The study uses a quantitative methodology to answer previously identified research questions. Many researchers report that negative emotions have a significant impact on physical development in this age group, and this assumption was used to develop one of the research tools (Dubois-Comtois, Moss, Cyr, & Pascuzzo, 2013; Elsaesser, Gorman-Smith, & Henry, 2013; Schwartz, Lansford, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 2018). To answer the research questions, it was decided to use two tools to survey children from 8 to 12 years old.
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The sample includes fifty students aged 8-12 from five different schools. The choice of the population is associated with the active physical and emotional development that such children demonstrate (Bjorklund & Ellis, 2014). From impartiality considerations, ten research participants were randomly chosen in each educational institution. Taking into account that surveys contain questions related to personal issues, full guarantees of anonymity were given.
The first tool is presented by a short survey that has been designed for the research. Based on the literature review, it was decided to include questions concerning children’s perceptions of their school and family environment with the focus on a negative experience, possible learning problems, and social competencies (Newman & Newman, 2015). Children in this age group are capable of making rational judgments, and this is why the assistance of parents or teachers during data collection was prohibited (Lecce, Bianco, Devine, Hughes, & Banerjee, 2014). The results of the survey were used to define the role of the environment in children’s development. The second area of attention, which is the connection between unfavorable environment and the level of aggression in children, was studied with the help of the printed version of the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire. The tool requires participants to evaluate twenty-nine statements concerning aggressiveness and define the degree to which each statement describes their behavior.
Each participant completed both surveys, and quantitative data analysis was conducted to define if children were likely to associate communication and learning difficulties with family and school problems. Apart from that, all surveys were divided into two groups to compare the average level of aggression in children facing challenges at school and at home to that of children reporting no significant challenges. Possible limitations include some participants’ fear to acknowledge their problems and the negative effect of stress on memory.
During the first part of data collection, research participants were supposed to answer a few questions concerning their environment and its presumable impact on the learning process and academic performance. The results of the first survey are presented in the table below. The participants were required to indicate the presence of significant problems related to their family and school environment. Data analysis shows that a large part of research participants associate problems at school and home with poor communication skills and asociality. The majority of children also believe that there is a strong link between environment and academic performance.
|Survey question||Answered positively||Answered negatively|
|Do you have any significant problems with peers (bullying, inequality, cultural clashes)?||36%||64%|
|Do you have significant problems at home (misunderstanding, difficult parents, lack of moral or financial support)?||34%||66%|
|Do you think these problems make children go into their shells and become less creative?||74%||26%|
|Do you think these problems impact children’s school performance?||76%||24%|
Table 1. Perceived influence of the environment on children’s development.
In terms of aggressiveness, the analysis of BPAQ results shows an obvious difference between the average scores of respondents who do and do not face problems at school and home. In particular, as is clear from the second table, there is a significant difference when it comes to the use of unwanted forms of communication or verbal aggression. To sum it up, the results confirm the hypothesis and show that school and family environments can impact the physical development and the degree of aggressiveness of middle childhood populations.
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|The scale factor||The average score for children who indicate family/school problems or both (52% of the sample)||The average score for children who indicate no family/school problems (48% of the sample)|
Table 2. Average BPAQ scores in children who report/do not report school and family problems.
Bjorklund, D., & Ellis, B. (2014). Children, childhood, and development in evolutionary perspective. Developmental Review, 34(3), 225-264.
Dubois-Comtois, K., Moss, E., Cyr, C., & Pascuzzo, K. (2013). Behavior problems in middle childhood: The predictive role of maternal distress, child attachment, and mother-child interactions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(8), 1311-1324.
Elsaesser, C., Gorman-Smith, D., & Henry, D. (2013). The role of the school environment in relational aggression and victimization. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(2), 235-249.
Lecce, S., Bianco, F., Devine, R., Hughes, C., & Banerjee, R. (2014). Promoting theory of mind during middle childhood: A training program. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126(1), 52-67.
Newman, B., & Newman, P. (2015). Development through life: A psychosocial approach (13th ed.). London, England: Cengage Learning.
Schwartz, D., Lansford, J. E., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (2018). Peer victimization during middle childhood as a marker of attenuated risk for adult arrest. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 46(1), 57-65.