Diversity in Friendships at School Can Lead to Greater Academic Success

A new study by scholars at the University of California, Davis finds that early adolescents’ grades were higher when they socialized with peers from other ethnicities. Researchers noted the lunch companions of 800 sixth grade students in three states and examined differences in their grades.

The results showed that students who spent lunch time with at least one cross-ethnic peer had a higher grade point average of about one third of a point than their peers who had lunch only with members of their same ethnic group. The effect was beneficial for all racial and ethnic groups.

The authors state that the social skills gained in interaction among peers of other ethnicities might enhance students’ problem-solving skills, which can transfer into academic success. Jakeem Lewis, a doctoral student in human ecology and the study’s lead author, adds that “it may also help later in life with career success, as individuals become increasingly comfortable and skilled at interacting with ethnically diverse peers.”

The study, “Early Adolescents’ Peer Experiences With Ethnic Diversity in Middle School: Implications for Academic Outcomes” appears in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. It may be accessed here.

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