Parental influences on students' perceptions of talent in relation to high school maths

Year: 1995

Author: Watt, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Boys' and girls' perceptions of talent in relation to high school mathematics were tested for the effects of past mathematical performance, previous perception of talent, and students' reported closeness of relationship with parent and parental view of their child's talent. The study was conducted over a two year period, with participants initially Advanced and Intermediate Year 10 students (N=113) from two coeducational Government schools in an upper-middle class metropolitan area of Sydney. A standardised Mathematics test was used in the first year of the study to measure students' performance, while a questionnaire measured students' perceptions of talent over both years, and closeness of relationship with parents, student reports of parental knowledge about their child's Mathematics performance and view of their child's mathematical talent, in the second year.

Multiple regression analyses revealed different patterns of relations for boys and girls with their mothers and fathers. There was considerable similarity between mothers' patterns of influence for sons and daughters, with warmth of relationship, mother's perception of child's talent, and child's previous perception of talent influencing students' perceptions of talent. There was also, in the case of girls, an indirect influence of past performance on their perceptions of talent, both via their mothers' perceptions of their child's talent, and via the child's previous perception of talent. There was little similarity, however, between fathers' patterns of influences for sons and daughters. With sons, fathers' perception of child's talent and child's previous perception of talent were direct influences on boys' perceptions of talent, with slight indirect influences of warmth of relationship and fathers' knowledge of performance. With daughters, fathers' perceptions of child's talent and girls' previous perception of talent were the only influences on perception of talent, along with the indirect effect of past performance. Results are discussed in terms of the Identification model and Information-Processing approach for each of the four groups.