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Do Parents' Disciplines Influence Their Children's Academic Achievement?

Student Teacher    30 | -   Freelance Writer
Jul 29, 2017 | #1

Most of us like to believe that our accomplishments are entirely our own. "I worked for everything I have!" might be true, but we often ignore the platform that was built under us and from which our climb began. That work is done by our parents, families, and culture, and it determines a great deal about how far the work we do will get us. Others are working, too, but we do not all end up at the same place, just like marathoners do not all finish the race at the same time nor in the order of who worked hardest to least hard. This research will attempt to look at how detailed one aspect of parental influence can be in children's lives. In order to do that, this research will look at academic achievement differences between the children of people with degrees in technical and hard science disciplines, and the children of people with education degrees.

A number of factors are well-established correlates to academic performance. The wealth and the education level of a child's parents are high on this list of presumably determinative characteristics. Few reasonable researchers would deny this, though there may be reasonable conflicts in precisely what is predictive and what is correlated. Much of the research regarding children's academic is based on finding out what went "wrong" with "worst" performers and what went "right" with the "best" performers. These researchers are no less subject to the whims and trends of the times than anyone else in the culture is. A conflation of morality and performance, specifically parent morality and child performance, is all too common. However, telling people that if they want their children to do well they should consider being wealthy and living in a nice neighborhood with good schools is not particularly useful. This study will make an attempt to investigate differences in childhood performance between the children of parents with degrees in education and the children of parents with degree in technical and hard sciences in attempt to see if proximity to pedagogical skill yields different literacy result than proximity to technical skills.

Literature review

Academic AchievementBoxer, Dubow, and Huesmann looked at the long term effects of parents' education on their children's "educational and occupational success". They point to the established nature of the relationship between parental wealth and education in children's educational and behavioral outcomes, indicating they accept it as predictive and ignoring critiques about the well-documented cultural biases in testing procedures. They also examine the research that indicated that controlling for income; maternal education was the strongest predictor of children's outcomes. It is no surprise that their own findings jibed with established research and found that well into middle age, the correlation between parental socio-economic class was the greatest predictive of socio-economic class in adult children. Davis-Kean and Sexton explored the often supported research finding that within an economic class, maternal education was the greatest predictor of children's educational achievement finding that the result was a measurable correlation in the third grade.

Davis-Kean and Sexton also reiterate findings that parental education level may be more predictive than income. This may be indicative that socio-economic class is more predictive than wealth as a predictor. This could be a significant confounding aspect in the proposed study. It will be necessary to examine and, where possible, control for class differences that may be present between those with education degrees and those with technical or scientific degrees. Further, existing research, like that described above, also makes it important to control for which parent holds which type of degree, for children with two opposite sex parents.

Arnold, Doctoroff, Ortiz, and Zeljo researched the correlation between parental involvements in preschool and found it to be positively associated with literacy development in children. This same finding has been the result of much previous research and can be correlated with class, as well, because parents with more financial security and middle and upper class jobs have more free time and/ or scheduling flexibility that make direct involvement in preschool easier. However, one of the things that this study hopes to do is compare equally educated parents in different fields. By comparing equally educated parents with different backgrounds, it may be possible to discover something about the relationship or differences between parental pedagogical knowledge versus technical knowledge in relationship to early literacy.

In addition to the groups already described, parental education levels have been correlated with their children's achievement in studies of children with attention deficit disorder, children in rural environments, and in first year college students and in places as far away as Australia and Pakistan. What this research hopes to add to the existing information on the subject is whether the content of a parent's education has a meaningful impact on child literacy, or whether merely being a member of an upper class group is main influencing factor.


Using a correlational research design, this study will attempt to determine if the nature of a parent's education is a meaningful factor in the literacy of young children. This study will examine the parents of third grade students from local grade schools. Because child subjects are often obtain and getting responses from parents is expected to be difficult, attempts will be made simultaneously at several schools and in several classrooms. The goal will be develop a set of at least 15 children and their parents from whom to obtain data, however 25 would be preferable.

The study will collect the grades from this school year's completed term or terms, in any reading, spelling, and writing classes. Biographical data on the age, sex, and racial identity of each student volunteer will be taken. Parents will be asked to complete a survey on their level of education, associate's degree through PhD, whether the degree is an arts or sciences degree, along with the subject area for their respective degree. For example, someone may have a bachelor of science in biology, but a master of arts in education, which would be relevant to the study. The age, rage, and sex of each responding parent will also be included in their biographical information. Further, each participating parent will be asked to answer corresponding questions about any co-parent who has either at least partial physical custody of the child, or any non-legal guardian or co-parent who lives with the child. Inquiries into co-parents or adult guardians will be limited to one additional adult for the sake of simplicity. Inquiries will be made via phone to local schools with third grade classes. Follow up with third grade teachers will then proceed. Children will be sent home with letters of inquiry. Parents who agree to the study will be interviewed in a variety of ways, primarily through questionnaires sent to their homes. Questionnaires will include a number at which the researcher can be reached to answer questions or provide support in the completion of the study.

Once the data is collected, comparisons will be made regarding the children's average grade in their literacy related classes and their parents' subject area. In addition to general observations, if possible the study will look for changes in degree of correlation depending on the sex of the parent who has a particular degree. Given the consistency of outcomes in previous research, maternal education will be probably be more predictive than paternal education, in literacy outcomes.

Confounding effects are a threat to internal validity, for that reason, this research will do no more than attempt to discern a correlation of an excess of factors for which there is no control. Selection bias is also an issue, as the study relies on volunteers. The small sample size will greatly limit external validity.

Using the Pearson test is common among educational research of this type as are multivariate analyses of variance also known as MANOVA. These two statistical analyses, and/ or perhaps ANOVA, will be adequate to analyzing the collected data.


Arnold, D.H., Doctoroff, G.L., Ortiz, C. and Zeljo, A. Parent involvement in preschool: Predictor and the relation of involvement to preliteracy development. School Psychology Review. 37.1.

Boxer, P, Dubow, E.F., and Huesmann, L.R. Long-term effects of parents' education on children's educational and occupation success: Mediation by family intermations, child aggression, and teenage aspirations. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. 55.3.

Buckingham, J., Wheldall, K. and Beaman-Wheldall, R. Why poor children are more likely to become poor readers: The school years. Australian Journal of Education. 57.3.

Davis-Kean, P.E. and Sexton, H.R. Race difference in parental influences on child achievement: Multiple pathways to success. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. 55.3

DuPaul, G., Kern, L., Volpe, R., Caskie, G.I.L., Sokol, N., and Arbolino, L. Comparison of parent education and functional assessment-based intervention across 24 months for young children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review. 42.1.

Hindman, A.H. and Morrison, F.J. Differential contribution of three parenting dimensions to preschool literacy and social skill in a middle-income sample. Merrill-Palmer. 58.2.

Lemery-Chalfant, K., Swanson, J. and Valiente, C. Predicting academic achievement from cumulative home risk: The mediating roles of effortful control, academic relationships, and school avoidance. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. 58.3.

Sanavi, F.S., Baghbanian, A., Shovey, M.F., and Ansari-Moghaddam, A. A study on family communication pattern and parenting styles with quality of life in adolescent. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. 63.11.

Schmitt-Wilson, S. Social class and expectation of rural adolescents: The role of parental expectations. Career Development Quarterly. 61.3.

Wintre, M.G., Dilouya, B., Pancer, S.M., Pratt, M.W., Birnie-Lefcovitch, S., and Polivy, J. Academic achievement in first-year university: Who maintains their high school average? Higher Education. 62.4.

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