Stu­dents’ hard work rubs off on peers’ grades

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Lucca de Paoli

Less hard-work­ing stu­dents who are placed in study groups with more dili­gent and less “risk-tak­ing” peers get bet­ter grades with­out do­ing any ex­tra work, ac­cord­ing to a study.

The researchers’ find­ings sug­gest that uni­ver­sity stu­dents’ level of achieve­ment can be in­flu­enced by the per­son­al­i­ties of their fel­low stu­dents.

In re­search pre­sented at the Royal Eco­nomic So­ci­ety’s an­nual con­fer­ence, the au­thors an­a­lysed per­son­al­ity data from 2,375 firstyears at Maas­tricht Uni­ver­sity. Stu­dents were asked ques­tions de­signed to as­sess them on their per­sis­tence, self-con­fi­dence, anx­i­ety and at­ti­tude to risk.

The researchers then placed the less dili­gent stu­dents into work groups of about 14 peo­ple, with stu- dents who demon­strated more de­ter­mi­na­tion in the self-as­sess­ments.

They found that while the lat­ter’s grades were not af­fected, the pre­vi­ously less dili­gent stu­dents got bet­ter marks on their course.

“Stu­dents who are ex­posed to more per­sis­tent peers and fewer risk tak­ing peers achieve higher uni­ver­sity grades,” the re­search con­cludes.

The more dili­gent stu­dents were not detri­men­tally af­fected by be­ing placed in work groups with less per­sis­tent peers, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults.

The paper says: “In­ter­est­ingly, as we do not find ev­i­dence that highly per­sis­tent peers are harmed by work­ing with less per­sis­tent peers, this find­ing sug­gests that av­er­age achieve­ment would in­crease if groups are formed with a mix of stu­dents with low and high per­sis­tence.”

The study also found that stu­dents with only higher av­er­age grades at uni­ver­sity did not have a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on oth­ers in the way that harder-work­ing and more riska­verse stu­dents did.

Ulf Zölitz, one of the re­port’s co- au­thors, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Uni­ver­sity of Zurich and its Ja­cobs Cen­ter for Pro­duc­tive Youth De­vel­op­ment, said: “The most in­ter­est­ing thing is that the stu­dents who did not work as hard got bet­ter grades with­out even hav­ing to do any ex­tra study­ing.”

He added: “The stu­dents who are more per­sis­tent think it is more im­por­tant to pre­pare for class, and the other stu­dents who have not pre­pared can ben­e­fit from those stu­dents with­out ac­tu­ally do­ing that prepa­ra­tion.”

Dr Zölitz and his co-au­thors – Bart Gol­steyn and Ar­jan Non, both of Maas­tricht – an­a­lysed data on self-re­ported study hours to de­ter­mine lev­els of dili­gence for stu­dents.

The paper con­cludes of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion of “whether peer per­son­al­ity af­fects stu­dent achieve­ment in uni­ver­sity” that it finds “ev­i­dence that peers’ per­son­al­ity has a causal im­pact on stu­dent grades”.

The re­sults have “im­por­tant im­pli­ca­tions for the de­sign of in­ter­ven­tions and ed­u­ca­tion poli­cies that aim to im­prove so­cio-emo­tional skills”, the au­thors say.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.