Parental involvement and children's academics: The roles of autonomy support and parents’ motivation for involvement

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Parents’ level of involvement in their children's schooling is related to children's academic success, yet few studies have considered how parents implement academic involvement activities. Specifically, parents can implement involvement behaviors in an autonomy supportive or controlling manner. While there is evidence that parents’ general autonomy supportive versus controlling style is associated with children's motivation and achievement, few studies have examined how autonomy supportive versus controlling parents are in enacting different types of academic involvement activities. It is also important to understand why parents become involved, as this may be linked to whether parents enact involvement activities in an autonomy supportive or controlling manner. The current study examined relations among parents’ motivation to be involved, parents’ autonomy supportive (vs. controlling) implementation of three types of academic involvement (personal, home, cognitive), and children's academic motivation, achievement, and school worry. Participants were 145 fourth through sixth grade children and their parents. When parents got involved for controlled reasons, they displayed less autonomy supportive home and personal involvement. The three types of autonomy supportive involvement could be measured separately, but were highly correlated and examined as a higher-order construct of autonomy supportive involvement. A mediation model supported the hypotheses that the more parents reported controlled motivation for involvement, the less they enacted autonomy supportive involvement. In turn, more autonomy supportive involvement was associated with children's lower school worry and higher perceived competence, autonomous motivation, and grades. Findings emphasize the importance of how and why parents get involved in children's schooling.

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Contemporary Educational Psychology

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