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Relation of eighth graders' family structure, gender, and family environment with academic performance and school behavior

Relation of eighth graders' family structure, gender, and family environment with academic performance and school behavior,10.1037//0022-0663.80.1.90,

Relation of eighth graders' family structure, gender, and family environment with academic performance and school behavior   (Citations: 26)
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The purpose of this study was to assess how family structure, gender, and family environment were related to both academic performance (end-of-the-year grades and quantitative and verbal achievement factor scores) and school behavior (number of days absent, number of days tardy, and number of in-school detentions). Subjects were 219 middle-class eighth graders (96 boys, 123 girls). Generally, students in two-parent nuclear families had better academic performance and less problematic school behavior than did students in either mother-custody or stepfather families. Boys had more detentions than did girls. Despite significant differences among the three family structures, the family structure variable accounted at most for only 7% of the variability in academic performance and school behavior. A family environment that emphasized achieve- ment and intellectual pursuits accounted for variability in end-of-the-year grades beyond that accounted for by family structure, gender, and family conflict. The joint consideration of family structure, gender, and family environment accounted at most for 17 % of the variance in academic performance and school behavior. For students in the mother-custody and stepfather families, contact with father was unrelated to academic performance. Findings are discussed in terms of models of achievement motivation and behavior. Although children's academic performance is determined by multiple factors (Dweck & Elliott, 1983; Eccles, 1983; Hess & Holloway, 1984), researchers have been particularly inter- ested in how school functioning is related to family structure. Most studies have involved children in the early primary grades. In comparison with children living with both biolog- ical parents, those living with only their mothers perform more poorly on measures of intelligence and school achieve- ment, especially in quantitative domains; are more frequently absent from and tardy to school; and have less efficient study habits (Hetherington, Camara, & Featherman, 1983; Shinn, 1978). Because differences between two-parent and one-par- ent families diminish when socioeconomic (SES) factors are controlled (Hetherington et al., 1983; Svanum, Bringle, & McLaughlin, 1982), the disadvantages of living in a single- parent family have been attributed to the decline in both financial resources and the quality of child supervision asso- ciated with single parenthood (Weiss, 1984). To understand the influence of specific family structures, researchers recently have moved from generic "father-absent versus father-present" comparisons to contrasts between chil- dren from divorced or stepparent families and those from two-parent nuclear families. There is consistent evidence that children from divorced families, in comparison with those from two-parent nuclear families, experience short- and long- term deficits in academic performance. These deficits, how-
Journal: Journal of Educational Psychology - J EDUC PSYCHOL , vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 90-94, 1988
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