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Peer Group and its Influence on Pupils Academic Performance in the Douala II Municipality

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This research focused on “Peer Group and its influence on pupil’s academic performance in the Douala II municipality. Specifically the study looks at the influence of conformity on pupil’s academic performance in the Douala II Municipality; Investigating the role of obedience on the academic performance of pupil’s in the Douala II Municipality; Finding out how identity is influences academic performance of pupil’s in the Douala II Municipality; Investigating the role of compliance on pupil’s academic performance in the Douala II Municipality. The researcher use the case study research design and data was collected using structured interview questions from senior class five primary school pupils. The findings of our study revealed that most of the pupils were really good with changing their behaviours to that of their friends. Regarding the influence of obedience on pupils academic performance, we found that most of the pupils respect their friends, an average number of pupils respect their teachers and school rules and regulations while majority of the pupils respect their pupils. The findings on identity reveal that most of the pupils are self-reliant and have a good personality. Most of the pupils also stated that they don’t absent from school because their friends are absent. The researcher recommends that Teachers should be more concerned about the wellbeing of the learners in schools not only their academic lives but the holistic development of Pupils including the mastery of meaningful life skills through peer groupings




Peer influence is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do, because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friend(s). It isn’t just or always about doing something against your will. Peer Influence plays an important part throughout one’s life. It is more crucial during the developmental years of pupils. The child’s peer group consists of people or individuals that are within an age bracket. The school serves as the primary setting for the membership of a peer group. When children move out from the family to child care centers, school, and the community at large, they begin to form attachments, and friendships emerge through their play. Even infants and toddlers are observed reacting to other infants by touching them, by crying when others cry, and later by offering nurturance or comfort. By about age three, early friendships begin to form and children’s peers begin to have a more lasting influence (Barbour, Barbour & Scully 2002). These children begin to think and act like their friends and they begin to see that there are other values, opinions, and rules besides those set by their parents.

Peer influence is a core of every successful institution of learning and forming attachment, for any learner to achieve this he or she must form positive attachment needed for his or her survival. According to Ward, Stocker and Murray-Ward (2006) academic performance refers to the outcome of education; the extent to which the student, teacher or institution have achieved their educational goals. Academic performance is the ability to study and remember facts and being able to communicate one’s knowledge verbally or written on paper (Answers, 2010). In the context of this study, academic achievement refers to the extent to which pupils have achieved mastery of the objectives of the subjects they are exposed to in school. 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, Significance of the study, and Definition of Terms

Background of the Study

The background of this study is subdivided in Historical, Contextual and Theoretical backgrounds.

Historical Background

Historically, the concept of peer influence started long ago before the pre-colonial or colonial era. In Africa and even Cameroon, peers have been influencing themselves while playing or carrying out activitieṣ. Some influence others in singing, dancing, dressing etc. (UNICEF, 2012). Peer influence existed since the ancient epoch of Greeks. Plato believed that self-reflection enables one to converse with reason. He advocated the play way method for early childhood education thus to him the child’s interest and play are valuable to his or her education and growth. He used fables as aspects of thoughts rather than theory of ideas during lectures based on the concept of dialectic and analysis of knowledge. Cultural knowledge was encouraged with the use of fables. Dasen, P.R. (2019) So from Plato’s point of view, we can see that a child learns best following his or her interest and through play. A child cannot play alone, he/she plays with friends of like interest, age, gender. In the course of playing the child is influenced to engage into other practices by friends which definitely enacts a change in character either positively or negatively.

The term ‘peer-groups’ usually indicates social interactions of children or young adults with people of similar age, rather than broader ‘neighbourhood’ effects or interactions with superiors, family or teachers. We continue to use the term in this way. The range of outcomes that have interested researchers is diverse, including smoking Alexander and et al. (2001); Ellickson, Bird et al. (2003), joke-telling Angelone, Hirschman et al. (2005), sexual behaviour Selvan, Ross et al. (2001). On reflection, it seems very likely that many decisions are linked to similar decisions by a friend or other associate (in same cases fairly explicitly, like the decision to have sex, be in a gang or play tennis), and many consumption decisions rely on other consumers participating (e.g. video phones). However, the more interesting possibility is that group behaviour or attributes can modify individual actions in relation to important social and economic decisions that will affect their life chances – especially achievement in education.

The first key issue is that measures of peer-group characteristics may be good proxies for unobserved individual, family background or institutional factors that can affect student attainment, making peer effects look important when they may not be. Secondly, group membership is very likely to be endogenous to the outcome under study since people choose their school and their friends, leaving group and individual characteristics highly correlated. Thirdly, peer interaction is simultaneous in that a student affects and is affected by his or her peers (The ‘reflection’ problem of Manski (1993)) – although if peer effects are structurally unimportant, this source of bias vanishes. Gibbons, S., & Telhaj, S. (2006)

Pupils often give into peer influence because they want to fit in, they want to be loved and they worry that they might be left out or made fun of if they don’t go along with the peer or peer group (American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry)

Equally, it has been observed that a group which a child belongs to could influence his learning, studies from various cultures have shown that a child right from infancy to adolescence is faced with urge to belong and to be accepted by the group. A basic human needs to acquire an affiliation to a group in the society. Peer relationships are common in the schools and homes and this plays important roles in the socialization of children in Cameroon.

Pupils in the midst of their group transformed into the true picture of their behavior, they feel more comfortable among fellow learners but feel morose at home or at the presence of teacher. The most important influence on student behavior to learning is not always the teacher but the fellow learners.

With this, there is need to identify the influence of peer group relationship on learning, although there are other factors that can influence the learning but the role played by the peer group learning is more than other factors because the attitude of pupils to learning are not always encouraging. The most common types of peer group to be investigated are those who fall into the same group that could have negative influence on their learning.           

Taiwo (2004) wrote that the peer group outside the home from which does not always conform with adult standard, and each child strive to abide with the ethics of the group they take membership with because rejection by the group may have negative effect on the learning of the child.

Grulund (1990) feels that acceptance by a peer group improved social relation. These have beneficial effects on individual learning insecurity that arises from satisfying emotional tension and enables him\her to concentrate more on his assigned learning tasks.

This indicates that acceptance by the group may have positive effect on the child. A child who is not brilliant enough may do better if he is accepted by a group that is inclined to study. It has been observed that a child learns more easily within his peer group. Where he is wrong, he prefers to be corrected by a member of his peer group than by the teacher.

Therefore, peer influence has a lot to do with an individual, there is an adage that goes thus “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”. The Bible also says in 1st Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) Do not be deceived, bad companions corrupt good manners. So a child who has good character can be influenced by a child with bad characters/ a child who excels in school can be influenced by a child who has no interest in excelling in school because they are companions. It’s a matter of time before the one who used to excel starts dropping in overall academic performance and vice versa. In which the brighter learner associating with another learner who is not so bright but has a lot of interest in excelling, there’ll be a positive influence on academic performance. Peer influence has a lot to do with individual personality.

In the United State for instance, the origins of measuring academic performance in the United States date back to the 1830s. Education advocates Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe used a standardized test to evaluate student progress in Boston. Kansas school administrator Frederick J. Kelly advanced the idea of standardized testing with the Kansas Silent Reading Test in 1914. This multiple-choice test was used to decrease grading time and standardize student evaluations. IBM employee Reynold B. Johnson developed a grading machine in 1934 that could grade test sheets by picking up the electrical current created by pencil marks Maguin, E., & Loeber, R. (1996).

Contextual Background

It appears that schools are frequently evaluated based on the types of pupils they accept rather than the calibre of instruction they provide or the additional resources they make available. This observation has prompted many people to suggest that the backgrounds and abilities of a pupil’s schoolmates must have a substantial influence on the pupil’s own success at school. In the context of our study, we define peer groups as a group of pupils of same age or social status. The peer groups are the first social group outside the home in which the child attempts to gain acceptance and recognition.

In Cameroon society today, the influence of peer groups cannot be over-emphasized in a child’s life most especially child education. Peer group has in one way or the other influenced the lives of children both academically, socially, morally, psychologically and otherwise. It helps just like any other agent of school learners in Cameroon, Douala in particular Socialization such as family, religion, mass media, and school among others help in modifying the behavior of the child.

In this region, they are peers with negative behaviors, and as such they influence their peers in a negative way by doing negative things. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, and cheat, use of drugs or alcohol or become involve in other risky behaviors. Some of this peers influence their friends into loitering about in the streets, watching films, doing hocking for people in the market, doing “Porte” that is carrying peoples bag while they move around in the market buying things, at “Dutch” that is Chinese market so as to make money to carry their bad practices during school. Some do steal which may eventually graduate into armed robbery (Arief, 2022). Some pupils as observe in schools in Douala maybe average or performing well in school but the moment they joint bad friends, their attitude change and even their academic performance change also, they drop in their academic performance because they are no more regular in school, they don’t do their assignment and as such failures.

Though peer groups in the Douala municipality appear with negative character, but they are some with good behaviors and as such, they can also have positive effects when they are influenced by their peers towards positive behaviors such as voluntary for charity or academic (Kelie 2013). Peer influence in a positive way help to challenge or motivate one to do best. There are some peers who were doing well in a particular subject like mathematics but because his friend does well in mathematics, this child tends to improve in mathematics because of help from his friend or friends when studying.

Academic performance Scortt’s, (2012) refers to how well a student completes his or her tasks and studies. The most well-known indication of academic performance is grades. Grades are a student’s “score” for each class and for their whole academic career. Grades are usually calculated by adding up or averaging assignment and test results and they can be influenced by factors such as attendance and the instructor’s assessment of the student. Grading scales vary widely by county and school; common scales include a percentage scale from 1-100, lettering systems from A-F, and grade point averages (GPA) ranging from 0-4.0 or higher.

Steinberg (2005) posits that academic performance encompasses learners’ ability and performance; it is multi-dimensional; it is intricately associated to human growth and cognitive, emotional and social physical development. Academic achievement also refers to how well a learner is accomplishing his tasks and studies. There should be an interrelated relationship between peer group and academic performance. If a learner is influenced negatively by peer, it affects his or her academic achievement. Nevertheless, stronger learners do have an impact on their peers and actually help improve their overall academic achievement. Conversely, positive peer influence on academic achievement depends on person’s self-identity, self-esteem and self-reliance. Peer influence can as well inspire student’s academic vigour and motivation for achievement (Lashbrook, 2000).

In conclusion, therefore the influence of peer groups on the academic performance of primary school learners cannot be over-emphasized. The peer group forms the main basis through which the child learns a lot of empirical facts about his physical and social environment, acquisition of skills and value as well as attitude for a better future.

Theoretical Background

Theoretically, the following theories will be employed in this study. We used the social learning theory by Albert Bandura and Walberg’s Theory of Educational Productivity. Social learning theory, proposed by Albert Bandura, emphasizes the importance of observing, modelling, and imitating the behaviours, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Social learning theory considers how both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence human learning and behaviour

On the other hand, Walberg’s theory tackles about the influences on learning that affects the academic performance of a student. It is an exploration of academic achievement wherein Walberg used a variety of methods on how to identify the factors that affects the academic performance of a student. This is linked to pupil’s academic performance as peer group greatly influences pupil’s academic performance

Statement of the problem

Poor academic achievement not only results in the child having a low self-esteem, but also causes significant stress to the parents and in addition, it reflects a poor image of the school and teachers. Some of the major issues of peer group influence include vandalism, school dropout, unemployment, educational wastage and time wastage, financial wastage on the part of the government and the parents. It is important to find the reasons for a child’s poor school performance and come up with a treatment plan early so that the child can perform up to full potential, the parents can be proud of their child and the image of the school is secured.

Children socialize with the people with when they associate. Through interaction over many years, acceptable social customs are taught and fostered. Other children, as well as adults, can have a great impact on a broad range of issues in the child’s life including achievement in schools.

Research Objective

The objectives of this study were structured into the main and specific research objectives.

Main Objective

This study is to investigate the influence of peer groups on academic performance of pupils’ in the Douala II Municipality.

Specific Objective

Specifically, this study is aimed at:

  • Examining the influence of conformity on pupil’s academic performance in the Douala II Municipality.

  • Investigating the role of obedience on the academic performance of pupil’s in the Douala II Municipality

  • Finding out how identity is influences academic performance of pupil’s in the Douala II Municipality

  • Investigating the role of compliance on pupil’s academic performance in the Douala II Municipality.

Research Questions

The objectives of this study were then turned into research questions and structured into the main and specific research questions.

Main Research Question

How does peer group influence the academic performance of pupils in the Douala II Municipality?

Specific Research questions

Specifically, this study seeks to answer the following questions

  • How does conformity influence the academic performance of pupils in the Douala II Municipality?
  • What is the role of obedience on the academic performance of pupils in the Douala II Municipality?
  • How does identity play a significant role on pupils’ academic performance in the Douala II Municipality?
  • To what extent does compliance influence pupils’ academic performance in the Douala II Municipality?


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