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  • 标题:Family context variables and the development of self-regulation in college students.
  • 作者:Strage, Amy A.
  • 期刊名称:Adolescence
  • 印刷版ISSN:0001-8449
  • 出版年度:1998
  • 期号:March
  • 语种:English
  • 出版社:Libra Publishers, Inc.
  • 关键词:Attachment (Psychology);Attachment behavior;College students;Note taking;Note-taking;Self confidence;Self control;Self-confidence;Self-control

Family context variables and the development of self-regulation in college students.


Strage, Amy A.


The ability to make a successful transition to and through college is one of the most important challenges faced by adolescents and young adults. Researchers have clearly demonstrated the significance of self-regulation skills in such academic contexts. Collectively, they paint the self-regulating learner as someone who is metacognitively sophisticated, who can assess the requirements of the learning task at hand, and who can identify and deploy the appropriate learning strategies; the self-regulating learner is someone who is able to make appropriate attributions for success and failure, and who readily accepts responsibility for his or her own learning (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Pressley & Ghatala, 1990; Rohwer & Thomas, 1989; Schunk, 1989; Thomas & Rohwer, 1993; Weinstein, Zimmerman, & Palmer, 1988; Zimmerman, 1990). But while studies have begun to specify how features of students' immediate learning environments affect the development and use of self-regulation skills, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of the family context in fostering or impeding the development of these skills. Studies that have addressed this topic for elementary school age children have found that parental support for autonomy is positively related to children's self-reports of autonomous self-regulation (Grolnick & Ryan, 1989), and that these parenting practices are predictive of children's adoption of an intrinsic academic achievement motivational orientation (Ginsburg & Bronstein, 1993).

This paper has two goals: (1) to propose a conceptual framework for examining the relationship between family context variables and the development of self-regulation skills, and (2) to present some initial findings from a study of the parental practices and values associated with academic self-regulation in college students.

Framework

The conceptual framework proposed here integrates two theoretical approaches to understanding the influence of parenting on children's development. First, it draws on the work of attachment theorists (e.g., Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1982; Bretherton, 1985; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985), who have shown that particular patterns of parent-child interaction (varieties of secure attachment relationships) permit the child to develop self-efficacy, self-confidence, and a veridical sense of self, while others (insecure-avoidant and insecure-ambivalent patterns of parent-child attachment relationships) lead the child to be relatively dependent, to lack self-confidence, and to have inappropriately positive or negative self-evaluations. Not surprisingly, attachment theorists suggest that the nature of children's relationships with their attachment figures (parents, other primary caregivers) shapes many aspects of their social-emotional and intellectual development (see, for example, the report in Bretherton & Waters, 1985). Children who have secure attachment relationships with their parents are rated as better adjusted, more self-confident, more willing to explore their surroundings, and more socially and cognitively competent throughout early childhood than are children with insecure attachment relationships (Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1971; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bretherton & Waters, 1985; Cassidy & Berlin, 1994; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985). A growing body of research also documents long-term effects of the quality of early attachment relationships, lasting into adolescence and adulthood (Kobak, 1991; Kobak & Sceery, 1988; Hesse & Van Ijzendoorn, 1991; Pearson, 1991).

Second, the framework developed in this study also draws on the work of researchers investigating the effects of parenting style. Baumrind (1967, 1973) has identified three major styles of parenting, which she has linked to a range of developmental outcomes. The first style, authoritative parenting, seems best for equipping students to meet the challenges of academic contexts, in that it is associated with the development of instrumental competence in preschoolers and elementary school children (Baumrind, 1973) and in adolescents (Baumrind, 1991). The other two parenting styles, authoritarian and permissive, appear to fail to enable children to develop a range of self-directing, self-monitoring, and self-regulatory abilities undergirding success in academic contexts. Children raised in homes where parents adopt an authoritative parenting style (high but reasonable maturity demands, good communication, and mutual respect) succeed best in school throughout childhood and adolescence. Parents whose style is more authoritarian (strict, unyielding, leaving no room for explanation or negotiation, emotionally less open) have children who do less well in school (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Fraleigh, 1987; Steinberg, Elmen, & Mounts, 1989; Steinberg, Lamborn, Darling, Mounts, & Dornbusch, 1994; Steinberg, Lamborn Dornbusch, & Darling, 1992).

Using survey data from college students, this study sought to test a series of specific hypotheses about the relationships between (1) aspects of students' self-concept, (2) their childhood family background, (3) their perceptions of their college courses, and (4) their study habits. More specifically, following Baumrind's model, it was predicted that students who rated their parents as more authoritative and less authoritarian would rate themselves as more confident and goal directed and see their academic environment in a more positive light than would students who rated their parents as less authoritative and more authoritarian. Similarly, following Ainsworth's model, it was predicted that students who rated their families as emotionally close would feel more positive about themselves and see their academic environment in a more positive light than would students who rated their families as unsupportive, critical, or enmeshed and worrying.

METHOD

Subjects

A sample of 465 college students participated in this research. Fortyfive percent of the participants were male and 55% were female; 8% were African-American, 28% were Asian-American, 8% were Hispanic, and 56% were White; 67% of the respondents were freshmen and 33% were upperclass students; 52% of the students lived with their parents, while 48% lived on their own, in the dorms, or with roommates. These demographics reflect the fact that the university where these students were enrolled is a "commuter" institution, serving a culturally diverse population, in an expensive metropolitan location.

Procedure

Information about the students and their family background was obtained by means of a self-report questionnaire, the Student Attitudes and Perceptions Survey. All 465 participants completed the survey during one session of their psychology class.

Instrument

The Student Attitudes and Perceptions Survey is a 4-part questionnaire, consisting of 104 Likert-type items rated on a 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). The first part contains items about students' personal profile. The second part contains items concerning students' family background. The third part contains items about students' perceptions of their course. The fourth part contains questions about their study habits. In developing this instrument, items were selected to correspond with various dimensions of self-concept, family background, and academic attitudes and behaviors discussed in the literature. Responses of a pilot sample of 196 college students were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis. The factor structure described below emerged. The responses of the sample of 465 students were similarly subjected to an exploratory factor analysis to confirm this factor structure. The two factor structures were virtually identical. (Scale items are included in the Appendix.)

The items concerning students' personal profile yielded four scales: (1) general confidence and positive sense of self, (2) positively goal-oriented at school, (3) general concern about preparation for the future, and (4) positive adjustment to college. The items concerning students' family relationships as children yielded seven scales: (1) authoritative mother, (2) authoritative father, (3) emotionally close and supportive family, (4) authoritarian mother, (5) authoritarian father, (6) worrying and enmeshed family, and (7) nagging and critical parents. The items concerning students' perceptions of the course in which they completed the survey yielded two scales: (1) difficulty of the course and (2) interestingness and supportiveness of the course. The items about students' study habits yielded two scales: (1) diligent time and effort management and (2)judicious note-taking.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

A series of correlational analyses examined the relationship between students' reports of their relationships with parents and their perceptions of various aspects of their academic environment and study habits. Analyses run separately for students living with their parents and students living on their own or with roommates revealed essentially identical patterns of results, although the magnitude of the correlations was attenuated in some cases. In the interest of brevity, therefore, only the results for the entire sample are reported here.

As indicated in Table 1, perceptions of mother and father as authoritative and of family as emotionally close were predictive of (1) general confidence and positive sense of self (r = .311, p [less than] .001; r = .301, p [less than] .001; and r = .380, p [less than] .001, respectively), (2) positive goal orientation at school (r = .356, p [less than] .001; r = .316, p [less than] .001; and r = .396, p [less than] .001, respectively), (3) general concern about preparation for the future (r = .292, p [less than] .001; r = .194, p [less than] .001; and r = .312, p [less than] .001, respectively), and (4) positive adjustment to college (r = .450, p [less than] .001; r = .389, p [less than] .001; and r = .474, p [less than] .001, respectively). These family profiles were also predictive of (1) students' rating their introductory psychology course as interesting and supportive (r = .292, p [less than] .001; r = .253, p [less than] .001; and r = .275, p [less than] .001, respectively), (2) favorable ratings of their general time and effort management abilities (r = .081, p [less than] .10; r = .097, p [less than] .05; and r = .157, p [less than] .01, respectively) and note-taking skills (r = .102, p [less than] .05; r = .107, p [less than] .05; and r = .140, p [less than] .05, respectively), and (3) strong agreement with a series of items reflecting components of self-regulated learning (rs ranging from .140 to .383).

As shown in Table 2, perceptions of mother and father as authoritarian and of family as nagging and enmeshed were predictive of concern about preparation for the future (r = .151, p [less than] .01; r = .119, p [less than] .05; r = .194, p [less than] .001; and r = .296, p [less than] .001, respectively). These family profiles were generally predictive of students' rating their introductory psychology course as difficult (r = .090, p [less than] .10; r = .134, p [less than] .01; r = .221, p [less than] .001; and r = .149, p [less than] .01, respectively).

One possibility was that the advantage students with authoritative parents and emotionally close families appeared to have was due to [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 1 OMITTED] greater levels of self-confidence that such family background might have fostered. In order to address this potential confound, a series of stepwise multiple regressions was performed. These analyses confirmed that the patterns linking family background profiles with course perceptions, study habits, and individual indices of self-regulated learning persisted even when students' sense of confidence was factored out. The results of these analyses are presented in Table 3. Authoritative mother, authoritative father, and emotionally close family continued to be predictive of students' having clear personal and professional goals (t = 2.764, p = .006; t = 3.434, p = .0007; and t = 3.614, p = .0003, respectively). [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 2 OMITTED] Similarly, authoritative mother, authoritative father, and emotionally close family continued to be predictive of students' feeling in control of their academic lives (t = 4.269, p [less than] .0001; t = 5.515, p [less than] .0001; and t = 5.677,p [less than] .0001, respectively). In contrast, authoritarian mother and authoritarian father continued to be predictive of students' perceived lack of control over their academic lives (t = 2.249, p = .025; and t = 1.972, p = .0492, respectively). All four scales reflecting authoritarian mother, authoritarian father, nagging parents, and worrying/enmeshed family dynamics continued to be predictive of perceiving the course as difficult (t = 1.887, p = .0599; t = 3.116, p = .002; t = 5.124, p = .0001; and t = 3.362, p = .0008, respectively).

[TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 3 OMITTED]

The family background scales that had been correlated with students' perceptions of the course as interesting and supportive continued to be significant (authoritative mother: t = 3.897, p [less than] .0001; authoritative father: t = 4.767, p [less than] .0001; and emotionally close family: t = 4.033, p [less than] .0001).

Both family background scales associated with time and effort management difficulties approached significance as predictors of such difficulties once the variance associated with students' general sense of confidence had been taken into account (authoritarian father: t = 1.890, p = .0593; and worrying/enmeshed family: t = 1.896; p = .0586). Similarly, worrying/enmeshed family continued to be predictive of difficulties in judicious note-taking (t = 2.129, p = .0338).

Caution is advised when interpreting correlational data such as these, and also when interpreting data collected through subjects' self-reports. However, the picture that emerges from these analyses is quite consistent. The results support the conclusion that family background - more specifically the quality of the relationships with parents - is indeed predictive of a number of aspects of college students' attitudes and behaviors relating to self-regulated learning. Students who are the most skilled at setting attainable goals and monitoring and maintaining their progress toward those goals describe relationships with their parents that fit the "secure" and "authoritative" profiles, while students who seem least able to do so come from what can be described as more ego-enmeshed "insecure-ambivalent" families, with relatively "authoritarian" parenting styles. The authoritative-emotionally close constellation is associated with having both a positive general outlook (such as having clear personal and career goals and feeling in control of one's destiny) and, more specifically, a positive academic disposition (such as feeling confident in one's ability to manage time and to master more difficult material).

These findings, then, extend the literature that has linked authoritative parenting to positive academic outcomes for young children and adolescents (cf. the work of Dornbusch, Steinberg, and their colleagues). More specifically, the data suggest a continuing and relatively pervasive influence of parents' attitudes and behaviors, which continues to manifest itself even in the absence of daily or even regular contact - many of the students participating in this study had not lived with their parents for a number of years. Such findings are consistent with attachment theories, such as those proposed by Bowlby (1982) and Main, Kaplan, and Cassidy (1985), which contend that children's early experiences with their parents become internalized as cognitive representations. These shape children's perceptions of themselves and serve as templates for subsequent interpersonal relationships, and govern their perceptions in a broad range of situations over the entire course of their lives.

Finally, the literature presents conflicting evidence about whether students' academic self-concept declines (Baird, 1969), improves (Astin, 1982; Pascarella, 1985a, 1985b), or remains relatively unchanged (Bassis, 1977) over the course of their undergraduate studies. Findings such as those reported here lead to speculation that variance in students' responses to college might be attributable to the patterns of parent-child relationships they experienced. At present, an investigation is being undertaken into the specific college experiences that might serve to help students overcome a legacy of authoritarian and insecure parenting.

Appendix

Student Attitudes and Perceptions Survey: Scale Items

Personal Profile Scales

Scale 1: General confidence and positive sense of self

I feel confident in my ability to complete college.

My confidence in my abilities has increased since I started college.

My confidence in my abilities has decreased since I started college (inverted).

Scale 2: Positively goal-oriented at school

I am happy with my choice of major.

I have clear personal and career goals.

I find it easy to stay motivated and work hard at school.

Scale 3: General concern about preparation for the future

The thought of graduating and being done with college makes me anxious.

A college degree is an important step toward my future success.

Grades are important to me.

Grades are important to others who will judge me (e.g., employers).

Scale 4: Positive adjustment to college

I feel in control of my life and my future.

I feel comfortable with other students at college.

I feel rapport with my instructors at college.

Schoolwork is easy for me.

Family Background Scales

Scale 1: Authoritative mother

As I was growing up, my mother scared me (inverted).

As I was growing up, my mother was supportive if I was having problems.

As I was growing up, my mother was overbearing and intrusive (inverted).

As I was growing up, my mother was critical of me and my decisions (inverted).

As I was growing up, my mother explained things to me patiently.

As I was growing up, my mother made me feel smart.

As I was growing up, my mother made me feel stupid (inverted).

As I was growing up, my mother ignored me (inverted).

AS I was growing up, my mother was proud of me.

AS I was growing up, my mother encouraged me to be independent.

Scale 2: Authoritative father

As I was growing up, my father scared me (inverted).

As I was growing up, my father was supportive if I was having problems.

As I was growing up, my father explained things to me patiently.

As I was growing up, my father made me feel smart.

As I was growing up, my father made me feel stupid (inverted).

As I was growing up, my father ignored me (inverted).

As I was growing up, my father attached great important to school.

As I was growing up, my father was proud of me.

As I was growing up, my father encouraged me to be independent.

Scale 3: Emotionally close and supportive family

My family is close emotionally.

I see my parents as successful.

I see my parents as happy.

I admire my parents.

My parents don't have any idea about what's important to me (inverted).

My parents are proud of me.

I think I can live up to my parents' expectations of me.

Scale 4: Authoritarian mother

As I was growing up, my mother made high demands of me.

As I was growing up, my mother expected me to follow orders.

As I was growing up, my mother was very strict.

As I was growing up, my mother scared me.

As I was growing up, my mother told me what to do.

As I was growing up, my mother demanded respect.

Scale 5: Authoritarian father

As I was growing up, my father made high demands of me.

As I was growing up, my father expected me to follow orders.

As I was growing up, my father was very strict.

As I was growing up, my father scared me.

As I was growing up, my father was overbearing and intrusive.

As I was growing up, my father told me what to do.

As I was growing up, my father made me feel stupid.

As I was growing up, my father attached great importance to school.

As I was growing up, my father demanded respect.

Scale 6: Worrying and enmeshed family

I worry about by parents.

My parents worry about me.

My parents need my help.

I worry I will disappoint my parents.

Scale 7: Nagging and critical parents

My parents expect me to graduate.

My parents are critical of my failures.

As I was growing up, my father was critical of me and my decisions.

As I was growing up, my mother was critical of me and my decisions.

As I was growing up, my mother attached great importance to school.

Course Perceptions

Scale 1: Difficulty of course

It is hard to keep up with the amount of reading for this course.

The exam questions for this course require knowledge of many details.

The exam questions for this course require knowledge of many new concepts.

The exam questions for this course require the ability to integrate ideas.

The exam questions for this course require the ability to apply concepts to new situations.

Scale 2: Interestingness and supportiveness of course

The instructor usually presents material in class at a rate that makes it easy to keep up.

I see many connections between the material in this course and the "real world."

The material covered in class is interesting.

The atmosphere in class is relaxed and friendly.

The instructor helps students to think about relationships among topics covered in class.

The instructor organizes and presents topics in a way that is easy to follow.

Study Habits

Scale 1: Diligent time and effort management

In a typical week, how much time do you spend studying for this course?

In a typical week, how much time do you spend studying in total, for all of your courses?

Do you feel comfortable about your ability to organize your time and get things done on time?

To study for this class, I make up flash cards or other study aids.

Scale 2: Judicious note-taking

When I take notes in this class, I try to focus on what I think will be on the exam.

When I take notes in this class, I try to focus on what I think is difficult to understand.

This research was supported by a Faculty Development Award from San Jose State University. Parts of this research were presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Atlanta, Georgia, April 1993. The author wishes to thank Lisa Leonard for her assistance in data collection.

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