-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Teachers and parents play
a greater role than peers in keeping teens engaged in school,
researchers have found.
The findings challenge the widely held belief that peers have
the greatest impact on the lives of adolescents, according to a
report from the University of Michigan.
For the study, the investigators analyzed data from nearly 1,500
students from 23 schools in the Washington, D.C., area who were
interviewed when they were in 7th, 9th and 11th grades. The
questions asked by the researchers focused on four indicators of
student engagement: compliance with school rules, participation in
extracurricular activities, identification with their school and
the value placed on education.
The students also were asked about the support they received
from teachers, parents and peers.
As expected, the students' school engagement decreased over the
years and the decline was more steep among boys than among girls,
according to the report, which is published in the current issue of
The researchers also found, however, that students' school
engagement was just as likely to be positively affected as
negatively affected by their peers.
In addition, the results indicated that any negative influences
from peers could be counteracted by social support from adults, and
from teachers in particular. This support included encouraging
student engagement, stressing the importance of obtaining an
education, and making it easier for students to take part in
"We were surprised to find that most adolescents continue to be influenced greatly by their teachers and parents when it comes to school engagement," study author Ming-Te Wang, a faculty research fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, said in a university news release.
"Even though this is a stage when young people are moving toward establishing autonomy and independence, teachers and parents remain important in helping them stay involved in school, and in extracurricular activities," Wang said. "And this is true for all ethnic groups and races, and across all the economic groups we studied."
"Adolescence is a period when relationships with adults who aren't your parents become increasingly important," Wang added. "Our results suggest that supportive teachers play a particularly important role in keeping teens engaged in school."
The Nemours Foundation offers teens advice about
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