Parent involvement: The relationship between parent beliefs and parent practices
This study investigated the relationship between parent beliefs and parent involvement practices. Building on conceptual models developed by Epstein and Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, this study examined parent beliefs about self-efficacy, schools and parental role construction as well as four dimensions of parent involvement: parent awareness, direct instruction at home, parents as nurturers and supporters and parent activities in school.
A survey designed for this study was mailed to 1695 parents in two suburban middle schools, with a return rate of 49%. The analysis included descriptive statistics for all items, a factor analysis to examine the underlying constructs and develop a set of subscales for parents' reported beliefs and practices, a canonical correlation to examine the relationship between beliefs and practices, a Manova to compare differences in the two schools as well as examining the relationship between the parent and child's experience in school. All tests used α = .05 and required 10% minimum variance to be considered meaningful.
The results of this study reveal that parents first make independent and personal choices in deciding the level and manner of their involvement. These choices are largely unaffected by the attitudes of schools and teachers.
Parents report that important and meaningful parent activities involve general support at home (e.g., regulating television, setting rules) and support for learning at home (e.g., helping with school projects, helping with homework). In contrast, parents view communication with the school as only somewhat important and school related activities, such as attending PTA meetings as relatively unimportant.
Parents also reported on their actual involvement in various parent practices. Providing support and offering academic help at home are the most frequent activities. Parents reported low levels of activity regarding communication with schools and school related activities.
This study found that there was a meaningful relationship between parent beliefs and practices. In particular, the beliefs associated with self-efficacy and involvement in school were related to parent practices. This is consistent with our findings that parent involvement practices are primarily determined by parent beliefs about what is important to help their child succeed in school.
This study has important implications since schools devote much of their efforts to get parents involved. However, schools classify parents by using practices (i.e., attend PTA meetings) that parents report as unimportant and not indicative of their level of involvement.
Families & family life;
0628: Families & family life
0628: Personal relationships