Can my fellow classmates make me a better student? Or worse, does that class clown bring down my own performance? A recent Stamford University study seeks to answer this question by monitoring students in elementary schools, high schools, and universities based upon their interactions with fellow classmates. In the 2002 study by Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain, Jacob M. Markman, and Steven G. Rivkin, researchers found that students are greatly effected by their peers, and in most cases such influences overwhelm the teacher/parental influence. However, in the case of positive influence, it does not matter how well a student performs; he or she can still improve another student’s motivation. This suggests that while lower-performance schools can adversely effect a child’s education, there is still hope for positive peer reinforcement.
The study goes on to reveal this set of peer influences is a reciprocal event. One child can poorly influence another, while the other child can add a positive influence. Some might think this is obvious, but we should garner a lot of hope this finding. After all, if we can reach just one child, they have the power to pass on their education and motivation to a whole classroom of fellow students.
Parents may then ask, “But what if my kid doesn’t have good friends? What if they’re peers don’t care about school?” When both the school and the student performances are lacking, outside influences become increasingly important. This is why positive mentors are key to student success. If, for example, our tutors can act more like peers than teachers, our sphere of influence is far greater than the sum of our educational system’s parts. We must believe in encouraging forward thinking, analytical exercise, and positive reinforcement. All of these factors lead to better education. In small ways, this supplementary encouragement can offset negative biases and influences each day.
Here, at Five Points Learning, our energetic team of instructors not only care about student progress; we seek to improve students’ outlook on education. Quite simply, learning is cool. We firmly believe this because all of us have benefited from our own paths to education. If we can instill this same perspective in our students, we can better entire classes one student at a time. For assistance with homework help and how to motivate students, contact Five Points Learning today!
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