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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2750; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122750

Class-Level School Performance and Life Satisfaction: Differential Sensitivity for Low- and High-Performing School-Aged Children

1
Department of Nursing and Health Science, University of Applied Sciences, 36037 Fulda, Germany
2
Department for Sociology of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences, Technical University Dortmund, 44227 Dortmund, Germany
3
Institute of Medical Sociology, Medical Faculty, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 06112 Halle (Saale), Germany
4
Department of Health Sciences, Faculty for Health, Social Work, and Music, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, 01968 Senftenberg, Germany
5
Faculty of Social Sciences, Health Sciences and PERLA (Tampere Center for Childhood, Youth and Family Research), University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
6
Tampere University Hospital, Department of Adolescent Psychiatry, 33380 Pitkäniemi, Finland
7
Hertie School of Governance, 10117 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 March 2018 / Revised: 25 October 2018 / Accepted: 27 October 2018 / Published: 5 December 2018
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Abstract

This study investigates whether class-level school performance affects students’ life satisfaction and if there are differential effects for high- and low-performing students. Data were derived from the National Educational Panel Study, including n = 5196 students (49.6% girls), nested in 478 classes and 250 secondary schools. School performance in class was measured by aggregating individual grade point average in Mathematics and German. The study could not reveal the “big-fish-little-pond”-effect regarding students’ life satisfaction but found differential effects for high- vs. low performing students. There was no significant association for low-performing students attending classes with higher class-level performance However, low-performing students revealed the lowest life satisfaction. High-performing students placed in classes with higher average performance reported lower life satisfaction compared to high-performing students in classes with lower average performance. This study provides evidence for the impact of the learning environment in class on school-aged children’s life satisfaction, by highlighting the differential sensitivity of high-performing students when placed in classes with higher or lower average performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: school performance; social comparison; life satisfaction; “big-fish-little-pond”-effect; multilevel analysis; National Educational Panel Study; Germany school performance; social comparison; life satisfaction; “big-fish-little-pond”-effect; multilevel analysis; National Educational Panel Study; Germany
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Rathmann, K.; Herke, M.; Bilz, L.; Rimpelä, A.; Hurrelmann, K.; Richter, M. Class-Level School Performance and Life Satisfaction: Differential Sensitivity for Low- and High-Performing School-Aged Children. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2750.

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