This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Influence of Social Status on Fifth Grade Students' Group Work during Physical Education




Hollett, Nikki

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




Education utilizes group work to increase social development, engagement, and learning outcomes of students in a less traditional way (Baines, Blatchford, & Kutnik, 2016). However, classroom research claims social status can influence the participation and engagement of group members, creating issues of inclusiveness and equity (Cohen, 1994). In the physical education setting, little research has explored the influence of social status in affecting the experiences of students participating in groups. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the influence of social status in a physical education group work context. Three studies are included in this dissertation. The first study explored the effect of various status characteristics in predicting social hierarchy during a Sport Education unit. The second study investigated the effect of social status on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), skill improvement, and knowledge development from a Sport Education unit. Lastly, the third study, using Bourdieu’s theory of habitus as the framework, present insight into students’ perceptions of their social status and experiences while participating in group work. The research design for all three studies was based on utilizing sport education model to frame the group work portion of the hockey unit. Results from the first study indicated height and perceived skill ability significantly predicted social status in 12 teams of four participants (n= 48). Additionally, the second study yielded results showing significant gains in skill and knowledge development between high and low-status students participating in a group work unit. Moreover, there was no significant difference in MVPA between high- and low-status students. Lastly, the qualitative study revealed diverse perceptions of students as they experienced the group work phenomenon. The results from these studies emphasize a need for revisiting effective group work as an instructional strategy in physical education. Future research should explore strategies and grouping methods to provide equal learning opportunities for all students.