Academic journal article School Community Journal

Viewing Generativity and Social Capital as Underlying Factors of Parent Involvement

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Viewing Generativity and Social Capital as Underlying Factors of Parent Involvement

Article excerpt


The inclusion of parents in the American education system is widely accepted in educational theory as a critical factor in the long-term success of students (Hill & Tyson, 2009; Jeynes, 2007, 2012). Yet educators often still struggle to obtain the participation of parents and to use parents as a resource to best meet students' needs. Many reasons for parents' involvement or lack thereof have been documented, such as financial opportunities or barriers, parents' personal values and role construction towards education, and the opportunities or barriers presented by the schools. This last category has prompted a quickly growing base of literature on social capital in education, which we will discuss shortly; however, a review of educational and psychological literature reveals little information on how adults' psychosocial development (particularly that of generativity; Erikson, 1963) promotes their involvement in schools or if involvement in schools aides their development. Social capital and psychosocial development are both latent factors, meaning not directly observable, and can be difficult to measure. Nonetheless, exploring these factors may have merit as schools seek to facilitate parent involvement (Brice, 2014; Ferlazzo, 2011).

This current study sought to measure parent involvement with a widely used and validated measure of parent involvement constructed by Joyce Epstein of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University (Epstein & Salinas, 1993). According to Epstein, there are six types of involvement: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community. These aspects of parent involvement are also aspects of the constructs of social capital and generativity (McAdams & de St. Aubin, 1992; McAdams, Hart, & Maruna, 1998; Saguaro Seminar, 2012; World Bank Group, 2011). Therefore, in this exploratory analysis, we examine whether the items in the parent involvement survey could be statistically modeled as the separate yet correlated factors of social capital and generativity, thereby suggesting that parent involvement could also be understood as an expression of an adult's social resources and psychosocial development.

Literature Review

Social Capital

Social capital refers to the nontangible resources such as social networks for the exchange of information, behavioral norms, and trust (Coleman, 1988; Putnam, 1995, 2000). The value of social resources exchanged is determined by those who make up the ties within given social networks and what their actual interests are for being involved with each other (Coleman, 1994). Although traditionally a sociological concept (Bourdieu, 1986), the reach of social capital as a framework for examining human behavior has extended into areas such as economics (Durlauf, 2002) and education (Dika & Singh, 2002; Forsyth & Adams, 2004; Kilpatrick, Johns, & Mulford, 2010). The social capital of schools may be represented by the quantity, quality, and consistency of educationally focused relationships that exist among parents, children, and schools.

Dika and Singh (2002) synthesized "journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, and electronic publications between 1986 and 2001" (p. 32) to critically review the link between social capital and educational outcomes. They found evidence of a positive association with both educational attainment (completing a certain level of schooling) and with educational achievement (test scores and grades). Their recommendation for further research and stronger "theoretical and empirical support" (p. 41) has not gone unheeded, with recent studies continuing to show support for social capital as a means of improving outcomes for school-aged children and adolescents within many demographic categories (see as examples of the most recent literature: Chesters & Smith, 2015; Dufur, Hoffmann, Braudt, Parcel, & Spence, 2015; Tang, 2015). …

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