Peer-group influence on pupil academic performance: perspectives of teachers, parents and pupils in selected schools of Lusaka district.

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Mbewe, Nellie
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The University of Zambia
This study of “Peer-Group Influence on Pupil Academic Performance: Perspectives of Teachers, Parents and Pupils in selected schools of Lusaka district”, employed descriptive research design. The objective of the study was to establish aspects of peer group influence that affect pupil academic performance in schools.The sample comprised one hundred and fifty (150) secondary school pupils randomly selected from four (4) secondary schools namely Kaunda Square, Kabulonga Girl, Tunduya and Munali. The study was guided by the theory of Weidman‟s model of socialization in learning institutions. Weidman‟s (1989) model of socialization in learning institutions is perhaps the most appropriate theoretical model with which to investigate and interpret peer group influence. My adaption of Weidman‟s model follows similar studies of peer effects done by Dey (1996, 1997) and Milem (1998). Weidman conceptualizes the major influences on student change in learning institutions to be prelearning institutions or student background characteristics, the academic and social normative context of an institution, and the impact of parental and non-college reference groups. The peer group is a source of affection, sympathy, understanding, and a place for experimentation. It is always possible for parents to talk with school counselors and professionals to help with the problem. Allen, Porter, McFarland, Marsh, and McElhaney (2005) report that adolescents who were well-liked by many peers displayed higher levels of ego development and secure attachment, as well as better interactions with their best friends. This study found that associating with friends who have a positive affect toward school enhanced students‟ own satisfaction with school, whereas associating with friends who have a negative affect toward school decreased it. The study further stresses the point that not all peer group influence is negative. Peer groups are, in essence, necessary for adolescent growth and development. As such, educators should praise the positive choices that students make in regards to peers and work to combat the negative ones. Therefore, teachers and other educational 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.
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