Date of Award

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

International Family and Community Studies

Committee Member

Dr. Susan P. Limber, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Martha Thompson

Committee Member

Dr. Arelis Moore de Peralta

Committee Member

Dr. Mark Small

Abstract

This dissertation explores from a cultural perspective how socioeconomic status influences Hispanic family involvement in a student's education. Specifically, the study examined types of family involvement practices common to Hispanic families in high and low socioeconomic groups, how much these practices influence student outcomes, and the mechanisms through which involvement is related to student outcomes. Information for a nationally representative stratified probability sample of more than 1600 Hispanic students and their families was obtained from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, utilizing information from waves in 2002, 2004, and 2006. A Structural Equation Model evaluated the relationship between family involvement practices in 2002 (including rules, communication, spending general time together, spending school- and sports-related time together, and at-school involvement) and student outcomes from 2004 and 2006 (including GPA, math test scores, college enrollment, school dropout, and community involvement) for Hispanic parents as a whole, and also for both high and low socioeconomic groups within the Hispanic parent population. Mediators of student attitudes and behavior from 2002 (including student effort and persistence, aspirations, and behavior at school) were investigated to assess the process through which parent involvement influenced student outcomes. Multiple Groups Analysis of the family involvement measurement model indicated differences in meanings of family involvement between high and low SES Hispanic families, which meant that comparisons across SES groups would be invalid. As a result, characteristics of high and low SES groups were presented separately. Basic descriptive statistics showed that Hispanic families from both SES groups engaged in informal involvement more frequently than formal involvement. The most frequent practices for high SES families included spending general time together and communication. Results from the Structural Equation Model (SEM) indicated that spending general time together and involvement at school were the family practices with the strongest relationship to outcomes for high SES students. High SES student outcomes most influenced by family involvement were GPA, college enrollment, and test scores. Among low SES families, the most frequent practices in which families engaged included spending time together and communication, while practices with the strongest relationship to outcomes were spending general time together and spending school- and sports-related time together. Family involvement had the most influence on GPA and college enrollment for low SES families. Analyses from the SEM also revealed that student effort and persistence, student aspirations, and student behavior at school mediated the relationship between family involvement and the student outcomes of GPA, math test scores, college enrollment, student dropout, and community involvement for both SES groups. The relationships between these 3 mediators and the 5 outcomes were all statistically significant. Differences in the perceived meaning of some family involvement practices for low and high SES Hispanic parents suggest that parent expectations of their role in education are different based on the culture inherent in different economic statuses. Recommendations for practitioners include utilizing the information in this study to establish a shared understanding of educational involvement, show respect for current involvement, and provide support for future involvement. This study can also help Hispanic families understand the practices most applicable and effective in their situation. For high SES families, this might mean spending general time together and being involved at their child's school to help improve student GPA or college enrollment, while low SES families would focus more on spending general time together and school- and sports-related time in order to influence these same outcomes. Future research is needed to better understand these differences and their full implications.

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