You can catch the science bug from your peers, according to a study which found that sitting next to classmates inclined to the topic may help you develop an interest in the subject and boost grades. Researchers at the Florida International University in the US found that when students see their science classmates as very interested in the class, they are more likely to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. "People have been found to readily catch the emotions of others and we see this happening in science classroom environments," Zahra Hazari, professor at Florida International University. "This really emphasises the importance of having engaging environments to hook students to science and motivate them towards learning," Hazari added. How a student perceives the level of their peers' interests has a significant effect on their science career choices even after accounting for differences in their prior interest in STEM classes, their level of family support for science, academic achievement, gender and quality of teaching. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 students at 50 randomly selected colleges and universities across the US. The positive effect was consistent across biology, chemistry and physics classes and was seen for both students' career interests and, in most cases, their grades, researchers said. They found that even students who had little prior interest or support in science showed greater interest in science careers when they saw high levels of interest in their classmates. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
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