Academic journal article International Education Studies

Parental Involvement, Student Active Engagement and the 'Secondary Slump' Phenomenon-Evidence from a Three-Year Study in a Barbadian Secondary School

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Parental Involvement, Student Active Engagement and the 'Secondary Slump' Phenomenon-Evidence from a Three-Year Study in a Barbadian Secondary School

Article excerpt

Abstact

This study examined the relationship between parental involvement and a proximal student academic outcome-active engagement, for a cohort of 160 students on their transition to secondary school and at three subsequent time periods. The student-reported measures were assessed using the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (2005) instrument. Results provide clear evidence of the 'secondary slump' phenomenon with a consistent decline in each of the four parental involvement subscales (parent modeling, parent instruction, parent encouragement, parent reinforcement) and with female students reported significantly higher levels of parental involvement than males. A similar pattern of decline emerged for students' level of active engagement across the three years of the study; however, no gender differences were seen. In addition, the findings suggest a significant positive relationship between each of the four parental involvement constructs and active engagement. In discussing ways to address this 'secondary slump', discussions focused on a revision of the parental involvement instrument to include items which are more reflective of today's increased use of the Internet and social media to facilitate interactions between parents and schools.

Keywords: active engagement, Barbados, parental encouragement, parental instruction, parental involvement, parental modeling, parental reinforcement, secondary slump

1. Introduction

The issue of parental involvement in secondary school has occupied the attention of school administrators and educational planners in Barbados in recent years. This renewed concerned stems, in part, from the pattern of declining levels of parental involvement at the secondary level. This emerging trend is particularly worrisome given the fact that there is research that consistently underscores the positive relationship between parental involvement and student academic outcomes (Adeymo, 2005; Aunola, Stattin, & Nurmi, 2000; Chen, 2009; Jeynes, 2007; Kim et al., 2012). These findings underscore the importance of parental involvement and support not only in influencing children's academic success but also in the fostering of strong school-parent partnerships. In a previous study the authors of this paper examined the relationship between parental involvement and student proximal academic outcomes using a sample of students in a secondary school in Barbados. This present paper builds on that research and examines how the relationship evolved over a three year period. To this end the study sought to identify the factors influencing parent involvement and examine the nature and strength of the relationship between parental involvement variables and proximal academic outcomes for students during their first three years at a secondary school in Barbados. On transitioning to secondary school at age eleven, the students completed a survey in which they assessed the level of their parents' involvement based on four parental constructs, namely parent modeling, parent instruction, parent encouragement, and parent reinforcement (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1995). The proximal academic outcome was assessed using a measure of student-reported active engagement. Subsequent to this baseline point, follow-up surveys were conducted with this cohort of students at three other time points: at the end of their first, second and third years respectively in secondary school. The longitudinal nature of this study also facilitated an investigation of the 'secondary slump' phenomenon, a term coined by Epstein (2005) which refers to a reduction in the level of parental involvement as students became older.

1.1 Theoretical Background

1.1.1 Social Cognitive Theory

The research is based on the sociocultural theory of learning and development which was developed by Vygotsky, (1978) which underscores how social and individual processes interact in the co-construction of knowledge. The central thesis of the sociocultural theory is that learning takes place in cultural contexts and therefore to fully understand how learning takes place one must understand that relationship between learning and social behaviour. …

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