Free Psychological Development Of Students And Their Peer Groups Essay Sample
Peers have a direct impact on a student’s learning and their academic performance. It is very eloquently put that a person becomes a bearer of same values and habits as the people who make up his company. A more accepting environment towards good habits encourages positive actions in an individual, counter wise an environment promoting bad habbits forces people to turn bad in order to get accepted in that social setting. In a study conducted by Sullivan, it was discovered that at different school levels, our peer groups are of different sizes. For example, in elementary school, the peer group is basically the whole classroom, including one’s teacher. After that, the classroom usually divides itself up into two sections; one peer group comprises of all the boys in the class, and the other is all girls. The classroom group gives way to same sex chums during early teen years. In high school, one tends to pick a few people from the said chums and make them their “best friend” or confidant. These few people usually shrink on to become only one or two friends. After this phase, people tend to spend most of their time with their love interests. In other words, one tends to be more influenced by their peers as their social circle shrinks.
The motivation to learn is directly linked with one’s age and their peer groups. However, it is now a commonly known fact that students who surround themselves with peers who focus on academic performance and learning tend to be more motivated to learn and perform well. Also, one’s ability to learn is directly affected by the sort of love one achieves, according to Maslow. Thus, it also becomes inevitable that when a student knows he/she will be appreciated by the people in their classroom, they tend to concentrate more on learning. Classroom learning is all about how comfortable one is with learning along and in front of others.
Another interesting relationship to note is that one tends to be more enthusiastic about learning about those things that they feel are more important to them; things that are more significant. Inevitably, peer influence has a huge role to play in what one thinks is important and what is not. According to a study conducted by Farmer (et al.) students who surround themselves with aggressive peers are less likely to consider education as an important part of their lives. In fact, they focus more on physical activities and sports because that is usually what their group is most concerned about. If one does well in those activities, their chances of being rewarded or being appreciated will greatly increase.
In another argument, Renn and Arnold say that one’s intelligence is greatly influenced by their peers over time. One explanation for this is the fact that every peer group has different stereotypes that they maintain. While it may be “intelligent” to do certain things in one peer group, it may turn out to completely taboo in another group. Beliefs and communication influence peer groups too. For example, a group of female students were divided into two sections. One of them was told that women are worse than men when it comes to chess. After that, both groups were made to compete individually in a game of chess. When the results came in, it was evident that the group which had been communicated a stereotype had underperformed.
When it comes to teenagers and adolescents, the student peer group relationship is often viewed as a negative one and people, especially parents, usually conclude that their child’s behavior and performance is regressing due to their friends. However, not enough has been done to mold peer group influence in such a way that the results turn out to be positive and helpful to each person in the group. Peer groups are an important point of referral for all teenagers because they give them an experience of what life is like outside family. Research has proven that people without peer groups tend to be more clinically depressed, suffering from stress and anxiety.
Despite the wide amount of literature available to convey the importance of peer group influence, schools and teachers continue to use groups as a tool to influence performance. In order to truly take advantage of this tool, one will have to accept the participation of adolescents as equal allies in the process. Teachers need to form friendships and cordial relationships with their students in order to be a part of their peer group. Once they are a part of the group that has the most influence on human behavior, they will be able to focus the group’s attention towards one thing – education. Research proves that teachers have an easier time becoming the “leader” in a peer group (or the most influential person) because of their seniority of age, mind and intelligence. They are able to read their students and figure out how to direct their behavior.
Feeling connected with a group is very important for every child. When it comes to nurture, the way a child turns out depend largely on what things are most appreciated in their families and their peer groups. It is important to every child to feel connected to these two pillars of life if they want to be successful. In the absence of these groups, there is a threat that a child may go into isolation and may even end up making habitually ill friends and this doing so might even go unnoticed for his family. Sometimes they even fall prey to criminals with ambitions that are destructive to both the character of children as well as the entire society.
The process obviously highlights the possibility for adults to exploit the effect of peer relations in enabling youngsters’ cognitive development. The one thing that gets in our way is our attitude concerning the worth of teenagers as partners in this procedure. The occurrence of adultism, much like other “isms,” trusts upon the grown-up’s reluctance to view teenagers as social equals. In addition, those grownups using peer effect exclusively for performance administration purposes carry on a procedure that is both disheartening and desensitizing for teenagers.
Failure to know the influence of peer relations on this procedure only helps to make educators’ occupations more problematic and results in more anxious teenagers facing expulsion from public school surroundings.
Kristen A. Renn, Karen D. Arnold. "Reconceptualizing Research on College Student Peer Culture." The Journal of Higher Education 74.3 (May/June 2003 ): 261-291.
Farmer, Thomas W.; Leung, Man-Chi; Pearl, Ruth; Rodkin, Philip C.; Cadwallader, Thomas W.; Van Acker, Richard. "Deviant of diverse peer groups?The peer affiliations of aggressive elementary students." Journal of Educational Psychology 94.3 (Sep 2002): 611-620.
Eric A. Hanushek. "Does peer ability affect student achievement?." Journal of Applied Econometrics 18.5 (2003): 527–544.