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- Permanent Link:
- https://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098624/00001
## Material Information- Title:
- Mothers' perceptions of their children's intellectual abilities and their relationship to academic achievement
- Creator:
- Delgado-Hachey, Maria, 1956- (
*Dissertant*) Miller, Scott A. (*Thesis advisor*) Cunningham, Walter R. (*Reviewer*) Miller, Patricia H. (*Reviewer*) Griggs, Richard A. (*Reviewer*) Ashton, Patricia T. (*Reviewer*) - Place of Publication:
- Gainesville, Fla.
- Publisher:
- University of Florida
- Publication Date:
- 1984
- Copyright Date:
- 1984
- Language:
- English
- Physical Description:
- viii, 136 leaves ; 28 cm.
## Subjects- Subjects / Keywords:
- Academic achievement ( jstor )
Academic education ( jstor ) Child psychology ( jstor ) Children ( jstor ) Demand analysis ( jstor ) Educational demand ( jstor ) Estimate reliability ( jstor ) Intelligence quotient ( jstor ) Mothers ( jstor ) Schools ( jstor ) Dissertations, Academic -- Psychology -- UF Mother and child ( lcsh ) Prediction of scholastic success ( lcsh ) Psychology thesis Ph. D - Genre:
- bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
## Notes- Abstract:
- The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether the accuracy of mothers' perceptions of their children's intellectual abilities could predict their children's academic achievement, (2) whether the demands made by mothers for their children's academic achievement varied as a function of their perceptions of their children's abilities, and (3) whether these demands could predict their children's academic achievement. The participants were 70 elementary school children and their mothers. The mothers were asked to estimate their children's IQs and to indicate at what level of their children's academic achievement they would let them know they were pleased with their performance and at what level they would be dissatisfied. The children were administered a standardized IQ test (WISC-R) and data were gathered on their school grades and Stanford Achievement Test scores. The accuracy of the mothers' perceptions was determined by taking the difference between the mothers' IQ estimates and the children's real IQs. These accuracy scores and the mothers' level of demands were then used in several multiple regression analyses to answer the main questions of the study. The following variables were included as controls: the children's age, sex, IQs, the mothers' education levels and the families' SES. It was predicted that the children with the most accurate mothers would have the highest level of academic achievement. It was also predicted that the mothers' demands would vary as a function of their perceptions of their children's abilities and that these demands in interaction with the children's IQs would predict the children's actual school performance. The results were the following: (1) the mothers' perceptions were found to be relatively accurate but the accuracy did not predict their children's academic achievement; (2) a positive relationship was found between the mothers' demands and their beliefs about their children's abilities; (3) a positive relationship was found between the absolute level of the mothers' demands and their children's school performance. Since the study was correlational in nature, no causal interpretations could be made about the above relationships. It was concluded that the results supported the model of the cycle of influences between expectations and behaviors.
- Thesis:
- Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1984.
- Bibliography:
- Bibliography: leaves 134-135.
- General Note:
- Typescript.
- General Note:
- Vita.
- Statement of Responsibility:
- by Maria Delgado-Hachey.
## Record Information- Source Institution:
- University of Florida
- Holding Location:
- University of Florida
- Rights Management:
- Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
- Resource Identifier:
- 000487137 ( alephbibnum )
11912581 ( oclc ) ACQ5237 ( notis )
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MOTHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR CHILDREN'S INTELLECTUAL ABILITIES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT By MARIA DELGADO-HACHEY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA To my husband, John, for all his love and support. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Scott A. Miller, the chairman of my committee, for all his help in the design of this study, for his excellent editorial assistance and for all the guidance and support he has given me throughout the past years. I would also like to thank the members of my com- mittee, Dr. Walter Cunningham, Dr. Patricia Miller, Dr. Richard A. Griggs and Dr. Patricia Ashton,for all their valuable suggestions and their help in the preparation of this study. My sincere appreciation is expressed to Dr. James Algina for his assistance in the statistical analyses and interpretation of the data. His expertise and patience were invaluable. I would also like to thank Mr. Larry Scott, principal of Southside Estates Academy; Sister Eithne, principal of San Jose Catholic School; and Ms. Maureen Thiec, principal of The Chappell School, for their assistance in the recruit- ment of subjects and for providing the facilities at their schools to conduct this research. Finally, I would like to thank all the children who participated in the study for their cooperation during the testing sessions and the mothers of these children for giving of their time. TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................ iii LIST OF TABLES........................................... v ABSTRACT................................................ vii CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION...................................... 1 Parents' and Teachers' Expectations: Antecedents and Effects..................................... 1 The Accuracy of Parents' Perceptions of their Children's Intellectual Abilities ............... 17 Goal of Thesis................................... 21 TWO METHOD............................................ 29 Subjects ......................................... 29 Procedures....................................... 32 Variables........................................ 35 THREE RESULTS........................................... 53 Descriptive Results................. ............ 53 Intercorrelations among the Variables ............ 74 Results of the Multiple Regression Analyses...... 87 FOUR DISCUSSION....................................... 105 APPENDICES A RECRUITMENT LETTER............................... 120 B MOTHERS' QUESTIONNAIRE........................... 122 C HUMAN SUBJECTS CONSENT FORM....................... 129 D INTERCORRELATIONS AMONG ALL VARIABLES............ 132 REFERENCES............................................... 134 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ..................................... 136 LIST OF TABLES TABLE PAGE 1 Age and Sex Distribution of the Children .......... 55 2 Percentage of the Children's Fathers at Each Level of the Hollingshead's Educational Scale.... 56 3 Percentage of the Children's Fathers at Each Level of the Hollingshead's Occupational Scale... 57 4 Percentage of Mothers at Five Different Education Levels................................. 58 5 Percentage of the Children at Five Different Levels of IQ..................................... 59 6 Percentage of Mothers Who Were Accurate and Who Overestimated and Underestimated their Children's IQ Scores.............................. 63 7 Average Frequency Ratings Given by the Mothers to Each of the 14 Situations Listed in Question #9.. 65 8 Average Frequency Ratings Given by the Mothers to Each of the 14 Situations Listed in Question #10. 67 9 Percentage of Mothers at Each Level of Minimum Demands for Academic Achievement................. 68 10 Percentage of Mothers at Each Level of Pleasing Demands.......................................... 70 11 intercorrelations among the Mothers' Estimates of their Children's Intellectual Abilities and their Children's Real IQ Scores................... 77 12 Intercorrelations among the Children's IQs, GPAs, SATs, the Mothers' Level of Education and the Families' SES..................................... 79 13 Intercorrelations among the Mothers' Demands for Academic Achievement and the Mothers' Estimates of their Children's Abilities .................... 81 14 Correlations between the Global Scores of the Frequency Measures and Each of their Respective Items............................................ 84 TABLE PAGE 15 Percentage of Mothers at Three Education Levels Who Overestimated, Underestimated, or Were Accurate in Predicting their Children's IQ Scores........................................... 93 16 Intercorrelations among All Variables............. 133 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy MOTHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR CHILDREN'S INTELLECTUAL ABILITIES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT By MARIA DELGADO-HACHEY April 1984 Chairman: Dr. Scott A. Miller Major Department: Psychology The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether the accuracy of mothers' perceptions of their children's in- tellectual abilities could predict their children's academic achievement, (2) whether the demands made by mothers for their children's academic achievement varied as a function of their perceptions of their children's abilities, and (3) whether these demands could predict their children's academic achievement. The participants were 70 elementary school children and their mothers. The mothers were asked to estimate their children's IQs and to indicate at what level of their chil- dren's academic achievement they would let them know they were pleased with their performance and at what level they would be dissatisfied. The children were administered a standardized IQ test (WISC-R) and data were gathered on their school grades and Stanford Achievement Test scores. The accuracy of the mothers' perceptions was determined by taking the difference between the mothers' IQ estimates and the children's real IQs. These accuracy scores and the moth- ers' level of demands were then used in several multiple regression analyses to answer the main questions of the study. The following variables were included as controls: the children's age, sex, IQs, the mothers' education levels and the families' SES. It was predicted that the children with the most accurate mothers would have the highest level of academic achievement. It was also pre- dicted that the mothers' demands would vary as a function of their perceptions of their children's abilities and that these demands in interaction with the children's IQs would predict the children's actual school performance. The results were the following: (1) the mothers' per- ceptions were found to be relatively accurate but the ac- curacy did not predict their children's academic achieve- ment; (2) a positive relationship was found between the mothers' demands and their beliefs about their children's abilities; (3) a positive relationship was found between the absolute level of the mothers' demands and their children's school performance. Since the study was correlational in nature, no causal interpretations could be made about the above relationships. It was concluded that the results supported the model of the cycle of influences between expectations and behaviors. VI i CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Parents' and Teachers' Expectations: Antecedent and Effects There are wide individual differences in academic achievement among children. Numerous studies have been conducted trying to determine what variables are respon- sible for these individual differences. Several variables have already been identified as good or moderate predictors of school achievement. Among them are certain demographic characteristics of students such as socio-economic status (SES), race, ethnic background, ordinal position, family size, etc. (Henderson, 1981). Performance on standardized tests of mental abilities or intelligence quotient (IQ) scores have also been well documented as good predictors of school achievement (Stanley & Hopkins, 1972). In addition, certain specific personality characteristics of students such as achievement need (as measured by projective tests or personality inventories), self concept, locus of control and others have also shown to be predictive of school perform- ance (Naylor, 1972; Purkey, 1970). Among the many variables that have been studied as pos- sible predictors of school achievement is the expectancy variable. The effect that expectations have on achievement behavior has been studied from many different perspectives. Some researchers have focused on the expectations held by I teachers of their students' achievement behavior (Braun, 1976); others have focused on the expectations held by parents of their children's school performance (Callard, 1968; Entwisle & Hayduk, 1978; Mahan, 1975; Seginer, 1983); and still others have focused on the expectations held by the students of their own achievements (Entwisle & Hayduk, 1978; Rappaport & Rappaport, 1975; Stipek & Hoffman, 1980). Perhaps one of the most publicized studies of the in- fluence of expectations on intellectual behavior is Rosen- thal and Jacobson's 1968 study. These investigators tried to determine whether manipulating the teachers' beliefs or expectations regarding the abilities of their students would produce changes in the children's intellectual behavior. The manipulation of the teachers' beliefs regarding the abilities of their students was done by giving the teachers a list of names of children who supposedly had been identi- fied as potential academic "spurters." More specifically, the teachers were told that the children had been adminis- tered the "Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition." This test, they were told, could identify those children who were likely to experience a spurt in academic and intellectual performance during the coming school year. In actuality, Rosenthal and Jacobson had administered Flanagan's Test of General Ability which is a standardized IQ test. This test was readministered again during the middle and at the end of the school year. In addition, Rosenthal and Jacobson gath- ered data on the children's general academic achievement 3 test scores, the children's school grades and the teachers' ratings of the children's behavior in the classroom. At the end of the school year, Rosenthal and Jacobson compared the intellectual performance of the children who had been la- belled potential "spurters" to that of a control group of children. The results of the study showed that at the end of the school year greater intellectual gains were obtained by the experimental children than by the control children. The authors also reported that the teachers rated the behav- ior of the experimental children in more positive ways than that of the control children. Rosenthal and Jacobson con- cluded that the expectations held by the teachers with re- gards to the experimental children were probably responsible for the intellectual gains observed among these children. Rosenthal and Jacobson's (1968) study was later criti- cized on many accounts and the "Pygmalion effect" they claimed to have demonstrated failed to replicate in numerous subsequent studies. Elashoff and Snow (1971) have reviewed in detail many of the design, sampling and measurement prob- lems that plagued the original Rosenthal and Jacobson study. Among the many criticisms discussed in this review were the following: poor and ill-defined procedures for assigning the children to the experimental and control groups, sub- stantial and differential subject attrition from the experi- mental and the control groups, the use of a standardized IQ test which had not been fully normed for use with younger children, the use of untrained teachers for the administra- tion of the IQ test, lower than normal pre-test scores among 4 the younger children as well as extremely large pre- to post-test gains in IQ scores among these children. The most serious of the criticisms, however, was with regards to the validity of the experimental procedure itself. Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) included a teacher interview and memory test at the end of their experiment. These procedures were included to validate the effects of the experimental manipu- lation technique used in the study, that is, to make sure the deception of the teachers had worked and their expecta- tions of the experimental children had, in fact, been changed. The results of the interviews and the memory tests showed, according to Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968), that the teachers could not remember the names of the experimental children and that many of them had only casually looked at the lists of names given to them by the experimenters. Elashoff and Snow (1971) criticized the authors for failing to see the important implications of the teachers' reports and concluded: "Evidently the Pygmalion effect, if any, is an extremely subtle and elusive phenomenon that acts through teachers without conscious awareness on their part" (p. 42). Numerous studies on teachers' expectations followed the initial Rosenthal and Jacobson's (1968) study. Some of these follow up studies were direct attempts at replicating the Pygmalion effect. Others were simply related studies attempt- ing to further explore teacher expectancies. Baker and Crist (1971) reviewed several of these follow up studies, the major- ity of which failed to replicate Rosenthal and Jacobson's find- ings. According to these authors, the studies which were the least likely to replicate their findings were those which fol- lowed Rosenthal and Jacobson's (1968) procedures more closely. They argued that the manipulation technique used by Rosenthal and Jacobson to increase the teachers' expectations of the ex- perimental children was too weak to produce the type of effects expected. The authors also pointed out that significant ef- fects of expectations were more likely to be found in studies that did not try to manipulate teachers' expectations but rather assessed the effects of the teachers' expectations which already existed naturally. Dusek and O'Connell (1973) showed that naturally formed teacher expectancies are, in fact, more likely to affect students' achievement behavior than experimentally induced expectations. In their study, these authors asked the teachers of a group of second and fourth grade students to rank their students in terms of how well they thought they would perform at the end of the school year in language and arithmetic skills. The experimenters then randomly divided the students into a control and an experimental group. The teachers were given the names of the experimental children and were told that these children had been administered a test which had shown that they would show large improvements in language and arithmetic skills throughout the school year. In actuality, the children (both the experimental and the control group) had been administered the Stanford Achievement Test. This test was again administered at the middle and at the end of the school year. The results of 6 the study showed that the students who were initially ranked high by their teachers had higher SATs at all three adminis- trations of the test than the children who were ranked lower. The results also showed that the experimental manip- ulation of teachers' expectations had no effect on the chil- dren's SAT scores. Most researchers today would agree that the formation of expectations is a complex phenomenon in- volving many variables and that experimentally induced ex- pectations may not have the same kind of influence on achievement behavior as naturally formed expectations (Braun, 1976). Despite all the problems with the Rosenthal and Jacob- son (1968) study and the failure of the follow up studies to replicate their findings, research on expectancy effects has continued to date although it has taken many new and different directions. The theoretical background or the logical basis underlying research on expectancy effects is a sensible one and perhaps this is one reason why research in this area has continued (Braun, 1976). Expectations are believed to affect intellectual behavior in the following way: The expectations held by teachers or parents about a given child affect their own behavior towards that child. The behavior of the teacher or parent in turn affects the intellectual behavior of the child which then serves to confirm and reinforce the initial expectations of the teacher or parent. This sequence of in- fluences creates a cycle which is self-perpetuating. In addi- tion, the expectations of teachers and parents are believed to 7 affect the child's own self-expectations which also influence his intellectual or achievement behavior. Figure 1 illus- trates this hypothesized cycle of influences between expec- tations and behavior. It should be noted that this illus- tration is a simplified version of the models presented by other authors (Braun, 1976; Seginer, 1983). Braun's (1976) model, for example, is more detailed but it is useful only to illustrate the effects of teachers' expectations of their students and not the effects of parents' expectations. Braun's model includes a number of variables that are like- ly to influence the natural formation of teachers' expecta- tions of their students. Among the variables included are the following: the sex of the students, their IQ score, their physical appearance, their previous achievement scores, their cumulative folders, their ethnic background, the students' names, the teachers' knowledge of the stu- dents' siblings, the SES of the students' families, and the students' present achievement behaviors. In addition, Braun's model also includes a number of teachers' behaviors that are likely to vary as a function of the expectations they hold of their students. These behaviors are believed to influence the students' self-expectations and achievement behaviors. Among the teachers' behaviors listed are the following: quantity of interaction with the students, differ- ential grouping of the students within the classroom, differen- tial activities and questions provided for the students, and Figure 1. Hypothesized cycle of influences between expectations and behavior. 9 qualitative differences in the questioning of students (i.e., in prompting and waiting for the students' answers). Seginer's (1983) model is also more detailed than the one presented in Figure 1. Her model, however, is only use- ful to illustrate the effects of parents' expectations of their children. Like Braun (1976), Seginer includes in her model some of the antecedent variables which may influence the formation of expectations except her variables apply to the expectations held by parents not teachers. Among the variables she considers influential she lists the parents' own educational aspirations, the feedback provided by the schools of their children's achievement behaviors, and a variable she terms "parental knowledge." This last variable refers to the general knowledge parents may have about the development of children, to their knowledge of the perform- ance of children on intellectual tasks and to their assess- ments of their own children's development and performance. In her model, Seginer also includes some of the parental be- haviors which may vary as a function of the expectations they hold of their children. In particular, she lists a category of behaviors she calls "achievement supporting be- haviors" and another she calls "differential reinforcements." Although there are many differences between Braun's (1976) and Seginer's (1983) models, the basic hypothesized sequence of influences between expectations and behaviors is the same in both models. It is this basic sequence of influences underlying both models that is illustrated in Figure 1. It is interesting to note that both Braun and Seginer have expanded and provided details in their models in similar areas. More specifically, they have both tried to delineate some of the antecedent variables that may in- fluence the natural formation of expectations and some of the specific behaviors which are influenced by these expec- tations. This is probably a reflection of some of the new directions that research on expectancy effects has taken since the initial Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) study. The search for variables that influence the natural formation of expectations has, in fact, been one of the areas where research on expectancy effects has been ex- panded. This research has been most productive with re- gards to teachers' expectations of their students and students' expectations of themselves. Braun (1976) has re- viewed many of these studies and his model includes most of the variables that have been found to influence teachers' expectations of their students. Unfortunately the search for variables that affect the natural formation of parents' expectations of their children has not been as productive. Seginer (1983) has reviewed several studies of parental ex- pectations. Her review shows that although there are some studies which have focused on these important antecedent variables, the bulk of the search remains to be done. As mentioned before, Seginer (1983) delineated three important variables which may influence the formation of parental expectations: the parents' own educational aspira- tions, school feedback, and parental knowledge. She cites 11 studies in support of all three of these variables but this evidence is scarce. Among the more interesting studies she reviewed is one by Entwisle and Hayduk (1978) which shows, among other things, that school feedback may, in fact, in- fluence parents' expectations of their children. In their study, Entwisle and Hayduk asked the parents of a group of children entering first grade to predict the school grades they thought their children would get. Their sample was drawn from two schools, one with predominantly middle class children and the other with mostly working class children. They followed the children's school performance longitudi- nally until the end of their second year in school. They also asked the parents to predict their children's grades three more times: towards the end of first grade, at the beginning of second grade, and again towards the end of second grade. In addition, the children themselves were asked to predict their own grades at the beginning and end of each school year. The results showed that the feedback parents received from the school about their children's grades appeared to have an influence on their future predic- tions of the grades their children would get. That is, parents apparently adjusted their expectations so that they were more in line with their children's actual school per- formance. Entwisle and Hayduk also reported that when these adjustments in expectations occurred they were more likely to be upward adjustments. That is, expectations were more likely to rise than to fall. They referred to this phenom- enon as the "buoyancy effect." It should be mentioned that Entwisle and Hayduk also found that the initial predictions parents made about their children's grades were very closely related to the children's actual IQ scores. This suggests that parental knowledge about their children also probably plays a role in the formation of their expectations. Again, this supports Seginer's (1983) model. More will be said about other results of the Entwisle and Hayduk study later in this chapter. Seginer's (1983) suggestion that parental knowledge about children in general and their own children in particular may be an important variable influencing their expectations is an interesting one. Unfortunately, there is very little research on parental knowledge and beliefs about children. In a recent 1980 article McGillicuddy-de-Lisi has called for research on variables that may affect this type of parental knowledge. In this article, McGillicuddy-de- Lisi argues that parental belief systems may be an important variable affecting their parental practices towards their children. She emphasizes the importance of studying these belief systems and uncovering the variables that may have an influence in their formation. Among the variables she sug- gests for study are the following: the parents' amount of experience with children, the number of children they have, the sex distribution and spacing of the children, the parents' SES and others. These variables are supposedly important because according to McGillicuddy-de-Lisi parental beliefs about children undergo progressive changes whenever 13 parents encounter new and discrepant information and try to assimilate it into their current belief systems. The belief systems of parents who have more children or have children of different sexes are likely to be different from those of parents with only one child or children of only one sex. This is so because events such as the birth of a second child or a child of a different sex expose parents to new information about children and give them a chance to vali- date and modify their beliefs. McGillicuddy-de-Lisi (1980) reports some evidence that supports her claim that the above variables may have some influence on parental belief sys- tems. More specifically, she reports having found that parental beliefs about how children come to understand cer- tain concepts vary as a function of family configuration, SES, the sex of the parent and the sex of the child. Further research is needed to determine how parental beliefs are influenced by the above mentioned variables. It is interesting to note that although McGillicuddy- de-Lisi does not use the word "expectations," the kind of relationship she proposes between parental belief systems and parental behaviors towards their children is very simi- lar to that proposed for expectancy effects. McGillicuddy- de-Lisi (1980) conceptualizes the family as a "system of mutual influences." She argues that not only are parental beliefs and behaviors shaped by the variables she suggested above, they are also shaped by the children's reactions to the parents' beliefs and behaviors which in turn produce further changes in the parents' belief systems and behaviors. Research is needed to determine how parental beliefs about children are formed and to determine what roles their beliefs play in the regulation of their parental practices. Another popular area of expansion for research on ex- pectancy effects has been the search for the different kinds of behaviors that are influenced by expectations. Ini- tially, research on expectancy effects focused only on try- ing to determine whether teachers' expectations of their students had an effect on the students' achievement behav- iors. Later, researchers began to focus their attention on how the teachers' expectations of their students affected the teachers' own behaviors towards those students. The teachers' behaviors towards their students and the students' own self-expectations were believed to be the two mediating processes by which expectations could affect the children's academic achievement. Therefore, researchers made an effort to delineate the specific teacher behaviors which may vary as a function of the expectations they hold of their stu- dents. Braun (1976) has reviewed many of these studies. The studies he has reviewed suggest that teachers do, in fact, treat and interact with their students differently depending on whether they believe the children to be high or low achievers. Behaviors such as the amount of praise they give to their students, the way in which they physically structure the classrooms and assign children into different learning groups, and all the other behaviors listed by Braun 15 (1976) in his model have been found to vary as a function of teachers' expectations. Unfortunately, research on how parents' beliefs and ex- pectations affect their own behavior towards their children is very scarce. Seginer (1983) suggested in her model that parents' achievement supporting behaviors may be one poten- tial category of behaviors which may vary as a function of their expectations of their children. She also suggests that parents may use some kind of reinforcement procedures to make their children conform to their expectations, that is, differentially reinforcing achievement behaviors that are consistent with their expectations and ignoring or pun- ishing those which are not. This is a very important area of research that deserves further study. A study by Crandall, Dewey, Katkovsky and Preston (1964) explored the relationship between parents' attitudes about their children's achievement behaviors and their chil- dren's actual academic performances. They also examined how certain self-reported parental behaviors related to the children's actual academic performances. In this study, the experimenters interviewed the parents of a group of second, third and fourth grade children. In the interviews, the ex- perimenters gathered data on the following variables: (1) the degree of importance or value the parents attached to their children's intellectual achievements, (2) the par- ents' beliefs about their children's level of intellectual competence, (3) the amount of dissatisfaction or satisfac- tion the parents felt about their children's intellectual achievements, (4) the parents' minimal standards for their children's achievement performances, (5) the frequency and intensity with which the parents attempted to increase their children's participation and competence in intellectual activities, (6) the frequency and the extent of the parents' participation with their children in intellectual activi- ties, (7) the frequency and intensity of the parents' posi- tive reactions to their children's intellectual accomplish- ments, (8) the frequency and intensity of the parents' nega- tive reactions to their children's lack of intellectual in- terests and accomplishments. These investigators also gath- ered data on other parental self-reported behaviors which were non-specific to the children's intellectual perform- ances. In addition, the investigators administered the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test to the children and gath- ered data on the children's performances on the California Achievement Test. The results of this study showed that only a few of the parents' attitudes and self-reported behaviors were related to the children's actual academic performances. Also, many of the relationships found were specific only to the mothers' attitudes and behaviors but not the fathers'. For example, the mothers' beliefs about their children's level of intellectual competence and their degree of expressed satisfaction/dissatisfaction with their children's performances were found to be positively related to the children's actual academic achievements. These re- lationships, however, were not significant for the fathers' beliefs. Another interesting finding was that only the fathers' reactions (positive or negative) to their daughters' achievements were found to be related to their daughters' actual school performance. Finally, the parents' frequency of participation with their children in intellectual activi- ties and the degree to which they attempted to increase their children's involvement in these activities related negatively to the children's actual school performance. It should be pointed out that the children sampled for this study were well above average in intellectual performance. The average IQ for the sample was 124 with a standard deviation of 16 and approximately 40% of the sample had IQs above 130! Thus, it should be kept in mind that the results reported by Crandall et al. (1964) may not generalize to other samples of children with more normal levels of intel- lectual abilities. Despite this problem, however, this study is an interesting attempt at trying to determine what kind of parental attitudes and behaviors may affect chil- dren's academic achievement. It is also unfortunate that these investigators did not try to determine whether the parents' self-reported behaviors varied as a function of their beliefs about their children's level of intellectual competence. This is exactly the type of question that Seginer and McGillicuddy-de-Lisi would like to see answered. The Accuracy of Parents' Perceptions of Their Children's Intellectual Abilities The accuracy of parents' perceptions of their chil- dren's intellectual abilities is an important variable which unfortunately has been mostly ignored in research studies on expectancy effects. These studies usually have been done with the underlying assumption that expectancy effects on achievement behavior can be produced by simply increasing expectations. The level of ability of the child is usually not taken into account. That is, it is usually assumed that higher expectations will produce higher academic achievement regardless of the level of ability of the child. Mahan (1975), for example, attempted to raise student achievement behavior by manipulating parental expectations. Her sample consisted of a group of low SES elementary school children who had scored in the bottom two-thirds of the Stanford Achievement Test. The parents of the experimental children were contacted by their children's teachers who had been instructed to tell the parents that their children were capable of doing better in school. The teachers also met with the parents of the control children but did not attempt to raise parental expectations among them. The results of the study showed that the scores of the Stanford Achievement Test at the end of the school year were no different for the experimental children than for the control children. The study did not clearly show whether the parents' expectations of the experimental children had been successfully manipu- lated although the author did report that more of the experimental parents reported being dissatisfied with their children's school work after talking to their children's teachers. 19 Mahan's study had many serious flaws most of which were addressed by the author in discussing her results. However, one of the main problems with the study which was not addressed was the fact that it did not take the students' level of ability into account. The author simply assumed, as is often done in research on expectancy effects, that ex- pectations could affect achievement behavior regardless of the level of ability of the children involved. This assump- tion needs to be examined in future research. Hunt and Paraskevopoulos (1980) have recently argued that the accuracy of parents' perceptions about their chil- dren's intellectual abilities may play an important role in their children's cognitive development and actual intel- lectual performance. These authors start out with the premise that children benefit most from cognitive experi- ences which are moderately discrepant from their current level of cognitive development. They then argue that trying to achieve this moderate level of discrepancy when present- ing a task to a child requires accurate perception of the child's current level of cognitive development. They refer to this as the problem of the "match." According to Hunt and Paraskevopoulos, parents with accurate perceptions of their children's level of cognitive abilities should be able to produce better "matching" experiences for their children. Thus, this should lead to better cognitive development among children with accurate parents. Hunt and Paraskevopoulos (1980) attempted to find evi- dence in support of their hypothesis. In their study they asked a group of 50 mothers to predict how their children (3-9 to 5-4 years of age) would respond to a set of 96 test items taken from three different standardized tests. They also administered these same test items to the children to determine the accuracy of the mothers' perceptions. The authors expected to find a negative correlation between the inaccuracy of the mothers' predictions and the children's level of cognitive development. The results of the study supported their hypothesis. A correlation of r = -.80 was found between the number of incorrect predictions given by the mothers and the number of test items passed by the chil- dren. A closer examination of the results, however, showed that this correlation could have resulted from a methodo- logical artifact. Apparently, the accuracy of mothers' pre- dictions was correlated to the children's level of cognitive performance because the more items of the test the children passed, the fewer overestimations or false predictions their mothers could make. This possible methodological artifact made the results of Hunt and Paraskevopoulos' study incon- clusive. Further research is needed to test their hypothe- sis and to determine whether in fact mothers' accuracy of perception of their children's cognitive abilities is pre- dictive of their children's level of cognitive development. Entwisle and Hayduk's (1978) study, which was described earlier, also found some evidence which is congruent with Hunt and Paraskevopoulos'claims. In their study, they found that there was a racial difference in the level of parents' initial expectations of their children's first grades in school. White parents' initial expectations tended to be very conservative (averaging slightly under a "B" grade) and were highly correlated with their children's actual IQ scores. Black parents' expectations were found to be un- realistically high and failed to correlate with their children's IQ scores. The authors reported that when the parents' expectations were too discrepant from the chil- dren's actual level of performance they failed to show any effect on future grades. However, a slight discrepancy between the parents' expectations and their children's grades tended to predict a change in the children's future grades. Whenever the children's grades showed change they tended to change towards achieving greater consistency with the parents' expectations. Interestingly, the children's own expectations were also found to be very high and un- realistic regardless of the children's race. Entwisle and Hayduk's results emphasize the need to take children's level of ability into account when assessing the effects of expec- tations on children's achievement behavior. Their results also point to the fact that parental accuracy in perceiving their children's abilities may play an important role in the formation of parents' expectations and in the effects these expectations have on their children's achievements. Goal of Thesis There are several issues on expectancy effects that seem to deserve further study. One of these issues is the role that children's level of intellectual abilities may play in determining the effects that expectations have on their academic achievement. Research on expectancy effects has been characterized by a failure to take this important variable into account when assessing the effects of expecta- tions on academic achievement. Dusek and O'Connell (1973), for example, tried to determine whether naturally formed teachers' expectations had different effects on children's academic achievement than experimentally induced expecta- tions. They found that naturally formed expectations pre- dicted the children's level of achievement while experimen- tally induced expectations did not. These investigators, however, failed to control for differences in the children's level of ability when assessing the effects of the two types of expectations on the children's academic achievement. It is possible that the reason why the teachers' naturally formed expectations related to the children's achievement measure was that these expectations may have been based on their assessments of the children's actual intellectual abilities. These assessments were probably fairly accurate and thus related to the children's actual achievement per- formance. Another way in which researchers have neglected to con- sider children's intellectual abilities as an important variable influencing expectancy effects is by assuming that children's academic achievement can be improved by simply raising parents' and/or teachers' expectations of these children (Mahan, 1975). Entwisle and Hayduk's (1978) 23 research, however, has indicated that the absolute level of expectations may not be as important in predicting changes in children's academic achievement as the fit or the degree of discrepancy between these expectations and the children's actual academic performance. They have also shown that when expectations are unrealistically high they fail to have any effect on children's academic achievement. It seems that if expectations are to have any effect on achievement behavior they must be based on relatively accurate assessments of children's abilities. This issue of accuracy in the percep- tion of children's intellectual abilities is an important one because the accuracy of perception helps determine the degree to which the expectations held by teachers or parents will be realistic given the level of ability of the children. Hunt and Paraskevopoulos (1980) have also suggested the important role that the accuracy of parents' perceptions of their children's intellectual abilities may be playing in their children's overall level of cognitive development. Although the results of their study were inconclusive due to a methodological artifact, their hypothesis is an interest- ing one which needs to be re-examined. The goal of the present study was to determine whether a specific aspect of parental beliefs about their children's abilities, namely, the accuracy of their perceptions, pre- dicted their children's academic achievement. The study also examined some of the variables that may affect the accuracy of parents' perceptions of their children's abili- ties. This study differed from others in that it included important controls of variables which are known to affect children's academic achievement and which other studies have typically ignored. It also differed in the way in which mothers' perceptions of their children's intellectual abili- ties were assessed. Hunt and Paraskevopoulos (1980), for example, asked mothers to predict how their children would respond to a set of specific test questions. In the present study the mothers' perceptions of their children's abilities were assessed in a more global manner. A group of mothers of elementary school children were asked to rate their chil- dren's overall level of intellectual abilities and to give estimates of their children's IQ scores. It seems reason- able to assume that most parents have an overall impression of their children's level of ability. It is the accuracy of this overall impression that this study attempted to assess. The accuracy of the mothers' perceptions of their children's abilities was determined by computing a deviation score which indicated how far or how close the mothers' estimates of their children's IQ scores were to the children's real IQs. These accuracy scores were then used in several analyses to try to answer a number of questions about the variables that may influence the accuracy of mothers' perceptions and to answer the question of whether the accuracy of mothers' perceptions could predict the chil- dren's academic achievement. All of the analyses performed included the following variables as controls: the age of 25 the children, their sex, their IQ scores, the mothers' level of education and the families' SES. The more specific questions asked and the predictions made were the following: 1. Does the accuracy of the mothers' perceptions of their children's abilities vary as a function of the fol- lowing variables: the children's age, sex, IQ scores, the mothers' level of education and the families' SES? It was expected that the accuracy of the mothers' perceptions would vary as a function of the mothers' level of education and the families' SES. That is, mothers with more years of formal schooling were expected to be more accurate than mothers with fewer years of formal schooling. Likewise, the mothers of children from higher SES families were expected to be more accurate than those from lower SES families. In addition, the mothers' accuracy was expected to vary as a function of the children's ages. It was expected that moth- ers with older children would be more accurate than mothers with younger children. The rationale behind this prediction was that the mothers of the older children have had a chance to receive more feedback from the schools about their chil- dren's intellectual performance than the mothers with younger children. These mothers have also had more chances to observe their children and to adjust their overall im- pressions of their children's abilities. Therefore, they should be more accurate than the mothers of younger children. 26 2. Does the accuracy of mothers' perceptions predict the children's level of academic achievement? Data were gathered on the children's grades in school and their Stanford Achievement Test scores. These measures were then used to determine whether academic achievement varied as a function of the mothers' accuracy scores. It was ex- pected that the children with relatively accurate mothers would have the highest level of academic achievement. The children with inaccurate mothers (both those who overesti- mated and those who underestimated their children's abili- ties) were expected to have lower levels of academic achievement. 3. Is there a relationship between the accuracy of mothers' perceptions of their children's intellectual abilities and the frequency of opportunities mothers have to observe and compare their children's intellectual abilities? The mothers were asked to report how frequently they had the opportunity to observe their children's intel- lectual abilities under a variety of circumstances. They were also asked to report how frequently they had the oppor- tunity to compare their children's abilities to those of other children of their child's age. A relationship was expected between the mothers' reports of the frequency of opportunities they have to observe and compare their chil- dren and their accuracy scores. More specifically, mothers who reported having more frequent opportunities to observe and compare their children's abilities were expected to be 27 more accurate than those who reported having less frequent opportunities. Another aspect of expectancy effects research that seems to deserve further study is the relationship between parents' beliefs about their children's abilities and their own behavior towards their children. Previous research has shown that the behavior of teachers towards their students varies as a function of the teachers' expectations of those students (Braun, 1976). There is, however, very little re- search on how parents' behaviors towards their children vary as a function of the parents' beliefs about their children. The second goal of the present study was to examine a spe- cific type of parental behavior, namely the demands mothers make for their children's academic achievement, and to deter- mine whether they vary as a function of the mothers' beliefs about their children's abilities. It should be pointed out that in the present study there was no direct measure of the mothers' behaviors or the demands they made of their chil- dren. Instead, a self-report measure was used in which the mothers were asked to indicate the level of academic achieve ment at which they would let their children know that they were very pleased with their school work and the level at which they would let them know they were dissatisfied. This measure was similar to the Crandall et al. (1964) measure of mothers' minimal standards of academic achievement which was found to be related to their daughters' actual academic achievement. The following specific questions were asked in 28 this study about the mothers' self-reported demands for their children's academic achievement: 1. Do the mothers' demands vary as a function of their perceptions of their children's intellectual abili- ties and the following variables: the children's age, sex, IQ scores, the mothers' level of education and the families' SES? Mothers who perceived their children as having higher levels of intellectual ability were expected to make higher demands of their children than mothers who perceived their children as having lower levels of intellectual ability. Also, the mothers of older children, children with higher IQs, and children from higher SES families were expected to make higher demands than the mothers of younger children, children with lower IQs and children from lower SES fam- ilies. Finally, the more educated mothers were also ex- pected to make higher demands of their children than the mothers with lower education levels. 2. Is there an interaction effect of the mothers' level of demands and the children's IQ scores which serves to predict the children's level of academic achieve- ment? Higher demands for academic achievement were expected to predict higher levels of actual academic achievement only for children with certain levels of IQ. The rationale be- hind this prediction is that the appropriateness of mothers' demands, given their children's actual level of ability, may be more important than the absolute level of the demands. CHAPTER TWO METHOD Subjects The participants of this study consisted of 70 children and their mothers. The subjects were recruited through the cooperation of three elementary schools in the Jacksonville, Florida, area: San Jose Catholic School, The Chappell School and Southside Estates Academy. Permission to conduct the research at these schools was obtained by contacting the principals of 15 private schools in the area. Only private institutions were contacted because the Duval County School Board had already denied permission to conduct the research at any of their public schools. The above three schools were the only private schools interested in participating in the study. The schools from which the sample was drawn were com- parable in many respects. The student enrollment at all three of these schools is relatively small: San Jose Cath- olic has approximately 250 children enrolled in grades 1st through 6th; The Chappell School has 185; and Southside Estates Academy has 183. The slightly larger number of students at the Catholic school is due to the fact that this school has two sections of 5th and 6th graders. The average class size, however, is about the same in all three schools, that is, approximately 30 students per class. The schools 30 are also similar with respect to their tuition charges which range from 135 to 150 dollars per month. Also, none of these schools has any special selection criteria for the admission of its students. The academic curriculum of these schools is very similar to that of most public schools ex- cept for the addition of some specialized classes to the private schools' curriculums. San Jose Catholic School, for example, includes a Catholic catechism class in addition to their basic academic curriculum; The Chappell School in cludes a Spanish course; and Southside Estates Academy in- cludes a Bible class. In order to recruit the subjects, 618 letters were sent to the mothers of all the children of elementary school age attending the above schools (grades 1st through 6th). The recruitment letter explained the purpose of the research study and asked the mothers to volunteer as participants. The letter also let them know that their participation would consist of a 45-minute session in which they would be asked to answer a questionnaire about their children's intellec- tual abilities and school work. In addition, this letter asked the mothers for their permission to test their chil- dren and to have access to their children's school records. A copy of the recruitment letter sent to the mothers is in- cluded in Appendix A. The overall response rate to the recruitment letter was approximately 12%. Among the mothers who responded, five had to be excluded from the study due to the fact that they already knew their children's intelligence quotient scores 31 (IQ scores) from previous administrations of intelligence tests to their children. In addition, 15 of the mothers who responded had more than one child in the age range required for participation in the study. In these cases, only one of the children was included in the study. The choice of which child to include was made at random by the experimenter. Seventeen children were excluded from the study for this reason. The final participation rate by school was approxi- mately 14% (34 children) from San Jose Catholic, 11% (20 children) from The Chappell School, and 9% (16 children) from Southside Estates Academy. The children who participated in the study ranged in age from 6 years 3 months to 12 years 6 months. The average age was 9 years 5 months and the standard deviation was 1 year 10 months. Approximately half of the children were males (34) and half were females (36). Most of them were white (90%) with the exception of three black and four oriental children. In addition, five of the white children were Spanish surnamed. The majority of the children came from families in the middle to upper-middle socio-economic status (SES) as indi cated by their fathers' occupations and level of education. Approximately 74% of the sample had fathers with educations beyond the high school level and at least 80% of the chil- dren's fathers were engaged in white collar and/or profes- sional occupations. Since SES is one of the variables of interest in this study, more will be said about the fami- lies' SES levels later in the Results chapter. It should be noted that two children in the sample came from homes where 32 there was no father present. In one of these cases it was due to the father's death and in the other it was due to divorce. The majority of the children, however, came from intact families (77%) and 19% came from families in which the parents had been divorced but the mother was remarried. Most of the mothers who participated in the study had educations beyond the high school level and only one mother had failed to complete high school. The number of years of formal schooling for the total sample of mothers ranged from 9 to 20 years with a mean of 13.87 years and a standard deviation of 1.81 years. More will be said about the moth- ers' education in the Results chapter. The majority of the mothers interviewed for the study had occupations outside their homes or were fulltime college students (77%). The remainder were homemakers. For the most part, the mothers who worked outside their homes were engaged in white collar traditional female occupations such as teaching or clerical and secretarial positions. Procedure The mothers who responded to the recruitment letter were contacted by phone and an appointment was made to meet with them at a time of their convenience. All the mothers were seen individually at their own homes by a 26-year old female investigator. The meetings lasted approximately 30 to 45 minutes. At these meetings the mothers were asked to complete a questionnaire about their children's intellectual abilities and school work. A copy of this questionnaire is included in Appendix B. 33 Before giving the mothers the questionnaire the experi- menter explained the purpose of the research and reminded them of what would be required of them and their children as participants of the study. At this point the mothers were asked to read and sign a human subjects informed consent form. A copy of this consent form is included in Appen- dix C. The initial explanations given by the experimenter were usually brief since the same explanations were restated in the consent form in lengthier form. After the subject had read and signed this consent form and all her questions had been answered, the experimenter introduced the question- naire by saying the following: "This is the questionnaire that I would like you to fill out. I would like you to fill it out with (child's name) in mind. Since we are inter- ested in finding out what you think about your child's abilities, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It is very important, however, that you try to be as honest as you can when answering these questions so that we know exactly how you feel about your child's intel- lectual abilities. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have while filling out the questionnaire." After the mothers had completed the questionnaire the experimenter checked it to make sure no questions had been left unanswered. The mothers were then told the date and time at which their children would be tested. The mothers were also asked to send a note to their child's teacher on the day the child would be tested to let the teacher know the time at which the child would be taken out of class. In 34 addition, the mothers were asked to remind their children on the date of their test that they would be taken out of class for about an hour to be tested. They were also instructed to tell the children that the test was not a "school" test and that the results of the test would not affect their grades in any way. Since the experimenter who administered the questionnaire to the mothers was the same who tested all the children, the experimenter had a chance to meet the children at their own homes before the date of their test. The experimenter tried to establish rapport with the chil- dren at the time of this first meeting and also reassured the children that the test would not be hard. If the children asked why they had to take this test, they were told that the experimenter had to test 70 children to be able to graduate from college and that they were doing this as a favor to the experimenter. The test administered to the children was the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R). All the children were tested individually at offices provided by their schools. The administration of the test lasted ap- proximately 45 minutes to an hour depending on the child. At the beginning of the test the children were told to try to do their best but not to worry if they could not answer all the questions because some of the questions were made for older children. They were also reminded that the re- sults of the test would not affect their school grades and that neither their teachers nor their mothers would be given the results. 35 Variables The following is a list of the variables used in the study: 1. Age of the children. This variable was used as a continuous variable. A large age range of children was sampled in order to insure reasonable variability in the data. This was important because the analysis of the data was correlational in nature. As mentioned before, the children ranged in age from 6-3 to 12-6 years (mean = 9-5, s.d. = 1-10). 2. Sex of the children. Approximately equal numbers of male and female children were sampled for the study. This variable was the only categorical variable included in the analysis of the data and was used mainly as a control variable. 3. Socio-economic status (SES) of the children's fami- lies. This variable was quantified by using Hollingshead's Two Factor Index of Social Position (Bonjean, Hill & McLemore, 1967). This measure utilizes the fathers' occupa- tions and education levels to arrive at a numerical SES score. The procedure followed to derive the SES numerical scores was the following: First, the fathers' occupations and education levels were rated on two separate 7-point rat- ing scales designed by Hollingshead (Bonjean et al., 1967). The seven positions of these occupational and educational' scales are listed in Tables 3 and 4 in the Results chapter. The scale scores assigned were then used in the following formula to compute the numerical SES score or the "index of 36 social position score" (Bonjean et al., 1967, p. 385): occupational scale score x 7 (factor weight) = partial score; education scale score x 4 (factor weight) = partial score. The index of social position score is the sum of the two partial scores. The possible SES scores that can be obtained by using this index range from 11 to 77. It should be noted that a low index score on this measure indicates a high social status position and a high index score indicates a low social status position. 4. Mothers' level of education. This variable was used as a continuous variable. It was recorded in terms of the number of years of formal schooling the mothers had achieved. 5. Children's Intelligence Quotients (IQs). The children's scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised were also used as a variable in the study. Only the full scale IQ scores (combined verbal and perform- ance IQ scores) of the scale were used. 6. Children's Academic Achievement. Two parallel measures of the children's academic achievement were used: a. The children's national percentile scores on the 1983 administration of the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT). b. The children's overall grade point averages (GPAs) for the academic year 1982-1983. An overall grade point average score was computed for each child by using the following scale: A = 4.0 points; A- = 3.75 37 points; B+ = 3.25 points; B = 3.0 points; B- = 2.75 points; C+ = 2.25 points; C = 2.0 points; C- = 1.75 points; D+ = 1.25 points; D = 1.0 points; D- = 0.5 points; F = 0 points. In computing these GPA scores only the grades received in the following courses were used: Reading, Mathematics, English, Spelling, Science & Health, and Social Studies. The children's grades on courses such as Physical Education, Music, Art, Spanish or Religious Education were excluded when computing the GPA scores. This was done because many of these courses were not assigned letter grades. Also, some of these courses were not taught at all three schools. It should be noted that the grading scales of the three schools from which the children were sample differed slightly. The following grading scales were printed on the report cards of each of the three schools: San Jose Catholic The Chappell School A = 93-100 A = 95-100 B = 87-92 B = 85-94 C = 76-86 C = 75-84 0 = 66-75 D = 70-74 F = 65 and below F = 69 and below Southside Estates Academy A = Superior B = Above Average C = Average D = Below Average F = Failure 38 No attempt was made to adjust the children's grades to one comparable scale. This would have been an impossible task since one of the schools did not even provide numerical equivalents for the letter grades they assigned. In addition to the above variables, a number of meas- ures were derived from the questionnaire administered to the mothers. The measures that follow were all derived from this questionnaire. 7. Mothers' perceptions of their children's intellec- tual abilities. Three parallel measures of the mothers' perceptions of their children's abilities were derived from questions number 5, 7, and 8 of the questionnaire. These questions asked the mothers to estimate their children's intellectual abilities in three different ways: a. Question #5 asked for a rating of their children's intellectual abilities. b. Question #7 asked for a numerical estimate of their children's IQ scores and a lower and upper bound number of an interval within which they thought their chil- dren's IQ scores would fall. c. Question #8 asked for a percentile estimate of their children's IQ scores. Question #5 of the questionnaire provided a 9-point rating scale for the mothers to rate their children's intel- lectual abilities. This rating scale had the following scale positions: 1. exceptional--he is an extremely bright child, gifted for his age. 39 2. well above average--he is a very bright child, brighter than most children his age. 3. above average--he is slightly brighter than the average child his age. 4. slightly above average--he is slightly brighter than the average child his age. 5. average--he is as capable as the average child of his age. 6. slightly below average--he is slightly less capable than the average child of his age. 7. below average--he is less capable than the average child his age. 8. well below average--he has difficulty keeping up with most children of his age. 9. extremely below average--he is not capable of keeping up with children of his age. After the mothers had rated their children's intellec- tual abilities on the above scale and before they were asked to give a numerical estimate of their children's IQ scores, they were provided with the following information in ques- tion #7: The results from tests measuring children' intelli- gence quotients (IQs) show that out of every one thou- sand children tested approximately 1 child will have an IQ above 145 22 children will have IQs between 130 and 145 136 children will have IQs between 115 and 130 341 children will have IQs between 100 and 115 40 341 children will have IQs between 85 and 100 136 children will have IQs between 70 and 85 23 children will have IQs below 70 Based on this information what would be your best esti- mate of your child's IQ? Please keep in mind that an IQ score is a relative measure. That is, it reflects how well a child performs on the test as compared to other children of his same age. Also keep in mind that the average IQ score is 100. The majority of children score within 15 points plus or minus 100 (between 85 and 115). Scores within this range are considered normal. This information was provided in order to maximize the chances that the mothers would give accurate and sensible estimates of their children's IQ scores. The mothers were also provided with a definition of a percentile score before they were asked to give the percentile estimates of their children's IQ scores. This definition was provided in ques- tion #8 and read as follows: A percentile indicates where your child's IQ score ranks in comparison to other children who have taken the same IQ tesL. A percentile score of 50 would mean your child's score is in the middle. Half of the other children who took the test would have scored above him and half would have scored below him. A percentile score of 80 would mean your child did better than 00% of the other children who took the test and worse than 20%. A percentile score of 25 would mean your child 41 did better than 25% of the other children who took the test and worse than 75%. Again, the above definition was provided in order to maximize the chances that the mothers would give accurate and sensible percentile estimates of their children's IQ scores. In this study it was essential to obtain a valid meas- ure of the mothers' perceptions of their children's intel- lectual abilities since the purpose of the study was to de- termine how accurate these perceptions were and whether or not they predicted the children's academic achievement. The three types of estimates that the mothers were asked to give were included in the questionnaire for the above reason. Theoretically, all three of these measures should correlate highly with each other since they are basically asking the same thing in three different ways. It was decided before- hand that the numerical estimate would be used to determine the mothers' accuracy scores as long as it correlated highly with the mothers' ratings of their children's abilities, that is, as long as it appeared to be a sensible and valid measure of the mothers' perceptions. The numerical estimate was preferred because the mothers' accuracy scores could be easily computed from it by taking the difference between each mother's numerical estimate and her child's real IQ score. The percentile estimate would be used to compute the accuracy scores only in the event that they appeared to be better measures of the mothers' perceptions than the numeri- cal estimates. 42 8. Accuracy of the mothers' perceptions of their chil- dren's abilities. The accuracy scores of the mothers were computed by taking the difference between the mothers' nu- merical estimates of their children's IQ scores and their children's real IQ scores. The accuracy scores obtained by using this procedure were negative if the mothers had under- estimated their children's IQ scores and positive if they had overestimated their children's IQ scores. Also, the closer these accuracy scores were to zero, the more accurate the mothers had been in estimating their children's IQ scores. The mothers' numerical estimates of their children's IQ scores were used to compute the accuracy scores because the preliminary analysis of the data suggested that these esti- mates were relatively sensible measures of the mothers' per- ceptions. The correlation between the numerical estimates and the mothers' ratings of their children's abilities was fairly high (r = -.75, p = .0001). Table 11 in the Results chapter shows the intercorrelations obtained for the three different type of estimates and the children's real IQ scores. More will be said about these intercorrelations in the Results chapter. Perhaps it should be mentioned here that although the mothers' numerical estimates appear to be fairly valid meas- ures of their perceptions, the reliability of the accuracy scores derived from these estimates remains in question. As mentioned before, these accuracy scores were obtained by taking the difference between the mothers' numerical 43 estimates of their children's IQ scores and their children's real IQ scores. Difference scores of this type, and differ- ence scores in general, tend to be less reliable measures than single scores. The unreliability of difference scores is mainly due to the fact that the errors of measurement associated with each measure used to compute the difference score contribute to the overall error variance of the dif- ference score. Usually, if the measures used to obtain the difference score have high initial reliabilities, then the reliability of the difference score will be considerably higher than if the measures had poor initial reliabilities (Mehrens & Lehmann, 1975). In the case of the accuracy measure computed for this study, only the reliability of one of the measures used to derive this score is known (the average standard error of measurement for the WISC-R full scale IQ score is 3.19 points)(Wechsler, 1974); therefore, it will not be possible to estimate the reliability of the accuracy scores. Not knowing the reliability of the moth- ers' accuracy scores may be a problem in this study since one of the main hypotheses has to do with the relationship between these accuracy scores and the children's academic achievement. It is possible, for example, that no relation- ship between the accuracy of the mothers' perceptions and their children's level of academic achievement is found simply because the accuracy scores were too unreliable rather than because no relationship actually exists. In order to be able to discern which of these interpretations is more likely if such negative results were found, it would 44 be helpful if it could be shown that the mothers' accuracy scores correlate with another measure which theoretically should be related to them. The two measures that follow were included in the study for this reason. 9. Frequency of the mothers' opportunities to observe their children's intellectual abilities. This measure was included in the study to determine whether the accuracy of mothers' perceptions varied as a function of how frequently the mothers had the opportunity to observe their children. As mentioned before, this measure was also included hoping it would help clarify the results in the event no relation- ship was found between the accuracy of mothers' perceptions and their children's academic achievement. Theoretically, the amount of time mothers spend observing their children's intellectual abilities should correlate positively with how accurately they predict their children's IQ scores. That is, mothers who spend more time with their children should be more accurate than mothers who spend less time with them. The measure of the frequency of the mothers' opportunities to observe their children's intellectual abilities was derived from question #9 of the questionnaire. This ques- tion read as follows: The following is a list of instances in which parents have had the opportunity to observe their child's intellectual performance. Please indicate whether or not you have had the opportunity to ob- serve your child's intellectual abilities under these circumstances. Also indicate how frequently 45 you have had this opportunity by putting a number from 0 to 5 by the activity to reflect the follow- ing frequencies: 0 = never 1 = very infrequently, less than once a month. 2 = not very often, at least once every two weeks. 3 = regularly, at least once a week. 4 = often, at least three times a week. 5 = very frequently, almost every day. listening to your child name letters of the alphabet or read. explaining to your child the meaning of a word. listening to your child count or solve arithmetic problems. -observing your child work on a jigsaw puzzle. helping your child with his school work or looking over his school work. teaching your child the words to a song, poem or prayer. discussing with your child the plot of a television program, movie or book. playing reasoning-type games with your child or observing him play these games with other children. playing games that require remembering a set of rules or observing your child play these 46 sort of games (e.g., table games, card games, sports). teaching your child how to do a specific task observing your child put something together or working on a craft. observing your child talking and interacting with other children. looking over your child's art work. playing video games with your child or ob- serving him play these games with other children. A global score reflecting the total frequency of oppor- tunities mothers have had to observe their children's abili- ties was computed for each mother. This global score was computed by adding up all the frequency ratings for all 14 situations. The possible range of scores was from 0 to 70. A score of zero would be given to a mother who indicated never having the opportunity to observe her child's intel- lectual abilities under any of the 14 situations listed. A score of 70 would be given to a mother who indicated having had the opportunity to observe her child's abilities under all 14 situations "very frequently." 10. Frequency of mothers' opportunities to compare their children's intellectual abilities with those of other children. This measure was also included in the study to help clarify possible negative results. Again, it was ex- pected that this measure would correlate positively with the 47 mothers' accuracy scores. This measure was derived from question #10 of the questionnaire which read as follows: The following is a list of instances in which you may have had the opportunity to compare your child's intellectual abilities to the abilities of other children of your child's same age. Please indicate whether or not you have had the opportu- nity to compare your child's performance with that of other children under the following circum- stances. Also indicate how frequently you have had these opportunities by putting a number from 0 to 5 to indicate the following frequencies: 0 = never 1 = very infrequently, less than once a month. 2 = not very often, at least once every two weeks. 3 = regularly, at least once a week. 4 = often, at least three times a week. 5 = very frequently, almost every day. listening to other children of your child's age name letters of the alphabet or read. explaining the meaning of a word to other children of your child's age. listening to other children of your child's age count or solve arithmetic problems. observing other children of your child's age working on a jigsaw puzzle. helping other children of your child's age with their school work or looking over their school work. teaching other children of your child's age the words to a song, poem or prayer. discussing the plot of a television program, movie or book with other children of your child's age. playing reasoning-type games with children of your child's age or observing them play these games. observing children of your child's age playing games that require remembering a set of rules. teaching other children of your child's age how to do a specific task. observing other children of your child's age putting something together or working on a craft. observing other children of your child's age talking and interacting with each other. looking over the art work of other children of your child's age. playing with or observing other children of your child's age playing video games. A global score was also computed for this measure by adding up all the frequency ratings given by the mothers for 49 all 14 situations listed. As before, the possible range of scores on this measure was from 0 to 70. 11. Mothers' demands for their children's academic achievement. Two measures of the mothers' demands for their children's academic achievement were included in the study. These measures were derived from questions #2 and #3 of the questionnaire. These questions read as follows: How low would your child's grades in school have to get before you let him know that your are not satisfied with his school work? I would be dissatisfied A's. I would be dissatisfied A's and B's. I would be dissatisfied B's. I would be dissatisfied than C's. I would be dissatisfied C's. I would be dissatisfied than D's. with more B's than with grades lower than with more C's than with grades lower with more D's than with grades lower I would never let him know that I am dis- satisfied. How high would your child's grades in school have to get before you let them know that your are very pleased with his school work? 50 very pleased with mostly A's and a I would be few B's. I would be few A's. I would be few C's. I would be few B's. I would be few D's. I would be I would be very very pleased pleased with with no F's. whatever grades he brought. The responses given by the mothers to the first ques- tion represent the minimum level of demands mothers make of their children. The responses given to the second question represent the pleasing level of demands, that is, the mini- mum level of grades the children have to get in order to please their mothers. Numbers from one to seven were as- signed to each of the responses to both of these questions. A score of one on the minimum demands measure was given to a mother who answered that she would be dissatisfied if her child got more B's than A's. A score of seven was given to a mother who answered that she would never let her child know that she was dissatisfied with her child's school per- formance. Likewise, a score of one on the pleasing level of demands measure was given to a mother who answered that she would be very pleased if her child got mostly A's and B's. very pleased with mostly B's and a very pleased with mostly B's and a very pleased with mostly C's and a very pleased with mostly C's and a 51 A score of seven was given to a mother who answered that she would be very pleased with whatever grades her child brought home. In addition to all of the above measures derived from the questionnaire, a few other questions were included in the questionnaire for other purposes. Question #1 was included mainly as a warmup question in order to get the mothers thinking about their children's school performance. This question read as follows: What are your child's grades in school? he gets mostly A's with very few B's. he gets mostly A's and B's only. he gets mostly B's with some A's and C's. he gets mostly C's with some B's and D's. he gets mostly D's with some C's and F's. he gets mostly F's with some D's and C's. Numbers from one to six were assigned to each of the responses given to this question. A score of one was given to the mothers who answered that their children were getting the highest grades and a score of six to those who answered they were getting the lowest grades. A couple of open-ended questions (#4 and #6) were also included in the questionnaire. The answers to these ques- tions were not included in the main data analyses. These questions were included to generate hypotheses for future studies dealing with parents' perceptions of their chil- dren's intellectual abilities. These questions read as fol- lows: 52 #4. Please comment on your child's school work. If he is doing well in school, why do you think he is doing well? If he is not doing well in school, why do you think he is not doing well? #5. Can you describe any of the things that your child does or has done in the past which have led you to believe that his intellectual abilities are at the level that you have indicated in question #5? Perhaps it should be mentioned that the majority of the mothers filling out this questionnaire had no problems understanding the questions. When they did have a problem, it usually had to do with questions 9 and 10 of the ques- tionnaire. These were the two measures of the frequency of opportunities mothers have to observe and compare their children's intellectual abilities. Usually the mothers men- tioned that when their children were younger they had had the opportunity to observe their abilities more frequently than now that they were older. The mothers usually wanted to know whether their answers should reflect how frequently they observe their child now at his present age, or how frequently they had observed their child in the past. When this question was asked the experimenter told the mothers to answer how frequently they had the opportunity to observe their children now, at the child's present age. CHAPTER THREE RESULTS The results of this study will be presented in three parts. The first part will include the descriptive statis- tics of each of the variables used. The second part will include a description of how these variables intercorrelate with each other. Finally, the third section will cover the results of the regression analyses performed to answer the major questions of the study. Descriptive Results 1. Age of the children. The children ranged in age from 6-3 to 12-6 years. The mean age was 9-5 and the standard deviation was 1-10. The age distribution of the children was very similar in all three of the schools sam- pled. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted with "school" as the independent variable to make sure the age of the children did not differ by school. The results of this analysis indicated that there were no significant differ- ences among the schools in terms of the age of the children. It should be mentioned that five additional separate analyses of variance were conducted to determine whether the following variables differed by school: the IQ scores of the children, the children's SAT and GPA scores, the mothers' level of education, and the families' SES levels. Since none of these variables were found to differ 54 significantly among the schools the data for all three schools were pooled for the remaining analyses. 2. Sex of the children. There were 34 males and 36 female children in the study. Table 1 shows the sex distri- bution of the children by age. As can be seen, there were comparable number of male and female children throughout the different age groups in the sample. 3. Socio-economic status of the children's families. The Hollingshead's index of social position scores computed for the children's families ranged from 11 to 73. The aver- age score was 32.17 and the standard deviation was 15.16. Tables 2 and 3 show the percentage of the children's fathers falling into the different levels of the Hollingshead's edu- cational and occupational scales. As mentioned in the Method chapter, the ratings on these two scales were used to compute each family's index of social position score. 4. Mothers' level of education. The number of years of formal schooling the mothers had achieved ranged from 9 to 20 years. The mean was 13.87 years and the standard deviation was 1.81 years. Table 4 shows the percentage of mothers at several different education levels. As can be seen, the majority of the mothers had educations beyond the high school level (over 68%). 5. Children's intelligence quotients (IQs). The chil- dren's full scale IQ scores on the WISC-R ranged from 81 to 139. The mean was 109.08 and the standard deviation was 11.92. Table 5 shows the percentage of children at five different levels of IQ. As can be seen from this table, the Table 1 Age and Sex Distribution of the Children Age Sex 6-7 8-9 10-12 Total Males 11 10 13 34 Females 10 10 16 36 Total 21 20 29 70 Table 2 Percentage of the Children's Fathers at Each Level of the Hollingshead's Educational Scale 1. Professional (M.A., M.S., M.E., M.D., Ph.D., LL.B.) 2. Four-year college graduate 3. 1-3 years of college 4. High school graduate 5. 10-11 years of school 6. 7-9 years of school 7. Under 7 years of school Total Percentage of the total sample 20.00 18.60 35.70 22.86 0.00 2.86 0.00 100.00 Number of fathers 14 25 16 0 2 0 70 Note. The seven scale positions for the Hollingshead's Educational Scale were listed in Bonjean et al., 1967, p. 383. Table 3 Percentage of the Children's Fathers at Each Level of the Hollingshead's Occupational Scale Percentage Number of the of total sample fathers 1. Higher executives of larger 22.86 16 concerns, proprietors and major professionals 2. Business managers, proprietors 18.60 13 of medium sized businesses and lesser professionals 3. Administrative personnel, 20.00 14 owners of small businesses and minor professionals 4. Clerical and sales workers, 18.60 13 technicians and owners of little businesses 5. Skilled manual employees 11.43 8 6. Machine operators and semi- 7.14 5 skilled employees. 7. Unskilled employees. 1.43 1 Total 100.00 70 Note. The seven scale positions for the Hollingshead's Occupational Scale were listed in the Bonjean et al., 1967, p. 383. Table 4 Percentage of Mothers at Five Different Education Levels Percentage Number of the of total sample mothers 1. Professional 5.71 4 (17 years of school or more) 2. College graduate 14.29 10 (16 years of school) 3. Some college 48.57 34 (13-15 years of school) 4. High school graduate 30.00 21 (12 years of school) 5. No high school 1.43 1 (under 12 years of school) Total 100.00 70 Table 5 Percentage of the Children at Five Different Levels of IQ Classification Very Superior Superior High Average Average Low Average Percentage of the total sample 5.71 11.43 22.86 54.29 5.71 100.00 Note. The IQ classifications were taken from Wechsler, D., 1974, p. 26. 130+ 120-129 110-119 90-109 80-89 Total Number of children 4 8 16 38 4 70 majority of the children had average to above average IQs. At least 80% of the children had IQ scores of 100 or more. 6. Children's academic achievement. The children's scores on the Stanford Achievement Test ranged from the 17th to the 99th percentile. The mean SAT percentile score was 71.23 and the standard deviation was 19.85. Over 84% of the children had SAT scores above the 50th percentile. Thus, the sample as a whole performed well above national averages on the 1983 administration of the SAT. The children's grade point averages also showed above average performance in aca- demic achievement. They ranged from 0.69 to 4.0 with a mean of 2.94 and a standard deviation of 0.69. According to the scale used to compute the children's GPA scores, a GPA of 2.94 would fall between a B- and a B letter grade. At least 90% of the children had GPAs above a 2.0 or a C level and approximately 50% of them had GPAs above a 3.0 or above a B level. 7. Mothers' perceptions of their children's intellec- tual abilities. The mothers' ratings of their children's intellectual abilities ranged from 1 (exceptional) to 6 (slightly below average). The average rating was 3.49 which would fall between a 3 (above average) and a 4 (slightly above average) rating. The standard deviation was 1.21. Approximately 4% of the mothers rated their children as exceptional; 19% rated them as well above average; 29% rated them as above average; 23% as slightly above average; 24% as average and only one mother (1.43%) rated her child as 61 slightly below average. These results indicate that when using this rating scale the mothers were very reluctant to rate their children's abilities as anything but average or better. A slightly different picture emerges from the re- sults of the mothers' numerical estimates of their chil- dren's IQs. These estimates ranged from 75 to 143. The average IQ estimate given by the mothers was 114.86 and the standard deviation was 14.01. Although the majority of the mothers still answered that their children's abilities or IQ scores were above average (over 91% estimated their chil- dren's IQs to be at or above 100), a greater percentage of them gave below average estimates than when using the rating scale. Over 8% gave IQ estimates below 100. The mothers' percentile range estimates of their children's IQ scores ranged from "40-49th" percentile to "over 95th" percentile. The average percentile range estimated by the mothers was 80th-89th and the standard deviation was over 10 percentile points. As with the rating scale, when giving percentile estimates of their children's IQs the mothers were very re- luctant to say their children's percentile IQs were below average or below the 50th percentile. Only one mother said her child's percentile IQ would fall below this level. 8. Accuracy of the mothers' perceptions of their chil- dren's abilities. As mentioned in the Method chapter, the mothers' accuracy scores were computed by taking the differ- ence between their numerical estimates of their children's IQ scores and their children's real IQ scores. The mothers' accuracy scores indicated that a great number of them were fairly accurate in predicting their children's IQ scores. Approximately 37% predicted their children's IQs within six points (plus or minus) of their children's real IQs. The majority of the mothers, however, were wrong by more than six points. When the mothers were wrong, they usually erred in the direction of overestimating their children's IQs. Over 47% of the mothers overestimated their children's scores by more than six points. These overestimations ranged from 7 points to 39 points. The average overestima- tion was 15.88 points and the standard deviation was 7.77. Although the majority of the mothers overestimated their children's IQs, at least 16% of them underestimated their children's IQs by more than six points. The average under- estimation was 13.18 points and the standard deviation was 9.80. One mother underestimated her child's IQ score by as much as 41 points! Table 6 shows the percentage of mothers who were accurate within six points and the percentage of those who overestimated and underestimated their children's IQ scores. Perhaps it should be mentioned that although many of the mothers were fairly accurate in predicting their chil- dren's IQ scores,the majority of them expressed a great deal of uncertainty when giving their estimates. Many of them told the experimenter when filling out the questionnaire that they had no idea what their child's IQ was and that their estimate was simply a "wild guess." When asked to give the numerical estimates the mothers were also asked to Table 6 Percentage of Mothers Who Were Accurate and Who and Underestimated their Children's IQ Scores Overestimated Percentage of the total sample Overestimated by 15 points or more Overestimated within 7-14 points Accurate within 6 points Underestimated with 7-14 points Underestimated by 15 points or more 18.57 13 28.57 20 37.14 26 12.86 9 2.86 2 Total Number of mothers 100.00 64 give a range of IQ scores within which they thought their child's IQ would fall. The majority of the mothers gave very wide ranges which probably reflect the uncertainty they felt about their estimates. The size of the ranges given by the mothers ranged from 5 to 45 IQ points. The average range size was 23.67 IQ points and the standard deviation was 11.14. 9. Frequency of the mothers' opportunity to observe their children's intellectual abilities. The global fre- quency scores computed for each mother ranged from 17 to 62. The average score was 40.24 and the standard deviation was 11.27. An average global score of 40.24 when divided by the 14 different situations listed in question #9 of the ques- tionnaire yields an average frequency score of 2.87 per sit- uation. That is, mothers reported having the opportunity to observe their children with some degree of frequency falling between "not very often" (equivalent to a rating of 2) and "regularly" (equivalent to a rating of 3). Table 7 shows the average frequency rating given by the mothers for each of the 14 situations asked about in question #9. As can be seen from this table, the mothers reported having the oppor- tunity to observe their children "talking and interacting with other children" more often than any other type of situ- ation. They also reported having very few opportunities to observe their children "working on a jigsaw puzzle" or "playing video games." 10. Frequency of the mothers' opportunities to compare their children's intellectual abilities with those of other Table 7 Average Frequency Ratings Given by the Mothers to Each of the 14 Situations Listed in Question #9 Listening to your child name letters of the alphabet or read Explaining to your child the meaning of a word Listening to your child count or solve arithmetic problems Observing your child working on a jigsaw puzzle Helping your child with his school work Teaching your child the words to a song, poem or prayer Discussing with your child the plot of a TV program, movie or book Playing reasoning-type games with your child or observing him play these games Playing games that require remembering a set of rules Teaching your child how to do a specific task Observing your child put something together or working on a craft Observing your child talking and inter- acting with other children Looking over your child's art work Playing video games with your child or observing him play these games Mean 3.46 (1.55)a 3.17 (1.35) 2.97 (1.31) 1.61 (1.20) 3.96 (1.32) 2.24 (1.42) 3.19 (1.26) 2.43 (1.24) 2.71 (1.32) 2.91 (1.13) 2.68 (1.14) 4.01 (1.10) 3.17 (1.19) 1.81 (1.63) Note. A frequency rating of 1 = very infrequently, 2 = not very often, 3 = regularly, 4 = often, 5 = very a frequently. Numbers in parentheses indicate the standard deviations. children of the same age. Overall, mothers reported having less frequent opportunities to compare their children's intellectual abilities than to observe them. The average global frequency score for this measure was 18.99 with a standard deviation of 14.20 as compared to an average fre- quency score of 40.24 for the previous measure. An average global score of 18.99 is equivalent to an average frequency score of 1.36 for each of the 14 situations asked about in question #10. That is, mothers reported having the oppor- tunity to compare their children's abilities with some degree of frequency falling between "very infrequently" (equivalent to a rating of 1) and "not very often" (equiva- lent to a rating of 2). Table 8 shows the average frequency rating given by the mothers for each of the 14 situations asked about in question #10 of the questionnaire. 11. Mothers' demands for their children's academic achievement. The minimum level of demands mothers reported making of their children ranged from "I would be dissatis- fied with more Bs than As" (equivalent to a rating of 1) to "I would never let him know that I am dissatisfied" (equiva- lent to rating of 7). The average minimum level of demands for the sample as a whole was 2.88 and the standard devia- tion was 1.17. An average demand level of 2.88 would fall somewhere between "I would be dissatisfied with more Cs than Bs" (equivalent to a rating of 3) to "I would be dissatis- fied with grades lower than As and Bs" (equivalent to a rating of 2). Table 9 shows the percentage of mothers at Table 8 Average Frequency Ratings Given by the Mothers to Each of the 14 Situations Listed in Question #10 1. Listening to other children of your child's age name letters of the aphabet or read 2. Explaining the meaning of a word to other children of your child's age 3. Listening to other children of your child's age count or solve arithmetic problems 4. Observing other children of your child's age working on a jigsaw puzzle 5. Helping other children of your child's age with their school work 6. Teaching other children of your child's age the words to a poem, song or prayer 7. Discussing the plot of a TV program, movie or book with other children of your child's age 8. Playing reasoning-type games with other children of your child's age 9. Observing children of your child's age play ing games that require remembering rules 10. Teaching other children of your child's age how to do a specific task Mean 1.51 (1.43)a 1.52 (1.28) 1.40 (1.40) 1.00 (1.20) 1.00 (1.42) 0.82 (1.07) 1.27 (1.29) 1.25 (1.31) 1.71 (1.41) 1.24 (1.26) 11. Observing other children of your child's 1.12 (1.19) age putting something together 12. Observing other children of your child's age 2.75 (1.75) talking and interacting with each other 13. Looking over the art work of other 1.27 (1.11) children of your child's age 14. Playing with or observing other children 1.04 (1.05) of your child's age playing video games Note. A frequency rating of 1 = very infrequently, 2 = not very often, 3 = regularly, 4 = often, 5 = very frequently. Numbers in parentheses indicate the standard deviations. Table 9 Percentage of Mothers at Each Level of Minimum Demands for Academic Achievement Dissatisfied with more Bs than As Dissatisfied with grades lower than As and Bs Dissatisfied with more Cs than Bs Dissatisfied with grades lower than Cs Dissatisfied with more Ds than Cs Dissatisfied with grades lower than Ds Never dissatisfied Total Percentage of the total sample 12.86 27.14 22.86 35.71 0.00 0.00 1.43 100.00 Number of mothers 9 19 16 25 0 0 1 70 69 each level of minimum demands. It should be noted from this table that almost all the mothers (except for one who answered she would never let her child know that she was dissatisfied) demanded grades of at least Cs or better from their children. The pleasing level of demands mothers reported making of their children were, on the average, higher than the min- imum level of demands. The pleasing level of demands ranged from "I would be pleased with mostly As and a few Bs" to "I would be very pleased with whatever grades he brought home." The average pleasing level of demands was 2.2 and the stand- ard deviation was 1.31. An average demand level of 2.2 would fall between "I would be very pleased with mostly Bs and a few As" to "I would be very pleased with mostly Bs and a few Cs" (equivalent to ratings of 2 and 3, respectively). Table 10 shows the percentage of mothers at each pleasing level of demands. As can be seen, over 71% of the mothers reported they would be pleased with As and Bs only (equiva- lent to ratings of 1 and 2). Only two mothers answered they would be pleased with whatever grades their child brought. 12. Responses to the warm-up and open-ended questions. As was mentioned in the Method chapter, a warm-up question asking the mothers about their children's grades in school was also included in the questionnaire as well as a couple of open-ended questions. The mothers' responses to the warm-up question indicated that the mothers knew and remembered accurately what kind of grades their children were getting in school. The responses to the warm-up question ranged Table 10 Percentage of Mothers at Each Level of Pleasing Demands Percentage Number of the of total sample mothers 1. Pleased with mostly As and 32.86 23 a few Bs 2. Pleased with mostly Bs and 38.57 27 a few As 3. Pleased with mostly Bs and 15.71 11 a few Cs 4. Pleased with mostly Cs and 7.14 5 a few Bs 5. Pleased with mostly Cs and 2.86 2 a few Ds 6. Pleased with no Fs 0.00 0 7. Pleased with anything 2.86 2 Total 100.00 70 from "he gets mostly As with very few Bs" to "he gets mostly Ds with 'some Cs and Fs." The average response on this question was a rating of 2.53 with a standard deviation of 1.0. A rating of 2.53 in this scale translates to grades mostly above a C letter grade which is exactly what the majority of the children were getting (90% had GPAs above a 2.0 or a C level). The correlation between what the moth- ers said their children's grades were and the children's actual grades also indicates that the mothers were very aware of their children's performance in school. More will be said about the correlation between these two variables later in this chapter. The mothers' responses to the first open-ended question were rather interesting. This question asked them why they thought their children were doing well or poorly in school. Approximately half of the mothers (52%) said their children were doing well in school. The remainder said their chil- dren were not doing well or not doing as well as they could. The mothers who responded that their children were doing well usually attributed their children's good school performance to some specific personality characteristic of their chil- dren. Over 58% of the mothers' responses made mention to personality characteristics such as maturity level, ability to concentrate, self-confidence, possession of good study habits, eagerness to learn and eagerness to please parents and/or teachers. The most common response was eagerness to learn. Interestingly enough, the children's natural abilities or intelligence was mentioned only by two of the mothers. Over 24% of the responses given by the mothers attributed the children's good school performance to some particular behavior of the mother or the teacher toward the child. The mothers usually mentioned that they gave their children extra attention or described certain discipline rules they had established at home (e.g., the children have to do their homework before they are allowed to play). Other mothers mentioned some characteristics of the teachers or the school environment as the reason that their children were performing well in school. Finally, over 12% of the responses given by the mothers attributed their children's good performance to the amount of "effort" the children were putting into their school work. It should be mentioned here that some of the mothers gave more than one reason why they felt their children were doing well or poorly in school. The percentages given above reflect the percentages in terms of the total number of dif- ferent type of responses given rather than the percentage of mothers giving the different type of responses. The mothers who responded that their children were not doing well in school also attributed their children's poor performance to specific personality characteristics of the children. The personality characteristics more commonly mentioned were the lack of ability to concentrate, immatur- ity or a lack of a sense of responsibility, poor study skills, introversion and boredom. At least 44% of the mothers' responses made mention to these characteristics as the main reason why their children were not doing well in school. Approximately 37% of the mothers' responses attri- buted the children's poor performance to a lack of effort or a lack of motivation to achieve on the part of the children. The remainder of the mothers' responses (16%) blamed the teachers or the schools for their children's poor grades. They usually said the teachers were not spending enough time with the children, not giving them enough positive rein- forcement or were putting too much pressure on the children to do well. None of the mothers mentioned their child's lack of natural ability as a possible reason why their child may not be doing well in school. One mother did say that she did not know why her child was doing so poorly in school. The second open-ended question asked the mothers to describe the things their children do or have done in the past which have led them to believe their children's intel- lectual abilities are at the level they indicated in the rating scale in question #5 of the questionnaire. The majority of the mothers answered this question by giving positive examples of their children's intellectual abili- ties. At least 19% of the responses given by the mothers alluded to the children's grades as an indicator of their children's intellectual abilities. It should be pointed out, however, that most of the mothers mentioned grades in combination with some other ability they had observed in their children as an indication of their overall intellec- tual ability. The specific abilities the mothers said they 74 had observed in their children included 1. The speed with which their children learned new concepts and ideas (15% of the responses made mention to this speci- fic ability). 2. The children's reading skills and early interest in reading (14% of the responses). 3. The children's inquisitive nature and the sophisticated level of the questions they asked (9% of the responses). 4. The children's memory skills and retention abilities (8% of the responses). 5. The children's imaginations and ability to come up with innovative ideas on their own (6% of the responses). 6. The children's vocabularies and communication skills (5% of the responses). 7. The children's reasoning abilities, logic, and analytic skills (4% of the responses). The remainder of the re- sponses made mention of other more specific characteristics of the children such as a special interest in solving puzzles or certain hobbies, social maturity, a competitive nature, the ability to learn a specific skill on their own, etc. Only four parents described negative characteristics of their children. These parents said their children were slow in learning and/or did not try hard enough to learn. Intercorrelations among the Variables Intercorrelations were computed for all 16 variables included in the study. The matrix of Pearson product moment correlation coefficients is included in Appendix D. Out of a total of 120 correlations 57 were found to be significant at the p 4 .05 oc level of significance or better. This is not surprising given the nature of some of the variables included in the study. Many of the variables were different measures of the same construct and were expected to corre- late highly (e.g., GPAs and SATs were both measures of academic achievement). Other variables were known to be highly related to each other from previous research but were included to be used as control variables in subsequent analyses (e.g., IQ is a well known predictor of SATs and GPAs). Finally, some measures were theoretically expected to correlate with each other (e.g., the mothers' estimates of their children's abilities were expected to correlate with the actual measure of the children's abilities). For the purpose of simplicity, rather than comment on all 57 significant correlations separately, comments will be made on certain clusters of variables which were expected to cor- relate with each other for any of the above reasons. The following variables were expected to correlate be- cause they were measures of the same or similar constructs: 1. The children's GPAs and SAT scores. These two measures were expected to correlate because they were both measures of the children's academic achievement. The correlation coefficient for these two variables was r = .74, p .0001. 2. The three different type of estimates of the children's intellectual abilities given by the mothers. These were ex- pected to correlate because they were all measures of the mothers' perceptions of their children's abilities. The 76 intercorrelations among the three types of estimates (rating, numerical IQ, and percentile IQ) are given in Table 11. As can be seen, these correlations were all highly significant. It should be mentioned that the negative signs in these cor- relations are an artifact of the way the questions in the questionnaire were set up. The rating scale, for example, was set up so that the lowest numerical rating (#1) was equivalent to the highest ability level ("exceptional"). These correlations, although carrying a negative sign, are really positive in nature. That is, each two related variables covary in the same direction (they increase and decrease together). This is also true of many of the correlations listed in Appendix D. For simplicity purposes, the reader should assume that the correlations listed are positive in nature (regardless of their sign) unless otherwise stated in the text. 3. The measure of the frequency of opportunities mothers have to observe their children's abilities and the measure of the frequency of opportunities mothers have to compare their children's abilities to those of other children. Both of these variables can be thought of as measures of how often mothers have a chance to form an impression of the level of their children's intellectual abilities. The cor- relation between these two variables was expected to be sig- nificant. The actual correlation found was r = .48, p .0001. 4. The minimum and the pleasing level of demands. Both of these were measures of the mothers' demands for their Table 11 Intercorrelations among Children's Intellectual Scores the Mothers' Estimates of their Abilities and their Children's Real IQ Children's real IQs Rated intellectual abilities Percentile IQ estimate Children's real IQs Rated intellectual abilities Numerical IQ estimate Percentile IQ estimate 1 .00 -0.52 (.0001) 0.53 (.0001) 1 .00 -0.75 (.0001) -0.41 0.68 (.0005) (.0001) Note. Numbers in parent significance. eses indicate the C. level of Numerical IQ estimate 1 .00 -0.57 (.0001) 1.00 children's academic achievement and were expected to be re- lated. The correlation between these two variables was also highly significant (r = .64, p .0001). Among the variables which were expected to correlate because they are known to be highly related to each other from previous research were the following: 1. The children's IQ scores and the academic achievement measures. 2. The families' SES and the children's academic achieve- ment measures. 3. The families' SES and the children's IQ scores. 4. The families' SES and the mothers' level of education. 5. The mothers' level of education and the children's aca- demic achievement measures. 6. The mothers' level of education and the children's IQ scores. The intercorrelations among these variables are shown in Table 12. As can be seen, most of the above expected correlations were replicated in this study. The only excep- tions were the relationship between the families' SES and the children's academic achievement and the relationship between the mothers' level of education and the children's academic achievement. It is possible that since the sample used in the study was highly selective, the variability in the mothers' levels of education and the families' SES scores may not have been enough to facilitate the finding of significant correlations. Table 12 Intercorrelations among the Children's IQs, GPAs, SATs, the Mothers' Level of Education and the Families' SES IQ GPA SAT SES Mothers' education IQ 1.00 GPA 0.50 1.00 (.0001) SAT 0.61 0.74 1.00 (.0001) (.0001) SES -0.30 0.01 -0.15 1.00 (.0119) (.9325) (.2240) Mothers' 0.25 0.08 0.20 -0.47 1.00 Education (.0369) (.4979) (.0979) (.0001) Note. Numbers in parentheses indicate the . level of significance. 80 The following variables were expected to correlate with each other for theoretical reasons: 1. The mothers' estimates of their children's intellectual abilities and the children's actual IQ scores. As can be seen in Table 11 all three types of estimates given by the mothers were highly related to the children's actual IQ scores. This supports the finding that the mothers had somewhat accurate perceptions of their children's abilities. It should be mentioned here that since the mothers' three types of estimates correlated highly with the children's IQ scores, these estimates also correlated with some of the other measures which are known to correlate with IQ. Examples of these measures are the children's GPAs, SATs, the families' SES and the mothers' level of education. It makes sense that since all these measures correlate highly with the children's IQ scores they should also correlate with the mothers' estimates of these scores. The above reason explained at least 11 of the 57 significant correla- tions found. The specific correlations for these variables can be found in Appendix D. 2. The mothers' estimates of their children's intellectual abilities and the demands for academic achievement they make of their children. Again, it makes sense that the mothers' levels of demands would correlate with their perceptions of their children's abilities. Table 13 shows the intercorre- lations among these variables. As can be seen, all the cor- relations are significant. The mothers' demands also corre- lated with the children's actual IQ scores. The correlations Table 13 Intercorrelations among the Mothers' Demands for Academic Achievement and the Mothers' Estimates of their Children's Abilities Rated intellectual abilities Numerical IQ estimates Percentile IQ estimates Minimum demands 0.31 (.0080) -0.26 (.0269) 0.40 (.0007) Pleasing demands 0.27 (.0214) -0.38 (.0014) 0.34 (.0040) Note. Numbers in parentheses significance. indicate the 0C level of between the minimum and the pleasing level of demands and the children's real IQ scores were r = .50, p .0001 and r = .29, p .0153, respectively. 3. The mothers' demands for academic achievement and the children's actual level of academic achievement. These variables were also expected to correlate with each other and they did. The correlations between the children's GPAs and the mothers' minimum and pleasing level of demands were r = -.45, p .0001 and r = -.29, p .0157, respectively. Likewise, the correlations between the children's SATs and the mothers' minimum and pleasing level of demands were r = -.42, p .0003 and r = -.32, p .0075. 4. The mothers' accuracy scores and the measures of the frequency of opportunities they have to observe and compare their children's abilities. The mothers' accuracy scores unfortunately were not found to correlate with either of the frequency measures. This was contrary to what was expected. It is not clear why these variables were not found to be related. An item analysis was performed on each of the fre- quency measures to determine whether the global frequency scores computed were accurate reflections of how the mothers had answered each of the items of the measures. The item analyses were performed by computing the correlations be- tween the global frequency scores and the frequency ratings given to each of the items of the measures. The item analyses showed that both frequency measures had high inter- nal consistencies. That is, each and every one of the items 83 in each of the measures correlated significantly with its respective global frequency score. Table 14 shows the cor- relations obtained for the item analyses of both frequency measures. It is important to point out that although both measures were shown to have high internal consistencies, it is still not clear whether they are valid indicators of the frequency with which the mothers observe and compare their children's abilities. These frequency measures showed several unexpected cor- relations with other variables. The measure of the frequen- cy of opportunities mothers have to compare their children's abilities, for example, was found to correlate significantly with the children's IQ scores, the children's GPAs, the mothers' percentile IQ estimates, and the mothers' ratings of their children's abilities. These correlations indicated that mothers whose children had high IQs and high GPAs re- ported having more frequent opportunities to compare their children's abilities than mothers whose children had low IQs and GPAs. Also,mothers who reported having more frequent opportunities to compare their children's abilities rated their children's abilities higher and gave higher percentile IQ estimates than mothers who reported having less frequent opportunities. These relationships may have emerged for many sensible reasons. For example, the relationship be- tween the frequency of opportunities mothers have to compare their children and their children's IQs may have emerged be- cause the children with the higher IQs may have mothers who are more intelligent and spend more time comparing their Table 14 Correlations between the Global Scores of the Frequency Measures and Each of their Respective Items Frequency measures Item Frequency of number opportunities to observe the children's abilities 0.62 0.64 0.71 0.52 0.75 0.69 0.65 0.66 0.57 0.53 0.49 0.69 0.36 0.70 Frequency of opportunities to compare the children's abilities 0.82 0.77 0.89 0.67 0.82 0.82 0.86 0.85 0.82 0.83 0.68 0.78 0.38 0.79 Note. All the correlations .0001. were significant at p < than children to other children. It should be pointed out, however, that many mothers were not as careful when answer- ing this frequency question as they were when answering other questions. Some mothers, for example, indicated that they had very few opportunities to compare their children to other children. They then proceeded to assign frequency ratings of one across all situations asked about in the question without taking care to read each particular situa- tion and adjust their ratings accordingly. Thus, the valid- ity of these frequency scores is questionable and it is not clear whether the relationships found between this measure and the other variables are reliable. The measure of the frequency of opportunities mothers have to observe their children did not show this problem. The mothers did answer this question carefully. This measure was found to be nega- tively related to the age of the children (r = -.30, p .0124). That is, the mothers reported having more fre- quent opportunities to observe the younger children than the older children. This relationship, although unexpected, is a sensible one. It could also be argued that the frequency measures failed to correlate with the accuracy scores because the accuracy scores themselves may not be valid or reliable measures. This, of course, remains a valid possibility. The accuracy scores were found to be significantly related to all three types of estimates of the children's abilities given by the mothers (rated abilities, r = -.33, p .0050; IQ 86 numerical estimate, r = .61, p .0001; and IQ percentile esti- mate, r = -.24, p .0426). All three of these relationships were positive in nature. Mothers whose estimates were high tended to overestimate their children's abilities while mothers whose estimates were low tended to underestimate their children's abilities. The accuracy scores were also found to be related to the children's IQ scores (r = -.36, p .0024). This relationship indicated that mothers with high ability children tended to underestimate their chil- dren's abilities and mothers with low ability children tended to overestimate them. More will be said about the mothers' accuracy scores and their relationship with the other variables later in this chapter. 5. The children's academic achievement and the warm-up question which asked the mothers what their children's grades in school were. These two measures theoretically should correlate with each other. The correlation found between the mothers' reports of their children's grades and their children's actual grades or GPAs was r = -.79, p .0001. This shows that the mothers were very aware of their chil- dren's performance in school. The mothers' reports of their children's grades also correlated with several variables which had already shown to be related to the children's actual grades. The following are examples of these vari- ables: the children's SATs (r = -.73, p .0001), the children's IQ scores (r = -.59, p .0001), the mothers' ratings of their children's abilities (r = .54, p .0001), the mothers' numerical IQ estimates (r = -.38, p .0011), the mothers' percentile IQ estimates (r = .53, p .0001), the mothers' minimum demands (r = .58, p .0001) and the mothers' pleasing demands (r = .33, p .0060). Finally, it should be mentioned that a negative rela- tionship was found between the children's age and the chil- dren's GPAs (r = -.25, p .0370). It appears that at the younger ages the children's GPAs are higher than at the older ages. This may be a reflection of the grading poli- cies of the teachers who may be more lenient when grading the work of the younger children. Since age will be in- cluded as a control variable in all subsequent analyses, this relationship should not be a problem. Results of the Multiple Regression Analyses In order to answer the main questions raised in this study it was necessary to conduct several multiple regres- sion analyses. A multiple regression analysis allows for the evaluation of the relationship between several indepen- dent variables (Ys) and a dependent variable (X). Since so many of the variables used in this study were interrelated, this type of analysis was necessary in order to be able to determine the relative contribution made by each of the in- dependent variables to the variance observed in the depen- dent variable. In this section of the chapter the results of the regression analyses will be presented. These results will be organized around each of the main questions raised in the study. 88 The first question of interest in this study has to do with the accuracy of the mothers' perceptions of their chil- dren's intellectual abilities. More specifically, the question asked whether the mothers' accuracy scores varied as a function of the children's age, sex, IQs, the mothers' level of education, and/or the families' SES. It was pre- dicted that the mothers' accuracy scores would vary as a function of the children's age. That is, the mothers were expected to be more accurate in perceiving the abilities of the older chidlren than the younger children. Mothers with higher levels of education were also expected to be more accurate than mothers with lower levels of education. Finally, the mothers of the children in higher SES families were expected to be more accurate than the mothers of the children in lower SES families. A multiple regression analysis was conducted to answer the above questions. The multiple regression analysis was conducted with the accuracy variable coded in such a manner that positive accuracy scores indicate errors of overestimation, negative scores indi- cate errors of underestimation and scores of zero indicate per- fectly accurate predictions. It should be noted, that the accuracy variable could have been coded such that no distinc- tion is made between the two different types of estimation errors. That is, rather than use the difference scores with their respective signs, the absolute value of the difference scores could have been used such that zero scores would still represent perfectly accurate predictions but anything greater than zero would represent increasingly greater estimation errors. In the analysis performed in which accuracy is not coded in a truly linear manner, the possible linear relation- ships between accuracy and any other variables were examined by including a quadratic term in the regression model. This quadratic term was really testing for linear relationships of the type that would emerge if the accuracy scores had been coded in a truly linear manner. The linear term included in the regression model was testing whether the two different types of estimation errors (i.e., overestimations and under- estimations) differed in the way they related to the other variables included in the analysis. It should be noted that linear and quadratic terms were included in all the regression analyses which included the accuracy variable. The results of this analysis indicated that the mothers' accuracy scores did not vary as a function of the children's sex. Contrary to what was predicted, the mothers' scores also did not vary as a function of the children's age or the families' SES scores. A relationship was found, however, between the accuracy scores and the children's IQ scores. It appears that the mothers were less accurate in predicting the IQ scores of children with either very high or very low IQs and were more accurate in predict- ing the IQs of the children with average scores. The par- tial correlation between the mothers' accuracy scores and the children's IQ scores after controlling for the effects of all the other independent variables in the analysis was r = -.39, p .0013. This relationship was negative in nature. 90 That is, the mothers of children with low IQs had a tendency to overestimate their children's IQs and the mothers with children with high IQs had a tendency to underestimate their children's scores. It should be mentioned here that the correlation obtained between the mothers' accuracy scores and the children's IQs may be slightly inflated. This is so because whenever a correla- lation is computed between a variable x and a difference score which has been derived using that same variable, the error of measurement associated with the variable x will inflate the correlation in the negative direction. It should be noted also that it is possible that this relationship between the mothers' accuracy scores and the children's IQ scores is artifactual in nature. That is, if, for example, there was a tendency for the majority of the mothers to predict their children's IQs to be average or even slightly above average, then mothers with children with very high or very low IQs would appear less accurate since their children's actual IQ scores would be further away from the average predicted scores. The re- lationship would arise not necessarily because the mothers were less accurate in perceiving the abilities of the chil- dren with either very high or very low IQ scores but rather because of a response bias on the part of the mothers who may have preferred to give average or slightly above average IQ predictions. A closer examination of the mothers' predicted IQ scores, however, indicated that the mothers did not exhibit such a response bias. The mothers gave a wide range of IQ predictions and the distribution of their predicted IQ scores closely parallels that of the actual IQ scores of the children. Approximately 23% of the mothers predicted their children's IQs to be in the 85 to 100 range (24% of the children actually had IQ scores in this range), 30% predicted IQs between 101 and 115 (44% actual IQs fell in this range), 25% predicted IQs between 116 and 129 (25% actual IQs fell in this range). In addition, 19% predicted IQs of 130 or higher (only 6% of the actual IQs were that high) and only one mother predicted her child's IQ score to be under 85 (only one child in the sample had an IQ score that low). A response bias that would result in the type of relationship found between the accuracy scores and the chil- dren's IQs is not clearly apparent. A 'relationship was also found between the mother's level of education and their degree of accuracy in esti- mating their children's IQ scores. The partial correlation between these two variables after controlling for the effects of all the other independent variables in the analysis was r = .28, p .0245. This relationship indicated that the higher the education level of the mother the more likely she was to overestimate her child's IQ and the lower the education level the more likely the mother was to under- estimate her child's IQ. In other words, contrary to what was predicted, mothers with higher education levels did not estimate their children's IQs more accurately than those with lower education levels. They were, in general, more inaccurate and more likely to overestimate their children's 92 IQs. Table 15 shows the percentage of mothers at three edu- cation levels who were accurate in predicting their chil- dren's IQ scores within 6 points and the percentage of those who overestimated and underestimated their children's IQs. As can be seen, a greater percentage of mothers with high school educations were accurate than those with some college or completed college. Also, the higher the education level of the mother, the greater the percentage of overestimations found. The second major question raised in this study dealt with the possible relationship between the mothers' accuracy scores and the children's academic achievement. It was hypothesized that children whose mothers had accurate perceptions of their abilities would perform better in school than those whose mothers had inaccurate perceptions of them. Both overestimations and underestimations of the children's abilities were expected to predict lower academic performance than accurate perceptions. In order to test the above hypothesized relationship, two parallel regression analyses were conducted. One used the children's SATs and the other used the children's GPAs as dependent variables. The following independent variables were included in both analyses: the mothers' accuracy scores, the children's age, sex, IQs, the families' SES and the mothers' level of educa- tion. The last five of these variables were included for control purposes. The linear models used in both analyses included a linear and a quadratic term for the accuracy variable. The results of these analyses showed that there |