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A Phenomenological Study on Parent Involvement Using Epstein’s Framework

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Among the most influential factors on the lives of the children are their parents (Zedan, 2011). It is therefore critically important to find out how parents feel about school involvement and how they perceive their roles in such interaction (Radu, 2011). The study of Ashbaugh (2009) stated that parents also take part in controlling all aspects of schooling hand in hand with the community. The involvement of parents is multi-dimensional, and is composed of various types of behavior, attitudes, and parental expectations (Toran-Kaplan, 2004). (Rahman, 2001) Numerous studies confirm the assumption that when parents get involved with their children’s studies, pupils perform better. While research also shows that parental involvement is essential in the education of the children and leads to academic gains (Wright, 2009). Such academic benefits for pupils with their parents involved include higher grades and test scores and positive attitudes about education (Mapp, 2003).

Bakker and Denessen (2007) stated that parental involvement is likened to a concept in social sciences which is a value loaded term Parent involvement is defined as having an awareness of and involvement in schoolwork, understanding of the interaction between parenting skills and student success in schooling, and a commitment to consistent communication with educators about student progress (Pate and Andrews 2006).

A lot of researchers have studied parent involvement and its positive effects to education for many years. The study of Dr. Joyce Epstein (1990) has championed the importance of parent involvement. Her study went beyond normal ideas and discussed the premise stating that parent involvement should go beyond school and home, inviting a partnership between homes, schools and communities (Wright, 2009). In her six types of Parent Involvement framework, Epstein (2001) suggests that parents who are informed and involved in their children’s school can positively impact their child’s attitude and performance. Importantly, her research shows that parental involvement can have a positive impact on student’s academic work at all grade levels.

The six types of involvement interactions that operate within the theory of overlapping spheres act as a framework for organizing behaviors, roles, and actions performed by school personnel and family and community members working together to increase involvement and student achievement (Epstein, 1995; Epstein et al., 2002). These six types of involvement are defined and categorized in the follow ways; Parenting-helping families (e.g., parents and extended family members) to become aware and knowledgeable about child development, and providing resources that enable them to establish home environments that can enhance student learning ; Communicating-effective, appropriate, relevant, two-way contact about school events (e.g., open houses, conferences, testing workshops), student academic or personal development and progress, and/or insight (e.g., success or challenges) within the home environment; Volunteering-organizing and participating in activities initiated by school personnel (e.g., parent- teacher association) or generated by community members aimed at supporting students and school programs, such as service-learning projects, Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, or violence reduction assemblies; Learning at home-providing information to parents and families about school procedures (e.g., homework expectations, grading scales) in order to help them augment their children’s academic activities; Decision-making-including parents and family members from all backgrounds as representatives and leaders on school committees; Collaborating with the community-identifying and integrating resources, services, and other assets from the community to help meet the needs of school personnel, students, and their families.

Parental involvement, from an economist’s perspective, can also be defined as direct effort, provided by the parent, in order to increase educational outcomes of their children. This definition implicitly refers to an education production function, and makes parental involvement one of its arguments (Avvisati et. al., 2010). Altschul(2012) cited that according to Sirin (2005),children’s academic performance can be predicted by the family’s socioeconomic status. Researchers, Goldberger, (1991) and Goldring, (1993) also recognize that there is a strong direct relationship between socioeconomic status and parent involvement (Zedan, 2011). In accordance with that, a parent’s socioeconomic status plays an important role in providing these educational resources and it appears to impose the greatest impact on the child’s educational outcomes. A study conducted by McNeal Jr (2001) in his study also pointed out that parental involvement has greater effects on children from a higher socioeconomic level (Vellymalay, 2012). According to Dubai School of Government Policy Brief, it is known that parents with better qualifications and a higher socioeconomic status have children who perform better. Parents with stable financial status contribute to the schools (Hodtuv, 2001).

A positive correlation was also found between the level of education of the parents and the extent of their involvement (Cooper et al., 2002). High-achieving pupils are set with higher expectations and standards than low-achieving pupils (Michigan Department of Education 2001). Parental involvement in children’s education is a crucial factor for the child’s continuing educational development and success in school. Parent-supported students yield better performance in school. If there is a lack of parental involvement, the educational development and success of the performance of the students is affected. The students are struggling if there is no support from parents. (Wanke, 2008). According to Angion (2009), parental involvement connects to the child’s children’s cognitive, language, and socio-emotional growth and increases children’s achievement. Georgiou (2010) found out that child’s achievement in school is related to the attributing behavior of parents. Desforges with Abouchaar (2003) stated that there would be a high level of attainment if there is parental involvement. The study focuses to explore on how parent involvement using economic factors impact on pupil’s performance. We would like to look at the parent involvement for high and low performing students with the socioeconomic status and parents’ educational qualifications.


Learning is complex; it begins at birth and continues throughout life. Parents are the first teachers and role models for their children, and therefore have a strong influence on their learning. Yet, according to Department for Children, Schools and Families (2009) as cited by the National Literacy Trust (2011), studies continue to show that many parents are not aware of the importance they play in their child’s education and have a limited understanding of their role in their children’s learning. Parental involvement is an accumulation of definitions from a myriad of research, and the many definitions can make researching involvement more challenging (Wright, 2009). The involvement of parents is multi-dimensional, and is composed of various types of behavior, attitudes, and parental expectations (Torah-Kaplan, 2004). Involvement implies the dedication of resources by parents for the benefit of the child, and the total number of activities in which the parents can participate, so as to contribute either directly or indirectly towards the education of their children (Ginsburg, 2008). Epstein (1996) as cited by Zedan (2011) emphasized the term partnership as an expression for parental involvement, which means the identification of interests by parents as participants in taking responsibility for their children and working together to create better educational programs.

According to Dubai School for Government (2012), one of the most useful tools developed for defining parental involvement practices and linking them with certain types of outcomes is Epstein’s Six Types Framework. Epstein’s parental involvement framework is by far the most referenced, tested, and widely-accepted conceptual model of parental involvement (Barnard, 2004; Fishel &Ramirez, 2005; Hutchins, Greenfeld, & Epstein 2007;McBride, Bae, & Wright 2002). While there are varying models of parental involvement, Epstein’s is the only one that has undergone extensive review by the research community (Jordan, Orozco, & Averett, 2001). Furthermore, according to Wright (2009), Epstein’s model provides well defined and useful guidelines for others to follow.

This widely accepted framework has six types of parental involvement (Epstein, 2001): Parenting (helping families with child-rearing and parenting skills); Epstein’s (2002) Parenting aspect is defined as the method in which schools can help all families establish a supportive home environment for their children as students. Parenting is not necessarily tied to school; refers to parents’ actions that cultivate the children’s learning and cognitive development (Epstein 1992).

Communicating (developing effective home-school communication);
The Communicating dimension of Epstein’s (2002) framework involves designing effective forms of communication from schools and homes for parents to better understand their children’s progress and school programs available to help improve their children’s academic performance and other rationally relevant information.

Volunteering (creating ways that families can become involved in activities at the school); The third type of involvement in Epstein’s (2002) model is volunteering. Volunteering in schools should work to recruit and organize parent help and support. It means anyone who supports the school’s goals can help, regardless of where and when the help may happen (Epstein, 2002).

Learning at home (supporting learning activities in the home that reinforce school curricula); In Epstein’s (2002) Type 4, she defines the Learning at Home dimension as providing information and ideas to families about how to help students at home with homework and other activities. Learning at Home is more schoolwork-specific than Parenting. It involves assisting with homework, inspiring hard work in school, and sensitive support to the child in her/his academic challenges (Epstein, 1992).

Decision-making (including families as decision-makers through school-site councils, committees, etc.); An often overlooked form of parental involvement is in the area of decision making (Wright, 2009). Epstein (2002) defined decision making as including parents in school decisions and developing parent leaders and representatives within the school. Decision-Making as cited by Epstein in her 1992 work, influences the school environment and reflects how much parent’s promoter for their children’s interests.

Collaborating with the community (matching community services with family needs and serving the community). Epstein’s (2002) final involvement dimension seeks to involve the community as a whole, not necessarily just parents. She encourages schools to identify and integrate resources and services from within the community to improve student learning by strengthening school programs and family practices.

Parental involvement in children’s education is a crucial factor for the child’s continuing educational development and success in school. Parent-supported students yield better performance in school (Ashley Ann Wanke, 2008; Desforges with Abouchaar, 2003). According to Angion (2009), parental involvement connects to the child’s children’s cognitive, language, and socio-emotional growth and increases children’s achievement. Georgiou (2010) found out that child’s achievement in school is related to the attributing behavior of parents. If there is a lack of parental involvement, the educational development and success of the performance of the students is affected. The students are struggling if there is no support from parents (Ashley Ann Wanke, 2008).

When parents participate in their children’s schooling, students may experience more academic and social success. Importantly, research shows that parental involvement can have a positive impact on student’s academic work at all grade levels (Epstein , 2001; Desforges with Abouchaar,2003; Ashbaugh,2009; NLT, 2011). In addition, Muller, for the Australian Parents Council, (2009) noted that children who grow up in circumstances where their parents are engaged in their education, and in communities that enjoy high social capital, develop better cognitive and non-cognitive skills, both of which contribute directly to academic progress, participation in employment and economic well-being. Altschul (2012) cited that according to Sirin (2005), children’s academic performance can be predicted by the family’s socioeconomic status. Altschul (2012) also cited that according to Duncan & Brooks-Gunn (2000), the academic success of children is divested because of poverty. Parents with high socioeconomic status have great involvement in school for their child’s success than parents who have lesser socioeconomic status.

The higher the socioeconomic level the parent has, the higher the involvement (Vellymalay, 2012; McNeal Jr ,2001; Zedan, 2011;Harris & Goodall, 2007) . Cultural capital (CC) is operationally defined according to Lee & Bowen’s (2006) criteria – family income, parental education, and race. This theory, as adapted to elementary educational settings by Lee & Bowens (2006) makes two wide predictions. First, parents with greater CC are expected to also exhibit higher levels of parental involvement than parents who have less CC. Second, Lee & Bowen’s (2006) theoretical expectations and research predict that lower CC groups tend to select parental involvement activities that are “the least beneficial in relation to student outcomes.” However, in the study of Ogunshola and Adewale (2012) they found out that parental socio-economic statuses and parental educational background did not have significance effect on the academic performance of the students.

Overall, most findings have shown parental involvement, whether at home or at school, have a moderately significant relationship with higher academic achievement, and this relationship has been found consistently across demographics (e.g., ethnicity, sex, or socioeconomic status) and measures of achievement (e.g., achievement tests, grades, and grade point averages). Research points to the conclusion that “parental involvement is an important predictor of children’s achievement in school” (Englund et al, 2004).


The researchers made use of descriptive case-study type that interprets and analyses the response of the purposively chosen respondents. Instruments were derived from: a) Demographic Profile Questionnaire and b) the students’ feedback on the support given by their parents, the teachers’ observations on the parental involvement (PI). The focus group (FG) who was the parents were given an interview using the formulated guide questions from Epstein’s Framework of Parental Involvement which constituted the qualitative-explanatory approach. Parent-teacher association (PTA), general and classroom meeting participation of the parents were also asked to the teacher to gain information and cogency to support on how much the parents are involved in school. The use of triangulation enabled the researchers to validate the responses and facilitate the understanding on the type of parental involvement most parents are involved, the group between high and low performing students where parent involvement is most evident, the socioeconomic status’ effects on parent involvement, parents and teachers collaboration.

Ten (10) selected parents – five (5) parents of high performing (HP) elementary pupils from Science Class and five (5) parents of low performing (LP) elementary pupils from regular class of Barrio Luz Elementary School as respondents were chosen accordingly. Ten parents – five parents of HP and five parents of LP pupils were chosen in order to facilitate the interview well and to observe balance in the number of respondents in each group. The parents of the HP and LP pupils were chosen in order to see how the parents’ involvement from the two groups in school differs. The top five (5) HP pupils were the one identified by the science class adviser and the five (5) LP pupils were also identified by the regular class adviser based on the pupils’ grades and class standing. They were given formulated divergent (open-ended) questionnaire based on Epstein’s Framework on Six Types of Parental Involvement – parenting, learning at home, communicating, volunteering, decision-making and collaborating with the community.

The focus group (FG) constituted their children’s feedback and the teachers’ observations. The PTA, general and classroom meeting participation based on the interview given to the teacher advisers and the interview questionnaire given to the pupils served as validators of the PI in school.

The demographic profile questionnaires were given to justify if the socioeconomic status and the parents’ educational attainment affects their involvement in school.


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