Relationships of Parenting Practices, Independent Learning, Achievement, and Family Structure

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Virginia Tech

An independent learner is one who actively takes responsibility for his or her own acquisition of knowledge, skills, and expertise. The capacity to self-regulate one's own learning is a necessity for success in higher education. Researchers have found that characteristics of independent learners begin to emerge in young children and continue to develop throughout childhood and adolescence as students grow into self-governing adults.

The purpose of this study is to assess students' levels of independent learning attitudes and behaviors and to examine the relationships among parents' actions, family structure, independent learning, and academic achievement. Using a national sample of 10th grade students from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, several statistical analyses were performed in order to answer these research questions:

  1. How do parents' actions relate to children's independent learning characteristics?
  2. How do students' independent learning behaviors and attitudes correlate with their academic achievement?
  3. How are parents' actions associated with their children's academic achievement?
  4. Are single-parent children less likely to have developed characteristics of independent learning by grade 10 than children living with both of their parents?

Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to arrange the available variables into appropriate subscales to be used in the statistical procedures for this study. Canonical correlations were used to measure the magnitude of relationships between three pairs of concepts: parents' actions and students' independent learning; students' independent learning and academic achievement; and parents' actions and students' academic achievement.

Structural equation modeling was employed to test the hypothesized model of relationships among parents' actions, students' independent learning behaviors, and academic achievement. Finally, multivariate analysis of variance was used to compare the independent learning scores of students living in four different family structures to determine if a significant difference in the development of independent learning between groups exists. Results suggest actions that parents can take to help their children develop as independent learners and succeed in the academic realm.

achievement, family structure, parenting style, independent learning, self-regulated learning