Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

African American Fathers' Involvement in Their Children's School-Based Lives

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

African American Fathers' Involvement in Their Children's School-Based Lives

Article excerpt

This research investigated African American fathers' involvement in the school-based lives of their elementary-aged children using the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler model of parent involvement and Epstein's framework of involvement. Questionnaires were administered to 101 African American males in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Multiple regression analyses found predictive relationships between attitudes and behaviors that influence African American fathers' decisions to be involved and the types of involvement related to the child's schooling. Results revealed significant findings for (a) Invitations from Others and home-school communication, (b) Fathers' Life Context and school-based parent involvement, and (c) Fathers' Life Context and Invitations from Others and the overall parent involvement score. Implications for the field of family involvement are discussed.

Keywords: father involvement, parent involvement, home-based involvement, school-based involvement

Introduction

Parental involvement is one of the most widely recognized factors that impact a child's learning and development. Parent involvement, however, is a complex and multidimensional concept (Epstein, 1995). Levels and types of parent involvement vary for myriad reasons, including socioeconomic status, educational background, residential status, and sex of parent (U.S Department of Education, 2003). Fathers, in general, tend to be less involved than mothers. Nonetheless, the limited research that has been conducted suggests that fathers' involvement has a significant relationship on a variety of academic outcomes for children and adolescents (Amato & Rivera, 1999; Dunn, 2004; Fagan, 2000; Nord, 1998a). More research is needed, therefore, to better understand factors affecting fathers' decisions to become involved in their children's learning and how they choose to be involved. This need is particularly significant for African American fathers, who are more likely to be classified as non-residential (U.S. Department of Education, 1998), and have lower levels of educational attainment (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007) than fathers in other ethnic groups. Consequently, they may face greater challenges to being involved with their children.

This article presents findings from a study investigating African American fathers' involvement in their children's education. The study investigated whether there is a predictive relationship between attitudes and behaviors that influence African American fathers' decisions to be involved in their children's school-based lives and their types of parental involvement.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Theoretical Support for Family Involvement

Although the current legislative issues focus on student achievement and giving parents means or methods to redress academic preparation in schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), the factors that impact student achievement are myriad in their sources and manifestations.

Building on the work of theorist in education, psychology, ad sociology (see Bronfenbrenner, 1979), Epstein (1995) developed a seminal theory of parental involvement. She encouraged educators to view "students" as children thereby allowing themselves to incorporate and engage information from the various strands of the children's lives versus the single domain of school. This includes families and communities since children interact and are affected by each of these groups. Within her theory of "overlapping spheres of influence," families become "school-like," and schools and communities become "family-like," settings that promote children's learning, and healthy development.

According to Epstein (1995) there are three major contexts in which students learn and develop: (a) the family, (b) the school, and (c) the community. These structures, found in Bronfenbrenner' s microsystem, have the potential to overlap in the mesosystem and be impacted by the exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem. …

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