Expectations of Achievement and Perceptions of Talent: Child and Parent Influence on Academic Attainment
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Aims: The influences of parental expectations, self-expectations and academic achievement on eventual educational attainment were investigated in a longitudinal study utilising twin pairs from the Minnesota Twin Family Study (MTFS). Expectations and current school performance were recorded by twins and their parents at twins’ age 11, 14 and 17. Level of education attained by age 24 was used as the key outcome variable. Parents also rated their self-perceived talents at the intake assessment. Methods: 1,244 twin pairs participated in the study. Sample A consisted of first-born twins, and Sample B of second-born twins, used to replicate the findings. Stepwise regressions were run, investigating the relations between self and parent expectations of academic achievement over an extended time span, the associations between academic achievement at ages 11, 14 and 17, and educational attainment at age 24; and the influence of parental self-perceived talent on parental expectations and the educational outcomes of their children. Results: Changes in parental expectations between ages 11 and 14 were found to significantly predict child’s GPA at age 17. GPA at all ages was associated with eventual educational outcome. Self-expectations of adolescents’ for their own attainment was a significant predictor variable at age 17. Parental self-perceived talent at school was a significant predictor of variance in children’s attainment outcome at age 24. All associations were positive; increases in each independent variable were associated with increases in the outcome variable. Sample B closely replicated the results of Sample A. Conclusions: Parental expectations operate separately from child expectations in influencing academic outcomes. Adolescent expectations are only significant when nearing the end of compulsory education, as would be expected at this stage of development. Self-perceived parental talent has an effect on adolescent achievement discrete from that of expectations; this could be further studied, along with the directionality of the achievement-expectation association.