Learner Social Engagement and Academic Performance

Learner Social Engagement and Academic Performance

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Learner Social Engagement and Academic Performance

  1. Introduction

Motivations for the Study

Global educational systems are experiencing an unprecedented shift from traditional classroom learning to remote learning due to the socioeconomic implications of the coronavirus pandemic. The changes in the learning environment mean changes to a child’s social environment. Past studies outline that social engagement plays a critical role in learning, as social skills contribute to academic performance (Maleki et al. 2019). However, the majority of the pieces of literature focus on the impact of social engagement on early childhood development. The proposed study seeks to answer the question of whether children learn or study more when engaged socially, but the research context covers early childhood development, middle school, and higher learning. The motivation is to explore whether social engagement is a determinant of academic performance across the entire education system. Social skills acquired during school are the basis of future success, hence the need to determine when and where to best harness the aptitude. The research also expounds on the nature of social engagement, whether peers, educators, or parents have the most significant impact on the social development that influences academic performance.

Goals and Objectives

The proposed study attempts to fill gaps in current literature by answering if students learn more when engaged socially. To fulfill the niches, the paper aims to:

  1. Determine student and educator perceptions on the role of social engagement on academic performance
  2. Determine the forms of social interactions mostly associated with improvements in academic performance
  3. Outline how schools and families can best foster positive social interactions for optimal learning for all learner

Organizational Overview

The paper follows the basic outline of a research essay. Foremost, the paper entails a detailed review of five recent research articles on the research topic. The comparison of the studies will highlight common knowledge, recent findings, and controversial concepts yet to be determined, which act as the basis for future studies. Subsequently, a discussion on the findings of the literature review will follow to outline gaps in the literature and proposed recommendations. The paper ends with a conclusion paragraph, which summarizes the findings and outlines areas for future research.

  • Literature Review

Background Information

The contemporary school comprises of multi-cultured and multi-lingual students from diverse political, social, and economic backgrounds. Policymakers and educators working with the children are constantly finding new innovative ways to motivate and engage the students into behaving and performing positively (Lodder et al. 2016). One of the key approaches has been the use of social-emotional learning, captured through social engagement, to increase pro-social behaviors, such as kindness and collaboration. Studies on childhood development highlight social engagement, specifically play, contributes to the development and refinement of cognitive and motor skills (Weissberg, 2019). Therefore, social engagement contributes to young learners becoming more intellectual, which impacts their academic performance.

            The role of social engagement in middle school and higher learning focuses mostly on the psychological implications of socializing. According to Hurst et al. (2013), social engagement is a form of buffer that reduces academic stress and anxiety in learners. Social engagement is presented as a coping mechanism for learners, meaning a healthy social circle translates into positive academic performance. Within the classroom environment, social engagement enhances the learner’s self-awareness, self-management, and decision-making (Hurst et al. 2013). The implication is a more coordinated classroom.

Specific Information for the Reader

  1. The traditional teacher-centered classroom suffers from a lack of student engagement, which is associated with lower student academic achievements.
  2. Educators, students, and parents all agree that social engagement is critically important in the development of emotional and intellectual needs in young learners.
  3. There is a lack of sufficient study on the role social engagement plays in higher learning and its impact on academic performance at that level (Lodder et al. 2016).
  4. Social engagement providers learners with the opportunity to take control of their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking due to active participation.
  5. There is the looming question of whether social engagement amongst teachers equally enhances the quality of their instructions, including delivery.
  6. The average classroom is not adequately prepared to utilize social engagement as a learning strategy or tool.  

Key Terms

  1. Social engagement: Refers to the student’s degree of participation in a learning community, mostly within peer groups predetermined by the teacher. The term can also refer to the student’s degree of participation in the community and society (Weissberg, 2019).
  2. Learner autonomy: Refers to students taking control over their learning in terms of content and methodology (Lodder et al. 2016). The reader can take it as the starting point of the student developing independent and proactive approaches towards their learning. a situation when
  3. Socio-emotional learning: Refers to the process of developing self-control, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills that are critical for academic and professional success (Weissberg, 2019)
  4. Analysis Approach

The analysis section for the literature review followed the same procedure as metadata analysis research. Suitable scientific repositories, such as PubMed, SAGE, and Google Scholar were filtering searched using the keywords to identify recent, reliable academic journals on the topic. Selected articles employed qualitative research approaches to provide a behavioral causality on the relationship between social engagement and academic performance.


  1. Maleki et al. (2019)

Objectives: The study aims to explore the level of social skills in preschool children while at home and in pre-school to examine the relationship between social skills and academic performance (Maleki et al. 2019)

Methodology: Cross-sectional survey with cluster sampling of 546 children followed by descriptive and inferential statistics.

Research Type: Quantitative.

Result: pre-school interaction has a slightly significant impact on academic achievement compared to home-based social interactions.

  • Hurst et al. (2013)

Objectives: The study examines student perceptions on the value of social interaction on their learning as reflected by their classroom experiences and academic achievements.

Methodology: Longitudinal surveys of three summer session programs followed by a thematic analysis of collected questionnaire surveys.

Research Type: Qualitative

Results: Students perceive group work and activities as essential to their understanding of basic concepts and assignments. Most perceive group work improves their academic performance.

  • Ziv (2014)

Objectives: The study aims to illustrate the connection between social information processing, social competence, and academic preparedness.

Methodology: A longitudinal survey of 198 pre-school children, using interviews that are analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Research Type: Quantitative

Results: Directly proportional or positive correlation between the three items. Improved social information processing and high levels of social competence are more likely to enhance academic preparedness.

  • Lodder et al. (2016)

Objectives: The research compares self-reported social skills with peer-reported social skills to identify whether there is a social skill deficit associated with biased academic perceptions.

Methodology: Self-reported and close-ended questionnaires followed by a meta-analysis of social skills categorized under three items.

Research Type: Quantitative

Results: Bias in self-reported skills as peer reports show less impact of group work on academic performance.

  • Weissberg (2019)

Objectives: The report carries out a literature review to outline the consensus about social-emotional learning and early childhood development.

Methodology: Secondary review of published articles on the topic. Metadata analysis

Research Type: Quantitative

Results: Socio-emotional learning is associated with social competence, intellectual development, and improved academic performance.

  • Discussion

Social engagement allows students to enhance comprehension and retention by making connections between knowledge and peer connections.

            When students learn from each other, they do not only understand academic concepts, they also tie the concepts to the interactions. Therefore, the peer connection acts as a bond for activating prior knowledge (Hurst et al. 2013). The cognitive connection between retention and engagement outlines that social interactions create positive learning environments and can complement educator instructions. Ziv (2014) finds the positive impact of social engagement is also tied to the ability to develop empathy. Peer engagements help build responsiveness to divergent opinions. The approach allows a learner to track the evolution of their understanding because of the influence of alternative perspectives.

Implications for the Social Information Processing Theory

The social information processing theory posits unique influences on learner behaviors and social competence. The analysis of preschool children highlights that context (physical environment) influences a child’s degree of social competence, which in turn affects their academic performance. Social engagements at school were more enriching compared to home-based interactions (Ziv, 2014; Maleki et al. 2019). The implication is the need to structure a social engagement in divergent environments depending on the learner’s cognitive stage and information requirements.

An insufficient emphasis on socio-emotional learning in contemporary curricula

While socio-emotional learning is proven to enhance retention and comprehension, education instructions and policy are not designed to promote its application (Weissberg, 2019). Socio-emotional learning represents a feasible solution to improving student academic performance by negative adverse behavior, such as drug use, suspensions, and expulsions.

Gaps in the Research

There are minimal evidence-based studies on socio-emotional learning to promote its implementation at a state or national level.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Aside from the topic on socio-emotional learning that does not have a proven theoretical framework, all the other articles comprehensively cover the themes and topic of interest. The articles are recent, written by authors with the required authority, verified by the scientific repositories, and based on solid research frameworks. Future studies should focus on evidence-based research to affirm a conceptual framework for the implementation of socio-emotional learning.

  • Conclusion

The main purpose of the proposed outline was to fill in gaps in current literature by answering if students learn more when engaged socially. With the unprecedented shift from traditional classroom learning to remote learning, there is a need to enhance social engagement to ascertain high-quality learning. In early childhood development, social engagement, specifically plays, contributes to the development and refinement of cognitive and motor skills. In higher learning, social engagement improves retention and comprehension. There is also the ability to develop empathy, allowing learners to understand different opinions and worldviews. Social engagement aligns with the promotion of student-centered learning, as it enhances learner autonomy. However, it is not clear which social learning context is best for higher learning (location and activities). Further research is required to determine the types of social engagement best suited to improve academic performance in higher learning.


Hurst, B., Wallace, R. & Nixon, S. (2013). The impact of social interaction on student learning. Reading Horizons, 52(4), 1-25.

Lodder, G. M., Goossens, L., Scholte, R. H., Engels, R. C., & Verhagen, M. (2016). Adolescent loneliness and social skills: Agreement and discrepancies between self-, meta-, and peer-evaluations. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(12), 2406–2416. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-016-0461-y

Maleki, M., Mardani, A., Mitra Chehrzad, M., Dianatinasab, M., & Vaismoradi, M. (2019). Social skills in children at home and in preschool. Behavioral Sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 9(7), 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs9070074

Weissberg, R. (2019). Promoting the social and emotional learning of millions of school children. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(1), 65-69. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691618817756

Ziv, Y. (2013). Social information processing patterns, social skills, and school readiness in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(2), 306–320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.08.009

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