Study Snapshot: Peer Norms as a Predictor of Academic Achievement: An Ecological Perspective

For Immediate Release: April 28, 2017

Tony Pals,
(202) 238-3235, (202) 288-9333 (cell)

Victoria Oms,
(202) 238-3233

Study Snapshot: Peer Norms as a Predictor of Academic Achievement: An Ecological Perspective

Study: Peer Norms as a Predictor of Academic Achievement: An Ecological Perspective
Authors: Sarah Kiperman (Georgia State University), Carmen Carrion (Georgia State University), and Audrey J. Leroux (Georgia State University)

This study will be presented at the AERA 2017 Annual Meeting
Session: Academic Engagement, Achievement, and Risk in Adolescence: School, Family, and Peer Predictors
Date/Time: Friday, April 28, 8:15 am


  • Using 2002 U.S. Department of Education data on 9,748 high school sophomores across 747 public and private schools, researchers found that peer values related to academic achievement and working while in school significantly predicted students’ academic achievement scores, regardless of other various student- and school-level factors.

  • Adolescents with peers who valued academics had higher academic achievement, while adolescents with peers who valued working and earning money while in school demonstrated lower academic achievement. The researchers assessed achievement by using a math and reading standardized composition test score.

  • Peer norms related to social values (e.g., value placed on attending parties, socializing often with friends, having a boyfriend or girlfriend) did not significantly predict students’ academic achievement.

  • Of the several student-level factors examined, those that predicted higher academic achievement were socioeconomic background, Asian or multiple ethnicity, and the value that peers placed on academics.

  • While students’ socioeconomic background and race are out of their control, their peer group is not. As the researchers noted in their study, “while we cannot pick friends for students, we can encourage students to have friends who value academics.”

  • For each unit increase in the value that peers placed on academics, the mean achievement score increased by 0.40 points (compared to a jump of 4.13 points for each unit increase in student socioeconomic status). Conversely, for each point increase in the value that peers placed on making money, the mean achievement score decreased by 0.33 points.

  • Other student-level factors predicting lower achievement scores included being female, black, or Hispanic.

  • The researchers noted that evidence from the study suggests that efforts in schools could target norms and values to encourage poorly performing students to perform better academically.

To receive an embargoed copy of a full paper, or to talk to paper authors, please contact AERA Communications: Tony Pals, Director of Communications,, cell: (202) 288-9333; Victoria Oms, Communications Associate,, cell: (505) 850-3907

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.