The impact of the mother’s education and academic success on the progress that the child is going to make at the earliest stages of education has been doubted for quite long; hence a major research on the factors shaping the child’s education process, including the academic progress of the mother and the influence that it has on the child, was needed.
In their recent paper, The impact of mothers’ adult learning on their children’s academic performance at key stage 3: Evidence from ALSPAC, Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein prove that the mother’s academic success defines the efficiency of the child’s academic performance in the early years of the latter’s education.
By using an efficient theoretical framework, well thought out methodology and a thorough review of the existing empirical studies, Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein have managed to come prove the hypothesis concerning the link between the mothers’ educational endeavors and the children’s following success as a learner at the earliest stages of development, therefore, creating the premises for a major follow-up study regarding the specification of the type of learning and the factors affecting the quality of education received by the mother and the child.
The hypothesis stated by Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein, however, was a bit more complicated than merely a statement concerning the effect of the mother’s grades in the child’s ones, particularly when the latter reach the age of fourteen (Sabates, Duckworth & Feinstein, 2011, p. 498).
True, the researchers raise the issue of the mother’s adult learning and its effect on the child’s learning process; however, Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein do not focus on only one aspect of the problem.
Instead, the researchers consider whether the lack of academic achievements and the following low qualification of a mother necessarily results in the child getting low grades, failure to understand the theory and inability to apply the newly acquired skills to practice, or whether these phenomena are completely unrelated.
Finally, the researchers question whether the possible academic failures of the children whose mothers are unwilling to continue their education as adults pertain to the fact that such mothers put little to no emphasis on the necessity for their children to study well.
By answering the three questions mentioned above, Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein will be able to locate the key links between the mother’s education and the child’s academic performance, the researchers claim. Indeed, the questions mentioned above are closely related to each other.
Speaking of the variables that have been used in the research, education can be viewed as the key independent variable. However, such a statement might seem somewhat broad.
When considering the research carried out by Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein closer, one will be able to notice that the authors focus not only on education in general, but also on the academic success in particular; to be more exact, the stages of academic progress can be seen as an independent variable, seeing how Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein consider not only the effects of mothers’ studying endeavors, but also on the mothers’ refusal to continue their education.
More to the point, the researchers measure the academic failures of both mother s and children apart from the success in the studying process. As for the dependent variable, the success of mothers and their children in terms of their education should be mentioned.
Naturally, the spectrum of dependent variables is rather broad; apart from specifying the academic performance of both mothers and their children, the researchers focus on the socioeconomic ones, as well as on the individual factors; among the key elements that the paper embraces, emotional development, cognitive development, social development and academic performance must be named.
The choice of the variables was obviously predetermined by the need to track the children’s academic progress in different environments and, thus, make sure that the mother’s education status is the defining factor in the child’s success as a learner.
As for the research methodology chosen for the paper by Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein, the experimental design, which the researchers preferred over the rest of the methods, seems the most obvious choice possible. Indeed, analyzing the effects of the mother’s education on the child is practically impossible a research designed in any other way.
The experimental design allows for conducting a rather lengthy observation of the research participants; more importantly, it provides the environment, in which the participants can be isolated from specific factors or be influenced by a specific range of elements. In addition, experimental design helps create the environment that is the closes to the real life experience.
The experimental design method has also provided an opportunity for Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein to make direct observations and control the experiment, which was clearly crucial for the outcomes of the research. The use of questionnaires is fully justified; however, the given strategy may be seen as rather untrustworthy, seeing how some research participant may not have been honest or precise enough when filling in the questionnaire.
Anyway, in the light of the fact that the study was huge, the use of questionnaires can be considered fully justified. The fact that ethical issues have also been considered by the authors of the research is worth bringing up. Seeing how the authors guaranteed the teachers, the mothers and their children complete privacy and anonymity, it can be assumed that the ethical issues are also out of concern.
The participants of the research also deserve to be given a mentioning. It would be logical to assume that Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein were going to include mothers and their children as the key participants into their study.
Indeed, seeing how the paper revolves around the effects of mothers’ education on their children’s academic performance, picking women with children of the required age for the research was the first and the most reasonable thing to do. However, the fact that Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein also decided to include teachers and their opinions into their paper was quite a surprise.
Reconsidering the choices made by the researchers, one must admit that the inclusion of teachers into the research participants seems a very legitimate step to be taken. In the light of the fact that some participants – the mothers, to be more exact – may be either unwilling to tell the truth when answering certain questions, or provide straightforward lies as their response, teachers will help figure out whether the mothers lied or not.
As soon as the tiniest inconsistency is spotted in the answers of mothers and teachers, the reason for a more careful data collection process and the reconsideration of the investigation results emerges. Fortunately, no data falsification or straightforward lies have been noticed in the process of gathering the research information, according to the information provided by Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein (Sabates, Duckworth & Feinstein, 2011, p. 488).
Speaking of the rest of the participants, the mothers played a huge role in the research, seeing how they provided the key information for the analysis to be conducted. Not only did they offered extensive data on their academic experience, but also explained the specifics of their children’s development, starting from the earliest stages. The mothers, therefore, were introduced as the primary participants of the research.
Seeing how the children could not fill in the questionnaires on their own yet were obviously the object of the study, it was reasonable to consider them as the secondary participants. As for the teachers, they served as the third type of the research participants.
The research results have proven the first hypothesis concerning the direct relationship between the mother’s academic endeavors and the child’s following academic success. Moreover, according to the research, the child’s general development hinges on the mother’s willingness to continue her education and learn new information, acquiring and training new skills.
Therefore, not only the child’s academic performance, but also the overall cognitive development is defined by the mother’s persistence in continuing her education and progress, both academic and personal ones. The given phenomenon can be explained by the fact that such mothers tend to share their enthusiasm and experience in succeeding with their children; it seems, therefore, that the need to excel in one’s performance is quite “contagious.”
Unfortunately, the research results also imply that the mothers, who have rather low academic score, can hardly contribute to their children’s development, both in terms of the child’s success as a student and the child’s cognitive development.
In other words, the mothers with low academic achievements, as well as those unwilling to continue their education and acquire new skills, do not have the abilities required to pass the little experience that they have to their children. In addition, such mothers, as a rule, have very little knowledge and experience that their children can find useful to acquire.
It is also crucial to note that the students’ excellence in either mathematics of English does not seem to be dependent on the quality of their mothers’ education (Sabates, Duckworth & Feinstein, 2011, pp. 494–496). As for the rest of the disciplines, however, the experience that children can learn from their mothers appears to be indispensable in acquiring new information and processing it efficiently.
Therefore, the third hypothesis suggested by Sabates, Duckworth and Feinstein has also proven right; the inefficiency of the efforts made by mothers without higher education to provide their children with the skills that they will need in order to pursue their education and career is predisposed by the lack of knowledge concerning how to teach children in general and how to make them interested in acquiring new information in particular.
Naturally, the study has a number of limitations. To start with, the scale of the research was to be limited to a rather small amount of participant; it seems that with more people included, the results could be more universal. In addition, the constraints that the mothers had to face in the course of the treatment can also be seen as major limitations.
As it has been stressed above, the given research must have a follow- up study, which will allow for exploring the issue in depth. Despite the fact that the initial question has been answered, there is still an evident need to expand the research by including other factors in it.
In addition, the results can be sorted in accordance with the type of learning enhanced by the mothers with a higher education academic record. Finally, the factors that affect the mothers’ education progress, including socioeconomic ones, must be explored in depth so that a valid solution to the problem of children with dissatisfactory academic scores could be provided.
Sabates, R., Duckworth, K., & Feinstein, L. (2011). The impact of mothers’ adult learning on their children’s academic performance at key stage 3: Evidence from ALSPAC. Oxford Review of Education, 37(4), 485-504.