Document Type

Honors Project


Students’ perceptions of their schools play an important role in achievement. One framework for measuring students’ perceptions is an adaptation of Baumrind’s parenting typology, which measures perceived “school style” (Pellerin, 2005) along two dimensions of responsiveness (warmth) and demandingness (high academic expectations). Although research suggests that perceptions of authoritative styles (both responsive and demanding) correlate with better student outcomes (Dornbusch et al., 1987), no existing research has considered whether these findings apply to ethnically diverse samples. We surveyed 301 students from five Midwestern colleges who completed measures of perceived school style, perceived discrimination, and several academic outcomes. Academically stigmatized students (African Americans and Latinos) perceived similar levels of demandingness but significantly lower levels of responsiveness from their instructors than did their non-stigmatized peers. Importantly, perceived discrimination in college fully mediated this relationship. With regard to the academic outcome variables, we found a significant interaction between responsiveness and demandingness such that only students who perceived high levels of both showed higher levels of attendance and out-of-class engagement. Finally, we found a significant three-way interaction between responsiveness, demandingness, and academic minority status in predicting academic efficacy. High levels of responsiveness and demandingness were related to increased academic efficacy only for non-academically stigmatized students. These results imply not only that the benefits of perceived school responsiveness and demandingness often depend on one another, but also that these benefits do not always apply equally to all students.


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