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Title:Parental involvement and student performance: The contributions of economic, cultural, and social capital
Author:Ho Sui-Chu, E.
Resource Type:Dissertation / Thesis
Unpublished Dissertation, The University of British Columbia
168 pages
Education Level:Elementary
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

In this study, the researcher examines the factors that influence elementary schools' ability to involve parents, the effects of different types of parent involvement on student learning, and implications for theory and practice. The study identifies home discussion, home supervision, school communication, and school participation as four types of parent involvement. Levels of home-based involvement were generally higher than levels of school-based involvement. School size, geographic location, and socioeconomic status (SES) of parents were the major school factors affecting the levels of school participation. Grade level, class size, and teacher's sex were major determinants of the extent of school communication. Student ethnicity had a significant impact on school participation, student gender on home discussion and school communication, and the number of siblings on home supervision. School decentralization policies had a significant impact on the level of school participation. Teacher attitudes and practices toward home-based involvement were more welcoming and active than those toward school-based involvement. School climate nurtured within schools was the most important type of social capital (Bourdieu, 1977; Coleman, 1990) affecting all types of parent involvement. Cultural capital was found to be more important than economic capital in determining levels of home discussion, home supervision and school participation. Social capital in the school was the most powerful determinant of studentsÕ self-esteem, while economic and cultural capital showed a significant impact on self-esteem and achievement. Although the findings did not support the body of existing literature stating that all types of parent involvement have a direct positive effect on students' learning outcomes, school participation did have a significant impact on students' general and peer self-esteem. Overall, the learning, caring, and disciplinary norms nurtured within the school were found to have the greatest contributions to student learning. In this study 831 elementary principals, 404 teachers and 1,042 fifth grade students in British Columbia completed questionnaires. Multi-level analysis based on Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was then used to investigate variation in parental involvement within and among schools. The study informs practitioners that a positive school climate has a significant effect on parent involvement and children's self-esteem and learning, and that more attention should be paid to home resources and cultural activities when considering the application of a parental involvement program. The researcher suggests that results may have been impacted by a tendency in parent involvement to be reactive rather than proactiveÑparents of at-risk students tended to be more involved. Although HLM can be seen as a methodological advance in assessing the variation of parental involvement as related to institutional factors and individual factors, the researcher did not claim a causal relationship between them. The researcher notes that findings may not be generalizable.

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