Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

"Parenting" in the Classroom: University Students' Evaluations of Hypothetical Instructors as a Function of Teaching Styles and Parenting Styles

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

"Parenting" in the Classroom: University Students' Evaluations of Hypothetical Instructors as a Function of Teaching Styles and Parenting Styles

Article excerpt

The present study explored the analogy between teaching and parenting by examining the utility of applying the concept of parenting styles from developmental psychology to different styles of teaching college students. Just as not all mothers and fathers parent in the same way, there is likely a great deal of variability in how teachers relate to students and try to regulate their behavior.

One of the most popular classification schemes used in describing parenting style is Baumrind's (1971) model, in which parents are labeled as falling into one of three categories: permissive, authoritarian, or authoritative. Membership in these categories is based in large part on the extent to which parents display affection and concern for their children, a dimension labeled warmth/nurturance, and on how much and in what ways parents try to regulate, limit, and influence their children's behavior, a dimension labeled control/strictness. Permissive parents are high on the warmth/nurturance dimension but low on the control/strictness dimension. They express love and concern for their children but set few rules and expectations for their behavior and enforce the rules they do set whimsically or inconsistently. Inversely, authoritarian parents are low on the warmth/nurturance dimension but high on the control/strictness dimension. They are infrequently affectionate or emotionally expressive but set strict and rigid rules. Authoritarian parents expect absolute and unquestioning obedience to their rules and attempt to enforce rules via fear of punishment.

In contrast, authoritative parents are high on both the warmth/nurturance and control/strictness dimensions. Authoritative parents differ quantitatively from authoritarian ones on the dimension of warmth/nurturance but differ qualitatively from them on the dimension of control/strictness. Authoritative parents set age appropriate rules but explain the reasoning behind the rules and attempt to get children to internalize the rules and follow them because they see their value rather than simply out of blind obedience to authority or fear of punishment.

Research suggests that authoritative parenting results in the best behavioral and academic outcomes in children and adolescents (Baumrind, 1967; Boon, 2007; Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dombusch, 1991; Querido, Warner, & Eeyberg, 2002). The positive benefits of authoritative parenting seem to extend into late adolescence and early adulthood. Turner, Chandler, and Heffer (2009) found that among college freshmen there was a relationship between academic performance and students' descriptions of their parents' parenting styles. Students who described their parents as higher on the authoritative style had higher GPAs, were more motivated, and reported greater self-efficacy.

Several educational theorists have posited an analogy between parenting styles and teaching styles (Barnas, 2001; Bernstein, 2011; Walker, 2009; Wentzel, 2002). For example, Barnas (2001) applied Baumrind's (1971) parenting styles to the trajectory she observed in her own personal approach to university teaching, which she perceived as progressing from being permissive to authoritarian to authoritative. Barnas described her initial approach to teaching as permissive, in that she viewed students as responsible for regulating their own behaviors and provided no rules or guidelines about attendance and participation. She was disappointed by their lack of participation and preparedness for class and surprised by their feedback on evaluations criticizing her for not having more explicit rules. Based on this feedback, she became more authoritarian, in that she gave pop quizzes on readings, refused to accept late papers or assignments, and called on students in class. These changes resulted in increased levels of student preparedness but Barnas was still dissatisfied because she perceived that students lacked enthusiasm for her courses and were uncomfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions openly in class. …

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