AN INVESTIGATION OF TURKISH PARENTS‘ BELIEFS AND PERCEPTIONS FOR INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR YOUNG CHILDREN‘S EDUCATION 

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AN INVESTIGATION OF TURKISH PARENTS‘ BELIEFS AND PERCEPTIONS FOR INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR YOUNG CHILDREN‘S EDUCATION

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to discover Turkish parents‘ beliefs and perceptions about their involvement in young children‘s education. Specifically, this study sought to assess Turkish parents‘: (1) motivational beliefs, including their role activity and selfefficacy beliefs about involvement, (2) perceptions of invitations, including general school and teacher-specific, to be involved, and (3) perceptions of life context variables, including personal knowledge and skills and personal time and energy for involvement activities. This study also explored the impact of demographic characteristics on the psychological factors of parent involvement. The demographic variables in this study included parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education levels, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children. The investigator used quantitative research techniques to address the topic.

Participants were 374 Turkish parents who had young children. Parents‘ beliefs and perceptions about their involvement were measured by using the adapted Turkish version of the related Level 1 scales from the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler parent involvement model. The researcher ensured the validity and reliability of the measures prior to their use in the main study. The related scales used as the first instrument in this study were based on parents‘ self-report, and included: (1) Parental Role Activity Beliefs for Involvement in Children‘s Education, (2) Parental Self-Efficacy Beliefs for Helping the Child Succeed in School, (3) Parental Perceptions of General Invitations for

Involvement from the School, (4) Parental Perceptions of Specific Invitations for

Involvement from the Child‘s Teacher, (5) Parental Perceptions of Personal Knowledge

 

and Skills for Involvement Activities, and (6) Parental Perceptions of Personal Time and Energy for Involvement Activities. A total of 44 items were included in this instrument.

Moreover, a demographic survey that contained seven questions about participants‘ age and gender, marital and employment status, education and income levels, and number of children, was developed and used as the second instrument in this study.

The investigator used both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques to analyze the data. The results of descriptive statistics suggested that Turkish parents as a group tend to have positive beliefs and perceptions about their involvement in their young children‘s education. Multiple linear regression analysis (MLRA) was also deployed to understand the relationship between these beliefs and perceptions and demographic characteristics. The results revealed that parents‘ monthly family income is the strongest predictor of their beliefs and perceptions about their involvement in their young children‘s education. Parents with higher incomes tend to have more positive beliefs and perceptions about involvement than the lower-income parents. It was also found that parents‘ educational backgrounds influence their self-efficacy beliefs about helping their children succeed in school. Parents with higher education levels are more likely to have stronger self-efficacy beliefs than the parents with lower educational backgrounds.

Several recommendations were made based on the results. The researcher suggested several directions for further research. Implications were also described for policy and practice.

Table of Contents

List of Tables………………………………………………………………………………x

Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………..…..xii Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………..…………1

Statement of the Problem………………………………………………………….3

Need for the Study…………………………………………………………………4

Purpose of Study and Research Questions…………………………………………6

Significance of the Study………………………………………………………….8

Limitations……………………………………………………………………….10

Delimitations……………………………………………………………………..10

Definition of Terms………………………………………………………………10 Chapter 2. LITERATURE REVIEW…………………………………………………….12

Importance of Parent Involvement in Children‘s Education…………….………12

Academic Achievement………………………………………………….13

Literacy Skills……………………………………………………15

Mathematics Skills……………………………………………….17

Other Academic-related Issues…………………………………..19

Child‘s Development…………………………………………………….20

Brief Historical Foundations: Background of Parent Involvement………………22

                        Background on Parent Involvement in the United States………………..22

Background on Parent Involvement in Turkey…………………………..25

Theories and Parent Involvement………………………………………………..28   Cognitive Development Theory………………………………………….28   Sociocultural Theory……………………………………………………..29

Ecological Systems Theory………………………………………………30

Parent Involvement Models………………………………………………………33

Epstein‘s Parent Involvement Model…………………………………….33

Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler‘s Parent Involvement Model……………36

Psychological Factors of Parent Involvement……………………………………41

Parents‘ Motivational Beliefs Regarding Their Involvement……………41              Parental Role Construction for Involvement in Children‘s

Education…………………………………………………………42

Parental Self-Efficacy for Helping the Child Succeed in School..45

Parental Perceptions of Invitations for Involvement from Others……….49                        Parental Perceptions of General Invitations for Involvement

from the School……………………………………………………50

Parental Perceptions of Specific Invitations for Involvement

from the Child‘s Teacher…………………………………………52

Parental Perceptions of Life Context Variables………………………….55

Parental Perceptions of Personal Knowledge and Skills for

Involvement Activities……………………………………………55

Parental Perceptions of Personal Time and Energy for

Involvement Activities……………………………………………57

            Demographic Factors of Parent Involvement……………………………………59 Chapter 3. METHODOLOGY……………………………………………………………66

Design of the Study………………………………………………………………66

Population and Sample……………………………………………………………68

Instrumentation…………………………………………………………………..68

Validity…………………………………………………………………..70

Evidence Based on Test Content…………………………………71

Evidence Based on Response Processes…………………………80

Evidence Based on Internal Structure……………………………80

Evidence Based on Relations to Other Variables………………..81

Evidence Based on Consequences of Testing……………………81

Reliability…………………………………………………………………82 Pilot Study………………………………………………………………………..84

Research Hypotheses…………………………………………………………….86

Data Collection for the Main Study………………………………………………87

Data Analysis…………………………………………………………………….88

Chapter 4. RESULTS…………………………………………………………………….92

Reliability Analysis of Main Study for the Scales……………………………….92

Demographic Description of the Participants……………………………………94

Research Question One…………………………………………………………..97

Research Question Two…………………………………………………………105

Research Question Three……………………………………………………….111 Chapter 5. DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS…………………………….119  Discussion of the Findings………………………………………………………120

Research Question One…………………………………………………120

Research Question Two…………………………………………………126

Research Question Three…..……………………………………………129

Recommendations………………………………………………………………133

Recommendations for Future Study……………………………………133

Implications for Policy and Practice……………………………………136

References………………………………………………………………………………141

CHAPTER 1

 

Introduction

Parents are known as the primary educators in their children‘s immediate environment during the early years of life (Gestwicki, 2007). Although parents‘ involvement in their young children‘s education is a relatively new research area, it has been commonly accepted that parents play a vital role in their children‘s education

(Hartley, 2000). Therefore, involving parents in their children‘s education is inevitable and beyond dispute (Henderson & Berla, 1994).

Growing evidence demonstrates the benefits of parent involvement in their children‘s education (Henderson & Mapp, 2002), not only for students, but also for parents, teachers, and educational settings (Epstein et al., 2002). These positive outcomes include children‘s academic achievement (Wright, Stegelin, & Hartle, 2007), cognitiveintellectual development (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994), social and emotional development (Prior & Gerard, 2007), and behavioral development (Kratochwill,

McDonald, Levin, Bear-Tibbets, & Demaray, 2004).

Research (e.g., Henderson & Mapp, 2002) indicates that when parents participate in their children‘s education, students have higher grade point averages (Gutman &

Midgley, 2000), and increased achievement in reading (Buchen, 2004), writing (Sheldon & Epstein, 2005a), and mathematics (Van Voorhis, 2001). Children whose parents are involved in their learning also have higher levels of social skills (Gestwicki, 2007), more positive attitudes and behavior (Pong & Ju, 2000), higher homework completion rates (Cancio, West, & Young, 2004), and fewer placements in special education (Henderson & Berla, 1994).

Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995, 1997) introduced a theoretical model of the parent involvement process in order to fully understand why parents get involved and in what way the psychological factors relate to parents‘ basic involvement decisions. This model was revised (Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandler, & Hoover-Dempsey, 2005; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005). The revised model provides a direct link between psychological factors (i.e., parents‘ motivational beliefs regarding their involvement, parents‘ perceptions of invitations for involvement from others, and parents‘ perceived life context) and parents‘ choice of involvement forms. Simply, this model focuses more on the reasons for parent involvement. This theoretical model sets the basis for this study.

Although there has been substantial investigation of the outcomes of parent involvement on children‘s education, the research on psychological factors is inadequate (Walker et al., 2005). Particularly, the effects of demographic variables (e.g., parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education level, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children) on these psychological variables have not been a major focus of a comprehensive study. In Turkey, where increased parent involvement is sought, there is a lack of such research. Thus, this study‘s focus is the psychological factors in Turkish parents‘ involvement in their children‘s education and the influence of demographic variables on that involvement.

Statement of the Problem

Although the Ministry of National Education (MONE) in Turkey has declared that preschool education will be mandatory in 2013 (Kotan, 2007), the majority of Turkish children begin their formal schooling in elementary school when they are six years old. According to Şahin and Ünver (2005), involving children‘s parents in their education has numerous positive outcomes for students at this age. Parents want their children to be successful in their education (Kainz & Aikenz, 2007) and with to be involved because doing so helps children with their learning and achievement (Comer & Haynes, 1991).

The Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler model of parent involvement offers four forms of parent involvement, including values and goals, home involvement, school communication, and school involvement (Walker et al., 2005). By couching this model on a psychological perspective, they also sought to examine the psychological factors of parent involvement in order to understand their effect on the parent involvement process, beginning with their choice of involvement forms (Walker et al., 2005).

To date, the focus of most research on predictors of parent involvement has been on demographic factors (Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997). For example, studies have shown that lower-income, less educated (Lareau, 2000), and single parents (Epstein, 1990) are less involved than are more educated, higher-income, or married parents (Grolnick et al., 1997). However, little work (e.g., Hoover- Dempsey & Sandler, 2005) has touched on the relationship between these demographic factors and psychological predictors such as parents‘ motivational beliefs about their involvement, parents‘ perceptions of invitations for involvement from others, and parents‘ perceived life context. Therefore, there seems to be a gap in research regarding the effects of demographic factors on the psychological predictors of parent involvement.

These findings are also relevant in the Turkish context with respect to Turkish parents‘ involvement in young children‘s education. For instance, Gürşimşek (2003) studied the effects of demographic factors on types of parent involvement. Unfortunately, there has been no research in the Turkish context of psychological factors and parent involvement and the effects of demographic variables on psychological predictors. Such an examination is essential in order to fully understand the relationships between significant variables and aspects of parent involvement. This analysis will provide an indepth look at the parent involvement process and a better picture of it. It is assumed that an advanced understanding of parents‘ involvement in education may lead to improvements in the parent involvement philosophy as well as its practice in the field.

In summary, psychological predictors of parent involvement, including parents‘ beliefs and perceptions of their involvement and how these factors are affected by demographic variables in the Turkish context, remain unknown. Examining Turkish parents‘ beliefs about and perceptions of their involvement in their young children‘s education and how these factors are affected by demographic variables is the main focus of this study.

Need for the Study

The three specific needs for this research provide the rationale for it. The needs are: (1) the importance of parent involvement in young children‘s education, especially in the Turkish context, (2) the importance of psychological and demographic factors in parent involvement, and (3) the lack of adequate research on psychological factors, including parents‘ beliefs and perceptions, and lack of study of the relationship between these psychological and demographic factors in Turkey. These three needs are delineated below.

First, in Turkey, the schooling rate in pre-primary education is 17% (MONE, 2007). There are currently over 640,000 children and 24,775 teachers, according to educational statistics from MONE (2007) for Turkey. Hence, most Turkish children start their schooling at the age of six by entering primary schools. Parent involvement in children‘s education has a tremendous influence on students who experience a critical transition from home to school or from pre-primary education to primary education (Gestwicki, 2007). Therefore, it is essential to the involvement of Turkish parents in their young children‘s education.

Second, the psychological factors proposed by Hoover-Dempsey and Sanders

(1995, 1997, 2005) and Walker et al. (2005), such as parents‘ motivational beliefs about their involvement (i.e., role activity beliefs and parental efficacy), parents‘ perceptions of invitations for involvement from others (i.e., general school invitations and specific teacher invitations), and parents‘ perceived life context (i.e., knowledge and skills and time and energy) are significant in parents‘ involvement in their children‘s education. Although some studies (e.g., Gürşimşek, 2003) have attempted to investigate the parent involvement process in Turkey, none has used Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler‘s parent involvement model and focused on psychological factors such as degrees of Turkish parents‘ role activity and parental self-efficacy beliefs, their perception of invitations to become involved from schools and teachers, and their perceptions of their knowledge, skills, and time, and the energy they put into their involvement. Thus, research on Turkish parents‘ beliefs and perceptions of their involvement in young children‘s education will allow us to better comprehend parent involvement in young children‘s education in Turkey.

Third, parents‘ demographic characteristics (e.g., age and gender, income and educational level, and marital and employment status) have impacts on their involvement in education (Lareau, 2000). Although there have been many studies of the influences of these variables in the parent involvement process in the United States (e.g., Epstein,

1990) and some studies in Turkey (e.g., Gürşimşek, 2003), there has been no research in Turkey on the effects of these demographic variables on the psychological factors of parent involvement. The lack of such a study on the relationship between demographic and psychological variables in the parent involvement process in Turkey makes the need this research relevant as well.

In summary, the importance of parent involvement in young children‘s education, in the Turkish context, the significance of psychological and demographic factors in parent involvement, and the lack of adequate research studies focusing on psychological factors, including parents‘ beliefs and perceptions and how they are influenced by demographic factors, were the reasons for this study. The main objective of this study is to provide sufficient information on these issues so that a better picture of the parent involvement process in Turkey is available and the gap in research on the topic can be

filled.

Purpose of Study and Research Questions

Following the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (2005) parent involvement model, the purpose of this research was to assess psychological factors involved in parent involvement in Turkish young children‘s education. Specifically, this study aims to assess Turkish parents‘: (1) motivational beliefs, including their role activity and selfefficacy beliefs about involvement, (2) perceptions of invitations, including general school and teacher-specific, to be involved, and (3) perceptions of life context variables, including personal knowledge and skills and personal time and energy for involvement activities. This study also sought to ascertain the impact of demographic factors on the psychological factors of parent involvement.

The primary research question was: What are Turkish parents‘ beliefs and perceptions about their involvement in their young children‘s education and how do their demographic characteristics influence these psychological factors?

The study attempted to answer this primary research question by examining several ancillary questions. These questions were as follows:

  1. What are Turkish parents‘ motivational beliefs regarding their involvement?

The following information helped answer this ancillary question: (a) What are

Turkish parents‘ role activity beliefs, that is, the extent to which they believe that they should be actively involved in the child‘s education? (b) What are Turkish parents‘ beliefs about their efficacy in helping their children succeed in school? and (c) How do parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education level, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children affect parental role activity and self-efficacy beliefs?

  1. What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of invitations for involvement from others? The following issues helped answer this ancillary question: (a) What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of general invitations for involvement from the school? (b) What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of specific teacher invitations for involvement? (c) How do parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education level, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children influence these parental perceptions of general and specific invitations for involvement?
  2. What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of life context with respect to their involvement in their children‘s education? The following issues provided information for this ancillary question: (a) What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of their knowledge and skills for involvement? (b) What are Turkish parents‘ perceptions of their available time and energy for involvement? (c) In what way do parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education level, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children relate to these parental perceptions of time and energy and knowledge and skills and their involvement in their children‘s education?

In sum, the purpose of this research was to examine Turkish parents‘ beliefs and perceptions about their involvement in their young children‘s education. The questions related to this purpose and answers were sought accordingly.

Significance of the Study

This study is significant for three reasons. These reasons are delineated below.

First, parent involvement is an important aspect and an opportunity for children‘s success in school as well as their personal development. The growing interest in parent involvement in early childhood education in Turkey, where initiatives to increase parent involvement have been accelerated since Turkey began to engage in discussion about full membership in the European Union, makes it a necessity to investigate parent involvement in a comprehensive in-depth manner. Therefore, this study is very important because it contributes to this major contemporary topic.

Second, most children in Turkey begin their education by entering first grade in elementary school. Parent involvement is considered a crucial element in the beginning years of children‘s formal schooling since it is a critical phase for children as they experience one of the most important transitions of their lives (Gestwicki, 2007), either from their home or pre-school environment to a formal educational setting.

Third, psychological (Hooever-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005) and demographic factors (Lareau, 2000) on the parents‘ side very much influence their involvement in their child‘s education. However, no research has been done in Turkey on the psychological factors of parent involvement and how they are influenced by demographic variables. Since this study sought to examine psychological factors, including parents‘ beliefs and perceptions of their involvement and the effects of demographic variables (i.e., parents‘ age and gender, parents‘ income and education level, parents‘ marital and employment status, and number of children) in the Turkish context, findings may provide sufficient information and fill in the research gap on the subject-matter.

In summary, by making such current in-depth information available on the factors of parent involvement, this study is of great importance. It makes an essential contribution to the domain by filling a vacuum in the Turkish context. All stakeholders in the parent involvement process in Turkey, such as parents, teachers, administrators, and researchers, may find benefits from study findings in their theoretical or practical efforts.

More to the point, professionals and researchers from other countries can also use this research in local or international comparisons.

Limitations

This study was limited to the province of Yozgat, Turkey. Yozgat is located 170 miles east of Ankara. Accordingly, findings may not be representative of other cities in or those external to Turkey.

Delimitations

There were two delimitations in this study. First, the study sample included only the parents of first- and second-grade students. Therefore, the outcomes of this study cannot be generalized to specific understanding of parent involvement for students in other grade levels. Second, the subjects in this study were limited to parents of children enrolled in the elementary schools in the Yozgat province in Turkey from May to June

2008.

Definition of Terms

Three concepts had critical importance in this study: (1) parent involvement, (2) self-efficacy, and (3) young children. Each term is defined below.

Parent Involvement

            The term ―parent involvement‖ has been defined differently by different people. In this study, the researcher used the definition of Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) to address parent involvement. Their definition of parent involvement incorporates the range of parent activities cited in the involvement literature. ―They include home-based activities related to children‘s learning in school – for example, reviewing the child‘s work and monitoring the child progress, helping with homework, discussing school events or course issues with the child, providing enrichment activities pertinent to school success, and talking by phone with the teacher. They also include school-based involvement, focused on such activities as driving on a filed trip, staffing a concession booth at school games, coming to school for scheduled conferences or informal conversations, volunteering at school, and serving on a parent-teacher advisory board.‖

(Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997, p. 6).

Self-Efficacy

            Self-efficacy is defined as ―People‘s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance‖ Bandura, 1986, p. 391). Specifically, this study used this term to mean parental sense of efficacy, which includes parents‘ beliefs about their personal ability to make a difference in the child‘s educational outcomes through their involvement (Bandura, 1997; HooverDempsey, Bassler, & Brissie, 1992; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1995, 1997, 2005;

Walker et al., 2005).

Young Children

The U.S. Department of Education states that children in prekindergarten through third grade are defined as ―young children‖. This study was done with the parents of first- and second-grade students. As such, the researcher ensured that first- and second-grade students in the Turkish context were ―young children‖.

AN INVESTIGATION OF TURKISH PARENTS‘ BELIEFS AND PERCEPTIONS FOR INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR YOUNG CHILDREN‘S EDUCATION

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