Academic programs are aimed at ensuring students get mastery of educational goals. In schools, the degree to which these targets were achieved were largely determined by peer-group interaction that could possibly be expressed in academic performance of students. Peer group play a large role in the social, emotional and academic development of students. Peer group influence begins at an early age and increases through the teenage years. Thus, understanding the prospects and challenges of peer group is crucial for the productivity of educational processes and the organizational design. “for many students, friendships are critical interpersonal vehicle that move them towards psychological growth and maturity, allowing social compassion which influences the development of self-evaluation”. The above statement suggests strongly, the unprecedented effect of peer group in almost all facet of adolescent’s growth. Such effect could be seen in social and emotional lives of young people, which does not end at the above mentioned, but could also manifest in their attitude towards educational activities and careful consideration of these elements has shown that they reflect in the academic performance of students. Peer group, however, can be described as a small group of similar age, fairly close friends, who share the same activities. Peer group is a positive coming-of-age conduit in its most acceptable form, whereby youth understand negotiation skills and learn to cope with issues in a social context and solve problems. For example, if you are associated with a group of people who are motivated and working hard to achieve high academic goals, you may feel pressured to follow suit in order to avoid feeling excluded from the community.
One of the militating forces could be seen as a negative peer influence why most students record poorly in academic performance, the reason for this is not far-fetched, they spend a lot of time in extra curriculum. Academic goals are ignored more often than not, and thus academic performance is greatly impacted. Academic performance also refers to success in all academic disciplines; it includes the skill and performance of students; it is multi-dimensional; it is closely associated with human growth and cognitive, emotional, and social development. Academic performance also applies to how well a student completes his assignments and studies. Peer group and academic performance should have an interrelated relationship. Academic performance of students was assumed to align with the group he or she belongs to. Peer impact can either be negative or positive. If a peer negatively influences a student, this will affect his or her academic performance. However, stronger students do have an impact on their peers and actually help improve their academic performance overall. Alternatively, the positive peer impact on academic performance depends on the self-identity, self-esteem and self-reliance of the person. Peer influence will motivate the academic vigor and commitment to achievement of students as well.
Peer relationships are never more common than in adolescence that comes under this analysis into the age group. Children spend more time communicating with peers than adults, and report a very high degree of satisfaction, thus giving peer expectations for actions the highest priority. This stage of development in motivation for affiliation appears to be highly conserved across peers. In addition, some adolescent developmental studies showed that they are responsive compared to children and adults and have a strong response to a variety of social stimuli, such as facial expressions and social input. However, this evidence of hypersensitivity to social stimuli suggests that this age group may be more likely to be exposed in decision-making scenarios to either positive or negative peer stimuli, thus setting the stage for the peer context’s hyperbolic approach to sensitizing effect on decision-making. It is well known that undergraduate students are more likely to take risks than adults, as demonstrated by high rates of alcohol, tobacco and substance use, underage sexual activity, violent and non-violent crime, and reckless driving.
They actually possess the knowledge, values and processing skills to evaluate risky decisions as skilfully as adults do. It is commonly found that peer group affects the students a lot. This is seen from the role the peer group plays in a child’s life and learning, there is abundance of evidence that students feel more comfortable and secure with fellow students. A bright child surrounded by boring peers will lose interest in learning. On the other hand, a peer group that is prone to study would have a positive effect on learning towards a dull member and would stimulate his / her learning interest. The essence of a group of peers defines the effect of its member’s motivation and achievements. He also states that one group can have a negative impact on its members while the other group can also have a positive impact on its members. The question at this point is, how many young people will have the power to choose a community that will have a positive impact on them? Nevertheless, the group’s appealing qualities and values decide whether a group will possibly have a positive or negative impact on the morale and accomplishment of the participants. If the group’s atmosphere is warm, understanding and supportive, it will most likely be positive for the group’s influence, task performance and achievement. A hostile community will continually frustrate and have a negative impact not only on the growth and actions of the participant but also on their drive to research and academic achievement, mostly in a way that does not position academic prominence. Conversely, a student’s kind of person shows the type of group he or she is most likely to be joining. Imitation of behaviors in a group occurs when a person acts in a manner that the rest of the group will likely join in. Students who are playful but exhibit academic characteristics should be encouraged to join an inclined study group. Stressing a group’s positive benefits by studying and imitating other people’s behaviours, learners can avoid a lot of needless spontaneous actions and come close to reproducing the habits that members are known for. A student may be fun but not boring. If he is well monitored and falls into a group of unplayful brilliant students, he imitates them and this changes his attitude towards learning for better. And this is shifting his approach to doing more.
The peer group impact on the students academic performance. The result showed that student academic performance is affected by peer relationships. As a social interaction, peer influence postulated that the relationship between the behavior of an individual and the behavior of another member of the group comes from three diverse effects. He observed the following conduct outcome when applying the principles to peer group control in education:
a. Endogenous effects (or overlapping effects) that refer to a person’s behavior differ with the peer group’s mean behaviour. For example, the tendency of a university graduate student will be impacted by the proportion of university graduates at the same institution.
b. Exogenous effects (or contextual effects), which mean that the behavior of a person varies with the peer group’s exogenous characteristics (predetermined properties). For example, the tendency of a university graduate student may be affected by the average mother education level of other university students.
c. Correlated effects: when an individual in the same community appears to behave similarly because they are subject to a specific institutional setting or share similar characteristics; Some literature also refers to the institutional shared settings as “simple shocks.” For example, all students who are doing well academically in the same classroom that represent nothing but the teacher’s high quality. The other part of correlated effects that arise when individuals tend to self-select into a group with members sharing similar behaviour, is a shared characteristic. For example, families that are very supportive of educating children are more likely to sort themselves across schools to look for better peers.
In general, peer influence models an individual’s actions (outcomes) as well as a greater percentage of female classmates boost academic performance for both boys and girls. The study preset peer characteristics, like peer race and gender. Peer influence may be present in the workplace, in the school or in society; it may affect people of all ages; It may affect people in various ways but here, the emphasis is on peer group activity as it affects undergraduate students ‘ academic performance. Peer group can play a positive role and help challenge or motivate one to do the best. Influence of the peer group can also result in one doing something that might not align with one’s sense of what is right or wrong. In other words, it’s a negative peer impact when peer group makes one do things people frown upon. Operationally peer group influence is a force exerted by people that is either positively or negatively pressured and always associated with adolescents by ideas, values and behaviours. Studies have shown that students who do not manage their peer group activities make lower grades than those of less socially accepted adolescents). It is also necessary to look at an area that is not often considered by scholars in their study of peer group influence, and that is influence of parents on peer group relationships among pupils. The parents are the first people the child comes into contact with. We pass on their own ideals of right and wrong to him at a time when he is in no touch with any other factors. The school has nothing to build on unless the foundation laid by the home is sound and stable, and the child later becomes a concern not only for his parents but also for the community. Therefore it is the home from which the child comes that decides form of community that the child will enter. Essentially, a well-disciplined child from home would find it hard to be in a group of delinquents, and if he finds himself in such a group, he would refuse to be affected by their behaviours. In a case where the group behavior influences such a child, the situation at home does not allow him to exhibit it and thus he pretends and becomes meek in his parents ‘ presence. To achieve this, parents should make themselves more accessible to their children, it is important for the parents to know friends of a child both at home and at school.
So parents need to be properly educated on discipline issues, because being too permissive or too strict is risky. The parent education material should include the very special treatment that the child would need at the teenage level. At secondary school level, parents should be made to realize that at this stage the child is no longer a kid because he is experiencing a new awareness of the world and he is struggling not only to make a place for himself in his own age group, but also in the whole world. It’s also parents ‘ duty to continue to give the children good examples. This is important because the rate of imitation of the pupil as discussed above is very high and therefore copy actions from the adults. Therefore, the parents who smoke are likely to find these behaviors in their kids. And as such, the infant in their minds would not avoid these behaviours. Therefore, the child would not avoid entering or forming a group of smokers or late-night caregivers that through the academic performance of the child in turn. This would also invariably have a negative influence on the outcome of his learning.