Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version

May 2005


Published in Psychology in the Schools 42:2 (2005), pp. 173–187. DOI: 10.1002/pits.20052 Copyright © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Used by permission.


An exploratory study was conducted which assessed behaviors that characterize social competence in the second and fifth grades. A contextual approach was used to gather information from second- and fifth-grade children and their parents and teachers regarding the behaviors they perceived to be important for getting along well with peers. Data were gathered from children through structured interviews with the researcher. Parents and teachers provided information through open-ended paper-pencil surveys. Qualitative methodology was used to analyze the data in this study. Specifically, a three-stage coding process derived from grounded theory was utilized (A. Strauss & J. Corbin, 1998). Triangulation, a technique common to qualitative research whereby multiple sources are used to verify themes identified from data, also was used throughout the coding process to enhance standards of rigor (J.W. Creswell, 1998). Results indicated substantial overlap among the types of behaviors reported by children, parents, and teachers in both grades. Likewise, a number of noteworthy similarities and differences were found among second- and fifth-grade sources. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for social skills assessment and intervention. Limitations and directions for future research also are discussed.