Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Activities with Parents on the Computer: An Ecological Framework

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Activities with Parents on the Computer: An Ecological Framework

Article excerpt


Young people spend most of their time either at home or at school. These contexts are often strange to one another and do not communicate effectively. Given that knowledge can be distributed anywhere through Internet, it is possible to develop new socio-pedagogical, technology-based strategies to bridge school and home contexts.

Technology can connect school and home contexts and help parents to follow--and get involved in--their children academic development (Lewin & Luckin, 2010). But parents often need to be instructed on how to do it (Yu, Yuen, & Park, 2012); and, despite common beliefs, students need to be taught digital skills (Ng, 2012). Digital literacy--as the very contemporary nature of literacy--is deictic (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek, & Henry, 2013), and it "refers to the multiplicity of literacies associated with the use of digital technologies" (Ng, 2012, p. 1066). As if it was not enough, many students lack scientific literacy--defined as "as the ability of people to understand and critically evaluate scientific content in order to achieve their goals" (Britt, Richter, & Rouet, 2014, p. 105). Whereas society became more digital, science and technology became more transparent and unperceived (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2009). Without scientific and digital literacy one can hardly be aware of the mechanisms that elude social unbalances and, most likely, will feel helpless to act upon them.

All considered, interconnecting school and home contexts through technology is not as simple as it could seem at the beginning. Since literature on bridging school and home contexts is very associated with homework, we started by reviewing the literature on it. Then, we exposed the theoretical tenets, structure and processes involved in the framework. In the following section, methods and materials were identified and described. Finally, results were showed and discussed, conclusions were summarized and future work outlined.

Lessons from research on homework

Homework assignments can be used to create productive bonds between different settings providing students and parents with structured opportunities to collaborate (Dettmers, Trautwein, Ludtke, Kunter, & Baumert, 2010), although they have been used by educators for different purposes, e.g, personal development, punishment, etc. (Epstein & Van Voorhis, 2001). Quality homework not only helps school to be more effective, enhancing students' achievement, but it can also help to connect schools and homes, involving parents in their children's academic life.

Parental involvement has been the main focus of Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS), activities designed by teachers with the purpose of establishing a teacher-parent partnership through which they can help the families to be up-to-date with their children's learning activities at home while becoming involved in the process (Epstein et al., 2002). When parents get involved, children do better in school, but most families need information and guidance on how to do it in a successful way (e.g., Epstein, Van Voorhis, & Batza, 2001). Figure 1 summarizes the fundamental motives (why), behaviors (what), processes (how) and outcomes (which) that underlie parental involvement in homework (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001).

Figure 1. Motives "Why, What, How, Which" that underlie parental
involvement in homework (based on Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2001)

Why (parents get involved)

* Parental role construction
* Parent's self-efficacy
* Parent's perceptions of invitations

What (parents do)

* Establish physical and psychological structure
* Interact with the school or teacher
* Provide general oversight of the homework process
* Respond to the student's homework performance
* Engage in homework processes and tasks (also includes
  metastrategies, and interactive processes)

How (parents influence students)

* Modeling
* Reinforcement
* Instruction

Which (students outcomes)

* Student achievement
* Student attributes associated with achievement
* Positive attitudes about homework and school learning
* Student homework behaviors

Parents get involved in homework because they think that they should (role construction); they perceive themselves as capable of helping their child succeed in school (self-efficacy, see Bandura, 1994); and they perceive that they are invited to participate (perceptions of invitations). …

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