how do relational and classroom characteristics influence adolescents’ learning over time and What are the mechanisms of learning from others

Academic performance and successful peer relationships are the two most salient developmental challenges that adolescents face, respectively related to cognitive and social development. Remarkably, these processes have been examined in isolation. This is particularly striking because the majority of academic learning takes place in a highly social context surrounded by friends in the classroom, which has strong motivational effects on learning. Adolescence is also a period of brain development, particularly in regions related to cognitive and social functioning. Recent studies point to the upsurge of neural affect systems in adolescence, suggesting increased sensitivity for social-affective processing in this period. This sensitivity offers a huge opportunity for fostering learning in a period that is highly predictive of future success and well-being.

The first part of this project will focus on the longitudinal changes in adolescents’ peer relationships in the classroom. Changes in peer relationships and classroom characteristics will be related to empirical measures of learning from others, as well as adolescents’ academic achievement. The second part of the project will focus on the neural correlates of observational learning in the social context of adolescents’ peer relationships.

This project is supported by a Westerdijk grant awarded to Berna Güroĝlu, and a Leiden University Fund grant awarded to Anna van Duijvenvoorde.