By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are good grades contagious?

Sarah D. Sparks in the Report Roundup in Education Week summarizes the first attempt using social-contagion theory — that concepts and behaviors can spread through a social network, “like a cold through a school,” to analyze student grades.

One hundred sixty juniors identified those on a class list they considered close friends, friends, acquaintances, relatives or unknown. The social circles were then linked with administrative data, grade point average (GPAs) attendance, and disciplinary actions for the past two years.

Findings showed that those whose friends averaged higher GPAs at the start, were more likely to improve their grades; while those with higher GPAs were more likely to drop their grades. Close friendships, then, seem to be formed on personality similarities and less to grades.

The study by National Science Foundation researchers and a team of high school students appears in the online journal PLOS One.

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