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Classification Sociometry - Theoretical Foundations

Classification Sociometry - Theoretical Foundations

Classification sociometry is a very important method in international literature, and its inclusion opens up new possibilities for the analysis of classes. In contrast to the Mérei-like sociometry, it is not fundamentally based on the reciprocity of relationships, but on the definition of social categories derived from the comparison of negative and positive nominations.

For this it only asks two questions, "Who do you like best in the class?" and "Who do you like least in the class?". From these two questions, the Liked most (LM) and Liked least (LL) votes are first calculated by a simple summation, from which the social impact and social preference of the child can be derived. The first is the sum of the two types of votes to give how many people notice and have some kind of emotional attitude towards a given child, while the second is the difference between the two which shows how positive the attitude is towards a given child, with high liking being defined as many positive and few negative votes and high impact as many positive and many negative votes.

The literature distinguishes five categories in total: popular, who receives many positive and few negative votes, rejected, who receives many negative and few positive votes, neglected, who receives few negative and positive votes overall, ambivalent, who receives many negative votes in addition to receiving many positive votes, and average, who does not fall into the other categories. The programme distinguishes between average and average+ categories. This is basically a theoretical question, the original categorisation left out a significant number of respondents, these are marked as average +, they are closer than the average to being in a category, however do not meet the criteria for any of them.

The resulting sociogram shows which children were placed in which category and how high they scored on each scale, as well as the total number of votes they received on each question.

The graph works with standardised values, which means that 0 is the average number of votes and 1 is the standard deviation of votes. Usually children with a score higher than 1 are placed in a category, but this is not always the case.

For practical use, two important aspects should be taken into account; on the one hand, the categories are based on artificial mathematical boundary points cut into continuous variables and may vary over time, so although they do indeed carry very important information, their interpretation should be made in the light of this information, i.e. how close or far the child is from the average zone (-1 to +1 in all directions).

Another important and often raised point is the inclusion of the negative question. According to the literature, asking a negative question in this form does not have any harmful consequences. An important argument in favour of its use is that it introduces a very important new aspect into the analysis, as it has not been possible before to show who is explicitly disliked by the class (it is different if someone has no mutual relationship than if many people find him/her unpleasant).

Classification sociometry can provide very important additional information in assessing and understanding the class, its hidden dynamics, and for this reason the use of this information is considered a competence of school psychologists. Giving feedback on these information to children is not recommended in any form.