Linking education to future job prospects may boost middle school students’ grades

May 20th, 2009 - 5:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 20 (ANI): A new study has shown that linking education to future job prospects, rather than helping with homework, can help middle school students in getting higher grades.

The research revealed that if the students were told how important academic performance is to their future job prospects, and if they were provided specific strategies to study and learn, they would do better in school.

“Instilling the value of education and linking school work to future goals is what this age group needs to excel in school, more than parents’ helping with homework or showing up at school,” lead researcher Dr. Nancy E. Hill, of Harvard University, said.

Hill examined 50 studies with more than 50,000 students over a 26-year period looking at what kinds of parent involvement helped children’s academic achievement.

“Middle school is the time when grades and interest in school decline,” said Hill.

“Entering puberty, hanging out with friends, wanting distance from parents and longing to make one’s own decisions win over listening to parents and studying,” she added.

But adolescence is also a time when analytic thinking, problem solving, planning and decision-making skills start to increase, Hill said.

“(At this age) teens are starting to internalise goals, beliefs and motivations and use these to make decisions. Although they may want to make their own decisions, they need guidance from parents to help provide the link between school and their aspirations for future work,” she said.

This type of parental involvement works for middle school students because it is not dependent on teacher relationships, like in elementary school.

Middle school students have different teachers for each subject so it is much more difficult for parents to develop relationships with teachers and to influence their teenagers through their teachers, Hill said.

Hill said that parents’ involvement in school events still had a positive effect on adolescents’ achievement, but not as much as parents’ conveying the importance of academic performance, relating educational goals to occupational aspirations and discussing learning strategies.

“Lack of guidance is the chief reason that academically able students do not go to college,” said Hill.

“So communicating the value of education and offering curriculum advice about what to focus on helps these students plan their long-term goals,” she stated.

These findings have been reported in the journal Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association. (ANI)

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