The Adolescence is a fascinating stage of development full of many physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes. To Blackwell, Trzesniewski, Kali and Dweck (2007), this stage or period is sensitive and a critical time with important implications for school achievement. Also, the increase in academic demands and the complexity of the school structure make the task of academic success for adolescents even more difficult (Patrikakou, 2004).
Achievement is almost the most important issue for adolescents in education in any country and this is why many key people ranging from educators to psychologists and to sociologists have focused research attention and efforts towards identifying the reasons why some students perform well academically while others fail and drop out. Recently, nations such as Canada, has noted an increase in children with risk factors that may compromise their present achievement and future success, and approximately 27.6% or 1 in 4 students is considered to be at risk for school failure (Jordan, 2006). Belfield (2007) also found out that across the 21.9 million adults in California, 2.19 million males and 1.96 million females (20% of the students) were dropouts. Ghasemi (2010) in a study found that 22% of the students in Iran suffer from low academic achievement due to family problems and personal factors.
Besides factors such as parental, school, teacher and environmental factors; personal factors such as self-efficacy, engagement in academic work and personality also have significant positive relationships with adolescent’s academic achievement (Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Fredrik, Blumenfield, & Paris, 2004). Among these personal factors is the main variable of consideration in this study which is academic engagement which is really emphatic among the contributing personal factors to academic achievement and personal development of adolescent students in schools. Such engagement can be described as the level of commitment and involvement or the amount of time, energy and effort that students put into their educational learning activities (Stewart, 2007).
Researchers have recently used the term engagement to refer to the extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, and participate in academic and non-academic school activities (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), 2003). The definition of engagement usually comprises a psychological component pertaining to students’ sense of belonging at school and acceptance of school values, and a behavioural component pertaining to participation in school activities (Finn, 1993; Finn & Rock, 1997; Goodenow, 1993; Goodenow & Grady, 1993; Wehlage, Rutter, Smith, Lesko, & Fernandez, 1989). The psychological component emphasizes students’ sense of belonging or attachment to school, which has to do with feelings of being accepted and valued by their peers, and by others at their school (OECD, 2003). Another aspect of the psychological component concerns whether or not students value school success – whether they believe that education will benefit them personally and economically (Johnson et al., 2001). Students who do not feel they belong at school, or reject school values, are often referred to as alienated or disaffected. The participation component of engagement is characterised by factors such as school and class attendance, being prepared for class, completing homework, attending lessons, and being involved in extra-curricular sports or hobby clubs (OECD, 2003).
Academic engagement in the words of Willms (2003) entail investing quality time and energy by students in educationally purposeful activities and being persistent in the pursuit of academic success; it is an indicator that combine academic identification (getting along with teachers, having an interest in the subject matter and related behaviours and attitudes) and academic participation (students work effort both inside and outside of school including hours spent on homework, meeting deadlines and not skipping classes). Taylor & Lundy (2016) refers to academic engagement as the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to their level of motivation and progress in education. Svanum and Biggatti (2009) points out that a student is academically engaged when the said student takes advantage of learning opportunities provided by their institution both inside and outside the classroom and involves course related activities such as class attendance and completion of assignment. In line with the foregoing, Horstmanshoff and Zimitat (2011) defined academic engagement in terms of university students as a measure of student’s involvement with university studies.
Academic engagement involves cognitive functions and self-regulatory strategies to pursue learning task (Butler, 2011); therefore, it involves all actions students undertake to enhance their learning. It emphasizes students various pattern of motivation, cognition and behaviour (Baron & Corbin, 2012). It is therefore, a behavioral, emotional and attitudinal involvement in learning and is concerned with concentration, effort and persistency in academic related activities.
Academic engagement improves students’ inquisitiveness, level of motivation and consequently progress in academic endeavors, (Stephens, 2015) and to a great extent may determine outcomes such as graduation. It aims at increasing successful student achievement levels and in understanding students’ positive development (Appleton, Christenson & furlong, 2008). Hence, it has grown in popularity recently probably as a result of increased understanding of the role it plays in learning process and social development (Fredrick et al, 2004). The concept typically arises when educators discuss educational strategies and teaching techniques that address developmental, intellectual, emotional, behavioural, physical and social factors that either enhance or undermine learning for students (Parsons, 2011). Educators may hold different views on students’ academic engagement for instance, observable behaviours such as attending class, listening attentively, participating in discussions, turning in work on time and following rules and directions may be perceived as forms of academic engagement by some educators while others relate academic engagement to internal states such as enthusiasm, motivation or interest.
Academic engagement is predicated on the belief that learning improves when students are inquisitive, interested or inspired and that learning tends to suffer when students are bored, dispassionate or otherwise “disengaged”, (Fredrick et al, 2004). Hence, it seems to play positively significant role in undergraduates’ ability to benefit from academic experiences and consequently achieve academic success. Among identified factors that are related to academic engagement are gender, race/ethnicity, students’ major, parental involvement, educational institution and contact with different people (Jonson, Crosnoe & Elder 2001; Taylor & Francis 2010; Pasquae & Murphy 2005).
The present study examined the impact of parent-child relationship and parenting style on academic engagement of adolescents in Enugu east local government of Enugu state. Research have shown that children of involved parents who participate in their children’s education, have higher standardized test scores and more academic aspirations (Bondioli, 2000; Hill, Castellino, Lansford, Nowlin, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 2004).
Consequent upon the large body of work demonstrating a connection between parenting practices/styles and school achievement, studies are accumulating which suggest that one pathway through which parenting has an impact on children’s school performance is by shaping children’s classroom engagement, intrinsic motivation, preference for challenge, valuing and commitment to school, and enthusiasm, enjoyment, and interest in schoolwork (Epstein & Sanders, 2002; Jeynes, 2007; Pomerantz, Grolnick, & Price, 2005).
Darling & Steinberg (1993) define parenting style as “a constellation of attitudes toward the child that are communicated to the child and that, taken together, create an emotional climate in which the parents’ behaviors are expressed”. One of the most studied approaches to understanding parental influences on human development is concept of parenting style (Baumrind, 1967). Baumrind proposed parenting styles as correlates to socialization of the children (Shyny, 2017). Afterwards, many researches recognized the importance of researching role of parenting style in child development (Kordi, 2010; Schaffer, Clark & Jeglic, 2009; Lim & Lim, 2003). Many of the studies followed three parenting styles originally proposed by Baumrind namely authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting and permissive parenting, though in 1971, Baumrind added negligent parenting (Shyny, 2017). Baumrind grouped parents to three (or four) parenting styles according to their child rearing patterns, on the basis of her interviews with parents and children.
Shyny (2017) opined that “there is a growing interest in the role of parenting in a person’s affective and social characteristics. The attention of educational researchers on the parenting styles and their effects on school relevant developmental outcomes are also on the rise. Several studies found that parenting style or parental behaviour has statistically significant relation with developmental outcomes like performance, achievement strategies, self-regulated learning, achievement goals, self-efficacy and wellbeing of students”. Academic or school engagement no doubt fall as component part of these factors, hence, a connection of parenting styles and students’ academic/school engagement.
Furrer and Skinner (2003) have in the past examined sense of relatedness (i.e., patterns of relationships with certain social partners such as parents, peers etc.) for its role in student engagement and subsequent academic performance. In this study, they specifically examined the following relationships: (a) the association between relatedness and classroom engagement and performance; (b) the role of parents, teachers, and peers on engagement; (c) the influence of age and gender on the relation between relatedness and engagement; and (d) the level of engagement associated with different relatedness profiles (i.e., patterns of relationships with certain social partners). Results suggested that student- and teacher-reported levels of student behavioral and emotional engagement each mediated the relationship between aggregated relatedness (across parents, teachers, and peers) and student grades. Moreover, student-reported relatedness to parents, peers, and teachers significantly predicted both student- and teacher-reported student engagement beyond student-reported perceived control at one point in time and also across the school year from fall to spring (Furrer & Skinner, 2003). Student feelings of relatedness overlapped moderately across partners (parents, peers, and teachers), yet relatedness with each partner was uniquely important in predicting engagement.
MacDonald (1992) considers warmth as a main component of an adaptive parent-child relationship, and refers to emotional nurturance and affectionate care giving expressed from a parental figure to the child. MacDonald also concluded that warmth and affection in the family evolved as an independent system of motivation, which was distinct from the process of attachment that prevents harm or loss. Thus rather than simply a behavioural contingency system at play, warmth, then, provides positive social reward that drives parent and child behaviour over the course of their relationship (MacDonald, 1992).
Statement of Problem
According to OECD (2003), school is central to the daily life of many youths in that they view schooling as essential to their long-term wellbeing, and this attitude is reflected in their participation in academic and non-academic pursuits; and they tend to have good relations with school staff and with other students – they feel that they belong at school. However, some youths do not share this sense of belonging, and do not believe that academic success will have a strong bearing on their future. These feelings and attitudes may result in their becoming disaffected from school (Finn, 1989; Jenkins, 1995). They may gradually withdraw from school activities, and in some cases participate in disruptive behaviour and display negative attitudes towards teachers and other students (OECD, 2003). These students who have become disaffected from school tend to create one of the biggest challenges for teachers and school administrators as they try to meet their need to be fully engaged in school.
Despite the high importance of students’ academic engagement as one of the key factors that determine academic achievement and the problem disengagement in school create for the student, the school and society at large, some students are still found in lapse engaging academically. Academic engagement has long been found as a critical factor in shaping college outcomes (Gasiewski, 2012). Despite the need, findings still indicates that students find it difficult to engage academically (Trawler 2010; Perkmann 2013). This problem of students’ difficulty engaging academically makes research on factors influencing academic engagement to remain an important research question.
Studies have been carried out to determine factors that influence academic engagement, (Jonson, Crosnoe & Elder 2001; Talor & Francis 2010; Pasquae & Murphy 2005; Granville & Dika, 2002; Fredricks & Blumenfeld, 2004) but not much of these studies have been done to see the impact of parent-child relationship and styles of parenting. Also, enough has not been done in Nigeria especially in the south-east in regards to this context, hence a gap in knowledge. This study therefore, will seek to fill some gap in knowledge by examining the impact of parent-child relationship and parenting style on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of parent-child relationship and parenting style on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East local government. Specifically, the study would seek to determine whether:
- Parent-child relationship would have impact on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government.
- Responsiveness parenting styles would have impact on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government.
- Autonomy granting parenting styles would have impact on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government.
- Demandingness parenting styles would have impact on academic engagement of adolescent students in secondary schools in Enugu East Local Government.
Operational Definition of Key Variables
Academic engagement: Students’ investment in and commitment to learning, belonging and identification at school, and participation in the institution environment and initiation of activities to achieve educational goals as measured using the 31 item Student Engagement Scale (SES) by Doğan (2014).
Parent-Child Relationship: The unique and enduring bond between a parent or caregiver and his or her child measured using the Parental Warmth Scale from Child Parental Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire (PARQ/Control; Rohner & Khaleque, 2005). The mean warmth received by each participant from both parents represents his/her parental warmth score.
Parenting Style: This is a collection of attitudes towards the child that are communicated to the child and that, taken together, create an emotional climate in which the parents’ behaviors are expressed. Parenting style in this study is measured using Parenting Style Inventory II (PSI-II) by Darling and Toyokawa (1997) based on the three parenting style dimension of demandingness, responsiveness and autonomy granting. The mean score for each of the three dimensions from both parents represents each participant’s parenting style score.