Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Aryn Dotterer

Committee Chair

Aryn Dotterer

Committee Member 1

Shawn Whiteman

Committee Member 2

Douglas Powell


Middle school is a time during which the importance of school performance and academic motivation increases, yet actual adolescent achievement and motivation tend to decline during this period. Extent research and theory highlight the importance of parental involvement in education for adolescents, as most work shows that parent involvement is positively related to academic achievement and motivation. However, there are also many mixed findings regarding the link between specific types of involvement (i.e., home-based involvement and academic socialization) and these outcomes. Further, little work has been done to examine the possible age-related differences in these associations. Guided by Self-Determination Theory and theories of parental involvement, the current study examined the nonlinear associations among parental involvement, academic achievement, and intrinsic motivation in an effort to illuminate possible explanations for these mixed findings. Participants included 106 adolescents (20% white/Caucasian, 80% non-white) in grades six through eight who attended a Midwestern urban middle school. Adolescents responded to an in-school survey during the spring semester and reported on intrinsic motivation, parents' home-based involvement, and academic socialization. Academic achievement was measured using adolescents' spring grades obtained from official report cards. Findings provided limited evidence for nonlinear associations between parental involvement and academic outcomes. Contrary to expectations, there were no links between parental involvement and academic achievement. A positive linear association between home-based involvement and intrinsic motivation was observed. As hypothesized, there was a nonlinear association between academic socialization and intrinsic motivation, suggesting that greater levels of parental involvement may not always be beneficial for adolescents' intrinsic motivation. Findings provided no evidence of age-related differences in these associations. Possible explanations and implications of these findings for future research are discussed.