Are Effective Teachers Like Good Parents? Teaching Styles and Student Adjustment in Early Adolescence


  • Kathryn R. Wentzel


This study examined the utility of parent socialization models for understanding teachers’ influence on student adjustment in middle school. Teachers were assessed with respect to their modeling of motivation and to Baumrind’s parenting dimensions of control, maturity demands, democratic communication, and nurturance. Student adjustment was defined in terms of their social and academic goals and interest in class, classroom behavior, and academic performance. Based on information from 452 sixth graders from two suburban middle schools, results of multiple regressions indicated that the five teaching dimensions explained significant amounts of variance in student motivation, social behavior, and achievement. High expectations (maturity demands) was a consistent positive predictor of students’ goals and interests, and negative feedback (lack of nurturance) was the most consistent negative predictor of academic performance and social behavior. The role of motivation in mediating relations between teaching dimensions and social behavior and academic achievement also was examined; evidence for mediation was not found. Relations of teaching dimensions to student outcomes were the same for African American and European American students, and for boys and girls. The implications of parent socialization models for understanding effective teaching are discussed.