Students who work together are more likely to be successful in their college classes, according to a new study.
Researchers, who analyzed 80,000 interactions between 290 college students, found that a higher number of online interactions was usually an indicator of a higher score in the class.
High achievers also were more likely to form connections with other students and exchange information in more complex ways, according to the researchers at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego.
What’s more, the high achievers tended to form cliques, shutting out low-performing students, according to the research findings.
The students who were shut out were not only more likely to have lower grades, they also were more likely to drop out of the class entirely, the researchers note.
“Elite groups of highly connected individuals formed in the first days of the course,” said co-author Manuel Cebrian, a computer scientist at the university and a senior researcher at National ICT Australia Ltd, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence.
“For the first time, we showed that there is a very strong correspondence between social interaction and exchange of information — a 72 percent correlation,” he continued.
“But almost equally interesting is the fact that these high-performing students form ‘rich-clubs,’ which shield themselves from low-performing students, despite the significant efforts by these lower-ranking students to join them.
“The weaker students try hard to engage with the elite group intensively, but can’t. This ends up having a marked correlation with their dropout rates.”
The study, co-authored by Luis M. Vaquero, shows a way to better identify patterns in the classroom that can trigger early dropout alarms, allowing more time for educators to help students and, ideally, reduce those drop-out rates through “appropriate social network interventions,” the researchers conclude.
The study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.