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Kendra Cherry

Want to Boost Grades? Then Focus on Long-Term Goals

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideMay 20, 2009

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If you have children, you've probably spent countless hours each evening helping them with their homework. According to a new study from researchers at Harvard University, helping middle school children with their assignments might not be the best way to boost grades. Instead, they sugggest, talking to your children about the importance of good grades and linking academic performance to future career success may actually be more beneficial.

School Achievement
A new study suggest stressing future goals may be more helpful than helping children with their homework.
iStockphoto.com/ Bronwyn Photo

The new study, published in the May issue of Developmental Psychology, looked at more than 50,000 participants from 50 different studies published over the last 26 years. Researchers investigated how different types of parental involvement affected academic performance and achievement.

“Lack of guidance is the chief reason that academically able students do not go to college,” explained lead researcher Nancy E. Hill, Ph.D., in an APA press release. “So communicating the value of education and offering curriculum advice about what to focus on helps these students plan their long-term goals.”

While encouraging good study skills and teaching effective homework strategies is always beneficial, researchers found that actually actually helping students with their homework had varied results. Some children experienced confusion when problem-solving strategies used by parents differed from those used by the classroom teacher, while others perceived the help as adult interference.

“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,” Hill suggests.

Related Reading:

  • Psychology Study Tips
  • How to Encourage Good Grades in Teens - From Parenting Teens at black-rose-bielefeld.de
  • Being Involved in Your Child's School - From School-Age Children at black-rose-bielefeld.de

Reference: Hill, N.E. & Tyson, D.F. (2009). Parental Involvement in Middle School: A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Strategies That Promote Achievement. Developmental Psychology, 45(3). Read the full-text article (in PDF format).


May 21, 2009 at 8:24 am
(1) Dr. Sanford Aranoff says:

Students must understand the basic principles. Educators (teachers and parents) must know what students understand and build from there. See ?Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better? on amazon.

May 21, 2009 at 9:39 am
(2) Ted Murphy says:

I?m suspicious of anything or anybody critical of direct parent involvement in their kid?s school work. In my experience, the teaching community is irrationally defensive about that stuff.

May 21, 2009 at 11:44 am
(3) Kendra says:

Thanks so much for you comments! My own thoughts: I certainly don?t think parents should take the results of this study to mean that they shouldn?t be actively involved in their child?s education. Instead, I would suggest that in addition to this involvement, parents should help kids make a connection between their current studies and their long-term goals.

May 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm
(4) Ted Murphy says:

You?re right. I guess we should be looking for opportunities to provide that long term perspective as much as possible. I certainly believe it to be true.

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