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01-04-2011 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 4/2011 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 4/2011

The Reciprocal Relationships Among Parents’ Expectations, Adolescents’ Expectations, and Adolescents’ Achievement: A Two-Wave Longitudinal Analysis of the NELS Data

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 4/2011
Yanyan Zhang, Eileen Haddad, Bernadeth Torres, Chuansheng Chen


Previous research has consistently demonstrated the importance of parents’ expectations and adolescents’ expectations on adolescents’ academic achievement. Less is known, however, about the reciprocal relationships among these constructs. To address this issue, we analyzed two waves of data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) using longitudinal cross-lagged path models. The sample consisted of 14,376 students (51.1% females; 6.5% Asian, 11.1% Hispanic, 9.2% African American, and 73.2% White). Results indicated that there was a reciprocal relationship between parents’ expectations and adolescents’ expectations (i.e., they had mutual influence on each other). Moreover, there was a reciprocal relationship between expectations (both parents’ and adolescents’) and adolescents’ academic achievement. Multiple-group analyses of gender and ethnicity revealed that the effects of parents’ expectations on students’ expectations were stronger among males than among females. With respect to ethnic differences, the effects of adolescents’ expectations were weakest on parents’ expectations among African Americans as compared to the other ethnic groups (i.e., Asian, Hispanic and White). Implications of these findings are discussed.

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