Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Maternal Involvement in Math Homework and its Influence on Adolescents' Math Outcomes During the Transition to Middle School: Who Profits from Homework Assistance?
by Dickson, Daniel J., Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2017, 158; 10615445
Abstract (Summary)

As adolescents transition to middle school, math confidence and performance declines (Eccles et al., 1993; Lee, Statuto, & Kadar-Voivodas, 1983). These declines are typically attributed to social and maturational changes (Eccles, Lord, & Midgley, 1991; Simmons & Blyth, 1987). In this dissertation, I explore the hypothesis that low parent support for schoolwork is also responsible.

Latino-American adolescents are especially at risk for math difficulties. Maintaining adolescents’ engagement and performance in math are important goals for mothers because high levels of both are requisites for many professional careers. This dissertation will focus on Latino-American families to determine if mothers’ homework involvement is associated with changes in children’s math-related outcomes across the transition to secondary school.

Parental involvement in math homework is assumed to mitigate declines in math performance during this transition. Cognitive models suggest that involved parents utilize scaffolding (Rogoff & Gardner, 1984) and instruction to ensure math achievement (Pomerantz & Moorman, 2010). Motivational models suggest that involved parents foster math engagement by bolstering child confidence, modeling management strategies, and promoting values that encourage children to work hard (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994; Simpkins, Fredricks, & Eccles, 2015). However, empirical evidence in support of the importance of parents in math achievement is limited. While positive forms of involvement co-occur with better math outcomes (Bhanot & Jovanovic, 2005; Rice et al., 2013), no studies have examined such associations longitudinally. Children who are uninterested in math may be more susceptible to the effects of parental homework involvement because they lack internal motivation for mastery that underlies performance in other children.

The present study examines the extent to which Latina-American mothers’ involvement in math homework is effective in preventing declines in child math-related outcomes (i.e., perceptions of math ability, etc) during the transition to middle school. Child math interest was postulated to moderate this association. Results indicated that low maternal homework involvement predicts worsening child math-related outcomes, but only for children who were intrinsically uninterested in math.

The findings hold important implications for parents, who must work to ensure that they remain engaged in their children’s activities, especially if children appear uninterested in math.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laursen, Brett
Commitee: Bjorklund, David, Hoff, Erika, Maniaci, Michael, Shulman, Shmuel
School: Florida Atlantic University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Experimental psychology
Keywords: Homework involvement, Latino-americans, Mathematics, Parent-child relationships, School interest, School transition
Publication Number: 10615445
ISBN: 978-0-355-42863-6
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