An examination of the relationship between peer relation competence and children’s health-related and academic outcomes
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This dissertation examined associations among Peer Relation Competence (PRC), health-related outcomes, and academic achievement of school-aged children. The study used data extracted from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K). Data were analyzed with multiple regression in order to answer four fundamental research questions: 1) Does physical activity predict PRC? 2) Does body mass index predict PRC? 3) What school characteristics promote children’s exposure to physical activity? And 4), are PRC, body mass index, and physical activity predictors of academic achievement? Results of this study suggest that physical activity as measured by children’s participation in physical education and recess are not predictors of peer relation competence. Children who were categorized as overweight or obese, according to body mass index, were found to report significantly lower scores in peer relation competence. Also, characteristics significantly contributing to children’s increased exposure to physical activity opportunities at school were geographic location, size and setting of the school, and whether a school is private or public. Finally student demographics, including gender, race, and socioeconomic status, in conjunction with participation in team sports were found to be significant predictors of academic achievement as measured by reading, math, and science Item Response Theory scaled scores. Implications of the results of the study are examined from a social ecological theory perspective with particularly relevant implications for policy.