Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Get better grades: go to church.

Does church attendance boost GPA? A recent study thinks so--but the actual faith seems to have little to do with it.
Researchers found that church attendance has as much effect on a teen's GPA as whether the parents earned a college degree. Students in grades 7 to 12 who went to church weekly also had lower dropout rates and felt more a part of their schools.

..... Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA .144 higher than those who never attend services, said Jennifer Glanville, a sociologist at the University of Iowa.

The study.....identifies several reasons the students do better:

* They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
* Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends' parents.
* They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
* They're more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.

The study author also asked teens how important religion was to them and then looked for correlations. Interestingly, it didn't matter whether the teens believed or were inspired by their religion. It all boiled down to sitting in the pews: the social process of religion--"all" here meaning the effect on GPA. (They did not look to correlate "mean girls", cliques, smoking in the bathroom, or any of those negatives of teen behavior with church-going. ;-)

"Surprisingly, the importance of religion to teens had very little impact on their educational outcomes," Glanville said. "That suggests that the act of attending church -- the structure and the social aspects associated with it -- could be more important to educational outcomes than the actual religion."

Religious-service attendance had the same effect across all major denominations, the researchers found. The results are detailed in the winter 2008 issue of the Sociological Quarterly.

Well, then.


rick allen said...

Easy. Those of us who make our kids go to church also make them do their homework.

Whether they retain anything from either is of course up to them.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Rick, you and I might just agree here. I'm a little blown away by that. ;o)

David said...

Besides church, this is why I encourage my son to attend Boy Scouts. "[R]egular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models", "friendships with peers who have similar norms and values," etc...

Caveat: Yes, the BSA is most assuredly homophobic at the district & national level, and I don't like the religious / social views some of the people involved with them - but that doesn't show up at our local Troop level. If it did, I wouldn't encourage his continued participation. Kinda like the Church, actually :) You gotta pick your congregation right.

JCF said...

So, all things considered, why not Good religion over Cr*p religion, "all" things being neutral?

[JCF has given impetus to a few kids going to their parents and saying "I want to be a Rastafarian---just for my grades!" ;-)]

Anonymous said...

Hrrmmm. I'm skeptical. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Locally, the kids whose parents make them come to church are the same kids who would do well in school anyway. I'd guess that this phenomenon has more to do with the parents' expectations of their children than with any experience the kids have sitting in the pews.

It also smacks of the "prosperity gospel", which may be the same thing in disguise.


IT said...

No, Scott, I don't think it's P.G. rather, I think it is impossible to fully control for the issue of involved parents, or the sort of parents who are likely to be involed in church or whatever. David's point about boy scouts and other similar sorts of institutions is well taken; these sorts of involvement probably serve the same purpose.

I think any institution that provides these will do:

* They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
* Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends' parents.
* They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
* They're more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.

Anonymous said...


I'm sitting here trying to absorb your point about "the control". I recognize that as having something to do with scientific experiment. Thank you for your patience. Please repeat your point - as if speaking to a child.

(I saw your point in action today. Chip's dad and biological mom are probably the perfect example. To say nothing, of course, about other complex relationships.)

Nevertheless, it would certainly be helpful to me, and probably to others who stop by, to say it again in words that a child could understand.

I thank You.

IT said...

Hi, Scott
Let's see if I can help.

The difficulty is how do you narrow down the effect to church going (in this case) and not something like economic status of the parents, or their age, or their level of education, etc etc. So you have to have a comparison, or control group, who are as matched as possible to the church-goers in every way except for church, to try to narrow down any effect as specific to the church.

You can't control for all variables (scouting, for example, may not have been counted) but you have to try.

Think about drug testing. If you want to know if a new drug works you have to compare its effects on people taking to the drug to people who are taking a placebo, to see if the drug is actually accounting for any difference. if you didn't have a comparison, you couldn't tell whether the drug was responsible for an effect.

HOpe this helps.


Anonymous said...


I think what you are saying is that we are both pursuing a mystery.

I agree that love is not enough to answer the mystery.

But it's a great provisional answer.

I have noticed that you are a great teacher.


Because, from a long time ago, you have insisted that I become my own best teacher.

Thanks, IT.

JCF said...

Off-topic: prayers for Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (apparently hanging on in critical condition at this hour, after an aneurysm).

And prayers for the repose of the souls of those killed in the Madrid plane crash, healing for those injured, and comfort for the survivors, in their grief.

Finally: those getting drenched by Fay, stay high and dry!

dr.primrose said...

Another OT. Today, the California Supreme Court set oral argument in the California property cases from the Diocese of Los Angeles for Wednesday, October 8, 2008, at 9:00 a.m., in Riverside County. It's my understanding that the decision must be issued within 90 days after that time (though there are ways to get around that; the Court doesn't do that very often) so one side or the other may get a pleasant Christmas present this year.

Anonymous said...

Some younger children (under 16) who don't attend church may have too chaotic a home life for parents to bring them to church.

Chaotic home life has a negative effect on childrens' learning. I am talking about situations that cause downward mobility, periodic homelessness, periodic abandonment or parental drug addiction or jail time. These kids are poor, have parents that not only don't provide homework help but don't provide sober attention of any kind, may have no quiet space to study.

Yes, serious case:control matching must be done using a large number of variables: age of child, family income, stability of income source, housing, presence or absence of parents, level of education of parents, presence or absence of books in house and parents actually reading them, number of siblings and whether any are in trouble with the law or are seriously disabled to the point of requiring most of parents' attention, adequacy of school systems - just to mention a few variables