harsh authoritarian parenting was hypothesized by the researchers to have a negative impact on educational outcomes, and this through two different channels: inadequate effortful control and school engagement.
Adequate effortful control "contributes to students' academic accomplishments by making them to more easily concentrate on their assignments and avoid distraction from required assignments. More generally, students with better self-control tend to complete tasks on time, prevent leisure activities and hobbies from interfering with schoolwork, use study time efficiently, choose appropriate courses rationally, and control emotional disturbances in case of undermining performance."
As for engagement, "in the school settings, [it] refers to the degree to which a student is involved in schooling and related goals, values, and activities with peers."
Surveying 815 students from 2 public junior high schools in Eastern China, the researchers investigated the potential mediating roles of these two variables (effortful control and classroom engagement) in the association between harsh parenting and academic achievement.
To measure harsh parenting, students were asked, e.g., about their parents' response to them doing something wrong. Would they lose their temper? Use an object to hit them? Etc. As for effortful control, children were asked about their attention and inhibitory and activation control using a five-point Likert scale. Finally, classroom engagement was measured based on the students' self assessment of such items as “I try my best in the class ” and “I feel interested in work in class.”
Confirming the authors' hypothesis, results showed that harsh parenting was associated with poor academic achievement through inadequate effortful control and lower classroom engagement.
Interestingly, the former was generally true of boys, while the latter tended to be the case for girls.
Source: Wang et alia (2018)