Parents and researchers alike are interested in how to promote children’s academic competence. Academic achievement has been linked to many factors. In this article, we discuss parental involvement, parenting styles, family income, as well as media and digital exposure.
The responsibility to socialize and educate children is a shared obligation between parents and schools, but education begins at home. For a child to reach academic achievement, parents must be involved and participate in the educational process. The more parental involvement, the more students are likely to become productive members of our society and excel academically. Parental involvement impacts student academics.
A field-based study by Barbara Schneider and Yongsook Lee (1990) compared the academic performance of East Asian American school students and European-Americans students. Excluded from both groups were students in special classes who had learning disabilities or physical handicaps. The two groups were compared with regard to their ability in the Latin alphabet.
Data collected indicated that East-Asian academic performance on achievement tests and report card grades was higher than that of the European-American students in all areas except language skills. Differences in language performance could be attributed to the fact that many East-Asian students were at a disadvantage because their parents did not speak English.
Schneider and Lee found only cultural differences — all related to parental involvement — to explain East-Asian Americans being superior to the European-Americans. For example, 22 out of 37 East-Asian parents reported they had spent time teaching their children reading, writing, and simple arithmetic skills before entering kindergarten. Only 4 out of 25 European-American parents indicated that they had engaged in similar activities. East-Asian parents closely monitored and controlled their children’s use of time on academic and social pursuits, and they placed a high value on education. “There is nothing without education,” one parent remarked. “Education is more important than money.”
A decade later, Fan and Chen (2001) performed a meta-analysis to synthesize the quantitative literature about the relationship between parental involvement and students’ academic achievement. The findings reveal a small to moderate — and practically meaningful — relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement. Moderator analysis revealed that parental aspiration/expectation for children’s educational achievement has the strongest relationship, whereas parental home supervision has the weakest relationship with students’ academic achievement.
A meta-analysis by Jeynes (2005) of 41 studies examined the relationship between parental involvement and the academic achievement of urban elementary school children. Results indicate a significant relationship between parental involvement overall and academic achievement. Parental involvement, as a whole, was associated with all the academic variables by about 0.7 to 0.75 of a standard deviation unit. This relationship held up for European-American and minority children and also for boys and girls. Jeynes (2007) also undertook a meta-analysis of 52 studies to determine the influence of parental involvement on the educational outcomes of urban secondary school children. The results indicate that parental involvement also significantly influences secondary school children. Parental involvement, as a whole, affects all the academic variables under study by about 0.5 to 0.55 of a standard deviation unit.
Nyarko (2011) conducted a study to determine the influence of parental authoritativeness on adolescents’ academic achievement. Authoritative parenting is characterized by reasonable demands and high responsiveness. While authoritative parents might have high expectations for their children, they also give their kids the resources and support needed to succeed. Parents who exhibit this style listen to their kids and provide love and warmth in addition to limits and fair discipline. The results show that both mothers’ and fathers’ authoritativeness positively relate to the academic achievement of their children.
In a meta-analysis, Pinquart (2016) integrated the results of 308 empirical studies on associations of general parenting dimensions and styles with academic achievement of children and adolescents, assessed via grade point average or academic achievement tests. Parental responsiveness (warmth), behavioral control, autonomy granting, and an authoritative parenting style were associated with better academic performance — both concurrently and in longitudinal studies — although these associations were small in a statistical sense. Parental harsh control, psychological control, as well as neglectful, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles, were related to lower achievement with small to very small effect sizes. The researcher concluded that associations of academic achievement with general parenting dimensions/styles tend to be smaller than associations of school-specific parental involvement.
A study conducted by Sum and Fogg (1991) found that poor students are ranked in the 19th percentile on assessments while students from a mid-upper income family are ranked in the 66th percentile on assessments.
In data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) measuring kindergarten students’ achievement on the ECLS reading achievement assessment, low-income students scored at about the 30th percentile, middle-income students at about the 45th percentile, and upper-income at about the 70th percentile (Rowan et al., 2004).
Students from low-income families consistently scored well below average, regardless of ethnicity or race. For example, in one study, 43.5% of low-income students did not successfully meet any of the required subject area assessments while only 13.2% of low-income students met all of the required subject area assessments (Bergeson, 2006).
Poverty affects academic achievement due to the lack of resources available for student success, which may include financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical resources, as well as support systems, relationships, role models, and knowledge of hidden rules (Lacour & Tissington, 2011).
Media and digital exposure
Sharif and Sargent (2006) tested the relative effects of television, movie, and video game screen time and content on adolescent school performance; 4508 students participated in the study. Gender was equally represented; 95 percent were European-American. In multivariate analyses, after adjusting for other covariates, the odds of poorer school performance increased with increasing weekday television screen time and cable movie channel availability and decreased with parental television content restriction. Compared to children whose parents never allowed them to watch R-rated movies, children who watched R-rated movies once in a while, sometimes, or all of the time had significantly increased cumulative odds of poorer school performance. Weekend screen time and video game use were not associated with school performance.
Using time-diary and survey data, Jacobsen and Forste (2011) explored the use of various types of electronic media among first-year students. Time-diary results suggest that the majority of students use electronic media to multitask. Consistent with prior research, their findings indicate that electronic media use is negatively associated with grades. They also found that about two-thirds of the students reported using electronic media while in class, studying, or doing homework. This multitasking likely increased distraction, something prior research has shown to be detrimental to student performance.
Bergeson, T. (2006). Race, poverty, and academic achievement. www.doh.wa.gov
Fan, X., & Chen, M. (2001). Parental involvement and students’ academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 13(1): 1–22.
Jacobsen, W.C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, (14)5: 275-80.
Jeynes, W.H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban Education, 40(3): 237-69.
Jeynes, W.H. (2007). The relationship between parental involvement and urban secondary school student academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Urban Education, 42(1): 82-110.
Lacour, M., & Tissington, L.D. (2011). The effects of poverty on academic achievement. Educational Research and Reviews, 6 (7): 522-7.
Nyarko, K. (2011). The influence of authoritative parenting style on adolescents’ academic achievement. American Journal of Social and Management Sciences, 2(3): 278-82.
Pinquart, M. (2016). Associations of parenting styles and dimensions with academic achievement in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 28(3): 475–93.
Rowan B., Cohen D.K., & Raudenbush S.W. (2004). Improving the educational outcomes of students in poverty through multidisciplinary research and development. www.isr.umich.edu
Schneider, B., & Lee, Y. (1990). A model for academic success: The school and home environment of East Asian students. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 21: 358-77..
Sharif, I., & Sargent, J.D. (2006). Association between television, movie, and video game exposure and school performance. Pediatrics, 118(4).
Sum A.M., & Fogg W.N. (1991). The adolescent poor and the transition to early adulthood. In P. Edelman & J. Ladner (Eds.), Adolescence & Poverty: Challenge for the 1990s (pp. 37-110). Lanham, MD: Center for National Policy Press.