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Scholars Day: April 15, 2009

Parental Modernity and Academic Outcomes in Caucasian and African American Children

The achievement gap between African American and Caucasian children is an area of significant policy concern. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of parental childrearing beliefs on children’s academic outcomes and to examine the differential impact of these beliefs across African American and Caucasian contexts. A growing body of research has demonstrated that parental beliefs about childrearing and education contribute to the development of children’s academic competencies. This study utilized longitudinal models to more clearly delineate the nature of the associations between beliefs and academic outcomes. It also examined the differential manifestation of parental beliefs across ethnic groups. A sample of 115 African American and 827 Caucasian mother-child dyads from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development was examined. The results demonstrated that traditional authoritarian parenting was uniquely associated with lower scores on measures of academic achievement, even after controlling for family income and maternal education. More importantly, the results of this study demonstrated that there is a disparate impact of traditional parenting on African American children. This study therefore suggests that intervention efforts targeted at changing traditional parenting beliefs is an area that may contribute to improved children’s school performance for all children and particularly for African American children.

Presenter: Rebecca Morrissey (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Psychology
Location: 12 Hartwell
Time: 1:15 pm (Session III)