATION SKILLS ACQUIRED BY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN 

Danielle Tasmajian
The Master’s College


Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not selected students at The Master’s College first acquired socialization skills in elementary school. The instrument was a five-item Likert scale survey to identify the socialization skills that students acquire in elementary school. Because four out of the five computed Chi-square values were greater than the tabled Chi-square values at the .01 level of significance, it was determined, by this sample, that children in elementary school acquire socialization skills. The paper also suggests recommendations for further study.

Introduction

            Studies suggest that the social life of children changes at different stages in their development. When children enter elementary school they have the collective status of a new recruit compared to the previous individual status at home. They formerly had one major role—the ascribed role of son or daughter in the organization of their household. These children now have both ascribed and achieved roles as students within two major social structures: the formal social structure associated with the school system and an informal social structure associated with the peer culture (Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble, 1983). A discussion of available literature pertaining to the socialization skills children acquire in elementary school follows.

Defining Socialization

            As children grow they develop in many ways. They not only develop physically but also mentally. Each child also acquires a consistent personality structure, so that he or she can be characterized as shy, ambitious, sociable, or cautious to say the least. As children start to grow they move into a widening world of persons, activities, and feelings. Socialization can be defined as the process by which we learn the ways of a given society or social group so that we can function within it (Elkin & Handel, 1978). 

            When children enter elementary school they are going to be under the influence of two sets of socialization agents: the classroom teacher (and related school personnel) and peers. Classes in elementary school are usually organized with a single teacher who is in charge of 20 to 30 same-aged students. The role of the teacher is to necessitate less personal attention and nurturing than the child would receive from their parents and more peer socialization than at home (Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble, 1983). The socialization process involves learning how to be—with self, with others, with students and teachers, and with life’s adversities and challenges. The socialization outcomes of child-child interaction are constrained by numerous subject and situational conditions, that is, the characteristics of the children involved and the settings in which their interaction occurs (Hartup, 1999).

Roles that Students Take in Socialization  

            The formal social structure is associated with the school system and the informal social structure is associated with the peer culture. Status in both of these social structures is determined by the social skills and the child’s achievement rather than primarily by official status. Entry into elementary school introduces children to achieved roles as well (Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble, 1983). 

            From the beginning of elementary school, the major developmental task that children struggle to master is social interaction. They do so during incredible periods of personal and biological change. As individuals learn to adjust to their dynamic selves and the world around them, peers play a primary role for reflection (Akos, 2000).

            The school is a major institution for continuing children’s accreditation; its influence on the attitudes they develop is significant. Attitudes are developed according to the need people have to give meaning to relationships with others. One of the major functions of attitudes is knowledge seeking. Children’s attitudes toward learning are primarily characterized by knowledge seeking, and this attitude is frequently changed in the formal school situation. In many schools children are still expected to be inactive, to accept submissively what they are offered by the school, and to give up their own knowledge-seeking plan (Ganter & Yeakel, 1980).

            Culture is a real and significant dimension of child socialization. Understanding various cultural styles of parenting and skills acquisition is critical to understanding how, why, and under what circumstances socialization occurs (Coates & Wagenaar, 1999).

The Importance of the School

            The importance of the school as an agency of socialization can be divided into three subtopics: the school and society, the classroom, and the teacher. When children begin school it is usually the first time that they come under the supervision of people who are not their relatives. It is likely that the school is the first agency that encourages children to develop loyalties and sentiments that go beyond the family and link them to a wider social order. The school as an agency of socialization should be recognized as the first organizer of social relationships (Elkin & Handel, 1978). The classroom is often seen as a place where the child is easily faced with socializing amongst peers. Since most of the things that children do in the classroom are done in the presence of their peers, they have to learn how to deal with a more formalized group situation. Parental expectations and perceptions of their children’s development of both cognitive and motor skills serve to affect the transition to the school environment (Coates & Wagenaar, 1999).

Humor in the classroom touches on socialization, one of the major functions of schools: to acculturate knowledgeable, understanding, compassionate, and empathetic new members to our society (Freda & Pollack, 1997). The teacher also plays an important role in the social development of the child. If one of the tasks of adolescence is to achieve a balance between conformity and rebellion, then the role of the teacher is an important one in assisting children as they attempt that process. When teachers confront a negative student with humor, they often find that this use of humor is an effective way to diffuse the student’s anger and hostility. If a teacher and student can laugh together, they can most likely work together and also plan together.

The Effects of Socialization Throughout Adolescent Ages

            During the preadolescent and early adolescent period children are exposed to more socialization agents, whether from involvement in sports, music, or youth organizations. In elementary school preadolescents have a greater awareness that the power of the teacher is more circumscribed than the power of their parents. Structures of prestige and power emerge within the classroom and the informal peer groups during the preadolescent period (Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble, 1983). Socialization also continues throughout life, from childhood to adulthood. This is significant because there is reason to believe that childhood socialization sets limits to what may be accomplished through adult socialization (Elkin & Handel, 1978).

            Children spend a large amount of time with other children and, in so doing, have extensive opportunities to influence one another. The same situation exists for adolescents, suggesting that peer relations contribute substantially to socialization from early childhood through second decade and beyond. Children and adolescents also make different attributions to themselves and others on the basis of age, and these attributions figure prominently in social comparisons and other social experiences (Hartup, 1999).

Skills that Children Learn

            Recent national standards presented by the American School Counseling Association emphasized that academic development and personal/social development should be equal and necessary components of recommended developmental school counseling programs. It is possible for children to unlearn inappropriate behaviors and learn new ways of relating more easily through interaction and feedback in a safe practice with their peers (Akos, 2000). The developmental needs of elementary aged children have expanded and are becoming more diverse. Personal and social needs form a large part of self-concept and provide the initial developmental path for adolescents. 

Children’s social interactions with their peers contribute to their cognitive development. Children’s play is considered a form of social behavior, and they engage in several social situations such as cooperation, assistance, sharing, and solving problems in appropriate ways. In these situations, children acquire social skills and learn about their social world, such as the adults’ and their playmates’ points of view, morals, social skills, and conceptions of friendship (Saracho, 1999).

Method

            The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not selected students at The Master’s College first acquired socialization skills in elementary school. Specific research questions were:

1.      Did the students at The Master’s College first acquire socialization skills in elementary school?

2.      How were socialization skills acquired, and what was the impact?

Research indicates that children who enter elementary school are influenced by two new sets of socialization agents: the classroom teacher (and other related school personnel) and peers (Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble, 1983). This research further suggests that children are faced with learning the new social-behavioral code that is associated with the student role. Data suggest that the curriculum in the first years of school is more concerned with a child’s acquisition of the student role than academic skills. Whether or not the child first acquires these socialization skills in elementary school was unknown. 

Data Collection

            The survey instrument used in this study was designed to collect information on whether or not selected students at The Master’s College first acquired socialization skills in elementary school. The instrument was a five-item Likert scale survey identifying the socialization skills that students acquire in elementary school. Survey questions requested demographic data in addition to the Likert scale questions. For each of the five items, the students were asked to respond on a scale of whether they agreed or disagreed to the statement. This survey instrument was distributed randomly to students residing in the dormitories on the campus of The Master’s College as well as to off-campus students. 

Statistical Procedures

            STATPAK was employed to examine the data; the desired scale of measurement was nominal. This is a scale of measurement with two or more categories that have numeric properties (Brown, Cozby, Kee, & Worden, 1999). The students recorded on the survey instrument the response that most closely agreed with their experience. The One-Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test was used to analyze the responses from the scaled portion of the survey instrument. This statistical test measured the significance of difference (Ferguson, 1981). A .01 level of significance was used to test the results of the study. 

Results

            Thirty-four copies of the survey instrument were distributed; thirty-four were returned; and thirty-four were used in this study. The sample indicated 11 students from Sweazy, 3 from Dixon, 6 from Hotchkiss, 3 from Oaktree, 1 from Manzanita, 8 from Slight, 0 from Waldock, and 2 Off-Campus students. There were 24 female and 10 male students in the study. The ages were distributed as follows: 20 18-21 years old and 4 22-25 years old.

Table 1
Responses to Socialization Skills Survey (Chi-Square in parenthesis; *=p<.01) 

 

Strongly Disagree

 

 

 

Strongly Agree

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

X2

4.  Acquire socialization skills
in elementary school

0 (6.8)

2 (3.388)

4 (1.153)

17 (15.3)

11 (2.594)

29.235 *

5.  Acquire socialization
skills away from school

0 (6.8)

1 (4.947)

7 (.006)

11 (2.594)

15 (9.888)

24.235 *

6.  Acquire socialization skills
establish the foundation for
future socialization

2 (3.388)

4 (1.153)

7 (.006)

14 (7.624)

7 (.006)

12.176

7.  Socialization skills are
acquired with guidance from
the teacher

4 (1.153)

8 (.212)

14 (7.624)

7 (.006)

1 (4.947)

13.941 *

8.  Socialization skills acquired
in elementary school are used
in home life.

0 (6.8)

3 (2.124)

 

7 (.006)

13 (5.653)

11 (2.594)

17.176 *

Research Question One 

            Did the students at The Master’s College first acquire socialization skills in elementary school? Questions 4 and 5 of the survey instrument (Appendix A) addressed this research question. Table 1 displays the results of the Chi-square analysis.

            Survey Question 4. Because the computed Chi-square value (29.235) is greater than the tabled Chi-square value (13.277) at the .01 level of significance, it can be concluded that since there is a statistically significant difference between the subjects at The Master’s College who felt that students acquire socialization skills in elementary school and those that did not. This finding aligns with the research conducted by Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble (1983) who claimed that when a child enters elementary school thy are going to be under the influence of two new sets of socialization agents: the classroom teacher (and related school personnel) and peers. This research also aligns with studies done by Akos who stated, “From the beginning of elementary school, the major developmental task that children struggle to master is social interaction” (2000, p. 220).

            Survey Question 5. The computed Chi-square value (24.235) is greater than the tabled Chi-square value of (13.277) at the .01 level, so it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between the subjects at The Master’s College who felt that students acquire socialization skills away from school and those that did not. This finding aligns with the research conducted by Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble (1983) who reported that, “during the preadolescent and early adolescent period children are exposed to more socialization agents; whether it is involvement in sports, music, or youth organizations” (p.24). 

Research Question Two

            How were socialization skills acquired, and what was the impact? Questions 6, 7, and 8 of the survey instrument located in Appendix A addressed this research question. Table 1 displays the results of the Chi-square analysis.

Survey Question 7. Because the computed Chi-square value (13.941) is greater than the tabled Chi-square value (13.277) at the .01 level, it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between the subjects at The Master’s College who felt that the socialization skills that students acquire are developed in the classroom with the guidance from the teacher and those that did not. This finding aligns with the study done by Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble (1983) who claimed that the teacher necessitates less personal attention and nurturance than was received by the juvenile from parents and more peer socialization than was true at home (p. 21). This finding also aligns with the research conducted by Freda & Pollack (1997) who said that “the teacher also plays an important role in the social development of the child” (p. 176). 

            Survey Question 6. The computed Chi-square value (12.176) is less than the tabled Chi-square value (13.277) at the .01 level, so it can be concluded that there is no statistically significant difference between the subjects who did not feel that students who acquire socialization skills in elementary school establish the foundation for future socialization and those subjects that do. This finding deviates from the research conducted by Elkin & Handel (1978) who stated that socialization also continues throughout your life; from childhood to adulthood. They also said that it is significant because there is reason to believe that childhood socialization sets limits to what may be accomplished through adult socialization. 

Survey Question 8. The computed Chi-square value (17.176) is greater than the tabled Chi-square value (13.277) at the .01 level, so it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant difference between the subjects at The Master’s College who felt that the students who acquire socialization skills in elementary school are able to use these skills in their home life and those that did not feel that they could. This finding aligns with the research conducted by Hartup, Higgins, & Ruble (1983) who reported, “As children grow they develop in many ways. They not only develop physically but also mentally. Each child acquires a consistent personality structure, and as these children start to grow they move into a widening world of persons, activities, and feelings” (p. 3). 

            The results of the Chi-square analysis suggest that students at The Master’s College believe that students acquire socialization skills in elementary school; students acquire socialization skills away from school; socialization skills students acquire are developed in the classroom with the guidance from the teacher; and students who acquire socialization skills in elementary school are able to use these skills in their home life. The results from the Chi-square analysis also suggested that students at The Master’s College did not believe that students who acquire socialization skills in elementary school have set the foundation for future socialization.

Recommendations for Further Study

            Additional questions pertaining to whether or not the child first acquires socialization skills in elementary school warrant further investigation; thus following recommendations for further research and study are offered:

1.      This study should be replicated, using a different population to determine whether or not the child first acquires socialization skills in elementary school.

2.      A study should be conducted to determine whether or not socialization skills are acquired in a home school setting.

3.      A study should be conducted to determine whether the teacher holds the primary role in the social development of a child.

References

Akos, P. (2000). Building emphatic skills in elementary school children through group work. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 2, 214-223.

Brown, K. W., Cozby, P. C., Kee, D. W., & Worden, P. E. (1999). Research methods in human development. Mountain View: Mayfield.

Coates, R. D., & Wagenaar, T. C. (1999, Winter). Race and Children: The dynamics of early socialization. Education, 120(2), 220-236.

Elkin, F., & Handel, G. (1978). The child and society: The process of socialization (3rd ed.). New York: Random House.

Ferguson, G. A. (1981). Statistical analysis in psychology and education (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Freda, P. D., & Pollak, J. P. (1997, Mar./Apr.). Humor, learning, and socialization in the middle level classrooms. The Clearing House, 70, 176-178.

Ganter, G., & Yeakel, M. (1980). Human behavior and the social environment. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hartup, W. W. (1999, January). Constraints on peer socialization: Let me count the ways. Merrill- Palmer Quarterly, 45, 172-183.

Hartup, W. W., Higgins, E. T., & Ruble, D. N. (Eds. ). (1983). Social cognition and social development. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Saracho, O. V. (1999, June). A factor analysis of preschool children’s play strategies and cognitive style. Educational Psychology, 19(2), 165-180.

Appendix A

Socialization Skills Students Acquire in Elementary School

This survey instrument is designed to provide data for my undergraduate thesis on the socialization skills that
students acquire in elementary school.

1. Please check gender:  

___       Male

___       Female

2. Check the age that best applies:

___       18-21

___       22-25

___       25+

   

 

3. Where have you established
 residency:

__       Sweazy
__       Dixon
__       Hotchkiss
__       Oaktree
__       Manzanita
__       Slight
__       Waldock
__       Off Campus

Please answer the following questions rating each answer on a 1-5 number scale provided below each question.
(1= strongly disagree, and 5= strongly agree) Please circle your answer. 

4. Students acquire socialization skills in elementary school.

Strongly disagree     1   2   3   4   5     Strongly agree 

5. Students acquire socialization skills away from school.

Strongly disagree     1   2   3   4   5     Strongly agree 

6. Students that acquire socialization skills in elementary school establish the foundation for future socialization.

Strongly disagree     1   2   3   4   5     Strongly agree

7. Socialization skills that students acquire are developed in the classroom with guidance from the teacher.

Strongly disagree     1   2   3   4   5     Strongly agree

8. Students who acquire socialization skills in elementary school are able to use these skills in their home life.

Strongly disagree     1   2   3   4   5     Strongly agree

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey instrument. Please return it to:

Danielle Tasmajian
Box #2035 Sweazy #212

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