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These relationships more often than not are shaped by the need to accomplish common goals. Usually, social forces (social influences) emerge in this process and whose consequences either facilitate or impede learning. According to Hirschy and Wilson (2002), these social influences are categorized into role relationships, social status, and structural inequalities. Sociologists often look at how these influences affect people in the classroom in a social setting (Hirschy & Wilson, 2002).
Mehan (1998) describes social status in a classroom context as to include the gender, race, age, and social class of the students and the tutor (Hirschy & Wilson, 2002). For instance, students coming from poor family set-ups may often find challenges adjusting to college life compared to their higher status counterparts. According to Gardner, Dean and McKaig (1989), the college environment often reflects the social relationships at different levels i.e. upper-level, middle-level and low level. It is often the case that although students from low-level or disadvantaged backgrounds can grasp tacit rules quickly, they still have a sense of being outsiders.
Social influence of role relationships usually come out clearly when assessing the interaction patterns that occur between the tutor and learners and among student peers. Usually in every class, the rules and norms have a huge bearing on the interactions among class participants. According to Hirschy and Wilson (2002), the various norms of discourse determining the patterns of participation. These are those who take part and those who do not. Moreover, it depends on whether one has the drive to disagree with the instructor and other students. In addition, it shows how best to handle conflicts; the types of questions that are acceptable, and how to act appropriately in the classroom.
Students often hold an unequal position of power and this, according to Gamaron (2001) often brings a negative influence
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