Students’ perceptions on the motivational role of parental involvement in 3 secondary schools of Athens

 

Athanasios F. Katsoulis[1]

Περίληψη

Μια επιλογή σύγχρονων πλαισίων σκέψης πρόσφατα συλλέχθηκε μαζί και αναλύθηκε. Αν και τα κίνητρα μάθησης δεν είναι μια νέα ιδέα, ο ερευνητής ωστόσο εστίασε σε αυτά, καθώς εξακολουθούν να αποτελούν ένα βασικό θέμα στο εκπαιδευτικό μας σύστημα. Αυτή η εργασία περιγράφει την έρευνα που διεξήχθη σε τρία σχολεία δευτεροβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης της Αθήνας (Αττική)-με διαφορετικά είδη μαθητών-προκειμένου να προσφέρει μια πιθανή απάντηση στο ερώτημα αν η συμμετοχή των γονέων τους επηρεάζει τα κίνητρά τους για μάθηση .Το δείγμα αποτελούνταν από 120 μαθητές της Γ’ γυμνασίου ( 62 αγόρια,58 κορίτσια ).Οι γονείς και οι εκπαιδευτικοί ενημερώθηκαν για αυτή την έρευνα και συνεργάστηκαν πλήρως, με τη συμβολή τους να είναι η άδεια στους μαθητές να συμπληρώσουν ένα προσαρμοσμένο στους δείκτες της  ελληνική πραγματικότητας ερωτηματολόγιο. Προσεγγίσαμε επίσης επιστημονικά συσχετίσεις μεταξύ διαφορετικών στυλ γονέων και στόχων, ερμηνεύοντας έτσι έννοιες όπως ο ψυχολογικός έλεγχος, η άνευ όρων αποδοχή και ο προσανατολισμός έργου ή αποφυγής. Βρέθηκε τελικά ότι εκείνοι οι μαθητές πραγματικά υπήρξαν σταδιακά επηρεασμένοι από το οικογενειακό τους περιβάλλον. Θετικός αντίκτυπος στην συμπεριφορά τους είχε να κάνει με λιγότερη πίεση και αυξημένη ικανότητα για ισορροπημένες σχολικές αποφάσεις, ενώ στα αρνητικά μπορούμε να συγκαταλέξουμε χαμηλή αυτοπεποίθηση και επίδοση ταυτόχρονα. Το φύλο υπήρξε άλλος ένας βαρυσήμαντος παράγοντας στην παρούσα έρευνα, καθώς αγόρια και κορίτσια δεν αντέδρασαν παρόμοια. Από τη μια πλευρά, τα κορίτσια δεν αντέχουν την πίεση, όμως προσδοκούν την αγάπη και φροντίδα των γονέων την ίδια στιγμή.

Title: ‘‘Students’ perceptions on the motivational role of parental involvement in 3 secondary schools of Athens’’

Απ’την άλλη μεριά, τα αγόρια είναι λιγότερο συναισθηματικά εξαρτημένα και περισσότερο προσανατολισμένα σε πιο απαιτητικές εργασίες. Εντούτοις, και τα 2 φύλα επιζητούν την προσοχή των γονέων προς επίρρωση των στόχων τους. Ως εκ τούτου, αποδεικνύεται ότι η οικογένεια ενισχύει και παράλληλα διαμορφώνει τις ικανότητες των μαθητών. Λέξεις-κλειδιά: Κίνητρα, δευτεροβάθμια εκπαίδευση, δάσκαλοι, ερωτηματολόγιο, γονεϊκή εμπλοκή

Abstract

A selection of current frameworks of thinking was recently collected together and analysed. Even if motivation is not a new concept, the researcher further focused on it as it still remains a key-subject in the educational system. This paper describes the enquiry undertaken in three secondary schools of Athens -with different kinds of students -in order to offer a possible answer to the question whether parental involvement affects their motivation notion. The sample consisted of 120 ninth graders (62 boys, 58 girls). Parents and teachers were informed about this research and cooperated fully with their contribution being made by allowing the students to complete a standarized to the Greek reality questionnaire. We also approached scientifically the correlations between different parenting styles and goal orientations, by interpreting concepts like psychological control, unconditional acceptance and task or avoidance orientation. It was found that those students were indeed gradually affected by their family environment. Positive effects on their thinking behaviour were less impulsion and increased capacity to make balanced school decisions, whereas negative ones had to do with low self-esteem and underachievement. Gender is another crucial factor in this research, as girls and boys did not react similarly. On the one hand, girls do not afford pressure but praise for parents’ love and care at the same time. On the other hand, boys are less emotion-affected and focused on more demanding tasks. Nevertheless, both of them are seeking for their parents’ attention in order to achieve their goals. Consequently, nowadays family comes to play a great role on boosting and developing students’ capacities.

Key-words: motivation, secondary schools, parental involvement, teachers, questionnaire.

Introduction

The concept of motivation is a key-tool in our era and remains a priority for the scientific community. In particular, the motivation of students is an important issue in secondary education, owing to the importance of academic performance in their professional life. Student motivation, according to the seminal work of Brophy (2010), is the degree to which students invest attention and effort in various pursuits, which may or may not be the ones desired by their teachers and is primarily subjective. Much of the research on educational motivation has also been rightly centered on the family, where the majority of homework takes place and where students are most likely to acquire a strong motivation to gain new knowledge (Ames et al., 1987). This paper intended to describe in which ways parental involvement comes and affects students’ motivation in three secondary schools of Athens. A comprehensive view of involvement is presented by (Epstein’s, 1997) model. This specific project examined the role that parent involvement has on children’s performance through the use of a questionnaire. Epstein (1997) discussed how children learn and grow through three overlapping spheres of influence: family, school, and community. He also presented six major types of parental involvement to be among the most useful tools developed in the field, thus far for defining parental involvement practices. In this study, 120 students were involved and by using the appropriate, behavioural measurement, a richer picture of all the parents could finally be reached. Consequently, the relationships between family involvement and student performance were certainly examined. Family learning has actually been defined as that which, ‘concentrates on learning which brings together different family members to work on a common theme for some, if not for the whole, of a planned programme, while the focus is on a planned activity in which adults and children come together to work and learn collaboratively’. (Ofsted, 2000, p.5).

 

The aims of the study and research questions

Cohen and Manion (1994) identify the first stage in the research process as being identification and formulation of the “problem”. There may not always be a “problem” as such as the focus for research, but in this instance there is. The purpose of the study was to investigate the role of parental involvement in the development of students’ motivation in secondary schools. Being in the position of a student too in the previous years, the researcher felt the internal need to carry out this study. Therefore, it was rather important not only to uncover the parental support, but also to expose the notion of motivation that leads students to exceptional results. Against this background, this study was set out to respond to the three following research questions:

  • Is parents’ dependency-oriented psychological control related to student motivation?
  • Is parents’ achievement-oriented psychological control related to student motivation?
  • Is parental autonomy support associated with student orientation?

To elucidate the processes involved in associations between perceived parental psychological control and student motivation, Soenens, Vansteenkiste, and Luyten (2010) clearly distinguished between two domain-specific expressions of psychological control, that is, dependency-oriented psychological control (DPC) and achievement-oriented psychological control (APC). DPC involves the use of pressure to make children remain within close physical and emotional proximity. Parents scoring high on DPC use psychologically controlling tactics when children distance themselves too much from the parents. In contrast, APC involves the use of pressure to push children to excel in performance-relevant situations. Parents high on APC engage in intrusive tactics when their children do not set high standards for achievement or fail to achieve those standards. Dependency involves accordingly strong fears of separation and abandonment, a tendency to cling to others to obtain reassurance or a sense of security. A self-critical orientation also involves the setting of excessively high standards for performance and a tendency to engage in harsh self-scrutiny when faced with failure (Soenens et al., 2005). These specific pathways were empirically corroborated, such that dependency and self-criticism were found to mediate at least partially the initial associations between DPC and APC and student motivation.

Theoretical background

Any discussion of motivation should begin with the definition of its subject matter. While the literature is broad, the voices of Brophy, Deci, and Dweck have been instrumental to the development of key definitions of motivation as it relates to education. One may expect the motivational theories to be the perfect place to look for a generally agreed upon definition. However, the field of motivation is characterized by an abundance of different theoretical frameworks and models that make it difficult, if not impossible, to identify similarities and differences (Campbell et al., 1970; Chiesa, 1994). For example, in 1961, Madsen summarized 20 theories of motivation. In 1992, Ford analyzed 32 major theories. Clark (1998) also reviewed over 40 research-based theories of motivation. However, the number of proposed definitions by far surpasses the number of theories. Therefore, Kleinginna and Kleinginna (1981) listed 98 definitions of motivation from which they synthesized their own physiological definition with emphasis “on process-restrictive, vector, and phenomenological aspects”. In addition, Vroom (1964) proposed that the concept of motivation has to do with the “choices made by persons or lower organisms among alternative forms of voluntary activity”. Pinder (1998) also views the motivation to work as ‘‘A set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behaviour and to determine its form, direction, intensity or duration’’. In psychology, lastly, motivation is a force that energizes and directs behaviour toward a goal (Paul Eggen & Don Kauchak, 1994). Motives seem to serve three important functions: 1) energizing us, 2) directing us  and 3) helping us to select the behaviour most appropriate for achieving our goals (Don Hamachek, 1989). As it can be seen, motivation is an inner state that arouses individual’s desire for a goal and maintains their efforts in a certain direction and time. Motivation in other words is identified as a fundamental aspect of learning (Brewer & Burgess, 2005), while often being separated into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic one. Incidentally, Marshal (1987) viewed students’ motivation as a force beneficial to the learner. Ames (1990) also stated that motivation to learning is dependent on long-term, quality attachment in learning and pledge to the process of learning. Therefore, motivation theorists believe that motivation is involved in the performance of all learned responses. It goes without saying that student motivation is an essential element that is necessary for quality education. But how are students motivated? They pay attention, they begin working on tasks immediately, they ask questions and volunteer answers, and they appear to be happy and eager (Palmer, 2007). Basically, very little if any learning, can occur unless students are motivated on a consistent basis. In that sense, the ingredients impacting student motivation are: student, teacher, content, method/process, and environment. Motivation is also optimized when students are exposed to a large number of these motivating experiences and variables on a regular basis. (Maheshwari et al., 2010). Stressing here, specifically, the family’s role on students’ motivation, parental involvement was operationally defined in numerous ways. The definitions included communication between parents and teachers (Deslandes et al., 1997); parents’ participation in school activities, such as conferences (Miedel and Reynolds, 1999); and parents’ help with their children’s homework (Shumow and Miller, 2001). Lumsden (1994) stated the role of the significant others (parents and home environment) in students’ motivation as a main factor which shapes the initial constellation of students’ attitudes they develop toward learning. In England, the Government’s strategy for securing parental involvement was first set out in the 1997 White Paper, ‘Excellence in Schools’. The strategy described there included three elements (a) providing parents with information, (b) giving parents a voice and (c) encouraging parental partnerships with schools. However, another means for influencing student motivation is psychological control. Psychological control refers to the use of emotional exploitation to induce desirable conduct (Barber, 1996), as when parents induce shame and guilt to impede a specific behavior in their child. Psychological control is generally perceived as a poor parental practice to induce motivation because it is associated with negative emotional outcomes (Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005; Pettit & Laird, 2002). Most recent parenting study suggested that psychological control should be separated into two general orientations – dependency and achievement – in order to comprehend the complex effects of intrusive parenting (Soenens, Vansteenkiste, & Luyten, 2010). Furthermore, the involvement of parents in their children’s motivation development is associated with higher academic achievement, greater problem solving skills, greater school enjoyment, better school attendance and fewer behavioural problems (Melhuish et al., 2001). The present study built upon existing research that has identified different types of parental involvement in the secondary education.

Research methodology

This research approach, focused exclusively on lower secondary education, used quantitative data and was based on the positivist paradigm. A paradigm is an interpretive framework or a set of beliefs that guide action. Paradigm comes from the Greek ‘‘paradeiknyai’’ and connotes the ideas of a mental picture or pattern of thought (Shtarkshall, 2004). It is a “net of epistemological and ontological premises which regardless of ultimate truth or falsity becomes partially self validating”. Positivism predominates in science and assumes that science quantitatively measures independent facts about a single apprehensible reality (Healy & Perry, 2000). In other words, the data and its analysis are value-free and data do not change because they are being observed. That is, researchers view the world through a “one-way mirror” (Healy & Perry, 2000).In its broadest sense, positivism is a rejection of metaphysics. It is a position that holds that the goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena that we experience. Quantitative research is also defined as social research that employs empirical methods and empirical statements. It is stated that an empirical statement is defined as a descriptive statement about what “is” the case in the “real world” rather than what “ought” to be the case. Typically, empirical statements are expressed in numerical terms (Cohen, 1980). Moreover, (Creswell, 1994b) has given a very concise definition of quantitative research as a type of research that is `explaining phenomena by collecting numerical data that are analyzed using mathematically based methods’. It is understood then that in quantitative research we collect numerical data. It refers to the use of mathematically based methods, in particular statistics, to analyze the data. In short, quantitative research generally focuses on measuring social reality. Quantitative research and questions are searching for quantities in something and to establish research numerically.

Research tool

In the present study a multiple choice, closed questions type of questionnaire was used as a gathering tool. At this point, it is necessary to refer that this questionnaire constitutes Botsari’s (2008) scientific work and she truly honoured me by offering me her own tool. More precisely, it was standardized to the Greek reality and reflected pupils’ thoughts and attitudes towards the existing educational system.

Also, the specific questionnaire was based on Perception of Parents Scale (POPS) (Robbins, 1994) as well as on Dependency-oriented Psychological Control and Achievement-oriented Psychological Control Scale (Soenens et al., 2010). The scales were completed by children to describe their mothers and their fathers (24 questions). In this way, it was possible to highlight the support of self-reliance, the exercise of psychological pressure and the unconditional acceptance separately from the father and from the mother in the sector of achievement. Moreover, the questionnaire of Skaalvik (1997) presented the objectives of students concerning the school and the learning (44 questions). The objective could be the work of learning, the demonstration of superiority, the evasion of negative comments or even the evasion of work. At the same time, a view of students for their teachers (9 questions) was available, but the specific option was not further analysed, as it was not applied to the research questions of the specific study. Last but not least, in the last page of the questionnaire, demographic elements could be found, like sex and age of the students, the school they study at, the educational level of parents and the grades students received at mathematics or Greek literature. Parents’ job came as an optional choice.

Data collection and procedure

After viiting 3 junior high schools in Athens, our sample was 120 students (82 Greeks and 38 immigrants from other nationalities) out of 140, as 12 were used in piloting the questionnaire and 8 were absent that day. The average age of the participants was 14.50 years. Hopefully, there was a nice climate in general when collecting our data and four trustworthy colleagues were chosen to read my questionnaire at first. Teachers also proved to be sensitive concerning this research in any occasion. To be more specific, not only did they interrupt their lesson to give space in the completion of the questionnaires, but they also highlighted the importance of the study to the students. The response of these children was really impressive, especially after being told that the ethical principles of anonymity and confidentiality could have taken for granted. As a result, a bond of trust enhanced the credibility of my findings and led to honest replies. On a parallel level, assumptions could be made due to different students’ age, nationality and overall grade.

Even though all participants were aware that they have taken part in a survey, at an earlier stage I had asked for permission from the Greek Ministry of Education and the headmasters of the three schools. Feedback was available too, to whom they concerned, after the dissemination of the results (Gray, 2004).

Data codification and analysis

After the collection of all the questionnaires, the data was coded and entered into Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) to ensure completeness and consistency. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) is a useful software package for analyzing questionnaire surveys because it is flexible and easy to use. So, each questionnaire item was rated on a 4-point Likert scale, ‘‘absolutely agree, rather agree, rather disagree, absolutely disagree’’. : A Likert scale (pronounced ‘lick-ert’) is a type of psychometric response scale often used in questionnaires and is the most widely used scale in survey research. When responding to a Likert questionnaire item, respondents actually specify their level of agreement to a statement. The scale is named after Rensis Likert, who published a report describing its use (Likert, 1932).Table 1 shows students’ responses after being asked to state their parents’ educational level. There was one missing value regarding the father’s educational level. The highest frequencies observed both for fathers and for mothers were for secondary senior education level, 44 (37%) and 56 (46.7%) respectively. The number of fathers who graduated secondary junior and then quitted school was more than twice the number of mothers who did so, i.e. 25 (21%) fathers in contrast to 12 (10%) mothers. Though the frequencies in the postgraduate level are equal for both parents, mothers seem to have a better education as in the three upper levels the cumulative percentage for mothers is 85% in contrast to 71,4% for fathers.

Table 1

Frequency distribution of the students by their parents’ education level                                                                          

Education level Father Mother
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Primary   9   7.6   6   5.0
Secondary Junior (Gymnasium) 25 21.0 12 10.0
Secondary Senior (Lyceum) 44 37.0 56 46.7
Tertiary 35 29.4 40 33.3
Postgraduate   6   5.0   6   5.0

 

The Achievement-oriented Psychological Control Scale (APCS; Soenens, Vansteenkiste, & Luyten, 2010), as adapted by Makri-Botsari (2012), for use with Greek adolescent students, was used to assess adolescents’ perceptions of parental psychological control in the domain of achievement, where psychological control is used as a means to make children comply with excessive parental standards for performance. Participants rated the 10 items of the scale for mothers and fathers separately (e.g. My mother/My father is less friendly with me if I perform less than perfectly). Items were rated on a 4-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). The responses for mothers and fathers were combined to create an overall parental psychological control score based on the very high correlation between maternal and paternal psychological control (r = 0.86) and because these responses report couple level behaviors. In this study, the Cronbach’s alpha for the combined parental psychological control scale was 0.94. This suggests that the items have relatively high internal consistency. We should note here that a reliability coefficient of 0.70 or higher is considered “acceptable” in most social science research situations. Unconditionality of acceptance by mothers and fathers was assessed with a 5-item scale developed by Makri-Botsari (2012). This scale taps the extent to which students feel their mothers and fathers treat them as a person of worth and give them love and affection, even when they do not meet all of their expectations and/or do not have a high school-achievement (Makri-Botsari, 2001a, 2001b). As for the APCS, the responses for mothers and fathers were combined to create an overall parental unconditional acceptance score based again on the very high correlation between maternal and paternal unconditional acceptance (r = 0.66) and because these responses report also couple level behaviors. In this study, the Cronbach’s alpha for the combined parental unconditional acceptance scale was 0.90. Achievement goal orientations were assessed by a Greek version (Makri-Botsari, 2012) of Skaalvik’s motivational orientations scale (Skaalvik, 1997). This instrument consists of four subscales: task orientation (6 items), avoidance orientation (4 items), self-defeating ego orientation (7 items), and self-enhancing ego orientation (5 items).Items are answered on a four point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). Skaalvik reports Cronbach’s alphas for the task orientation, self-enhancing ego orientation, self-defeating ego orientation, and avoidance orientation subscales of 0.81, 0.86, 0.89, and 0.93, respectively. In the current investigation, these reliabilities were found equal to 0.73, 0.72, 0.73 and 0.65, respectively.

Findings- results

Findings from this study generally support the view that students’ perceptions about their parents’ parental practices are related to their motivational attitudes and beliefs. To illustrate my point of view, considering the achievement- oriented psychological control at first, both parents seem to demand great academic results and high school-performance from their children. This fact automatically decreases the levels of unconditional acceptance. Furthermore, as it pertains to the hypothesis speculating a positive relation between authoritative parenting and a mastery goal orientation, the present findings contribute to the literature describing that students who perceived their parents to be more authoritative, also perceived themselves as being more oriented towards mastery (Gonzalez et al., 2001, 2002,2005). However, the results of this study also revealed the absence of one father, most probably because of death or a difficult divorce. According to Wineburgh (2000), the absenteeism of a father has a severe effect on not only the livelihood of a child but also his/her cognitive abilities. Children who never meet or have had very little contact with their fathers at an early age are left wondering about why their father is not a part of their lives. They begin to think that they are the ones to blame or are always questioning the reasoning for their absence. The results are truly surprising about dependency-oriented psychological control as well. Students want their parents to support them, even if they do not meet their expectations all the time. In any case, if a student believes that his or her parent will be present for school functions, question how well he or she is doing, maintain regular contact with the teacher and perhaps make random visits or make random phone calls to the school, then the student may believe that doing better than before is easier. At the same time, parents who experience events like parent–child distance as threatening and who anticipate their child’s increasing independence with feelings of resentment and anxiety, report more psychologically controlling tactics to keep their child within close physical and emotional boundaries (Hock et al., 2001; Soenens et al., 2006).Gender is another crucial factor in this research. As it can be clearly seen from the Table 2, girls and boys do not react similarly in general. On the one hand, girls do not afford pressure but praise for parents’ love and care at the same time. On the other hand, boys are less emotion- affected and focused on more demanding tasks. Nevertheless, both of them are seeking for their parents’ attention in order to achieve their goals.

Moreover, the correlation between self-defeating and self-enhancing ego orientation existed, but these constructs had different relations to other variables in the study. On the one hand, self-defeating ego orientation was associated with high anxiety and was negatively related to achievement and self-perceptions.

Table 2
Means and standard deviations of the study by students’ gender

Construct Boys Girls
Mean Standard deviation Mean Standard deviation
Parenting style        
  Psychological control 1.84 0.71 1.76 0.64
  Unconditional acceptance 3.29 0.73 3.36 0.71
Goal orientation        
  Task orientation 3.21 0.55 3.21 0.54
  Self-enhancing ego orientation 2.82 0.72 2.60 0.69
  Self-defeating ego orientation 2.76 0.66 2.52 0.69
  Avoidance orientation 2.96 0.68 2.66 0.73

Self-enhancing ego orientation on the other hand was positively related to achievement, self-perceptions, and intrinsic motivation (Table 3). In other words, students present a higher achievement orientation (educational effort) and experience greater self-efficacy (sense of competence and initiative) when their parents interact with them using strategies of positive induction (reasoning and support), monitoring (keeping track of the child’s activities), and autonomy (freedom granting).

Table 3  Correlations (Pearson r) between parenting styles and goal orientations

 Construct 1 2 3 4 5 6
1. Psychological control   1.000          
2. Unconditional acceptance -0.417**   1.000        
3. Task orientation -0.094   0.132   1.000      
4. Self-enhancing ego orientation   0.341** -0.130   0.326** 1.000    
5. Self-defeating ego orientation   0.216* -0.084 -0.068 0.380** 1.000  
6. Avoidance orientation -0.006   0.047 -0.195* 0.153 0.467** 1.000

Note: **  Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). *  Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

According to Table 4, it can be summarized that parents should be both responsive and demanding. The parents should set clear rules, monitor their children’s behaviour and expect success from their children but all the while supporting their children and satisfying their psychological needs.

Questioning simultaneously at first whether parents’ dependency-oriented psychological control is related to student motivation, the analysis indicated that paternal support and involvement were positively associated with perceived competence, control understanding and perceptions of autonomy in students. This is obvious in the case of achievement-oriented psychological control that responds to the second research question, where parents do not pressure their children to be dependent but pressure their children to excel individually. These findings are in line with formulations on the developmental origins of dependency and self-criticism as well, derived from the theory of Blatt (2004). As it is observed, here there is also a correlation with the third research question, demanding  if parental autonomy support is associated with student orientation. Similarly, when parents pressure children to achieve and to live up to high standards, children are likely to develop a self-critical orientation. In another study, Dubois et al. (1994) also showed that family support and the quality of parent-child relationships significantly predicted school adjustment in a sample of 159 young US adolescents (aged 10 –12) followed in a two- year longitudinal study. At-home parental involvement clearly and consistently has significant effects on pupil achievement and adjustment which far outweigh other forms of involvement. Why is ‘at-home’ involvement so significant? How does it work in promoting achievement and adjustment? The broad answer to this question seems to be that it depends on the age of the child. For younger pupils parenting provides the child with a context in which to acquire school- related skills and to develop psychological qualities of motivation and self-worth. For older children the specific skills component seems to be less salient and the motivational component assumes increasing importance. However, Mattingly et al. (2002) reviewed 41 studies that evaluated parental involvement programmes to assess the claim that they made a positive impact on pupil learning. They found, ‘little empirical support for the widespread claim that parental involvement programmes are an effective means of improving student achievement or changing parent, teacher and student behaviour ‘ (p.549). Mattingly et al. (2002) came to add that this does not mean that the programmes are ineffective. It means that there is little evidence that they are effective. The main problem presenting reviewers in the field is the poor quality of the evaluations. There is a huge level of industry in the field, meaning that Mattingly et al. (2002) had actually found hundreds of reports of parent involvement programmes, but only of these reported the outcomes of the interventions.

Therefore, amongst even these studies, there were ‘glaring flaws’ including a failure to report crucial information on processes and participants, lack of comparison groups to account for maturation effects, a reliance on highly-subjective indicators of effectiveness and a lack of control of the effects of socio-economic status. In the light of their review, the authors concluded that, ‘there is no substantial evidence to indicate a causal relationship between interventions designed to increase parent involvement and improvements in student learning. This, of course, does not imply that the evaluated programmes were ineffective. Rather, it cautions that the evidence of their success does not justify the claims made about parental involvement.’ (p.572).

Table 4 Summary results of the regression analysis of each goal orientation on parental psychological control and unconditional acceptance

Dependent variable B t p Adjusted R2
Task orientation        
Self-enhancing                ego orientation       0.10
  Constant 2.087 10.776 .000  
  Parental psychological control .352 3.493 .001  
Self-defeating                ego orientation       0.05
  Constant 2.243 12.551 .000  
  Parental psychological control .220 2.369 .020  
Avoidance orientation        

 

Evaluation- discussion

Two main conclusions can be drawn from this study which focused on whether parental involvement has an influential role on students’ motivation at school. The first is that student motivation is complex, multivariate phenomenons that cannot be ascertained accurately even with the most sophisticated statistical tools and research designs. However, one may be able to differentiate between motivated and not-motivated students simply by assessing the affluence level of their families and the degree their parents are involved in the school. This study has also offered a more specific view of how Greek secondary school students are motivated or unmotivated by different parental interventions or insufficient interventions. Studies presented here uncover important relationships between parent involvement and specific motivational constructs. When parents are involved, students report more effort, concentration, and attention. Students are more inherently interested in learning and they experience higher perceived competence. In this regard, the involvement of parents in the education of their adolescent children should be encouraged and practiced. In the light of this direction, Hoover-Dempsey et al. (2005) also insinuates that the involvement of parents in the education of their children is motivated by the parents’ sense of efficacy for helping the child to excel at school and their role construction for involvement. Not to mention that parenting education has been conceived as falling in three broad areas: preparation about parenthood and family for school-age children; preparation for parenthood for young people and education on relationships and parenting skills for parents and carers. (Lloyd, 1999). It is the third category which is of most relevance to this research and parenting education also takes many forms. It can take the form of parent training programmes offered in the form of a medical approach, as a ‘treatment’, to help parents cope better with psychosocial illnesses and/or with their children (Scott, 2002). Besides, it takes the form of more broadly-based home/school/family support. This is a less medical model of treatment and more a broad educational approach intended to help people understand and shape their relationships and self-adjustment.

In summary, it is worth emphasising that research on spontaneous levels of parental involvement in children’s education confirms the long held view that the impact is large and the processes are well understood. What parents do with their children at home through the age range, is much more significant than any other factor open to educational influence. Simultaneously, it goes without saying that he results of this study strike a significant note for educators too; thus, every teacher has to be a reflective practitioner and researcher at first in order to improve students’ lives step by step. And that is what I am trying to do almost on a daily basis. Still, this inclusion strategy suffers from two biases. First, it is possible that it omits useful work ‘in the margins’. There might be studies unpublished and unknown to the international community of experts in the field. Second, it could be that the report suffers from ‘publication bias’ – that tendency of journals and experts to focus on those studies reporting positive effects. There is a tendency for studies supporting the null hypothesis (no effect) to disappear from view. Consequently, this bias can only be avoided by using the time and resources to conduct an exhaustive, systematic review at a Doctoral level. For me, this is a stable promise to be fulfilled as I am looking forward to an academic career the next five years.

Σημειώσεις τέλους και Βιβλιογραφία

[1] Athanasios F. Katsoulis, Address:  46, Thessalias street, Kamatero, pc. 13451, Athens, Tel.: 6930489884, E-mail: katsou1986@gmail.com .

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