Family Context Variables and the Development of Self-Regulation in College Students

By Strage, Amy A. | Adolescence, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview

Family Context Variables and the Development of Self-Regulation in College Students


Strage, Amy A., Adolescence


ABSTRACT

While researchers have begun to specify how features of students' immediate learning environments affect the development and use of self-regulation skills, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of the family context in fostering or impeding the development of these skills. This paper proposes a conceptual framework based on attachment theory (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Bowlby, 1982) and Baumrind's parenting styles typology (Baumrind, 1967, 1991) for examining the relationship between family context variables and the development of self-regulation skills. It also presents initial findings from a study of the parental practices and values associated with academic self-regulation in college students. A sample of 465 students completed the 104-item Student Attitudes and Perceptions Survey, which consists of 4 personal profile scales, 7 family background scales, 2 course characteristics scales, and 2 study habits scales. Perceptions of parents as authoritative and of family as emotionally close were f ound to be predictive of (1) general confidence and positive sense of self, (2) positive goal-orientation at school, (3) general concern about preparation for the future, and (4) positive adjustment to college. These family profiles were also predictive of (1) students' rating their introductory psychology course as interesting and supportive, (2) favorable ratings of their time and effort management and note-taking skills, and (3) strong agreement with a series of items reflecting components of self-regulated learning. Perceptions of parents as authoritarian and of family as nagging or enmeshed were also predictive of concern about preparation for the future. These family profiles were generally predictive of students' rating their introductory psychology course as difficult, and of time and effort management difficulties. The patterns linking family background profiles with course perceptions, study habits, and individual indices of self-regulated learning persisted even when students' sense of confidence w as factored out, and were strong for students living with their parents as well as for those living on their own.

The ability to make a successful transition to and through college is one of the most important challenges faced by adolescents and young adults. Researchers have clearly demonstrated the significance of self-regulation skills in such academic contexts. Collectively, they paint the self-regulating learner as someone who is metacognitively sophisticated, who can assess the requirements of the learning task at hand, and who can identify and deploy the appropriate learning strategies; the self-regulating learner is someone who is able to make appropriate attributions for success and failure, and who readily accepts responsibility for his or her own learning (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Pressley & Ghatala, 1990; Rohwer & Thomas, 1989; Schunk, 1989; Thomas & Rohwer, 1993; Weinstein, Zimmerman, & Palmer, 1988; Zimmerman, 1990). But while studies have begun to specify how features of students' immediate learning environments affect the development and use of self-regulation skills, relatively little attention has bee n paid to the role of the family context in fostering or impeding the development of these skills. Studies that have addressed this topic for elementary school age children have found that parental support for autonomy is positively related to children's self-reports of autonomous self-regulation (Grolnick & Ryan, 1989), and that these parenting practices are predictive of children's adoption of an intrinsic academic achievement motivational orientation (Ginsburg & Bronstein, 1993).

This paper has two goals: (1) to propose a conceptual framework for examining the relationship between family context variables and the development of self-regulation skills, and (2) to present some initial findings from a study of the parental practices and values associated with academic self-regulation in college students. …

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