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Peer Group Activities and the Mastery of some Life Skills in Three Secondary Schools in Buea Municipality South West Region of Cameroon

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This survey study aimed at determining the extent to which the mastery of some life skills depend on peer group activities. To attain this purpose, the study was anchored (set, tied) on three cohorts (groups of people sharing the same interest) of peer group activities namely; peer communication, cooperation and participation and life skills such as conflict management, leadership, eloquence of peer group activities in government, mission and private schools.

The student researcher used these sub variables to formulate research questions and hypotheses. The main research question; what is the impact of peer group activities on the mastery of life skills? And the main research hypothesis; Peer group activities significantly influence the mastery of life skills, steered the writer all through the study.

This survey study distinctively made the most of the cross-sectional research method which focused on different facets or aspect of the population under study such as the different ages of the sample, different levels of study, different schools such as government, mission and private, and different sex like male and female.

The student researcher formulated questions on a Likert scale questionnaire to gather opinions of a sample of 242 adolescent students on peer group activities and the mastery of some life skills in three secondary schools in Buea Municipality in the South West Region of Cameroon.

The author used the convenient sampling technique to select the area of study, purposive sampling to get the schools while the systematic sampling technique was used to select the sample of the study where data was analyzed using the statistical package for social sciences and chi-square to test hypotheses at 0.05% level of significance.

The findings revealed that there is a relationship between peer communication and the mastery of life skills, there is a relationship between peer cooperation and the mastery of life skills, there is a relationship between peer participation and the mastery of life skills.

This implies that students, counsellors, teachers and parents should encourage healthy peer activities thus the mastery of life skills. However, the author suggests further research considering that no human endeavor is void of errors.  

It was concluded that communication, cooperation and participation should be upheld or support in peer groups since the mastery of life skills depend on them.




This chapter will contain the Background of the study. The chapter will also bring out the Statement of the Problem, Research Objectives, Research Questions, Research Hypotheses, Justification, and Significance of the study, Delimitation of the study and Definition of Terms.    

1.1 Background of the study   

   Since the very ancient period of human existence till present, there has been the tendency of getting to know or learn something which involves the   transmission of culture, social values, tradition, morality, religion and skills from one generation to the This process is formally referred to as education. Education is simply the art of next. transmitting, acquiring, and using knowledge.

Throughout the history of education, all the above mentioned were made known through oral doctrine, observation, imitation, hands-on-learning, practice and social interaction. People need a broad range of skills in order to contribute to a contemporary society and cope with life and personal- social challenges.

A skill may simply refer to the ability to do something well. These skills will be restricted to life skills.  Life skills simply refer to the skills we need to make the most out of life. In the school context, the most dominant life skills are: leadership, effective communication, and study skills.

Life skills can be measured through observation, assessment, and practice of such skills. These skills are intended to help students adapt and adjust to life. They are usually associated with managing and living a better quality of life.

They help us to accomplish our ambitions and live to our full potential. Leadership, eloquence, conflict management, effective communication, and study skill are abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable students to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life (UNICEF, 2012).

Life skills are not always taught directly but often learned indirectly through observation, communication, cooperation, participation, experience and practice (Gillis, 2007). Examples of life skills may include inter alia: leadership, conflict management, effective communication, self -control.

Over the years, human beings have struggled to master skills and abilities for adaptive and positive behaviors that enable them to deal effectively and adjust to the demands and challenges of everyday life, in other words, psychosocial competency.

Therefore, life skills are a set of human skills acquired via teaching, observation, and imitation, experience and practice, and are used to solve problems, challenges and questions commonly encountered in daily human life. According to Gillis (2007), these skills are not always taught directly but often learned indirectly through observation, communication, cooperation, participation, and experience and practice.

To communicate and interact effectively and appropriately with others, we need a spirit of persuasion, active listening, leadership, and conflict resolution. This may be evident in peer groups and peer group activities especially in the school contexts.

Peer group activities denote the process by which children, adolescents and adults interact with their contemporaries (characterized by age, work, education and other common features) and usually acquire the skills necessary to perform as a functioning member of their peer group and society.

This is the most influential learning one can experience unlike many other living species, whose behaviors are biologically set, humans need social experiences to learn and to survive (Clausen, 1968).

Although cultural variability manifests in the actions, customs, and behaviors of whole social groups, the most fundamental expression of culture may be found at the individual level. Corsaro (1985) stated that this expression can only occur after an individual has been socialized by his or her parents, family, extended family and extended social networks such as friends and peers.

In peer groups, learning may take place through communication, cooperation, observation and participation, intended to help students and peer group members to survive in the ever challenging world.

This may be measured through change of behavior, improvement in performance of tasks, and practice. This reflexive (examining or questioning) process of both learning is how cultural and social characteristics attain continuity (Forgas & Williams, 2001).

Forgas and Williams (2001) opined that peer group activities essentially represent the whole process of learning throughout the life course and it is a central influence on behaviors, beliefs and actions of adults as well as of children (Leatherdale, Cameron, Brown , Jolin , & Kroeker , 2006).

From the late 1980s, sociological and psychological theories (Bandura, 1977, Vygotsky, 1978, Nsamenang, 1992, Bronfenbrenner, 1917) have been connected in some way with the term socialization.  Hurrelmann in his book “Social Structure and Personality Development” (Hurrelmann, 2009), developed the ‘Model of Productive Processing of Reality (PPR)’.

The core idea is that socialization refers to an individual personality development. Nsamenang in his book “Developmental Psychology: Search for a Diversity Paradigm” (Nsamenang, 2005), in his fourth stage (social apprentice), of the Social Ontogenetic theory, opined that ‘there is peer group interaction and work’.

This implies that students in the school context interact with one another, undertake some activities, and therefore learning obviously takes place.

Maccoby and Martin (1983) stated that personality development and skill mastery begins from the family. The family is the most important agent of socialization because it is the center of life, as infants are totally dependent on others. Not all socialization is intentional, it depends on the surrounding.

The most profound or great affect is gender socialization; however, the family also shoulders the task of teaching children cultural values and attitudes about themselves and others.

Children learn continuously from the environment that adults and peers create. Thus life skills may be learned and mastered through the family, the school milieu and profoundly through peer group activities.

Peer groups seem a profound or great ground for the mastery of life skills. Therefore, it is a group whose members have interests, social positions and ages in common. This is where children can escape parental and tutor supervision and learn to form relationships on their own.

The influence of peer groups may be seen glaringly in the school system and manifest typically during puberty and adolescence.

In contemporary times, adolescents in the homes interact with siblings and various life skills may sprout. This at times is conditioned by the environment their parents set and even the presence of the more knowledgeable others may hinder or enhance the mastery of these skills.

This is because some parents at home do not permit their children to take part in play with other peers in the community nor in school. In this light, some children stay mostly indoors and hardly interact with contemporaries or their siblings in the community and home respectively.

As a result, skills may not be exposed for learning, imitation to take place and eventually mastery of such skills which could help them adapt to the evolving challenges of human life.  Faced with these challenges, it is likely they resort to peer groups in the school context where they may learn myriad skills; healthy skills or destructive ones too.

Therefore, it is plausible to investigate and understand how adolescents interact and learn life skills in the context of peer group activities in the school environment.

 Peer Group Activities: Peer group activity is a primary part of adolescence. Clausen, (1968) discoursed that it is the process by which people of the same age with common; interests, beliefs and common practices act and react in relation to others.

These interactions can involve; communicating, observing, playing, participating, cooperation, fighting, or debating; and negotiating and resolving conflicts. Clausen, (1968) stated that socialization is a general term for the many different ways and processes by which children/peers come to be able to function as members of their social community.

It is in part a process of learning and in another a process of being taught.  Modern views on peer group activities also stress the active role of children in making sense of their social world, and constructing their own ways of being part of their social group.

 Pinker, (2002) opined that peer group activity is also a long, drawn-out process and in some respects can continue throughout our whole lifetime: for example, when adults find themselves interacting with people from unfamiliar cultures.

Even when we join a new social group in our own culture there may be a need to adjust to new ways of behaving.  Cooperation. It involves individuals or groups working together for the achievement of their individual or collective goals. In its simplest form, cooperation may involve only two people who work together towards a common goal.

Hertz-Lazarowitz, Baird and Lazarowitz (1994), viewed the school environment as a place where cooperation can take place to deal with problems in a democratic atmosphere whereby educators and learners build the learning process and planning together according to their experiences, capacities and needs. It also involves learner-to-learner interaction in the process of fostering successful learning characterized by the mastery of skills.

Constantopoulos, (1994) and Northern Province Department of Education (2001) define cooperative learning as a concept based on group work in which the learners are responsible for others learning as well as their own learning.

Hertz-Lazarowitz et al (1994) and Wise (1996) opined that cooperative learning creates a classroom environment in which learners listen to each other, develop love for peers, exchange ideas (skills) and be on hands-on-learning often times. Learners learn to cooperate and cooperate to learn.

  Participation. It is exchanging information and ideas with others or simply, contributing to an activity or an action. Students in the school system participate in various peer group activities such as; play, dramatization, brainstorming, studies, general learning just to mention but a few.

According to Koster, Timmerman, Nakken, Pijl, and Van Houten, (2009), the term ‘social interaction’ (peer interaction/activity) can be described as follows: the special participation of pupils in the school milieu is the presence of positive interaction/contact between these students and their peers.

This may eventually lead to the observation and practice of skills and habits. Cole and Meyer (1991) stated that students have demonstrated that student participation in general education environments results in some academic increases in behavioral and social progress (Cole & Meyer, 1991).

  Communication. Human beings are social creatures who generally seek to connect to and create relationships with others. The ability to communicate in some form is vital to achieve such connections and relationships.

Communication is the act of conveying information for the purpose of creating a shared understanding. It is an activity that humans do every day. The act of communicating draws many personal, and life skills.

These include the art of public speaking, listening, observing, questioning, studying or learning just to name but a few. Even with disabilities people can move their bodies to communicate in ways that other people can understand (Trevarthen, 2008, cited in Back, 2010).

Poor communication development can have an effect on ones adaptation to learning in school, career opportunities, adjustment and adaptation to life, and overall personal success in any activity (Glozman, 1987, cited in Back, 2010).

The school environment is characterized by the frequency of positive and negative interactions with peers and teachers and has a strong influence on social-communicative development and academic achievement (Greenwood, Walker, & Utley, 2002, cited in Back, 2010).

Life Skill Mastery: A skill is the learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time. Schneider, Rubin, and Ledingham, (1985) stated that skills usually require certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.

People need a broad range of skills in order to contribute to a modern economy as technology is changing, workers must possess these skills to be able to change with it. Students equally need study skills to be able to perform well in the teaching-learning process especially as the teaching methods; procedures (ICTs) give different orientations to learning.

 Gillis, (2005) defined skills as anything that facilitates interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning these skills is called socialization.

On reflection, I came to realize that most of my friends were more sociable than I. My friends’ and peers’ ways of relating and behaving towards others were quite different from mine. I could recall a difference in their public speech, self-control, and general comprehension of phenomena.

I suspected that these must be related to their socialization especially in the home, or more importantly, their social skills to interact or participate with their peers during play, study, and other forms of extracurricular activity.

In my childhood, I had very few opportunities to interact in the various activities and processes of peer groups and thus did not gain from shared skills, values and attitudes of the various peer cultures.

Skill mastery is achieved through peer group activities manifested in a variety of out-of-school and co-curricular school activities such as sports and club life, to name only two categories. The researchable issue was whether my experience is unique (single) or it is discernible (observable) in peer groups in general and those of school milieus in particular.

Nsamenang (2002) opined that peer group activities are commonplace in the early life of African children. One outcome of children’s lack of exposure to the challenges and opportunities for interaction with peers is timidly or introversion, as they may be deficient in their social comportment and interpersonal skills from their peers.

This may explain why some children and adults lack a combination of two or more life skills such as leadership, conflict management effective communication just to name but these.

Maccoby and Martin (1983) stated that parental behavior and the home environment either have no effect on the social or interpersonal development of children.  However, the effect may vary significantly amongst children.

Maccoby and Martin (1983) still holds that developing long-term personality characteristics away from the home environment would be evolutionarily beneficial because future success is more likely to depend on interactions with peers than interactions with parents and siblings.

Because of already existing genetic similarities with parents, developing personalities outside of childhood home environments would further diversity individuals, increasing their evolutionary success.

It is worth mentioning that peer group activities and skill mastery does not take place in a vacuum (empty space) but facets such as; interaction, cooperation, communication, effective participation, exposure, observation and practice must be motivated to ensure the effective and appropriate mastery of such skills.

Thus, seemingly from the above literature, adolescents interact mostly with their peers in the school contexts than siblings and parents at home. This posed a fundamental question; why are these skills not developed and nurtured in the home setting but seemingly at peer groups as they undertake their activities in the school contexts for example?

This question was so much begging for an answer and stood for the author’s intention to investigate and come out with findings.


It has been observed especially in the school contexts in Buea Municipality that many students who have excellent grades during examinations are often introverts (passive) and have an avoidant (insecure) personality.

This means that they hardly cooperate with friends, isolate themselves and thereby do not participate in common activities like play, club activities and adopt a general peer group culture.

Many students especially in the science series hardly manifest life skills such as, leadership in student administration in school, conflict management and good communication skills.

Peer groups help members develop and build life skills such as leadership, conflict management, self-control and effective communication through activities such as playing, participating, communicating, fighting, imitation and modeling.

Despite the necessity to play, interact and participate in group activities and master life skills such as leadership, conflict management, and eloquence, individual introversion (keep their ideas to themselves) is sometimes a hurdle (hindrance or obstacle) to the above mentioned.

 The problem is that peer groups do not help students acquire or master some life skills. Therefore, most adolescent students at present do not fashion (makeup or create) time to get hold of the aforementioned skills like effective communication, leadership, conflict management, eloquence, in the face of their purported recompense (wrong reward).

Most students spend most of their time on smart phones, Television and idle talk.

It was therefore ostensible (pointed) by the student researcher that for anyone to adjust and cope in the ever changing world, life skills are an add-on impetus (force or energy) to classroom knowledge. It was against this backdrop that the student researcher sought (seek) to investigate the impact of peer group activities on the mastery of some life skills.


Main Objective

The main aim of this study was to investigate the influence of peer group activities on the mastery of some life skills in three secondary schools in Buea Municipality of the South West Region of Cameroon.

Specific Objectives

1.) To verify whether peer communication has an influence on the mastery of some life skills.

2.) To find out the influence of peer cooperation on the mastery of some life skills.

3.) To determine if peer participation influence the mastery of some life skills.

Research Question

What is the influence of peer group activities on the mastery of some life skills in three secondary schools in the Buea Municipality of the South West Region of Cameroon?

Specific Research Questions

1.) What is the extent to which peer communication influence the mastery of some life skills?

2.) Does peer cooperation have an influence on the mastery of some life skills?

3.) Does peer participation influence the mastery of some life skills?

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