Enrichment classes, after-school activities, tutoring, not to mention the gentle prodding of parents — all may count in giving a child that extra academic edge. But parents still puzzle over what the right mix is to make their children excel in school.
It turns out that the missing ingredient could be the friends a child keeps, specifically their in-school friends, the ones who sweat the same tests and homework and complain about the same teachers, rather than those they may make outside of school.
UCLA professor of psychiatry and senior study author Andrew J. Fuligni and first author Melissa R. Witkow, a former graduate student of Fuligni's, report in the online edition of the Journal of Research on Adolescence that adolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — that those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends.
The authors found that these associations were similar for boys and girls and cut across all ethnic groups.
Drawing from three Los Angeles–area high schools, the researchers recruited 629 12th-grade students, split almost evenly by sex, with an average age of 18; no single ethnic group predominated. The students filled out a questionnaire, then kept a diary in which they logged such activities as time spent studying, time spent with in-school or out-of-school friends, and other activities.
Roughly speaking, the more in-school friends a child had, the higher the GPA.
"We found that within an adolescent's friendship group, those with a higher proportion of friends who attended the same school received higher grades," said Witkow, now an assistant professor of psychology at Willamette University. "This is partially because in-school friends are more likely to be achievement-oriented and share and support school-related activities, including studying, because they are all in the same environment."
This is not to dismiss or put a negative spin on a child's friends from outside school, Witkow said. "These friendships are still important in terms of fulfilling adolescents' social needs, and they are not necessarily always detrimental to achievement. For instance, friendships that form in academic settings outside of school, such as at an enrichment class, may very well promote achievement."
The next step, the authors say, is further research to better understand how out-of-school friendships are formed and how they are different from in-school friendships. The authors hope to expand their studies to draw upon younger ages and earlier grades.
Still, the findings from this work suggest that, on average, in-school friendships help support achievement because of the ways in which they engage adolescents in the school experience, Witkow said. The bottom line? Know who your child's friends are.
Funding for the research was provided by the Russell Sage Foundation. The authors report no conflict of interest.
The UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences is the home within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for faculty who are experts in the origins and treatment of disorders of complex human behavior. The department is part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a world-leading interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.
For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.
Mark Wheeler | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy