The idea for this book developed over the last few years, when we found ourselves at the same conferences, assigned to the same sessions, presenting research on children's and adolescents' social relationships in school. We felt that it was time to pool our efforts and invite others to join us to write about achievement motivation and social functioning, not as two distinct topics, but as interrelated aspects of school adjustment. We both believed that students' acclimation to school is colored by their social experiences – an aspect that had often been neglected, especially in educational research. Furthermore, motivational approaches open up new ways to interpret interpersonal interactions and relationships in the classroom – an observation that has not been widely acknowledged in research on social development.
While editing this book, there was an increase in interest in social influences in the school setting. We want to especially thank all our contributors for their enthusiasm. The authors were at different phases of their social-motivational thinking; some were at the planning stage, while others were in the process of compiling further data and extending their prior findings. We welcomed this variability in conceptualizations that quite accurately reflected the current state of research in this area. Throughout the editing process, we appreciated the encouragement and support from our friends at the University of Delaware and the University of Maryland. Also, we want to acknowledge the support for our own research from the National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship Program and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement Fellows Program. Finally, thanks are extended to Bernard Weiner for his encouragement and support as well as to Khanh-Van Bui for her assistance.