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Parental involvement, homework, and self-regulation.


This study examined the predictive association between gender, ethnicity, parental involvement in homework, self-regulated learning processes, and motivational beliefs among a national sample of tenth grade high school students. A regression analysis revealed that motivational beliefs and use of self-regulated learning strategies are significant predictors of math standardized test scores beyond and above parents' active and reactive homework involvement and students' gender and ethnic differences. Students who engaged in self-regulation were better able to perform on the math standardized test.


The ability of learners to use self-regulation of learning strategies could serve as a learning tool to diminish the detrimental effect of low motivation on academic performance. Despite the importance of effect of the use of self-regulation on academic performance, relatively little is known about the association between academic achievement and self-regulation of learning and motivation. Thus, this study examines the predictive association between gender, ethnicity, parental involvement in homework, self-regulated learning processes, and motivational beliefs among a national sample of tenth grade high school students.

Current research indicates that homework generally has positive effects on students' academic outcomes (Bembenutty, 2005; Cooper 1989; Cooper & Valentine, 2001; Trautwein, Ludtke, Kastens, & Koller, 2006; Xu & Corno, 2006). Cooper (1989, 2001) defines homework as a teacher-initiated method for directing students to study more effectively on their own outside of the school. Homework is usually first assigned during the elementary school years and increases in depth and quantity during subsequent years. Likewise, the American Psychological Association's dictionary of psychology (VandenBos, 2007) defines homework as "schoolwork that is to be completed away from school or outside the classroom, most often at the student's home or dormitory room and in the student's private time. The assignments are designed to enhance the student's basic knowledge, which can then be used more effectively in the classroom" (p. 445). Not only does homework serve to convey academic knowledge to students, but it should also prompt them to engage in self-initiated and self-directed studying (Zimmerman, 2000). However, little research has been done to investigate the latter aspect of homework.

Self-regulation of Learning

Zimmerman (1998) recommended investigating the role of self-regulatory processes in successful studying. Zimmerman (1998) defined self-regulation of learning as "self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions for attaining academic goals" (p. 73). In a consistent self-regulatory approach, Winne and Hadwin (1997) proposed four self-regulatory stages in homework completion: a) task definition (perception of the feature of the task); b) goal setting and planning (reframing goals); c) enacting study tactics and strategies (implementing, monitoring, and evaluating strategies); and d) metacognitively adapting studying (inspecting outcomes and making decisions and adjustments). Despite efforts to investigate the process of homework, current theoretical accounts of homework have paid little attention to students' development and use of self-regulatory processes. Instead, researchers have focused primarily on social environmental factors that influence students' engagement in homework. For example, researchers have examined the effects of parents and teachers on students' homework completion (Cooper, Jackson, Nye, & Lindsay, 2001; Cooper & Valentine, 2001).

Effort regulation is one of the self-regulatory components associated with achievement (Pintrich et al., 1993). Effort regulation refers to students' intention to put forth resources, energy, and time to secure completion of important academic tasks (Pintrich et al., 1993). In an academic setting, self-regulation of academic tasks is imperative because it can determine academic achievement and performance. It is well documented that deficiencies in self-regulation of learning, cognitive capacity, and poor study habits interfere with academic performance among learners (Pintrich 8,: Schunk, 2002; Zimmerman, 2000). At the same time, the important role of gender and ethnicity in students' academic performance has also been well documented (Xu, 2006; Xu & Corno, 2003). Similarly, parental involvement has also been shown to have positive association with students' academic performance (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001; Xu & Corno, 2006).

Parental Involvement in Their Children's Homework

Parental involvement refers to actions and initiatives taken by parents to secure their children' academic success (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005; Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandier, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2005; Xu, (2006); Xu & Corno, 2006). These actions often involve parents controlling their children's physical and social environment so that their children will not be distracted in their attempt to secure academic tasks completion. Often, parents check homework assignments, help with homework, give special privileges for good grades, limit privileges because of poor grades, require their children to work around the house, and restrict time watching TV, playing video games, and visiting with friends (Cooper, 1989; Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006). Similarly, the amount of time students spend on homework per week has been found to be an indicator of academic achievement among high school students (Cooper, 1989, 2001; Cooper, Lindsay, Nye, & Greathouse, 1998; Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandler, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2005; Xu, (2006).

Despite the importance of these factors associated with academic achievement, relatively little remains unknown about how other factors, such as students' motivational beliefs and selfregulation of learning, are related to academic success once parental involvement is controlled. In many instances, academic performance depends on whether students continue to study and enact motivation. Achievement of long-term academic goals may depend on the students' ability to use sell-regulatory learning strategies and activate their motivation for learning (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2005).

Self-Efficacy, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Interest

An important motivational factor associated with academic achievement is self-efficacy. Selfefficacy refers to the beliefs that individuals possess about their ability to perform an expected task (Bandura, 1997; Zimmerman, 2000). Self-efficacy is related to successful academic performance (Zimmerman, 2000). Students with high self-efficacy may decide to continue working on an important assignment when test anxiety arises and when they are tempted to stop their work. However, students with low self-efficacy beliefs may not only succumb to temptation, but may also let disruptive thoughts interfere with their performance. Students may differ in motivation depending on its source, such as whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). According to Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and McKeachie (1993), intrinsic interest refers to students' enjoyment of participating in a task for the sake of learning, whereas extrinsic interest refers to students' engagement in a task for reasons other than the task itself. Students may possess intrinsic but not extrinsic motivation, have extrinsic but not intrinsic motivation or have both or neither (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002).

The use of self-regulated learning strategies may be especially important when emotions arise and alternatives to remain task-focused become available. According to Pintrich and his associates (Pintrich et al., 1993), resource management strategies, which include the effort put into the learning process, are self-regulated strategies that enhance the learner's academic achievement in the classroom. These are similar as the learning strategies that Zimmerman (2000) identified by using an interview structure among learners. In these instances, management of available resources would be important to overcome the detrimental effect of test anxiety. In the present study, effort regulation was investigated. Thus, this study examines the predictive association between gender, ethnicity, parental involvement in homework, self-regulated learning processes, and motivational beliefs among a national sample of tenth grade high school students.



The sample consisted of 3,439,490 high school students (10th grade) selected from the first wave (2002) of the National Center for Education Statistics (ELS, 2002). The sample contains a national representation of the students in the United States (see Table 1). Issue website The Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS) is a longitudinal survey that follows educational transitions of 10th grade students from high school and beyond. The survey contains information obtained directly from the students, school records, students' parents, their teachers, their librarians, and the administrators of their schools.


Gender and Ethnicity. In this study, male participants were 1,735,364 (50.5%) and females were 1,704,125 (49.5%). Caucasian students were 2,073,511 (66.3%) and Non Caucasian students were 1,365,979 (39.7%).

Self-regulation of Learning and Motivational Beliefs. The items were taken from the Motivational Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), which assesses the students' course-specific motivation and use of learning strategies (Pintrich et al., 1993).

a. Self-efficacy beliefs were assessed with Likert scale items (e.g., "Can do excellent job on math assignments"). Self-efficacy refers to one's beliefs in his or her capability to perform at a designated level (Bandura, 1997). For example, learners who engage in homework must believe that they can do and have the competence to do the specific homework tasks. A high self-efficacy belief is associated with selection of task, persistence, and use of learning strategies (Zimmerman, 2000). Learners engage in tasks in which they believe they can succeed. Self-efficacy is associated with the amount of time learners are on task and the effort they place on those tasks. A high degree of self-efficacy is associated with high academic performance and use of self-regulatory strategies. The Self-Efficacy Scale has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .92 (M = 2.51, SD = .78).

b. Effort regulation was assessed with items such as "Puts forth best effort when studying"). The Effort Regulation ScaLe has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .81 (M = 2.85, SD = .70).

c. Intrinsic interest refers to one's engagement in a task for the sake of learning and mastering the task. The Intrinsic Interest Scale was measured with items such as "Does best to learn what studies." In the present study, intrinsic motivation was expected to have a direct effect on students' use of learning strategies and performance. That is, students with high intrinsic motivation would persist longer in homework and would obtain higher grades than students with low intrinsic motivation. The Intrinsic Interest Scale has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .78 (M = 2.71, SD = .78).

d. The Extrinsic Interest Scale was measured with items such as "Studies to get a good grade." The Extrinsic Interest Scale has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .80 (M = 2.65, SD = .86).

Parental Active and Reactive Homework Involvement. An examination of possible multidimensionality of parental homework involvement was conducted with a principal components factor analysis and varimax rotation. Using a root one criterion, two factors were extracted that explained 56% of the variance. With a criterion factor loading of [absolute value of .40], Factor 1, which accounted for 39% of the variance, consists of three items that generally presented parents' active role in helping their children complete homework. Factor 2, which accounted for 16% of the variance, reflects reactive parental role in helping their children complete homework.

a. Parental Active Involvement was assessed with items such as "How often parents checks homework?" and "How often parents help with homework?" The Parental Active Involvement Scale has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .71 (M = 2.74, SD = .80).

b. Parental Reactive Involvement was assessed with items such as "Special privileges given for good grades" and "Required to work around the house." The Parental Reactive Involvement has a reliability Cronbach's alpha of .66.

Math Academic Achievement. Academic achievement was assessed with the students' math test standardized scores (M = 50.00, SD = 9.99).


Correlational Analyses

As shown in Table 2, See issue website math standardized test scores were negatively correlated with ethnicity and gender, parents' Active involvement in homework, and extrinsic interest. However, it was significantly and positively related to self-efficacy, effort regulation, and intrinsic interest. Ethnicity was negatively correlated with gender, parents' Active involvement in homework, and self-efficacy. Gender was negatively correlated with ethnicity, parents' Reactive involvement in homework, and self-efficacy. Parents' Active involvement was positively correlated with parents' Reactive involvement, self-efficacy, effort regulation, and intrinsic and extrinsic interest. Self-efficacy was significantly related to math standardized test scores, effort regulation, and intrinsic and extrinsic interest.

Regression Analyses

The dependent variable was math academic achievement (i.e., math test standardized score). The independent variables were entered in three blocks (Method = Enter). In the first block, gender and ethnicity were entered as the independent variables. Gender and ethnicity explained 9% of the variance; this change in R square is significantly different from zero. Gender and ethnicity were significant but negative predictors of academic achievement, suggesting that males and Caucasian students obtained higher scores on the math test than did females and non-Caucasian students (see Table 3). See website

In the second block, the independent variables were again gender and ethnicity along with items containing parents' Active and Reactive involvement. Again, gender and ethnicity were significant (negative) predictors; and parents' Active involvement in homework was a negative predictor. Specifically, parents' checking of homework and the frequency with which they offered help were negatively related to academic achievement. In contrast, parents' REACTIVE involvement was a significant predictor of academic achievement. Specifically, parents' control of TV watching and limiting activity was positive predictors of math achievement. This second model explained 10% of the variance; this change in R square is significantly different from zero.

In the third block, students' self-efficacy, effort regulation, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation were entered into the equation, in addition to gender, ethnicity, and parents' Active and Reactive involvement in homework. The results indicated that self-efficacy, effort regulation, and intrinsic motivation were positive predictors of achievement. However, extrinsic motivation was a negative predictor of achievement. Again, ethnicity, gender, and parents' Active involvement in homework were negative predictors of math academic achievement. This model explained 24% of the variance; this change in R square is significantly different from zero.


This study extends the literature on self-regulation of learning and parental involvement by using, for the first time, a national sample of high school students to assess the associations among these variables. First, it was found that self-regulation of learning and motivational beliefs significantly predict academic achievement above and beyond parental involvement, gender, and ethnicity. Gender, ethnicity, extrinsic motivation, and parents' Active involvement in homework were negative predictors of math academic achievement. However, self-efficacy beliefs, effort regulation, and intrinsic motivation were positive and significant predictors of academic achievement. Similarly, parents' Reactive involvement (taking actions to correct behavior that produced or influenced low homework completion) was positively related to academic achievement.

Second, students trained to use self-regulated learning strategies and who adopted high motivational beliefs, such as self-efficacy and intrinsic interest, obtained high academic achievement. Motivational beliefs can play a significant role in high school students' self-regulatory processes, homework completion, and academic success. Self-efficacy beliefs and self-regulation processes augment the effects of homework on test scores. The results provide support for contemporary theoretical emphases on the role of students' motivational self-beliefs and self-regulatory processes in their homework completion and academic achievement. In this national sample, academic performance is not merely a function of having or acquiring cognitive skills or engaging only in information processing. Rather, it is also important to sustain motivation and persist on task. Likewise, academic performance is not determined only by parental involvement. Rather, students' active and proactive roles in their own learning process are key determinant factors in their academic success. Students who are less skilled in using self-regulated learning strategies are likely to obtain fewer benefits from the educational system.

Educational Implications

Three major educational implications are derived from this study. First, parents and educators of females and non-Caucasian students may need to orchestrate students' self-regulatory plans to enhance their opportunities for success on future math standardized tests. Second, teachers may need to develop an explicit and hidden curriculum emphasizing learners' self-regulatory and motivational beliefs. Given the preponderance of results here which assert that motivational beliefs and self-regulatory processes are essential components of academic achievement, it is important to understand that parental roles should not be limited to checking their children' homework completion or providing effective environments in which their children can work. Rather, parents can expand their children's success by incorporating effective learning strategies and use of effort regulation, intrinsic interest, and self-efficacy beliefs into those essential conditions that provide their children with complete learning experiences. Third, teachers should be trained in using self-regulation learning strategies in their classrooms so that they may serve as social models for their students. Because students learn through social modeling (Bandura, 1997), teacher training programs should include the use of effective self-regulatory learning strategies. Thus, teachers can fulfill their role as important social models who influence learners' motivational beliefs and use of self-regulated strategies.


This study was conducted to examine the predictive association between gender, ethnicity, parental involvement in homework, self-regulated learning processes, and motivational beliefs among a national sample of tenth grade high school students. The results revealed that motivational beliefs and use of self-regulated learning strategies are significant predictors of math standardized test scores beyond and above parents' homework involvement.


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Winne, P. H., & Hadwin, A. F. (1997). Studying as self-regulated learning. In D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational theory and practice (pp. 279-306). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R., Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.). Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13-39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Zimmerman, J., & Kitsantas, A. (2005). Homework practices and academic achievement : The mediating role of self-efficacy and perceived responsibility beliefs. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30(4), 397-417.

Hefer Bembenutty, Queens College of the City University of New York

Bembenutty, Ph. D., is an assistant professor who teaches educational psychology in the Secondary Education and Youth Services Department at Queens College of the City University of New York.
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Author:Bembenutty, Hefer
Publication:Academic Exchange Quarterly
Date:Dec 22, 2006
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