This research work was carried out to examine the factors and effects of peer group influence on academic performance of Adolescent Students in Niger State.The research methodology utilizes descriptive statistics with simple numbers and percentages and correlation analysis in the analysis and synthesizing of primary sources of data collected via questionnaire, as well as diverse literature on the area of study. Chi-square was used in the testing of hypothesis posited. However, this study revealed that; peer group has a significant influence on the academic performance of adolescent students. It is therefore, recommended that, Teachers and other education practitioners and those in related professional training, need to have knowledge of the effects of peer group pressure and understanding of the issues surrounding negative peer influence to prevent negative peer group influence and be more adequately prepared to help a teenager facing negative aspects of peer pressure.
1.1 Background of the study
Peer group is a group of people of same age or social status. The peer group is the first social groupoutside the home in which a student with physical and health impairment attempts to gain acceptance and recognition. Peer group is an important influence throughout one‟slife but they are more critical during the developmental years of childhood and adolescence as it is an important socialization agentfor student with physical and health impairment (Castrogiovanni, 2012). Peer pressure refers to theinfluence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his/her attitudes and values inorder to conform to group norms (Kirk, 2014). Adeagbo (2013) stated that students with physical andhealth impairment always emulate their mates in whatever form of behaviour they exhibit, particularlythat which interest them.
According to Peterson (2011), peer pressure is when student with physical and health impairment areinfluenced by other people (their peers) to act in a certain way; it is direct influence on people bypeers. This type of pressure differs from general social pressure because it causes an individual tochange in response to a feeling of being pressured or influenced from a peer or peer group (Black,2012). The way pressure is applied by peers can vary (Adeagbo, 2013). A peer might pressure otherstudents directly by asking them to do something, or they might tease or coax them so that they willfall in line with the peer‟sbehaviour. They may not say anything at all; instead, they may pressurethem by treating them as outcasts or by ignoring them (Kirk, 2014).
According to Ryan (2015), the peer group influences are more pronounced and noted in higherinstitutions of learning than in secondary and primary schools, partly because some of the students goaway from home and stay in hostels or residents close to school where parental supervision andcontact is very limited. The influence of peer group on students with physical and health impairment is great both socially and academically in the school, because there is the tendency for members to be comfortable with the group norms and values. Sometimes,influence of peer groups may lead to aggressive behaviour such as rioting in school. Peer group influence also prompt students to formsocial clique with nicknames. Students with physical and health impairment are always anxious to initiate their peers socially whether in a good or bad way, they would want to go to the church or mosque due to their peers‟ influences. They may also join different clubs like Girls‟ Guides, Boys‟ Scout, Brigade, Red Cross, to mention but few (Owuamanam, 2011).
Adeola (2013) posited that the attitudes may influence students‟ social and academic achievementeither positively or negatively. The negative aspect which could be detrimental to students‟ social andacademic work are the cases of group behaviour such as truancy, persistent lateness to school, juveniledelinquency, stealing, absenteeism from school, disobedience, laziness, disregarding school rules andregulations and so on. On the other hand, the influence could be geared towards positive aspect ofstudents‟ social and academic achievement. For instance, students could be influenced socially,psychologically, intellectually to mention but few, and all these can boost academic performance aswell as good social behaviour. For instance, forming a reading group, going to the library, anxious tojoin others in answering questions in the classroom, and making friends with brilliant students(Coleman, 2014).
Castrogiovanni (2012) stated that at adolescence stage, one‟s sense of identity is unstable. Apeer-labelling process may be contributing to the construction of positive identities for someadolescents with physical and health impairment but negative identities for others (Ademorokun,2013). Best friends have been found to be similar in regards to frequency of cutting class and timespent on homework. Thomas and Landau (2012) asserted that students with physical and healthimpairment who care about learning are more likely to associate with peers who share this interest in academics than those who have less interest in learning. The personal value that an individual attachesto a characteristic also affects the individual‟s response to change.
Adolescence is a time of transformation in many areas of an individual’s life. In the midst of these rapid physical, emotional, and social changes, youth begin to question adult standards and the need for parental guidance. (Nicole, 2004 inCastrogiovanni, 2002). It is also a time for individuals to make important decisions about their commitment to academics, family, and perhaps religion. Young adults begin to ask questions such as, “Is school important to me?” and “How do I want to spend my time?” The choices that adolescents make regarding their motivation, engagement, and achievement in school (and in life) and the satisfaction they obtain from their choices depend, in part, on the context in which they make such choices (Ryan, 2000 as cited in Castrogiovanni, 2002).
Teachers, parents, and peers all provide adolescents/students with suggestions and feedback about what they should think and how they should behave in social situations. These models can be a source of motivation or a lack thereof. Modelling refers to individual changes in cognition, behaviour, or effects that result from the observation of others (Ryan, 2000 in Castrogiovanni, 2002). Observing others perform a particular behaviour or voice a certain opinion can introduce an individual to new behaviours and viewpoints that may be different from his or her own. Observation also enlightens an individual on the consequences of such behaviour and opinions. Depending on these consequences, observation of a model can strengthen or weaken the likelihood the observer will engage in such behaviour or adopt such beliefs in the future.
Peer group effect/influence is an important component in determination of student outcomes. A typical student learns from discussions with his peers and can possibly be affected by their personality and attitude towards learning. Peer students can also be motivated by working together. It is well established that the quality of peers could affect a wide range of student outcomes from school performance to health conditions or even juvenile criminal behaviour. Economists have investigated in the peer effects for a variety of peers include proximity based peers such as schoolmates. (Evans et al., 1992, Sacerdote, 2001, Hoel et al., 2005), classmates (Ammermueller and Pischke, 2009), or linkage based peer, such as friendship (Cooley 2009, Bramoulle et al., 2009).Children’s peer relationships in the early grades have consequences for children’s short-term and long-term school adjustment, including academic achievement (Bierman, 2004; Ladd, 1990). The most frequently studied aspects of peer relations are peer acceptance/rejection and friendships. Low peer acceptance (or high peer rejection) forecasts school avoidance and disaffected patterns of engagement from kindergarten through the middle grades (Buhs& Ladd, 2001; Furrer& Skinner, 2003; Ladd, Birch, &Buhs, 1999; Wentzel, 1998). Longitudinal studies with elementary students have clarified processes responsible for the impact of peer acceptance on achievement, highlighting the mediating roles of both classroom participation (Buhs, Ladd, & Herald, 2006) and self-perceived academic competence (Flook, Repetti, & Ullman, 2005). With respect to the role of friends on achievement, having a close friend may promote academic achievement due to the buffering effect of friendships on children’s feelings of loneliness, which predicts lower academic motivation and achievement (Kochenderfer& Ladd, 1996).
Peer group is an important influence throughout one’s life but they are more critical during the developmental years of childhood and adolescence. Adolescents always emulate their mates in whatever form of behaviour they exhibit, particularly that which interest them thus, since socialization only refer to changes in behaviour, attitudes having their origin in interaction with other persons and those which occur through integration, a child learn more through interaction with peers. (Bierman, 2004; Ladd, 1990).
Socialization being a life-long process cannot be limited to the family members alone. As a child grows older and more matured, it become more necessary for the external bodies to be involved in his/her life. The family is not expected to provide all the education required by the growing child. The school which is an established academic institution in which the behaviour of an individual is sharpened to get him/her equipped for occupational socialization. In the school system, the child gets into the social group of “like minds” and interest. As a result of the various attitudes, skills, knowledge is acquired through role-play. Peer group as an agent of socialization is the most important socializing is the most important socializing agent for the developing child. Peer group is the pivot of social change and during interaction peers; the child’s life is transformed from the helpless child into a mature adult. (Bierman, 2004; Ladd, 1990).
According to Peter and Pellegrini, (2001) each peer group has its code of conduct which does not always conform to adult standards. The important thing is that each child takes his/her membership of the peer very serious and attempts to do anything to ensure he/she is accepted and recognized. Lack of acceptance by t he peer disturbs the child especially at adolescent age. Some children have been known to do badly in school not because they lack the academic ability to do well but because they are disturbed by the fact they are not accepted by their peer group. What makes learning comparative is the fact that the child has equal status with the other children. There is an atmosphere of freedom in which each child learns the way of the world from others. The peer group thus becomes more and more important to the child as he advances in age. Other ways in which the peer group can help the child include, teaching the culture of the society at large, making possible social mobility, providing opportunity for the child to play many social roles such as that of a leader, a follower, teacher or student. The peer group also help the child to win his/her independence easily from domination and set before him a goal which is more easily attainable than the expectation of adults. This in itself provides motivation for learning and is mainly responsible for the fact that all children at one stage or the other regard their membership of peer group as very important.
When the family is not supportive for instance, if the parents work extra jobs and are largely unavailable, their children may turn to their peer for emotional support. This also occur when the conflict between parents and children during adolescence or at any stage during a child’s development becomes so great that the child feels pushed away and seeks company elsewhere. Most children and adolescents in this position do not discriminate about the kind of group they join. They will often turn to a group simply because the group accepts them even if the group is involved in negative tendency. (Peter and Pellegrini, 2001). The need for affection or closeness is often greater than the need to do the right thing. For some adolescents who feel isolated and abandoned by members of their family being part of a peer group provides such individual with acceptance and security not available at home. In the Nigerian society today, the influence of peer group cannot be over emphasized in a child’s life most especially child education. Peer group has in one way or the other influenced the life of children both academically, socially, morally, psychologically and otherwise. Socialization such as family, religion, mass media, and school among others help in modifying the behaviour of the child.
1.2 Statement of problem
Research has shown that most children who have positive peer relationship (i.e. have friends and/or are liked by classmates) also do well academically (Cohen, 2004; Ladd, Birch &Buhs, 1999; Ladd, Kochenderfer, and Coleman, 1996; Ladd & Price, 1987; Wentzel& Caldwell, 1997); and that children who are rejected by peers early on tend to encounter more academic difficulties in later years (Ladd, 1990; Wentzel and Caldwell, 1997). However, it remains unclear if children perform better academically during the years they have more positive peer group experiences.
Children socialize with the people with which they associate. Through interaction over many years, acceptable social customs are taught and fostered. Other children as well as adults can have a great impact on a broad range of issues in the child’s life including achievement in schools. The research is geared towards having a proper understanding of the way social interaction or peer group influence affect academic achievement and it is very important for parents, educators, and policy makers. The immediate environment such as peer, family, school, religion and other factors can encourage or discourage student’s academic performance.
1.3 Objective of the study
The objectives of the study include:
1.4 Research Questions
To guide this study, the following research questions were formulated:
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Akuezilo, (1990) defined hypothesis as “a provisional statement given to guide an investigation.” It is a tentative statement about a phenomenon which may or may not be true.
The following hypothesis will be tested in the course of this study:
1.6 Significance of Study
The study will be helpful in the field of education. It is important for students, parents, educators and policy makers in understanding the way social interactions affect academic achievement. In particular academic achievement and the often corresponding level of the educational attainment tend to predict the average earnings an individual may secure over a lifetime. For this reason, isolating the peer effects on academic achievement will make a significant contribution to education reform.
This study will also provide an insight into the impact of peer group on academic performance of adolescents.
1.7 Scope and delimitation of the study
The scope of the study is based on the influence of Peer group on the academic performance of senior secondary school students in Education district VI Oshodi in Lagos state.
The research work will be limited to the analysis based on the questionnaire administered, and the relevant text (literature). Other limitation of the study is: inability of the researcher to cover the entire population of the study, money, time and distance.
1.8 Definition of Terms
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