The Role of Parents in the Ontogeny of Achievement-related Motivation and Behavioral Choices

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-05-26
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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Parents believe what they do matters. But, how does it matter? How do parents’ beliefs about their children early on translate into the choices those children make as adolescents? The Eccles' expectancy-value model asserts that parents' beliefs about their children during childhood predict adolescents' achievement-related choices through a sequence of processes that operate in a cumulative, cascading fashion over time. Specifi cally, parents' beliefs predict parents' behaviors that predict their children's motivational beliefs. Those beliefs predict children's subsequent choices. Using data from the Childhood and Beyond Study (92% European American; N 723), we tested these predictions in the activity domains of sports, instrumental music, mathematics, and reading across a 12-year period. In testing these predictions, we looked closely at the idea of reciprocal infl uences and at the role of child gender as a moderator. The cross-lagged models generally supported the bidirectional influences described in Eccles' expectancy-value model. Furthermore, the findings demonstrated that: (a) these relations were stronger in the leisure domains than in the academic domains, (b) these relations did not consistently vary based on youth gender, (c) parents were stronger predictors of their children's beliefs than vice versa, and (d) adolescents' beliefs were stronger predictors of their behaviors than the reverse. The findings presented in this monograph extend our understanding of the complexity of families, developmental processes that unfold over time, and the extent to which these processes are universal across domains and child gender.

Author Biography

Sandra D. Simpkins is an associate professor at Arizona State University. Her research highlights how settings in which an individual is embedded, such as the peer group and family, are critical determinants of youths' achievement related choices, namely, STEM engagement/coursework and participation in organized activities. In her recent work with Latino families, she has strived to disentangle the role of SES, immigration, ethnicity, and culture in family functioning and youths’ outcomes.

Jennifer A. Fredricks is a professor in the Human Development Departmentat Connecticut College and director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. Jennifer Fredricks’s research focuses on extracurricular participation, positive youth development, school engagement, youth sports, and motivation. She is interested in how to create school and out-ofschool contexts that optimize positive academic and psychological outcomes for children and adolescents living in diverse environments.

Jacquelynne S. Eccles is a distinguished professor in the School of Education at University of California, Irvine, and a distinguished professor emeritus of Psychology and Education at the University of Michigan. Over the past 40 years, Eccles has conducted extended longitudinal studies focused on a wide variety of topics including the development and consequences of both gender and racial/ethnic identities; the Eccles Expectancy-Value Theory of achievement related choices, engagements, and persistence (including educational and career choices related to STEM and other fields); family, peer, and classroom influences on student motivation, achievement, and wellbeing; and the Eccles and Midgley Stage-Environment Fit Theory of the impact of social contexts on human development.

Aletha C. Huston is the Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor Emerita of Child Development at the University of Texas at Austin. She is Past President of the Society for Research in Child Development, the Developmental Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and the Consortium of Social Science Associations, and the recipient of the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society.

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