A 9-year study of academically and vocationally educated parents’ perceptions of their children’s general abilities

Hannu Räty


Although parents’ beliefs in their children’s specific academic competencies have been investigated extensively, parental perceptions of the children’s general abilities have received little attention. This study examined changes in parents’ perceptions of their children’s problem-solving skills, social skills, dexterity and creativity and investigated whether parents’ perceptions differentiated according to their education and the children’s gender. The participants were a group of academic and vocational parents (N = 326) who were asked to assess their children’s abilities in a 9-year longitudinal study of the children’s formal schooling years. We found that the assessments carried out in the children’s preschool year correlated fairly strongly with those carried out even at the end of junior high school. Throughout the follow-up period, the academic parents ascribed more problem-solving skills to their children than the vocational parents and tended to emphasize these skills in relation to dexterity and creativity, whereas the vocational parents emphasized their children’s sociability. Girls were seen as better than boys in social skills, dexterity and creativity, while there was no gender difference in the perceived problem-solving skills. The parents seemed to have fairly established views of their children’s abilities from the beginning of the children’s schooling, and the formation of these views were associated with the parents’ education and the children’s gender.


Parental perceptions; Abilities; Gender and educational differences; Longitudinal study

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Journal for Educational Research Online/Journal für Bildungsforschung Online (ISSN 1866-6671)