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Parental Influence on Students' Educational Choices in the United States and Germany: Different Ramifications-Same Effect?

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Schnabel, K.U., C. Alfeld, Jacquelynne S. Eccles, O. Koller, and J. Baumert. 2002. "Parental Influence on Students' Educational Choices in the United States and Germany: Different Ramifications-Same Effect?" Journal of Vocational Behavior, 60(2): 178-198.

Despite the historical trend in all Western societies to increase educational participation irrespective of students' social origin. the correlation between parents' education and socioeconomic status and the educational outcomes of their offspring remains a rather universal phenomenon. Although comparative studies have consistently found this association in various nations which differ in many ways in their educational systems, little is known about the mechanism behind this effect. Drawing on the assumption that career decision points are the major gateway for social background influences, we assume that similarities, as well as differences in the structure of the correlation between parents' socioeconomic background and students' school success, can be explained. Using two longitudinal data sets from the United States (N = 1425) and Germany (N = 1755) covering the school careers from Grade 7 to Grade 10, the analyses supported the hypothesis that (a) achievement information is the best predictor of career relevant decisions in both nations. (b) parents' background variables are independent additional predictors of career decision but not for actual learning progress, and (c) the assumed accumulation process of social background influences is more pronounced in the German than in the U.S. school system. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).

DOI:10.1006/jvbe.2001.1863 (Full Text)

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