The Loh Down On Science

Grading Friendship

Yet another parent worry--grade point averages may be contagious!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Wasn’t high school fun? Peer pressure. Cafeteria food. Smelly lockers.  Did I mention peer pressure?

Researchers at New York State’s Binghamton University were curious.  Studies show that among teens, social connections can impact emotions, behavior, even obesity. But can they impact grades?

To find out, the team worked with a local high school’s eleventh graders. Each student got a list of students taking the survey. Each marked whether they considered each other person a best friend, friend, acquaintance, stranger, or relative.

The researchers also collected data on each student’s GPA throughout the year. They fed all the data into software. It correlated each teen’s social network with their grades.

Result? Students whose friends (but not best friends) had higher grades saw their own grades improve over the year. Likewise, students whose friends had worse grades saw their grades go down.

So, yes, GPA is contagious . . . among friends. 

But not as contagious as Bieber Fever. Thank God.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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