Associate 2009-10

Philip Craig Rodkin

Educational Psychology

Rodkin imageChildren's Social Networks, Teacher Practices, and Youth Outcomes

Professor Rodkin is interested in how children at school get along with one another—the friendships and animosities they form, the norms they promote and defy, and the small societies they build. Framed by basic issues in children’s psychological and sociological development, his research is directed toward educational concerns such as reducing aggressive children’s level of violence, understanding children’s ethnicity and intergroup relations, and educating teachers about social dynamics in the classroom.

During his Center appointment, Professor Rodkin plans to complete a project on teacher practices and children’s social relationships, aggression, and achievement. He is collecting data in low-income elementary schools across central Illinois to assess features of classroom peer networks and determine how teachers can positively shape peer ecologies in the classroom. The project is informed partly by the CAS yearlong initiative, “The Age of Networks: Social, Cutural, and Technological Connections” (2006-07).

Specific research questions include (a) What features of classroom social dynamics are associated with youth outcomes? (b) What teaching practices are associated with classroom social dynamics? and (c) Does classroom diversity affect the classroom social dynamic or the association between teaching practices, social dynamics, and youth outcomes?

With his doctoral and undergraduate research assistants, Professor Rodkin will collect a second round of data from Illinois classrooms and analyze the first round of data collected in 2008-09. Based on the results, he will develop assessment and intervention strategies and propose an efficacy trial that synthesizes his social network analysis with developmental and educational practice – and thereby bring about improved prospects for children’s success at school.