Emotional support, social goals, and classroom behavior: A multilevel, multisite study

Kathryn R. Wentzel, Katherine Muenks, Daniel McNeish, Shannon Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We examined the mediating role of students' interpersonal and academically related social goals in linking students' perceptions of teacher and peer personal and academic emotional supports to their classroom behavior (prosocial, social responsibility) in a sample of young adolescents (n = 3,092) from 7 schools from the mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Southwest regions of the United States. We tested models at the student level (Level 1) and the classroom level (Level 2), while controlling for incidental school-level effects (Level 3); we utilized new analytic strategies for dealing with small sample incidental clustering (using fixed effect/random effect hybrid models) and convergence issues concomitant with missing data and complex models by coupling Bayesian imputation with frequentist estimation. Our results indicate that relations between student's perceptions of teacher and peer emotional supports for academic and personal well-being and classroom behavior are mediated, in part, by social goal pursuit at Level 1 but not Level 2; relations between social goals and classroom behavior were moderated by Level 2 emotional supports for academics from teachers and peers such that consensus concerning levels of academic support strengthened relations between social goals and behavior. Results differed as a function of the source of information concerning student behavior (peer nominations, teacher ratings) and type of behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-627
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian imputation
  • Emotional supports
  • Fixed effect/random effect hybrid models
  • Prosocial and socially responsible behavior
  • Social goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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