Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

The Impact of Marital Discord of Parents on Taiwanese Adolescents' Academic Achievement: The Mediating and Moderating Effect of Maternal Parenting Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

The Impact of Marital Discord of Parents on Taiwanese Adolescents' Academic Achievement: The Mediating and Moderating Effect of Maternal Parenting Practice

Article excerpt

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INTRODUCTION

The Importance of Adolescents' Academic Achievement

Social scientists, policymakers, educators, and parents often emphasize educational success for adolescents because unsuccessful academic achievement often results in negative outcomes such as depressed mood (Feshbach and Feshbach,1987), low self-esteem (Hightower et al., 1986), drug use, aggressive behaviors, criminal perpetrations (Dubois, Errel, and Feiner, 1994), and difficulties finding gainful employment (Steinberg, 1996). Furthermore, the issue of academic achievement has lasting importance because it represents, in many ways, an individual's status and can influence an individual's subsequent developmental tasks, such as family relationships, social status, physical health, and mental well-being (Pallas, 2000).

In Chinese society, in addition to the adverse consequences of academic failure, academic success is highly valued (see Xu, Zhang, and Xia, 2007). It is important to be well educated. For example, Chen, Chang, and He (2003) reference an old proverb that says, "Gold is found in books" (p.710). Evidence of how Chinese culture values educational status dates back to the Tang Dynasty (around 6 18-907 AD). During this period, an intellectual could hold government office and be considered an aristocrat upon successful completion of the imperial examination. Today, some Chinese societies still select government officials based on their scores on a nationwide exam. Financial compensation is not the only reward of academic success in Chinese culture. Succeeding academically also brings glory to the individual's entire family (Lam, 1997). As a result, most Chinese still expect younger generations to be well educated attaining at least a college degree. In fact, parents and teachers in Taiwan pay very close attention to their young adolescent's academic achievement because the results of academic achievement in junior high school serve as an important indicator of future success in academia and professional careers (Chen, Rubin, and Li, 1997). Consequently, most adolescents experience prolonged study hours including attendance in cram schools, designed to provide extra learning opportunities (Yi and Wu, 2004).

Starting as early as junior high, students transition to an entirely new performance oriented educational environment in preparation for the entrance exam that determines their high school placement (Wu and Tseng, 1985; Yi, Wu, Chang, and Chang, 2009). Overall, the most important task for Taiwanese adolescents is to prepare for the high school entrance exam with the goal of scoring well enough to gain admittance to an esteemed school that will provide the best educational opportunities. Accordingly, educators and parents expect junior high school students to study diligently in an effort to get perfect grades in their coursework as preparation for the entrance exam.

Parental Marital Discord as One Influential Family Context on Adolescents' Developmental Outcomes

Previous studies indicate that family experiences, such as family member interactions, are highly linked to adolescents' adjustment in school (Jencks et al., 1972) and have a central status in the field of educational sociology (Dubois et al., 1994). Recently researchers have pointed out that family context is an important variable because the individuals ' development is embedded in the path of other family members (Bogenschneider, Small, and Tsay, 1997; Yougblade et al., 2007). In addition, researchers have indicated that family conflict is an important factor that can inhibit individual development and impair family function (Bray, 1995; Emeiy, 1988; Hetherington and Cingempeel, 1922). Although most of these previous studies focus on social status, family income, parent's education level and occupation, they rely almost exclusively on cross-sectional designs to describe the family structure at a static point in time. …

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