Are good grades contagious? - FOX 13 News

Are good grades contagious?

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Students at Riverview High School thrive through tutoring and tenacity.  They know that the goal is college and a rigorous academic program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Development) is designed to help them get there.

"I think that when they're around other students that are making good grades, they have this kind of energy to perform close to them or above them and it becomes very competitive," explained Riverview High School teacher Kimberly Moss, the AVID coordinator. 

Students like Casey Monroe, a junior at Riverview High, say the idea of students mentoring each other does foster better overall grades.

"I just try to influence them the way that others influence me, so if I'm doing well around them, I tend to see them do better around me," Casey said.

Classmate Braedon Lynn admits he was a little lazy about his grades, but he said this program and his peers have helped motivate him to do better.

"Now I'm thinking like USF, UCF, even going out of the country to Europe and studying abroad.  So personally I think it's a really good program," added Braedon.

USF associate professor Dr. Sarah Kiefer is a big fan of the AVID program.  However, she says the concept of simply catching good grades isn't that simple.

"They may have other ideas in terms of characteristics they highly value that may undermine academic motivation -- being popular, athletics, dating, risk-taking -- behaviors can sometimes can undermine relationships that kids have in terms of their long-term adjustment in academic achievement," Dr. Kiefer explained.

In other words, you can't just put low-performing students with kids who make good grades and just expect it to rub off.

Junior Ana Franshesca Wong argued, "If you put effort into what you want to do and what you need help on then yes, it will help you.  But if you're like careless about it, and you don't really like care about what you're doing then it really means nothing.

Simply being around high-achieving students isn't enough to motivate some students.  Research shows they have to naturally develop friendships with them, look up to those peers.  Fostering those types of relationships is huge role for teachers like Kimberly Ross.

"Once it's fostered among them, they learn how to help each other," she said.

It's the type of help that results in a win-win for the students on both sides.

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