To understand the determinants of school success and how academic trajectories are built throughout schooling is still a relevant study aim in Education and Psychology research. Moreover, the increasing number of Portuguese and European adolescents who fail in school and who are not in any educational system, nor in the job market, nor training, also stresses the importance of this kind of study. The present research intends to analyze which personal and contextual variables explain academic performance, and how these variables influence the definition of students’ academic trajectories. Using a longitudinal design, 399 middle school students were assessed during three years. Four empirical studies were developed, merging variable and person-centered approaches. The first one, called “The influence of psychological and socio-parental variables in academic performance: an exploratory analysis”, examined the influence of a set of psychological, social, and parental variables in school performance on 7th and 9th grades. The second, entitled "Between family and student: evidence of a mediation model in the explanation of school performance", assessed the direct and indirect effects of social-parental variables in school performance, underlining the mediation role of psychological variables. The third study, called “The relationship between intelligence and academic achievement throughout middle school: the role of students’ prior academic performance”, analyzed the predictive power of intelligence in school performance throughout schooling. Finally, the fourth study, "School profiles in middle school: a combination of psychological, social, parental and school variables", examined how these variables were combined and clustered in different school profiles. The main results show that, for these participants, intelligence, academic self-concept, and academic goals predict school performance. Additionally, despite the relevance of cognitive variables, these only retain their predictive ability over time by the influence of students’ previous level of knowledge and prior academic performance. In turn, mothers' educational attainment and parental support are the only parental variables that directly predict school performance. Parental aspirations indirectly explain school performance obtained in 7th and 9th grades, by the influence of the students' academic selfconcept. Parental academic aspirations also predict indirectly the school performance in 7th grade by the influence of students' learning goals. From the combination of all variables in study emerge three typologies of students: the academic success group, the school failure not engaged with the school group, and the school failure engaged with the school group. These results contribute for a better understanding of school success and adolescents’ academic trajectories, emphasizing its multifaceted and multidimensional nature. Several changes in educational and psychological practices are pointed out, not only regarding the cognitive assessment of students with learning disabilities, but also concerning the way in which schools, teachers, parents, and students conceive and evaluate academic success and failure. The parents' role is stressed as a key-element to students' academic success, and the need for more permanent and effective dialogue between family and school is pointed out. The redefinition of "school success" and the development of educational policies that focus on students’ singularities and on their contexts enable more inclusive education systems and a greater democratization of academic success.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||13 Nov 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|