Learning Styles and Academic Achievement: Are Parent's Expectations Too High?
High school education perhaps is the turning point of adolescence academic life. Within few years, students usually work hard and get involved in emotional conflicts and endeavors to prepare themselves for higher study. High school students and their parents often understand that students have limited time to find out what they want to do later in their life, how they figure out their capabilities and constraints, to choose the best educational institution and career path where they will be able to express their talents without restraint and gain the best for their future. As parents want to give the best for their children, they will contribute large amount of ideas on what their children should achieve. Considerate parents may also provide assistance and monitor the study. It is assumed that parent involvement has great effect on children academic achievement.
The research is determined to investigate whether high school students' learning styles match with their parents' academic expectation. Besides addressing the relationship between parent expectation and student learning styles, the research also measures how high parent expectation to their children achievement, parent's attitude (support for children) to fulfill the expectation, children's attitude towards their parent's expectation, and children's attitude/motivation towards their achievement in class.
Upon completion of the research, it is expected that the study give information on students' types of learning style and academic achievement, types of parental involvement in children learning attitudes, the positive and negative effects of parent involvement, how much cultural values affect parent expectation, how students invent strategies to accommodate their learning styles based on parent involvement. There should be enough space to advance the research goals on another study to identify the optimum amount of parent involvement, as well as types of beneficial involvement, which accommodate the students in determining their academic need.
II. Literature Review
Many preliminary researches from educational angle showed that there is a vivid link between parent expectation and children's academic outcome. Boocock (1972) as cited in Chen and Lan (1998) underlined parental capability to give strong support from family with high expectation would result in children with student with fervent attitude towards their success in study. The family might start raising the children in forward, competitive, or appreciative atmosphere; therefore learning and setting goals for the future is such a common environment for the children. This type of children were well trained to "set standard" for themselves for their academic performance, and the tendency even appeared in their early age.
Expectancy and subsequent academic achievement" were also found forming positive linear correlation (Vollmer, 1986, as cited in Chen and Lan, 1998). The finding suggests that there was positive evidence that shows the unity of both factors and it compelled to the future use of whatever parental influence may exist (physical and spiritual) to the success of the children.
However, parental expectation varied among families with different origins, educational background, social and economic status. Families from different nations tend to follow their own culture, and there is no standard of certain behavior or expectance they show to the children. This fact underlies the necessity to assess cultural background on children learning style and how their parents hold the values in determining goals for the children.
The stage of adolescence life is important, as it is critical for the coming steps of children education. According to Steinberg (1998), the adolescents undergo a turning point in their relationship with their parents. In this period, young adults develop higher sensitivity with the changing physical, emotional, and cognitive experience. On the other hand, this period often occurs at the same time when parents are experiencing changes into midlife. While everyone is trying to cope with his/her own personal conflict and expectation, he/she may also experience deeper and complicated situation when colliding with other family members' expectation.
Young adults naturally detect their requirement of "emotional autonomy or individuation" (Steinberg, 1998). Many parents find frictions occur even more than when the children were younger. It takes time to get everything and everyone in harmony, but within families with loads of supports to each other, the disagreements do not last forever. When parents give their adolescents enough space to express themselves, they do not only reflect positive behavior towards their parents, but also concerning their academic outlook. Steinberg underlined, "Adolescents who have been reared authoritatively continue to show more success in school, better psychological development, and fewer behavior problems than their counterparts from other types of homes."
A probable effect of the emotional change may give the determining environment that affect children learning styles. High school students may have developed specific learning styles based on their home environment and the way attitude taught at home. Family matters may give strong drive on their study goals.
With additional course or education, students could find broader definition of the study they choose as their objective. An additional study, perhaps like intercalated study, students learn how they may urgently need skills enhancement, second look at their career choice with critical analysis and estimation, as they may also need to improve their learning strategies, not only by formal study and course hours, but they may also need self initiation to creatively explore their subject, then cope with it more deeply (McManus, 1999).
What high school students may need before they make a decision or get into their study seriously, is the clear picture why they take the subject and how they understand the importance of improving their learning strategy.
Baker and Soden (1998) determined that parental involvement is very important for academic success, and so far the idea was rendered with the active participation in home study and serious talk about the children's future. Among all the common parental expectation, Baker and Soden highlighted several pointers on parent role, such as their encouragement to children home education activities, providing appropriate learning materials, financial support in the education process, and adequate control of children home assignment.
Some important factors of parental expectation and involvement that need further investigation and clear definition in research design are:
Isolation of the effects of parent involvement: in here type and level of parent involvement need to be cleared to avoid bias in involvement result, which may be caused by other factors.
Clarification of the definition of parent involvement: researches need to identify aspect of involvement in the measurement, and later define the data to contribute to the whole definition of parent involvement consisting of different aspect of involvement. Epstein (1994) as cited in Baker and Soden (1998) classified the involvement into: "school-home communications, parent involvement in school and community, home learning activities, and parents as decision-makers." From the stage, research can narrow down the focus to investigate certain elements, and then tailor the results down to the bigger picture.
Amount of parent involvement: study needs to identify clearly how much parent involvement is acceptable and give positive result to children. There should be clear description stating the least and the most involvement made.
Comprehensiveness of parent involvement: the degree of involvement has to be clear whether parent is involved in every step of the children's study, or just in some critical stages. (Baker and Soden, 1998).
Finally, it is on equal need to see the way parent influence their children, because perhaps parents have strong reasons to give strong encouragement to the children in their study. Parent also face deliberate needs of self-esteem and background reasons, depending on their background, study, social and financial status.
Parent's active involvement develops students' learning styles and academic achievement.
Parent's high expectation probably comes from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Parent's high expectation without active support does not improve students' learning motivation.
The research will measure the following parameters: types of expectation, parent participation in the children's study process, ethnic background, social economic background as the factors determining parent involvement in their children academic achievement. The other measurements are taken for students' final academic report, number of students registered with counseling service, unregistered with counseling service, attitude towards parent involvement, and attitude towards learning strategies.
Parents' active involvement can be defined as any action, movement and initiation from parents to participate in their children study process, whether they do it together with the teacher or as sole practice at home or within family environment. Such practices include: asking questions to their children about their study, frequent and regular discussion about children's future, participation in home-schooling tasks, joining parental trainings, visit to teacher or counselor in school, reference for career counseling center for the children, decision making, financial and material support, and rewards given for children who accomplish high academic achievement.
Students' learning style can be identified as they provide data about their specific study habit, knowledge of learning strategy, family matters that intensify or limit their study habit, personal goals, personal goals that are affected by parent goals, dependence on parent,…