Peer Group Variables And Academic Performance Of Students

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Peer Group Variables And Academic Performance Of Students


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Peer groups are among the most influential social forces affecting adolescent behavior from mundane decisions concerning clothing, hairstyle, music, and entertainment, to more significant decisions concerning short and long-term education plans. Variables of peer influence include the ethnicity of the students, the socio-economic background of the students, family relationships and group interests. During the adolescent years, peers are even considered more important than parents, guardians and teachers and the peer-influenced decisions of adolescents can have long-lasting consequences. Parents recognize the importance of peer groups and through their choice of neighborhoods, schools, and activities.

Peer effects in education are generally accepted to be of importance. Despite this assertion, there is no agreement on the direction of the effect peers have on one another. Different theories attempt to explain this and according to some of them the average ability of classmates has detrimental effect on one’s schooling outcomes while others imply that it enhances ones achievements (Marsh, 2005). Students could also be indirectly affected by their peers. This usually comes about through the way teachers react to different groups of students. One possible effect is that if students are sorted into classes based on their potential this might allow teachers to match instructions more closely to students needs because of more homogenous group, which would benefit all students. However, my primary purpose with this paper is to establish empirically the existence and direction of peer effects but not to distinguish the channels by which peer effects operate.

Aware of the importance of peer influence, both families and policy makers have included peer quality as a prominent element in educational decision making. For example, parents tend to seek for better companions for their children through residential choices and other school choice options. Many controversial education policies, such as vouchers, school desegregation, and ability tracking, intend to improve student performance through changing the composition of peers. Nevertheless, trying to identify peer effects is not an easy task. The most problematic issue is that families and students usually choose schools and peer groups where they share similar attributes with other members. Consequently, measures of peer features may just signal other unobservable individual factors that as well affect the outcomes, such as student willingness to work and parental ambition and resources. This endogenous choice leads to a selection bias problem. This creates a standard simultaneity bias problem, also termed as reflection problem by Manski (1993).

A great body of research advocates the positive peer impact represented in learning community, few studies were conducted to reveal a negative dimension of peer effect on academic performance (krik. A. Johnson, 2000). Communities are believed to absorb individual’s sense of responsibility that is believed to contribute to effective learning (J. Scott Armstrong, 2012). In social psychology, such a diffusion of responsibility among the members of the community results in social loafing making individuals exert less effort to achieve a common goal than if they would do individually (Karau. Steven J & Williams Kipling D, 1993, and Gilovich, T; Keltner, D & Nisbett R. E, 2006). Such a failure of belonging and irresponsibility have profound impact on students’ performance and continuous assessment. Negative peer pressure has been found to be associated with lower levels of school achievement nearly as much as they are with a Hispanic or African-American minority group in the US (krik. A Johnson, 2000). Consistent exposure to unhealthy company (e.g. bad roommate) can likewise have a negative influence on academic achievement. A study on peer effects and alcohol use among college students has shown that males who were assigned a roommate who drank alcohol prior to college obtained on average a lower GPA.

This contradiction in attribution as to whether peers have positive or negative impact has been resolved in Karau and Williams Collective Effort Model (1993, 2001). The model suggests that highly motivated individuals generate social facilitation (i.e. increasing one’s effort in the presence of others) whereas the less motivated individuals are likely to engage in social loafing (Forsyth, D. R, 2010). Moreover, Karau and Williams found that motivation correlates with the complexity and value of the goal (Forsyth, D. R, 2010); the more complicated a task is and the higher its value, the more motivated the individuals become. It is widely believed that peer group variables such as the ethnicity of the students, the socio-economic background of the students, family relationships and group interests have great impact on the academic performance of students and that was what this study focused on with a keen interest on Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Several researchers have been interested in discussing the link between social interactions among peers in school and academic outcomes for many years now. Several literatures have established the fact that a child’s peer group influences social and academic development and that these influences begin at the very start of formal education. Influences and motivations for all kinds of children’s behavior, including study habits and personal academic development, come not only from their peers, but also from their parents, teachers, and others with whom they come into close contact. Because of the amount of the time a child spends each day with his or her friends, the peer influence on a child can be very essential.

In addition, peer effects become more important as time passes, peaking somewhere during adolescence. Consequently, children must promote positive peer groups early so as to become well-adjusted adolescents and possibly adults.Having friends in school allows the child to learn a host of skills: group interaction, conflict resolution, and trust building, among others.Absence of positive peer group interactions brings about serious social problems development. Peer rejection in early childhood and early adolescence, for instance, is a good predictor of social and academic problems later. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the impacts of peer group variables on academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.


1.3 Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

  1. What is the prevalence of peer group variables and academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area?
  2. What are the effects of peer group variables and academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area?
  3. What efforts are being taken by the parents of the students of secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area to ensure better academic performance in Economics?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study was to investigate the impacts of peer group variables on academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria. The specific objectives were:

  1. To establish the prevalence of peer group variables and academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area
  2. To determine the effects of peer group variables and academic performance in Economics subject among secondary school students in Uyo Local Government Area
  3. To investigate the efforts being taken by the parents of the students of secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area to ensure better academic performance in Economics

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research work would benefit the government of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, in developing and implementing policies that promote student performance in relation to peer influence. The study findings would also assist schools to eradicate negative peer influence on Economics performance.

It would also help researchers as it would help develop new literature in the area of Peer group variables and academic performance in Economics among Secondary school Students in Uyo Local Government Area.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study investigated the impact of Peer group variables and academic performance in Economics among Secondary school Students in Uyo Local Government Area. The study shall be concentrated to only students from Uyo Local Government Area.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

The researcher was faced with inadequate time however the researcher keenly followed the time frame. The respondents were also shy about giving information thinking it was for commercial purposes but they were assured of confidentiality. Lastly it was not easy to get some respondents to respond to the questions but the researcher was patient and made several trips to collect the questionnaire.


1.8 Definition of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Academic Performance:

Scores attained in form one end of year examination.

Economics:

A social science subject that study human behaviour in buying and selling.

Peer group:

A group of students in the same class


Chapter Five


Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Conclusion

From the results therefore, this study concludes that, peer group plays an important role in the lives of students. They form a critical part of the social environment of school and also create and maintain a culture different from the home. It is obvious Peer groups are not a fad or a trend, they are around to stay; therefore, Parents, Teachers and Administrators should be on watch-out to identify the types of peers their students move with both in school and outside the home. They should do their best to see that their children relate with friends who can positively influence them and have good impact on their academic performance. Counselors should play a prominent and leading role in the matter by organizing lectures, seminars, career talk and symposiums that can create positive awareness on influence of peer group on academic performance of students. The following conclusions were drawn from the findings of the study:

  1. There is significant influence of peer group on academic performance of student. Therefore, school administrators and parents/guardians have a role to play in monitoring the types of peers their students and wards move with both in school and outside the home.
  2. There is a significant relationship between Peer group and academic performance. It is clear from the finding that peer does, in fact, have a relatively strong influence over the daily functioning of students and their academic achievement. Therefore, the choices those students make regarding their engagement and academic performance in school depends on how they are guided and supported by their parent.

5.2 Recommendations

Based on the conclusion of the study, the following recommendations were made: 1. The finding revealed that peer group has an influence on student and such influence could be positive or negative therefore, there is need for teacher to have greater supervision and regulations on students while they are in school this will enhance the type of group the belong to.

  1. The government and ministry of education should ensure that trained counselors are posted in all schools and colleges so as to provide preventive counseling services and modify the behaviors of student who perchance have been negatively influenced by peers.
  2. School counselors should play a prominent and leading role in the matter of peer group influence by organizing lectures, seminars, career talk and symposiums that can create positive awareness on influence of peer group on academic performance of undergraduate students.
  3. School counselors, teachers, parents, and other government agencies should actively participate and get involved in role – modeling of students by introducing informative programs that could educate them about peer group influence and thus, refocus them meaningfully towards excellent academic performance; this could help the development of the nation’s academic future.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How does peer group influence affect student academic performance?

Peer group influence also have a relationship with students’ academic performance, as students whose friends engage in negative activities such as use of drugs, sneaking out of school and being absent from school chronically are likely to have lower academic performance.

What are the factors that affect academic performance?

Rationale of the Study The quality of academic performance of students is affected by various factors, such as teaching effectiveness, student’s study habits, distraction factors, family environment, etc. The study of academic performance of students may be helpful for the parents of the students as well as the policymakers of colleges.

Are peer groups a fad or a trend?

It is obvious that peer groups are not a fad or a trend, they are around to stay. For this reason, peer group influence is a phenomenon that will be studied throughout time. 

How do peers’ perceptions of classmates’ academic competencies affect student achievement?

In a similar fashion, peers’ perceptions of classmates’ academic competencies may influence their interactions with classmates in ways that impact their achievement. The limited research on peer perceptions of classmates’ academic ability is consistent with such a view. 

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