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January 22, 2021 Friday 12:00:42 PM IST

How fellow students improve your own grades

Parent Interventions

A study conducted by the University of Zurich's Faculty of Business, Economics, and Informatics has revealed that not only the grade point average, gender, and nationality peers can influence your own academic achievement, but so can their personalities. Intensive contact and interaction with persistent fellow students improve your own performance, and this effect even endures in subsequent semesters.

Personality traits influence many significant outcomes in life, such as one's educational attainment, income, career achievements, or health. Assistant Professor Ulf Zölitz of the University of Zurich's Department of Economics and Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development has investigated how one's own personality affects fellow students.

The study he co-authored followed business students at a Dutch university. At the start of their university studies, all first-semester students were asked by the researchers to complete a survey on four personality traits: self-confidence, emotional stability, risk attitude, and persistence. Afterward, the students were randomly split into study groups in which they spent several months learning together. In the end, all of the students were required to take the same written final exam.

But why does the personality of fellow students improve academic achievement? Do persistent peer students induce the rest of the group to spend more time studying? Do they inspire other students to strive for better grades? Or does their presence in the classroom elicit more productive group dynamics? The data collected do not unequivocally corroborate any of the above hypotheses. The study showed, however, that academic performance turned out better not just in the examined course, but also in subsequent courses. The positive influence that more persistent peers exert on others' academic performance has a lasting effect and is still observable in subsequent courses in which those more persistent fellow students are no longer present.

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