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Can I play? A study of peer rejection in the elementary school

1 January 1996


A qualitative study based on the work of John Coie was conducted in a third/fourth grade blended classroom. One major question and three minor questions were to be answered from this study. The major question was why are children excluded from peer groups? The minor questions were what actions do rejected children display, what characteristics do they possess that cause them, to be rejected, and what can teachers do to help?

After detailed research of studies on peer rejection done by several authors, students were observed in multiple settings with in the school. Children suspected of possessing the characteristics of rejected children were observed closely to discover how they related to others. A sociometric survey was then taken among the class to determine whom the students did and did not like and why. This survey, combined with observations, revealed five students who fit the description of a rejected child. Two girls and three boys became the subjects of the study; they were from then on observed in great detail. The research and observations were compared and conclusions were drawn, finding that these students ranged from neglected to severely rejected. Each child is discussed in detail, starting with the least and ending with the most rejected child.


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