Motivation, Self-Confidence, and Expectations as Predictors of the Academic Performances among Our High School Students

By Tavani, Christopher M.; Losh, Susan C. | Child Study Journal, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Motivation, Self-Confidence, and Expectations as Predictors of the Academic Performances among Our High School Students


Tavani, Christopher M., Losh, Susan C., Child Study Journal


The recent interest in high school students' levels of achievement has led to greater examination of the predictors that facilitate such performances. Colleges and universities have become more selective in student admissions, not only examining high school academic records, but also student participation in extracurricular activities. This study examined the relationships among students' academic performances, expectations, motivations, and self-confidence during a summer orientation at a large southeastern university (n = 4,012). The effects of parental education levels on students' performances were also studied. Significant positive correlations were found among all variables. These variables were also all significant predictors of students' academic performances. Gender had statistically significant effects on students' expectations and self-confidence levels. These results are consistent with previous studies and provide additional pathways for future research.

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The increasing attention given to understanding the characteristics that promote high levels of academic performance and expectations among high school students has led researchers to look beyond the confines of individual thought and examine the macrosocial influences that affect individual performances. Thus, more outside predictors of individual scholastic performances, such as parental encouragement, should be studied in addition to an individual's own motivations and expectations. After all, many factors outside a student's control can influence his or her academic performances. These external predictors, jointly with the individual's own characteristics, should significantly affect a student's performances and expectations, thereby demonstrating to be strong predictors of his or her academic successes.

Several studies have focused solely on examining the external predictors of students' academic successes, such as the roles of parental encouragement and involvement in their children's academic performances. These studies have shown that the parental attitudes displayed towards their children have significant impacts on their children's behaviors relating to school achievement (Epstein, 1995; Finn & Rock, 1997; Halle, Kurtz-Costes, & Mahoney, 1997; Moss & St. Laurent, 2001; Stevenson & Baker, 1987). Moreover, according to Stevenson & Lee (1990), parents who believe that their children's performances are determined by their abilities tend to participate less frequently in their children's school careers than those parents who believe their children's performances are determined by effort. Miller (1995) discussed the role of parents as supporters of their children's academic success, and indicated that parental attributions towards their children's academic performances are established early in the children's school careers. Furthermore, according to Kelly & Michela (1980), attribution theory, the study of perceived causation, suggests that parent and teacher attributes towards their children's performances affect their development, abilities, and capabilities to a great extent. Therefore, the positive signs of parental and teacher encouragement displayed toward their children have significant positive impacts on their children's successes, and are vital to enhance and maintain positive growths and levels of academic performances (Bell, Allen, Hauser, & O'Conner, 1996; Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline, & Russell, 1994; Finn & Rock, 1997; Hoffman & Weiss, 1987; Moss & St. Laurent, 2001; Peng, 1994).

However, in order to understand the functions of parental actions, it is important to consider the key components within the family. Parental education levels have been found to be significant predictors of their children's academic successes, with higher levels of degree attainments (i.e., High School, Associates, Bachelors, Master's, Doctoral) by parents leading to higher levels of academic performances among their children (Kohn, 1969; Majoribanks, 1979; Stevenson & Baker, 1987). …

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