1.1 Background of the study
Adolescence is a time of transformation in many areas of an individual’s life. In the midst of these rapid physical, emotional, and social changes, youth begin to question adult standards and the need for parental guidance. (Nicole, 2004 in Castrogiovanni, 2002). It is also a time for individuals to make important decisions about their commitment to academics, family, and perhaps religion. Young adults begin to ask questions such as, “Is school important to me?” and “How do I want to spend my time?” The choices that adolescents make regarding their motivation, engagement, and achievement in school (and in life) and the satisfaction they obtain from their choices depend, in part, on the context in which they make such choices (Ryan, 2000 as cited in Castrogiovanni, 2002).
Teachers, parents, and peers all provide adolescents/students with suggestions and feedback about what they should think and how they should behave in social situations. These models can be a source of motivation or a lack thereof. Modelling refers to individual changes in cognition, behaviour, or effects that result from the observation of others (Ryan, 2000 in Castrogiovanni, 2002). Observing others perform a particular behaviour or voice a certain opinion can introduce an individual to new behaviours and viewpoints that may be different from his or her own. Observation also enlightens an individual on the consequences of such behaviour and opinions. Depending on these consequences, observation of a model can strengthen or weaken the likelihood the observer will engage in such behaviour or adopt such beliefs in the future.
Peer group effect/influence is an important component in determination of student outcomes. A typical student learns from discussions with his peers and can possibly be affected by their personality and attitude towards learning. Peer students can also be motivated by working together. It is well established that the quality of peers could affect a wide range of student outcomes from school performance to health conditions or even juvenile criminal behaviour. Economists have investigated in the peer effects for a variety of peers include proximity based peers such as schoolmates. (Evans et al., 1992, Sacerdote, 2001, Hoel et al., 2005), classmates (Ammermueller and Pischke, 2009), or linkage based peer, such as friendship (Cooley 2009, Bramoulle et al., 2009).Children’s peer relationships in the early grades have consequences for children’s short-term and long-term school adjustment, including academic achievement (Bierman, 2004; Ladd, 1990). The most frequently studied aspects of peer relations are peer acceptance/rejection and friendships. Low peer acceptance (or high peer rejection) forecasts school avoidance and disaffected patterns of engagement from kindergarten through the middle grades (Buhs & Ladd, 2001; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Ladd, Birch, & Buhs, 1999; Wentzel, 1998). Longitudinal studies with elementary students have clarified processes responsible for the impact of peer acceptance on achievement, highlighting the mediating roles of both classroom participation (Buhs, Ladd, & Herald, 2006) and self-perceived academic competence (Flook, Repetti, & Ullman, 2005). With respect to the role of friends on achievement, having a close friend may promote academic achievement due to the buffering effect of friendships on children’s feelings of loneliness, which predicts lower academic motivation and achievement (Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1996).