Standard Article

School Adjustment

Part Three. Sociocultural, Instructional, and Relational Processes

  1. Kathryn R. Wentzel PhD

Published Online: 15 APR 2003

DOI: 10.1002/0471264385.wei0711

Handbook of Psychology

Handbook of Psychology

How to Cite

Wentzel, K. R. 2003. School Adjustment. Handbook of Psychology. Three:11:235–258.

Author Information

  1. University of Maryland, Human Development, College Park, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2003


Wentzel reviews research demonstrating that socially adjusted individuals are able to set and achieve personally valued goals sanctioned by the larger community. School adjustment is defined by social motivation in the form of social goal pursuit, behavioral competence, and positive interpersonal relationships. Initially, Wentzel identifies critical factors related to social and school adjustment. Children's adjustment to school is discussed with in relation to social competencies that facilitate school-related achievement. Research on socialization processes that promote healthy adjustment at school is reviewed. The implications for future work on school adjustment and areas for continued research are identified in the final section.


  • interpersonal relations;
  • motivation;
  • school adjustment;
  • social competence