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Applied Developmental Psychology 24 (2003) 393 ­ 412

Parenting, goal orientations, classroom behavior, and school success in early adolescence

´ Eddy H. de Bruyn*, Maja Dekovic, G. Wim Meijnen

Department of Educational Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Wibautstraat 4, 1091 GM Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract The present study was designed to investigate the chain of associations between parenting behavior and early adolescents' school success. Students' goal orientations and classroom behavior were hypothesized to mediate between parenting and school success. The sample consisted of 327 preuniversity-tracked pupils in their first year of secondary school. Results indicate that boys and girls shared the same pathway from maternal disciplinary strategies to school success mediated by the child's goal orientations and cognitive classroom engagement. Path analyses revealed moderate associations between parenting and goal orientations. Goal orientations were found to be moderately linked to classroom behavior dimensions conducive to school success. Although models for boys and girls differed slightly, overall results highlight the continuing relationship in early adolescence between parenting and pupils' beneficent academic behavior. The present study highlights several processes by which parents might shape their early adolescents' school success. D 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: School success; Maternal discipline; Student goal orientations; Classroom behavior; Parenting

1. Introduction School success provides a basis for adolescents' subsequent socialization into adulthood and is an important predictor of many facets in adolescents' life paths. Increased income, health, job security (Haveman & Wolfe, 1984), and happiness (Oswald, 1997) are some

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +31-20-525-1266. E-mail address: [email protected] (E.H. de Bruyn). 0193-3973/$ ­ see front matter D 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/S0193-3973(03)00074-1


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of the many rewards that await the academically high achiever. Studies focusing on antecedents of school success may be particularly fruitful in the earliest stage of secondary schooling. Having recently experienced a major ecological transition (see Bronfenbrenner, 1979), young adolescents may be easy prey to the vicissitudes of life inside and outside the school walls. Their vulnerability is revealed in posttransitional declines in, for instance, self-esteem (Eccles, Midgley, & Adler, 1984; Hirsch & Rapkin, 1987), academic motivation (Eccles, Roeser, Wigfield, & Freedman, 1999; Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Gottfried, Fleming, & Gottfried, 2001), and grades (Simmons & Blyth, 1987). Empirical studies buttressed by strong theoretical models can provide useful guidelines for parents and educational practitioners in describing and comprehending posttransitional school success. The present article investigates one such model in which parenting behaviors are linked to school success through mediation of children's goal orientation and school behavior. Much attention has been given to a range of variables that influence young adolescents' school success. In the first place, children's classroom behavior has been shown to be associated with school success (Wigfield & Eccles, 2002). Broadly speaking, children's classroom behaviors may be divided into an academic and a social component (e.g., Wentzel, 1993a; Wentzel & Wigfield, 1998). The two components are not independent but roughly reflect the dual role young adolescents are required to adopt upon transition from primary to secondary school. Academically, they are faced with novel teaching methods, stricter grading procedures, and vastly increased amounts of homework (Eccles et al., 1993). Socially, students face a new school environment, new classmates, and new teachers. There are friends to be made and bullies to be avoided, all under great academic duress (Crokett, Losoff, & Petersen, 1984; Eccles et al., 1993; McDougall & Hymel, 1998). Not surprisingly, children's conduct in both domains is linked to school success. For instance, Skinner, Wellborn, and Connell (1990) found that teacher-rated student engagement predicted grades and achievement scores. In addition, students with high levels of school orientation showed increased levels of school achievement (Wentzel, 1993a). Low achievers, on the other hand, exhibited a lower ability to focus, less self-discipline, and were less hardworking than high achievers (Mufson, Cooper, & Hall, 1989). In the social domain, links have been revealed between responsible classroom behavior and school success (Wentzel, 1993a; Wentzel & Wigfield, 1998). Young adolescents with sharing, helpful, and cooperative attitudes towards classmates have been found to be academically more successful and better liked by their teachers. Indeed, prosocial classroom behavior contributed significantly to school success even after taking into account academic ability (Wentzel, 1993a). Furthermore, antisocial behavior in early grades, such as aggression, has been reported to be a strong predictor of high-school dropout (Horn & Packard, 1985). In addition to behavioral characteristics, recent models emphasize children's social cognitive characteristics, such as goal orientations (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Eccles et al., 1998; Wentzel & Wigfield, 1998). Goals are defined as cognitive representations of children's purposes in achievement situations. Presumably, they guide students' academic and social behavior towards desired outcomes (Urdan & Maehr, 1995). Direct associations between adolescent goal orientations and school success have been revealed, as well as indirect

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associations via school behavior conducive to school success. For instance, children who like to show their proficiency at academic tasks displayed higher cognitive engagement levels during science classes (Meece, Blumenfeld, & Hoyle, 1988). This academically oriented performance, or evaluation, goal seemed to center on children's attempts to receive positive evaluations of the self, or of academic work (Wentzel, 1993a). In addition to displaying higher adaptive classroom behaviors, children with high evaluation goals also received higher grades (Wentzel, 1993a). Children who reported high prosocial intentions and goals (e.g., try to share with classmates what they have learned or help troubled classmates) exhibited increased levels of prosocial behavior (Wentzel, 1994). The prosocial intentions manifested themselves in increased levels of consideration of others, responsibility towards classroom activities, and following teacher and class rules. In addition, these children displayed reduced levels of aggressive acts. In fact, the pursuit of social goals predicted levels of academic effort even when academically oriented goals were taken into account (Wentzel, 1996). An important question for researchers and educators is how these individual social cognitive (i.e., goal orientations) and behavioral (i.e., classroom behavior) characteristics conducive to school success come about (Eccles et al., 1998). One possibility is that they develop in the context of the family, through parent­child interactions. Most of the research that has examined the role of parents in their children's schooling, however, has focused on the direct relationship between parenting and school success, judged by grade point average (GPA), without considering the role of the child's social cognitive and behavior characteristics. This research consistently indicates that children raised by authoritative parents (defined by firm discipline practices that foster self-regulatory behavior and by high levels of responsiveness and warmth) have higher academic achievement than children of authoritarian (strict disciplinarians who show little warmth and affection) or permissive parents (Glasgow, Dornbusch, Troyer, Steinberg, & Ritter, 1997; Marchant, Paulson, & Rothlisberg, 2001; Steinberg, Lamborn, Dornbusch, & Darling, 1992). Some studies have focused on direct links between parenting and children's goal orientations. For instance, parental autonomy support is reflected in various positive motivational attitudes, such as self-regulation, competence, and adjustment (Grolnick & Ryan, 1989), perceived competence (Grolnick, Ryan, & Deci, 1991), and intrinsic motivation (Ginsberg & Bronstein, 1993). In contrast, over- and undercontrolling parenting are related to the children's external motivational orientation (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Fraleigh, 1987; Grolnick & Ryan, 1989). Associations between parenting behaviors and adolescents' classroom behavior have also been revealed. High parental involvement is linked to adolescents' effective classroom functioning (Bronstein et al., 1996). In contrast, ineffective parental discipline seems to reduce children's academic engagement in the classroom (DeBaryshe, Patterson, & Capaldi, 1993). In sum, the above findings indicate that there are many different means parents can use to stimulate and encourage their children's motivation to succeed, their adaptive behavior in the school and eventually also school success. Although relationships exist between each component in the chain of processes among parenting, goal orientation, classroom behavior,


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and school success, these processes have, to our knowledge, not been studied jointly. The present study purports to bridge this gap by examining these links in a large sample of preuniversity-tracked children in their first year of secondary school. In the present study, we focus on dimensions of parental behavior that regulate and structure children's behavior, namely negative control, positive control, maturity demands, and organization, as recent findings seem to point out that these aspects of parenting might be especially relevant for adolescents' multiple academic outcomes (i.e., motivation, competence, and achievement; Gray & Steinberg, 1999). We expected that negative authoritarian control, and frequent use of punishment would be negatively associated with academic success and would inhibit positive goal orientation and instrumental competence. This kind of strict control is an increasingly developmentally inappropriate way of disciplining adolescents. Adolescents who are exposed to coercive and hostile parenting are more likely to develop external rather than internal motivation (Glasgow et al., 1997) and to show less competent behavior in the classroom (Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1993; Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1997). Instead of restricting adolescent behavior through punishment, parents of welladjusted adolescents tend to use more democratic means of control and allow their adolescents to make their own decisions but at the same time tend to carefully supervise and monitor their child's activities (Baumrind, 1991). Lack of clear rules, consistent discipline, and supervision have been linked to lower academic performance (DeBaryshe et al., 1993; Ginsberg & Bronstein, 1993; Rathunde, 1996), as well as school motivation (Jodl, Malanchuk, Eccles, & Sameroff, 2001; Marchant et al., 2001) and behavioral competence in the classroom (Aunola, Stattin, & Nurmi, 2000). Therefore, we expected that more positive ways of providing guidance would be associated with increased levels of academic and social goal orientation and academic success. As adolescents become older, providing behavioral guidelines remains an important concern but gradually becomes secondary to allowing and encouraging adolescents' independence. We expected that children who are stimulated by their parents to show maturity and responsible behavior would be more motivated in school, show more adequate classroom behavior, and have higher grades than adolescents who grow up in families with low maturity demands. And finally, the way in which parents organize their home environment was also expected to relate to adolescents' performance at school. A path model depicting the processes by which parenting practices are related to early adolescents' goal orientations, classroom behavior, and school success is displayed in Fig. 1. We expected that parenting would directly affect children's individual characteristics (goal orientation and behavior) and adolescents' achievement in the first year of secondary school. In addition, we expected part of ``parenting effects'' upon school success to be indirect, mediated by children's goal orientations and classroom behavior. In other words, we expected that the way in which parents offer guidance and structure within the home environment would affect the kind of goals that children try to achieve, which in turn affect the way in which children behave in the classroom towards teachers and fellow students, and thus also children's school success. Gender differences in all of the assessed constructs in this study seem to be well established. Several studies show that parents react differently to boys and girls, with boys

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Fig. 1. Path model depicting hypothesized relationships among parenting, goal orientations, classroom behavior, and GPA.

being allowed more freedom and autonomy but also receiving more punishment (Baumrind, 1991; Dornbusch & Wood, 1989). In addition, girls show different social behavioral patterns than boys (Bergman & Scott, 2001; Lewin, Davis, & Hops, 1999). Furthermore, girls appear to exhibit quantitative and qualitative differences in academic motivational patterns (Pajares & Valiante, 2001; Tocci & Engelhard, 1991). For instance, Hancock, Stock, Kulhavy, and Swindell (1996) showed that girls' study behavior is more planful and deliberate than boys' behavior, whereas boys are more concerned with independent study behavior. Also, girls are generally more successful in school than boys (Dekkers, Bosker, & Driessen, 2000). Though gender differences in the mean level of these constructs seem to exist, the findings do not say much about similarities or dissimilarities between boys and girls in patterns of association between these constructs (Rowe, Vazsonyi, & Flannery, 1994). In other words, examining mean levels does not convey information about the pattern of the relationship between the variables. An identical developmental process may (or may not) occur in both groups. For example, research on adolescent problem behavior consistently indicates that boys show more externalizing problems than girls do (Leadbeater, Kuperminc, Blatt, & Hertzog, 1999; Lewinsohn et al., 1994). The etiology of problem behavior, however, appears to be quite similar for boys and girls in spite of gender differences in the prevalence of these behaviors ´ (Dekovic, Buist, & Reitz, in press; Zahn-Waxler, 1993). In the present study, we explore whether gender differences in school success result from different levels of antecedents (parenting, motivation, and behavior) working through gender-unique developmental processes. Due to the limited research on this issue, it is difficult to formulate any directional hypotheses. It is possible that an identical pattern of associations exists in both groups (Greenberger & Chen, 1996; Rowe et al., 1994). On the other hand, in girls, socialization sensitivity to interpersonal concerns and reliance on social support is emphasized more, whereas emphasis in boys' socialization is mostly on selfreliance and self-assertion. For this reason, it is possible that interpersonal relationships in the family and in school classrooms might bear a stronger link to girls' school success than to boys' school success.


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2. Method 2.1. Participants The participants in the current study were 372 students drawn from 23 classrooms in 4 secondary schools. The 23 classrooms represented the complete population of first-year students. All 4 schools were gymnasia, catering solely to pre-university-tracked students. Three of the schools were located in the city of Amsterdam or vicinity; one school was located in the city of Delft. Students were predominantly from middle- and upper­middleclass families. The four schools consisted of over 30 ethnicities. For the present study, only students of Dutch origin were selected. Approximately 45% were girls (n = 167). Mean age of the students was 13.05 years (SD = 0.44). 2.2. Measures 2.2.1. Parenting dimensions The Parental Dimensions Inventory (PDI) (Power, 1993; Slater & Power, 1987) assessed three dimensions of students' reports of parenting behaviors: parental control, organization, and maturity demands. The PDI is a self-administered parenting instrument originally designed to be filled out by parents. In this study, questions were rephrased in order to obtain children's views of parental control, organization, and maturity demands. Parental control assessed the type and likelihood of punishment a child would receive from their mother (or primary caretaker) upon transgression of rules in six specific situations. The situations were, ``You return home much later than the time you agreed upon,'' ``Your mom finds out that you haven't done your homework,'' ``You talk back to your mother when she tries to forbid you something,'' ``Your mother receives a note that says that you have been disruptive at school,'' ``Your mom catches you lying about something that you were forbidden to do,'' and ``Your mom finds out that you have been truant.'' Respondents were asked to indicate the likelihood (ranging from 1 = highly unlikely to 5 = very likely) of receiving each of the nine possible consequences to the respective transgressions (e.g., spank or hit, talk to the child). For each consequence, averages were calculated across the six situations. Subsequently, a factor analysis was performed across the nine types of consequences (Tabachnik & Fidell, 1996). A varimax rotation of principal component extraction resulted in two factors, accounting for 59.9% of the variance (see Table 1). The first factor, labeled positive control, indicated maternal tendencies to react to transgressions by using inductive strategies, such as reasoning with the child. The second factor, negative control, consisted of maternal behavior characterized by power assertion and punishment. In subsequent analyses, these factor scores were used as indicators of parental positive and negative control. Student's perceptions of parental ability to provide organization in the child's environment were assessed by four items to be answered on a 1 = never to 6 = always scale (see Table 2). Cronbach's alpha for this dimension was .61. Parental maturity demands were assessed by six items (see Table 2). Students were asked to indicate how many assigned chores and

E.H. de Bruyn et al. / Applied Developmental Psychology 24 (2003) 393­412 Table 1 Factor loadings and percent of explained variance on the PDI control items PDI item No consequences Remind child of earlier promises Point out consequences Reason with child Raise voice Withhold privileges Ignore child Send to his/her room Physical punishment Explained variance Note. Only factor loadings > .45 are shown. Factor 1: positive control À .63 .70 .76 .81 .49 .66 .72 .74 .79 20%


Factor 2: negative control


responsibilities they have. Each item is scored on a 0 = none to 3 = three or more scale. Cronbach's alpha for this dimension was .61. 2.2.2. Goal orientation Students' goal orientation was defined in terms of how often students try to achieve social and academic goals (Wentzel, 1993b, 1994). All questions commenced with the phrase ``How often do you try to. . .'' and responses were made on 6-point scale ranging from 1 = rarely to 6 = almost always. Two social goals were assessed, prosocial and compliance. Prosocial goals were assessed by six items measuring the students' tendency to help fellow students and to share with them. Compliance was assessed by seven items measuring the extent to which a student tries to follow classroom rules and keep promises to fellow students. Finally, evaluation was assessed by five items measuring the extent to which a student tries to show off their knowledge and academic skills, also on a scale of 1 = rarely to 6 = almost always (see Table 3). Alpha levels for these scales were .77, .76, and .59 for prosocial, compliance, and evaluation goal pursuit scores, respectively.

Table 2 PDI items Organization 1. We have a regular dinner schedule each week 2. Our house is clean and orderly 3. Our family is organized and ``together'' 4. We get everything done around the house that needs done Maturity Demands 1. Meals (e.g., set table, cook) 2. Housekeeping (e.g., clean room, make bed) 3. Laundry (e.g., wash clothes, iron, fold clothes) 4. Yard work (e.g., mow) 5. Pet care (e.g., feed pet, take pet for walk) 6. Other (e.g., baby sitting)


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Table 3 Goal orientation items Prosocial Goals Scale 1. How often do you try 2. How often do you try 3. How often do you try 4. How often do you try 5. How often do you try 6. How often do you try Compliance Goals Scale 1. How often do you try 2. How often do you try 3. How often do you try 4. How often do you try 5. How often do you try 6. How often do you try 7. How often do you try Evaluation Goals Scale 1. How often do you try 2. How often do you try 3. How often do you try 4. How often do you try 5. How often do you try to to to to to to share what you have learned with your classmates help your classmates solve a problem once you have figured it out be nice to kids when something bad has happened to them help other kids when they have a problem cheer someone up when something has gone wrong help your classmates learn new things

to to to to to to to

think about how your behavior will affect other kids keep promises that you have made to other kids do what your teacher asks you to do be quiet when others are trying to study keep working even when you are tired keep working even when there is a lot of noise keep working even when other kids are goofing off

to to to to to

show your teachers how smart you are learn things only because you want to get a good grade do better than other kids in the class volunteer to make presentations in front of the class volunteer to show your work in front of the class

2.2.3. Teacher ratings of students' behavior To acquire student behavior ratings, mentors filled out the Pupil Behavior Pattern Scale (Friedman, 1994). Mentors were teachers whose specific task was to monitor students' social and academic well-being. Each class had one mentor assigned for at least one full academic year. All teachers agreed that mentors were particularly knowledgeable about students' affairs, and thus the best candidate for assessing students' classroom behaviors. The Pupil Behavior Pattern Scale consists of 27 items to be rated on a 3-point scale (1 = never, 2 = sometimes, or 3 = often). The instrument distinguishes three dimensions, disrespect, attentiveness, and sociability (see Table 4). Disrespect approximates a student's discipline perspective towards teachers, as well as fellow students, in addition to compliance to school and general societal norms. Attentiveness measures the extent to which the student exhibits a willingness and receptiveness to learning. Sociability assesses the informal interpersonal relationship the student has with her teacher. Alpha levels were .89, .72, and .68 for disrespect, attentiveness, and sociability, respectively. School success was defined as the students' GPA, consisting of the average score on Dutch, English, French, Biology, and Mathematics. Dutch schools utilize GPA scores on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The present sample scored an average of 6.80 (SD = 1.00). Alpha level for the combined school subjects was .87.

E.H. de Bruyn et al. / Applied Developmental Psychology 24 (2003) 393­412 Table 4 Pupil behavior pattern items Disrespect Scale 1. I demand silence in class and this student goes on making noise 2. This student interrupts other students 3. This student is derisive of other students 4. This student quarrels with other students 5. This student speaks all the time, which makes a lot of noise 6. This students picks on other students 7. When I reprimand this student when disturbing the class, he/she does not stop interrupting 8. This student answers me back 9. This student does not treat me with respect 10. This student says, ``You pay attention to him/her and ignore me'' 11. This student is glad when other students fail Sociability Scale 1. This student talks to me about what worries him/her and what makes him/her happy 2. This student discusses his/her personal problems with me 3. This student tells me, ``It's fun to come to school'' 4. This student says to me, ``I have missed you'' 5. This student's parents tell me that he/she tells them how much he/she enjoys my classes 6. This student volunteers to clean the classroom, move chairs, and rearrange desks 7. This student volunteers to work in the library 8. This student helps weaker less popular students on his/her own initiative Attentiveness Scale 1. This student shows good command of the material I taught him/her 2. This student works independently on his/her class work and homework 3. This student gives interesting and original answers to my questions in class 4. When I teach, I feel that this student really understands what I am saying 5. This student is cooperative and enthusiastic during my class 6. This student listens to what others have to say 7. This student concentrates and works quietly 8. This student is undifferent and I have to work hard to get him/her interested (Reversed)


2.2.4. Procedure Data were collected during the months of March and April 2001. GPAs were obtained from students' final reports in June 2001. Research assistants in Educational Sciences at the University of Amsterdam administered questionnaires during study periods. Parents were informed about the study through a letter describing the purpose of the study. They were told that participation was under no circumstances obligatory and withdrawal would have no consequences. No parents refused to have their child participate. Students were told that their answers would be confidential and participation was not compulsory. No student refused to participate. Head teachers (n = 23) were required to leave the classroom at this time. Head teachers filled out questionnaires in their spare time.


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3. Results Results are presented in two sections. The first section presents descriptive statistics for boys and girls separately and intercorrelations among all relevant dimensions. The second section presents the result of path analyses of the data. 3.1. Descriptive statistics Table 5 displays means and standard deviations on all of the assessed variables separately for boys and girls, as well as the results of one-way ANOVAs assessing gender differences. As indicated in Table 5, girls were more likely to report that their mothers use positive control strategies than boys. The scores were close to the midpoint for both boys and girls, however, and effect size on mean difference was quite small. Girls also perceived their homes to be better organized than boys and reported receiving more responsibilities and doing more chores than boys, but both means were near the ceiling of three chores. In addition, girls reported higher levels of prosocial goal pursuits than boys did, but boys were equal in compliance and attempt to show their academic proficiency. Mentor reports of girls' classroom behaviors differed from those for boys in all measured aspects. Mentors judged girls to be less disrespectful, more sociable, and more attentive. It must be noted, however, that the gender differences on assessed constructs were quite small as indicated by the effect size. Finally, girls earned a higher GPA on their final report than boys.

Table 5 Gender differences in measures of parenting practices, student goal orientation, student classroom behavior, and GPA Variable Parenting Positive controla Negative controla Organization Maturity demands Goal orientation Prosocial Compliance Evaluation Classroom behavior Disrespect Sociability Attentiveness GPA



Boys M SD 0.93 1.01 0.92 0.53

Girls M 0.32 À 0.29 3.95 2.23 SD 0.90 0.83 0.96 0.52

F value


À 2.43 ­ 2.36 À 2.00 ­ 3.29 1­6 0­3

0.01 À 0.12 4.22 2.03

9.44** 2.96 7.81** 11.27**

0.03 ­ 0.02 0.03

1­6 1­6 1­6

4.44 4.45 3.27

0.91 0.89 0.95

4.85 4.53 3.11

0.73 0.93 0.98

21.13*** 0.71 2.47

0.06 ­ ­

1­3 1­3 1­3 1 ­ 10

1.34 1.31 2.21 6.60

0.36 0.26 0.35 1.01

1.21 1.41 2.33 7.04

0.31 0.27 0.33 0.94

11.62** 12.31** 11.09** 18.71***

0.03 0.04 0.03 0.05

Factor scores. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

E.H. de Bruyn et al. / Applied Developmental Psychology 24 (2003) 393­412

Table 6 Intercorrelations among parenting dimensions, student goal orientation, student classroom behavior, and GPA 1 Parenting 1. Positive control 2. Negative control 3. Organization 4. Maturity demands Goal orientation 5. Prosocial 6. Compliance 7. Evaluation Classroom behavior 8. Disrespect 9. Sociability 10. Attentiveness 11. GPA 2 .02 .02 .24** .15* À .11 À .06 3 .24** .01 .01 4 .18* .25** .13 5 .33*** .01 .26** .16* 6 .34*** .05 .24** .21** 7 .21*** .27** .13 .07 8 À .20** .03 .03 À .01 9 .28*** .06 .12 .06 10 .06 .01 À .05 .09 11 .08 À .12 À .10 À .16*

.11 .23** .12

À .11 À .14 À .07

.05 .17* .07

.21** .10 .07

­ .52*** .28***

.55*** .23**

.34*** .36***

À .20* À .47*** À .17*

.36*** .43*** .17*

.21** .36*** .17*

.16* .15 .11

À .17* .10 .08 .18*

À .10 .02 À .06 À .01

.01 .11 .06 À .06

.02 .29** .10 À .15*

À .25** .20** .05 .03

À .32*** .17* .25** .11

.09 À .02 À .12 À .03

À .33*** À .22** À .40*** À .26** .44*** .01

À .37*** .45*** .37***

À .23** .11 .49***

Results for girls are above the diagonal; results for boys are below the diagonal. *p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.



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The relationships among parenting dimensions, goal pursuits, classroom behavior, and GPA were examined. Table 6 shows that the majority of correlations were in the expected directions. Many of the relationships between parenting reported by girls and girls' self-reported goal orientations were statistically significant but mostly of moderate magnitude. For boys, these relationships reached statistical significance less often. Adolescent-reported positive maternal control was moderately and negatively related to disrespectful behavior in the classroom for both boys and girls and moderately related to sociability for girls only. A few correlations of moderate size were found between parenting measures and final grades. For both boys and girls, a negative relation was found between maturity demands and grades, and (only for boys) it appeared that positive control related directly to higher grades. Many statistically significant correlations were found between child-perceived goal orientation levels and mentor-rated classroom behaviors. Girls who rated themselves high on prosocial, compliance, and evaluation goal orientation levels were rated by the mentor as more respectful, sociable, and attentive in class. For boys, the same pattern emerged, except that they displayed no link between evaluation goal levels and mentor-reported classroom behavior. Finally, several significant associations were found between mentor-rated classroom behavior and GPA. For all adolescents, disrespect towards the mentor and classmates was negatively correlated with final grades. Classroom engagement, on the other hand, was positively related to final grades. 3.2. Testing the model Path analytic techniques were applied in order to test the central hypotheses regarding the relationships among parenting dimensions, students' goals, classroom behavior, and GPA (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1993). LISREL enables one to test the overall fit of the theoretical ¨ ¨ model (presented in Fig. 1) to the data. Path models were derived by estimating path coefficients in a fully saturated model. Path coefficients are equivalent to standardized regression coefficients, enabling the assessment of relative contribution of variables on the outcome of interest. The path diagrams presented here include only the statistically significant path coefficients ( p < .05 or better). Although post hoc modification is possible in LISREL by running the model after deletion of nonsignificant paths, we chose not to do so. In general, data-driven generation of alternative models is discouraged and leads to lower levels of replication (MacCallum, 1986). 3.3. Path model applied to data from male students The model showed a very good fit of the data, v2(8) = 0.40 ( p = .99, i.e., > .05); CFI = 1.00. As Fig. 2 shows, school success was predicted directly by positive maternal discipline strategies. In addition, positive discipline strategies contributed to school success indirectly by affecting students' consideration of others and perseverance (compliance). Compliance, in turn, predicted student's cognitive engagement and intellectual curiosity (attentiveness),

E.H. de Bruyn et al. / Applied Developmental Psychology 24 (2003) 393­412


Fig. 2. Multiple regression model for boys.

which, in turn, predicted school success (GPA). Thus, positive maternal parenting showed direct and indirect effects on GPA. The number of chores and responsibilities assigned to boys (maturity demands) was directly negatively related to school success. In total, the explained variance of GPA was 23%. The focus of these analyses was the prediction of school

Fig. 3. Multiple regression model for girls.


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success, but other significant paths, although not related to school success, are worth noting. Boys' self-reported consideration of others and perseverance (compliance) predicted lower levels of class interruption and peer derision (disrespect). Also, boys' levels of showing their proficiency (evaluation) predicted higher levels of disrespectful classroom behavior and lower levels of classroom engagement. Finally, the number of chores assigned to boys (maturity demands) predicted the level of informal social contacts with the mentor. 3.4. Path model applied to data from female students The model showed a very good fit of the data, v2(6) = 2.86 ( p = .83, i.e., > .05); CFI = 1.00. For girls, maternal behaviors also predicted school success indirectly and directly (see Fig. 3). Indirectly, positive maternal discipline strategies predicted girls' consideration of others and perseverance (compliance). In turn, compliance predicted classroom engagement and intellectual interest (attentiveness). Finally, attentiveness contributed strongly to school success. A direct (negative) path was found between the number of chores assigned and school success (GPA). An additional indirect path from parenting practices on school success was revealed for girls. Compliance (which was predicted by positive control) also predicted the level of informal social contact with the mentor (sociability). In turn, girls who talked about their problems and what worried them (sociability) were less successful at school. The total variance of school success (GPA) explained was 32%.

4. Discussion The main aim of the present study was to test a model that hypothesized that parenting affects adolescent school success by affecting their goal orientation and classroom behavior. An important finding is that boys and girls shared the same pathway from maternal control to school success mediated by the child's goal orientation and cognitive classroom engagement. In particular, maternal disciplinary techniques seem to matter most. Mothers who respond to students' transgressions in a fashion characterized by discussion and reasoning as opposed to punishment appeared to foster in their children positive attitudes towards school, teachers, and classmates. This, in turn, seems to affects boys' and girls' classroom behavior, namely, their engagement in schoolwork and receptiveness to learning. This in turn affected their school grades in beneficial ways. In sum, the main premise of the present study, namely, revealing a chain of associations from parenting to school success, seems to have been established. This finding benefits the understanding of adolescent school functioning in several ways. First, the roles parents play in their children's educational achievements have not yet come to an end after childhood, even in adolescence. A home climate characterized by discussion and democracy appears to foster educational aspirations. This is confirmed by Marjoribanks (1997), for instance, who also noted that family contexts are linked to adolescent educational aspirations, especially for boys. Second, educational practitioners (e.g., mentors) can utilize the finding that adolescent compliance precedes classroom

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behavior. Upon noticing adolescent disengagement, they can perhaps concentrate on investigating student goal orientations. Guidance and support can be meted out more effectively if educators know which mechanisms precede student disengagement. It must be noted that the strongest link in the chain between parenting and school functioning is between academic engagement and school success. The other links, although statistically significant, are modest in size. Although indubitably important to adolescents, positive maternal punishment strategies play only a small part in the etiology of motivational development. It is quite possible that at this age and at this point in adolescents' scholarly career, parental autonomy granting plays a larger role (e.g., Grolnick et al., 1991). Future studies should perhaps make more use of multidimensional assessment of parenting, including measures at the level of ``proximal processes'' (Bronfenbrenner & Ceci, 1994). A puzzling finding is the direct negative link between students' reports of maturity demands and GPA. Maturity demands appear to foster positive levels of prosocial goals and sociability with the mentor (for boys) yet appear to be detrimental to school success (for all students). One explanation focuses on the possible bidirectional explanation of the association between maternal demandingness and students' academic success: mothers become more demanding upon noticing their child's poor school results, or children react negatively to mother's overdemandingness (e.g., Grolnick et al., 1991). An alternative explanation is that too many chores and responsibilities interfere with schoolwork. If so, parents should be made aware of this potentially debilitating factor. Longitudinal studies are necessary to elucidate both hypotheses. We started this investigation by comparing first boys and girls on all of the assessed constructs. Gender differences were small in magnitude but consistent with previous findings. The observed advantage for girls in school success is not unique to the present sample. Indeed, Mau and Lynn (2001) found that even though boys obtain better Scholastic Achievement Test scores and American College Test scores than girls, they receive lower college GPAs than the latter. Therefore, it seems that girls' work ethos appears higher than boys' (Luzzo, 1994; Watson & Stead, 1990). Indeed, Glasgow et al. (1997) also found gender differences in classroom engagement, homework attitudes, educational expectations, and GPA in favor of girls. Although the present study clearly showed similar pathways for girls and boys leading to classroom behavior and school success, girls' classroom behavior was more adaptive than boys'. Perhaps part of the explanation for this gender difference can be found in the relative precipitation of puberty and concomitant responsible behavior (e.g., Petersen & Crockett, 1985). As one mentor commented on the difference between boys' and girls' behavior in the classroom, ``Girls come to study, boys to play Nintendo.'' Interestingly, only one aspect of student classroom behavior directly predicted both boys' and girls' school success, namely, attentiveness. We speculate that attentiveness is a general trait, transferable to other subjects and classroom settings. Students' behavior ratings by multiple teachers could elucidate this hypothesis. The more interpersonal character of sociability and disrespect might explain the lack of association between these two types of behavior and grades. Recall that mentors rated students' behavior on these aspects. It is likely that displays of disrespectful behavior are confined to this particular adult rater. Also,


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sociability denotes the unique informal relationship between the mentor and the student. In fact, for girls, a negative link is found between sociability and grades. We speculate that this denotes a reversed causality. That is, girls who do poorly at school will tend to approach the mentor and discuss their educational problems. Some evidence for this is the positive link between compliance and sociability for girls. Girls who report they are willing to abide to class rules and teacher's demands tend to be on friendlier terms with the mentor. In turn, when in need of educational assistance, they turn towards the mentor. This in itself is a positive finding because a mentor's primary task is to monitor and discuss children's school careers. Some limitations of the present study are in order. First, the present sample consisted of university-tracked students of ethnic Dutch origin only. These students represent only the highest attainable track in the Dutch educational system. In addition, although not measured explicitly, most students were from middle- to upper­middle-class intact families. It remains to be seen if similar associations among parenting, goal orientation, behavior, and success exist with vocational-tracked students from lower-class homes. For instance, it has been shown that an interaction effect exists between parenting and SES (Hill, 2001). Hill (2001) showed that parenting dimensions, such as hostile control, were more detrimental on school readiness in low SES families than high SES families. Also, the model needs to be explored with ethnically diverse samples. For instance, Chao (1994, 1996) has shown that similar parenting dimensions can have different effects on children from different ethnic backgrounds. Second, it should be noted that this study examined concurrent relationships among parenting, students' goal orientation, behavior, and academic success. Reliance on data collected at only one time limits the extent to which causal relationships can be investigated. The model that we tested is intuitively appealing and consistent with prevailing theories, but the reversed direction of effects and alternative explanations need to be considered. It must be pointed out that a good fit of the model indicates that the data are consistent with the hypothesized model. It does not imply that this is the only possible model. For example, our model assumed that positive control affects students' academic success by affecting students' motivation to comply and attentive behavior in the classroom. However, it is by the same token possible that successful students are more ready to comply at home as well, rendering power-assertive parental control techniques superfluous. Finally, in the present study, we selected aspects of parenting that have been identified in previous work as relevant for the assessed individual characteristics (Steinberg, Elmen, & Mounts, 1989; Steinberg et al., 1992). We want to point out, however, that all of the assessed aspects of parenting deal with parenting attempts to control and guide the child. Another important aspect of parenting, parental support (nurturance, warmth, responsiveness; e.g., Maccoby, 2000), has not been measured in the present study. It is possible that those more supportive aspects of parenting are also relevant for the development of adolescents' motivation to succeed in school and for adolescents' sociability, respectfulness, and attentiveness in the classroom. In addition to global dimensions--control and support--future research should more closely examine parenting behavior that is directly relevant for adolescents' school behavior

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and success, such as the degree of parental involvement with the school, parental monitoring of adolescents' school duties, and intellectual stimulation at home. Another topic of an applied nature to be explored in future research is the role of teachers in enhancing students' goal orientation (e.g., Wentzel, 1999). Teachers may impact students' goal orientation in several ways, such as provision of support. As Wentzel (1999) suggests, perhaps the teacher (or mentor) can act as ``caregiver'' in academic situations. This caregiving role can be compensatory or supplementary. Identifying students at risk for dropout for want of academic motivation is the task of the mentor. Helping the child understand the importance and perhaps even joy of schooling, from within the school setting, seems the most fruitful avenue in boosting students' motivational attitudes. Notwithstanding the above limitation, the present study highlights a few processes by which parents might shape their early adolescents' school success. Several studies have shown that parents are less likely to engage in their children's schooling by the time children enter secondary school (Dornbusch & Ritter, 1988; Eccles & Harold, 1996), probably because they respect their children's desire for autonomy or because they believe that they are less equipped to help their children as the school work becomes increasingly complex. This may imply that, by this age, parents may no longer exert a strong, direct influence on their children's academic outcome (Jodl et al., 2001). The present results show that the way in which parents interact with their children at home is still associated with school success at this potentially critical period of development, despite an established history of school performance. Therefore, when searching for explanations about why some adolescents experience academic problems, it might be useful, in addition, to look at the individual student's characteristics, such as motivation and achievement-oriented behavior, to gather information regarding home situation and parental behavior (although adolescents, and possibly some parents, might feel that it is not necessary). Awareness of this information may allow educational professionals to develop better, more effective strategies to enhance early adolescents' school success. Acknowledgements This research was supported by grant 411-21-501 from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. We are grateful for the kind participation of pupils and mentors from Amstel Lyceum, Pieter Nieuwland College, S.G. Reigersbos, and Stanislas College. We would also like to thank Ann McGillicuddy-De Lisi and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. References

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