Academic journal article Adolescence

Teachers' and Students' Work-Culture Variables Associated with Positive School Outcome

Academic journal article Adolescence

Teachers' and Students' Work-Culture Variables Associated with Positive School Outcome

Article excerpt


Little is known about the relationship between teachers' family-of-origin variables, impacting their work attitudes and interpersonal skills, and students' academic outcome. This study investigated whether goodness of fit between teachers' and students' backgrounds is associated with subjective grading and objective achievement at school. One hundred one seventh graders and twenty of their teachers completed the Self-Report Family Inventory. Similarity between teachers' and students' work-culture variables was associated with the subjective grading practices of teachers. The self-report data also revealed effective teacher and successful student profiles.

For childhood disorders, the focus of both assessment and intervention has shifted from the child to the general environment, the family, and the school environment (Mash & Barkley, 1989; Shapiro & Kratochwill, 1988). Thomas and Chess (1977, 1984, 1986) have provided empirical support for the proposition that childhood adjustment and the ability to cope with developmental milestones are products of an interaction between the child's temperament and parents' expectations, as well as sources of environmental support for the caregiver. In terms of school variables that are associated with academic, behavioral, and attendance problems, research points to multiple factors. For example, teacher expectancies have been found to correlate with academic achievement, motivation, and self-concept of students (Babad, Inbar, & Rosenthal, 1982; Brophy & Good, 1970; Chow, 1988; Cooper, 1979; Cooper & Good, 1983; Darley & Fazio, 1980; Jussim, 1986, 1989; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968).

The purpose of the present study was to examine teachers' and students' family-of-origin variables associated with work-culture. The possibility that goodness of fit between teachers' and students' backgrounds is associated with positive school outcome for middle school students was investigated. It was hypothesized that students who responded to self-report family measures similarly to their teachers would demonstrate higher subjective achievement (i.e., receive better grades) in that teacher's class. To determine similarity in family backgrounds, teachers' and students' responses on the Self-Report Family Inventory were compared across three dimensions: expressiveness, conflict, and cohesion.



Students were drawn from one of the ten largest school districts in the United States, with demographics representative of urban settings. During the 1991-92 school year, the average daily enrollment was 137,372 students, 45.6% of whom were African American, 36.4% Hispanic (primarily Mexican American), 15.9% Anglo American, 1.7% Asian American, and .4% American Indian. Approximately half qualified for free or reduced-cost lunches due to low family income. Of the 7,315 teachers, approximately 55% were Anglo American, 37% African American, and 7% Hispanic.


During the 1992 fall semester, teachers and seventh-grade students in two middle schools were asked to participate in this research. Consenting teachers and students (those who provided signed consent forms from their parents) completed the Self-Report Family Inventory (SFI).


Grades on the final exam. The school district administers a uniform exam to all seventh graders at the end of the fall semester. This exam provides an estimate of students' mastery of basic skills. In this study, the grades that were obtained on the final exam constituted objective achievement. They were compared with grades from the six-week report cards.

Six-week grades. Every six weeks, students are given report cards by their teachers. These six-week grades reflect the teachers' view of students' mastery of the academic material, as well as attendance, frequency and quality of classroom participation, frequency and quality of completed homework assignments, and cooperative attitude. …

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