Thijmen Jeroense, MSc: The interplay between ethnic and educational network segregation and opinion polarization

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Niels Spierings (RU) & Jochem Tolsma (RU)
  • Period: September 1, 2019 – August 31, 2021

Sofie Lorijn, MSc: How positive and negative peer relations affect school well-being, academic achievement, and problem behaviors in secondary education

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra (RUG), Maaike Engelse (RUG)
  • Funding: NRO; Period: September 1, 2019 – August 31, 2021

Gabriella Dekker-Calado, MSc: Parents and Teachers: Partners in the Fight against Bullying

  • Supervisors: Annelies Kassenberg (Hanze University of Applied Sciences), René Veenstra and Gijs Huitsing (RUG).
  • Funding: NRO; Period: February 1, 2019 – January 31, 2021  

Elsje de Vries, MSc: An Effective Anti-Bullying Program for Secondary Education

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra and Gijs Huitsing (RUG).
  • Funding: NRO; Period: January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2022  

Simon Venema, MSc: Strengthening ties between prisoners and their families: Effects of the family approach intervention in two prisons in the Netherlands 

  • Supervisors: Eric Blaauw (Hanze University of Applied Sciences), René Veenstra and Marieke Haan (RUG).
  • Funding: DJi; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Sanne Kellij, MSc: Social Perceptions, Responses, and Skills of Chronic Victims
Teachers who actively stand for anti-bullying norms are the most effective in tackling bullying. If teachers do not feel that they are responsible for preventing bullying, anti-bullying initiatives are unlikely to be optimally successful. Teachers’ beliefs about the causes of bullying are likely to affect how they feel about the occurrence of bullying in their classrooms and whether or not they will intervene in bullying episodes among their students. In order to understand why children behave in problematic ways, teachers tend to make inferences about the causes of this behavior. In general, teachers may take two broad viewpoints with respect to children’s problematic behavior: they either attribute it to factors within the teachers’ control (internal causes) or to factors outside the teachers’ control (external causes). If teachers attribute bullying mostly to external causes — and thus believe that bullying is caused by factors that cannot easily be influenced by them — it is unlikely that they will intervene in bullying incidents. They are likely to believe that their intervention will not make a large difference, that they do not have much influence on bullying, and that handling bullying is not their responsibility. By contrast, teachers who ascribe bullying to internal factors are more likely to perceive the problem as remediable, feel greater responsibility, and are more committed to stop the bullying. It can be hypothesized that a coaching intervention will help teachers to recognize various forms of bullying; become more aware of their potential role as significant other (referring to an increase in teachers’ attribution of bullying to internal causes); become more capable in taking an active stance against bullying. If this proves to be correct, coaching teachers will probably reduce the level of bullying.

Wouter Kiekens, MSc: Thriving Under Stress: Understanding What Makes Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents Susceptible and Resilient to Minority Stress 
This project investigates differences in mental health and substance use of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents. It focuses on susceptibility and resilience to the impact of minority stress on mental health and substance use, extending knowledge on how LGB adolescents are affected by minority stress using innovative methods. Specifically, it examines (1) the association between minority stress and mental health and substance use using experience sampling; and the roles of (2) rejection sensitivity and (3) social support using vignettes and ego networks. Understanding within and between-group differences helps to provide better support for these vulnerable youth.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, & Laura Baams (RUG).
  • Funding: PhD Fund Faculty BSS; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Xingna Qin, MSc: The Development of Academic Achievement and Social Adaptation in Peer Networks among Chinese Adolescents 
This research aims to examine the dynamic interplay between academic achievement and social adaptation in both friendship and antipathy relationships among Chinese adolescents. By using state-of-the-art statistical models for social network analysis, new insights will be gained in the development of academic achievement and social adaptation, and selection and influence processes in both friendship and antipathy networks in the Chinese classroom. The findings will add to the literature on how behaviours and networks dynamically develop, present a comprehensive picture on broader properties of multiplex networks and throw light on the mechanisms of selection and influence in peer networks.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra and Christian Steglich (RUG).
  • Funding: Chinese Scholarship Council; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Eleonora Marucci, MSc: The Role of Teachers in the Classroom’s Peer Ecology 
Teachers play a crucial role in classroom’s peer ecology. Intentionally or not, through their attitudes, believes and interactions with their pupils, teachers contribute to define the environment in which students’ development happens. Prior research has shown that teaching effectiveness is associated to different outcomes, such as the emergence of anti-aggressive group norms, and to different network proprieties, such as density and reciprocity of the friendship network, which could affect individual aggressive behavior. From a peer ecology perspective, possible influences of the teacher on the students’ social and behavioral outcomes include factors such as (a) teacher-student interactions (i.e., emotional support, classroom organization, instructional support), (b) teachers practices, believes and attitudes (i.e., disapproval of aggression, support for the shy); and (c) teachers knowledge of the individual and social characteristics of their students. Effective teaching involves organizing the overall structure of the students’ interactions in the classroom and using knowledge about social processes to promote behavioral, academic and relational engagement among students. Teaching practices such as small-group activities, oriented by a strong awareness of the students’ social and individual features, may discourage potentially problematic patterns of homophily, by separating students who may reinforce each other’s behavioral problems. Our central research questions are the following. To what extent can teachers positively shape the environment where students’ interactions take place In order to counteract aggressive conducts among students? How can teachers influence the initiation, maintenance and reduction of aggressive behaviors? Does the teacher’s awareness of students’ personal and sociometric characteristics play a role in the incidence of aggressive behavior?

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Beau Oldenburg (RUG), and Davide Barrera (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: January 1, 2018 – August 31, 2021  

Danelien van Aalst, MSc: The Role of Teachers in Taking an Active Stance against Bullying
Teachers who actively stand for anti-bullying norms are the most effective in tackling bullying. If teachers do not feel that they are responsible for preventing bullying, anti-bullying initiatives are unlikely to be optimally successful. Teachers’ beliefs about the causes of bullying are likely to affect how they feel about the occurrence of bullying in their classrooms and whether or not they will intervene in bullying episodes among their students. In order to understand why children behave in problematic ways, teachers tend to make inferences about the causes of this behavior. In general, teachers may take two broad viewpoints with respect to children’s problematic behavior: they either attribute it to factors within the teachers’ control (internal causes) or to factors outside the teachers’ control (external causes). If teachers attribute bullying mostly to external causes — and thus believe that bullying is caused by factors that cannot easily be influenced by them — it is unlikely that they will intervene in bullying incidents. They are likely to believe that their intervention will not make a large difference, that they do not have much influence on bullying, and that handling bullying is not their responsibility. By contrast, teachers who ascribe bullying to internal factors are more likely to perceive the problem as remediable, feel greater responsibility, and are more committed to stop the bullying. It can be hypothesized that a coaching intervention will help teachers to recognize various forms of bullying; become more aware of their potential role as significant other (referring to an increase in teachers’ attribution of bullying to internal causes); become more capable in taking an active stance against bullying. If this proves to be correct, coaching teachers will probably reduce the level of bullying.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Gijs Huitsing, and Beau Oldenburg (RUG).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: September 1, 2016 – January 31, 2022  
  • RUG Opinie: Teachers need our help to tackle bullying, September 2018

Diego Palacios, MSc: The Co-evolution among Friendship, Prosocial, Aggression and Academic Networks in Adolescence
The social world in schools is organized in a variety of networks. Different relations such as friendship, collaboration, dislike and aggression connect students both within and outside schools. Previous research has studied the effects of friendship ties on prosocial, aggressive, prosocial and academic behavior separately, analyzing them mainly as individual characteristics instead of relational activities. Using social network analyses, this project examines the interrelationship between friendship and three significant types of networks in adolescence: aggression (Who starts fights?), prosociality (Who cooperates?), and academics (Who studies with whom?). The aim of this project is to study the coevolution of these networks by examining processes at actor (e.g., do prosocial students send more friendship ties?), dyadic (e.g., does cooperation lead to friendship?), and triadic level (e.g., do helpers of friends become friends?) both in school and out school contexts (e.g., extracurricular activities).

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Mark Huisman (RUG), and Christian Berger (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile).
  • Funding: CONICYT; Period: September 1, 2016 – August 31, 2020