Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

The Influences of Parental Educational Expectations and Parenting Practices on Children

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
University of Auckland
Lead Researcher:
Elizaveta Zhuravleva; Kane Meissel; Elizabeth Peterson; Polly Atatoa-Carr; Sarah-Jane Paine
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Psych and Cog
Secondary Classification:

Western literature has repeatedly found a link between high parental academic expectations and the child’s own academic expectations, sense of competency and academic performance (Benner and Mistry, 2007). For example, a study of Australian parents' expectations, attitudes towards the school environment, encouragement and interest in their child’s education found that parents' expectations for children's educational level was the strongest predictor of high achievement followed by the length of time those expectations had been held. Ma (2001) study on participation in advanced mathematics found that controlling for students' prior achievement and attitude towards mathematics, that parental expectations about whether their child would go to university had more effect on students continuing to study mathematics than either teachers or peer expectations.

Parent academic expectations for their child are argued to influence their child both directly through the interactions with their children and indirectly through parental beliefs and perceived efficacy in providing academic support to their children (Wentzel, 1998). However, to date most of the research on parental expectations has been conducted cross sectionally and few have used large and diverse samples.

In this study we want to explore the education beliefs, expectations and practices of New Zealand parents and whether they have a role in shaping NZ's children’s academic expectations, academic self competence, and school liking.

In proposing this research question we note that there is a body of literature that often frames parenting beliefs and practices (particularly in minority or low SES communities) as the primary reason for their children's lack of educational success (Dickens, 2005; Fryer and Levitt, 2004; Slaughter and Epps, 1987). Preliminary analysis suggests that the present study will be able challenge this stereotype, by highlighting the high aspirations and wide range of educational practices NZ parents endorse. We welcome suggestions and collaborators interested in working with us in this space.