The Role of Parent-Oriented Motivation, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

The researchers who wrote this article were endeavoring to understand what motivates children to do well in school, and to explore the relationship between parental involvement in the lives of their children where school and schoolwork are concerned. The research attempted to examine the way that parent-oriented motivation, as a form of external control, interacted and affected student’s own motivation within the context of self-determination theory. In short, the study sought to determine the ways that students were motivated by a desire to receive approval from their parents, and how this was balanced with student’s own motivation.

The study discussed in this article focused on two groups of students; one group consisted of students in the city of Chicago in the U.S., while the other consisted of a group of students in the suburbs of Beijing, China. The U.S. group included 374 children between the ages of 12 and 13; half of the group were boys and the other half were girls. The Chinese group included a total of 451 students; 24o of them were boys and 211 were girls. The participants were tracked from the time they entered the 7th grade until the time that they completed the eighth grade. The study participants were given a series of questionnaires four times, in the fall and spring of 7th grade and in the fall and spring of 8th grade.

One of the primary concerns of the researchers was the assurance of conformity and coherence between the two groups; with that in mind, the questionnaires were carefully crafted and translated to assure that the questions were as similar as possible for the participating groups of U.S. and Chinese students. The researchers focused on various aspects of student motivation and parental participation, and participants were asked to respond to statements such as “my parents help me with homework when asked” and “I try to do well because I want my parents’ approval.”

Of primary concern to the researchers was the effort to understand the nature of parent-oriented motivation, and to determine if this type of motivation differed significantly from other forms of motivation (such as intrinsic motivation). The results showed that parent-oriented motivation was in fact distinctly different from other forms of school-related motivation. Looking deeper, the researchers examined whether students experienced parent-oriented motivation as controlled or autonomous, and found that the participants did perceive it as controlled motivation; an adjunct to this conclusion was that positive associations with parent-oriented motivation fed and supported the students’ sense of autonomous motivation.

The researchers also sought to understand how parent-oriented motivation supported self-regulated motivation, and to determine the nature of any such relationship. The extent to which students are motivated to do well in school because of outside influences –such as fear of punishment or to gain approval- as opposed to the extent to which they strive to succeed for intrinsic reasons was at the heart of the study; the answers to such questions can help to guide future research and shape academic policy. Further, a positive role for parent-oriented motivation appears to have a temporal effect, as children may place a greater emphasis on such external motivations in earlier years, while gradually internalizing these motivations, and making them their own over time.

The concluding section of the article did point out some of the study’s limitations; most notably was the emphasis and reliance on student’s reports about parental involvement. The researchers noted that reports about such involvement as reported by students often varies widely from that reported by teachers or parents when drawing comparisons between and among studies that examine similar questions. There are a variety of reasons that may explain such discrepancies, such as different social and sociological concerns among different age and demographic groups. The implications of this study make it clear that parental involvement in the activities of school children has an overall positive impact on success, and appears to have a positive effect o the development of a firm motivational context for students. Future research in this area might seek to more closely examine the discrepancies and differences in resported motivation among students, teachers, and parents to better understand the forms and types of parental involvement that best serve the needs of students.

Reference

Cheung, Cecilia Sin-Sze; Pomerantz, Eva M. Why Does Parents’ Involvement Enhance Children’s Achievement? The Role of Parent-Oriented Motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology. 104(3). 2012. pp820-832.

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