The clique is a small group of close friends, usually of similar rank in the school status system. It is a primary group united by shared interests and friendship. Each classroom usually has two or more diques and some dyads (two-person groups) and isolates. A single student leader occasionally unites’ an entire class in support for or opposition to some cause or to the’ teacher, but this is unusual. Students govern their behavior in large part by their desire to be in the good graces of a . clique, since no worse fate can befall the student (or anyone for that matter) than not to “belong.”
Sociometric research can identify the relationships between students. They are asked such questions as whom they consider good friends or to whom they would turn for advice. A few students, known sociometrically as “stars,” will be chosen by many and are obvious leaders. Those choosing a particular leader and being chosen by only one or two themselves are “followers,” while those who are chosen by no one are “isolates.” The work of the teacher may be significantly handicapped if he or she tries to upset leader-follower relationships or gives too’ much attention to some cliques while ignoring others. It is therefore important that the teacher identify the cliques in a class. Sociometric research is only one of the methods used by sociologists in studying schools, but it is one which has made a major contribution to understanding the social factors involved in classroom learning.