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Emerging Sense of Ethnic Awareness and Peer Interactions in Preschool

  • Author / Creator
    John, Saira
  • Emerging sense of ethnic awareness is described as a child’s growing recognition of their ethnicity and connectedness to their ethnic group. Ethnic awareness is proposed to be the foundation for ethnic identity that typically emerges in early adolescence. Ethnic awareness includes three distinct dimensions: sense of belonging, sense of community, and sense of place within the context of their ethnic group. There has been little investigation of children’s emerging sense of ethnic awareness during the preschool year when children’s social-cognitive abilities to recognize differences and similarities among ethnic groups emerge. Entry into preschool provides children with the opportunities to interact and develop relationships with peers. These relationships may help children to learn more about and internalize their sense of ethnic awareness. Reciprocally, children’s sense of ethnic awareness may contribute to the frequency of their peer interactions. How children’s emerging sense of ethnic awareness is associated with the frequency of their peer interactions is understudied in early childhood. Using a sample of 231 low-income, ethnically diverse families in Western Canada, the current study tested three theoretically guided models to examine how children’s emerging sense of ethnic awareness and peer interactions (positive peer interactions and peer conflict) are associated across a preschool year. The awareness-driven model tested whether children’s sense of ethnic awareness contributes to prospective frequency of peer interactions. The peer-driven model tested whether peer interactions contribute to prospective proficiency of sense of ethnic awareness. The transactional model tested whether sense of ethnic awareness and peer interactions were reciprocally related. Ethnicity and immigration status were tested as moderators of the associations between children’s sense of ethnic awareness and peer interactions. The awareness-driven model fit the data best for positive peer interactions whereas the peer-driven model fit the data best for peer conflict. The transactional model did not provide a better fit to the data. Ethnicity and immigration status did not moderate these associations. Children who had a more proficient sense of ethnic awareness had more frequent positive peer interactions at the end of the school year. Alternatively, children who had more frequent peer conflict had a less proficient sense of ethnic awareness at the end of the school year. These results highlight that children’s sense of ethnic awareness may enhance the frequency of their positive peer interactions but be undermined by more frequent peer conflict.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-06:Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R36H4D30Q
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Wendy Hoglund, Psychology
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Elena Nicoladis, Psychology
    • Rebecca Goikert, Extension
    • Kim Noels, Psychology