There is increasing concern that American children are not achieving at their full potential. A particular point of risk is early adolescence when American children often view school as less valuable, becoming less engaged as well. Initial research in China does not find such a trend. The goal of the current research was to elucidate why the movement away from school evident in the United States does not appear to be evident in China. 4 times over the 7th and 8th grades, 825 (48 % female) American and Chinese children (mean age = 12.73 years) reported on the value they place on school and their engagement (i.e., use of self-regulated learning strategies) in school. They also reported on their sense of responsibility to parents (e.g., feelings of obligation to parents), parents’ involvement in their learning, and their autonomous motivation in school. A decline in American but not Chinese children’s sense of responsibility to parents accounted for divergent trajectories in the value they place on school and their engagement in school over the seventh and eighth grades. Neither parents’ involvement nor children’s autonomous motivation played a mediating role. The findings suggest that maintaining American children’s sense of responsibility to parents during early adolescence may protect children from moving away from school.
- Parent–child relationships
- School engagement
- School value
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)