Nav: Home

Teachers view immigrant, minority parents as less involved in their children's education

June 19, 2018

Teachers view parental involvement differently for different students, believing that mothers and fathers of immigrant or minority students are less involved in their children's education, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University published in Social Science Research. Such perspectives hamper the academic trajectory of those students, leading to lower grades and fewer recommendations for academic honors.

"There's a whole body of literature that suggests that much of what teachers view about their students comes from how they view their students' parents," says Penn doctoral candidate Phoebe Ho, lead author on the paper. "In our study, though we don't quite tap into why this is happening, we can show that it matters whether teachers view parents as involved."

To draw these conclusions, Ho, who studies the sociology of education and family, and Penn alum Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, now an assistant professor of international education at NYU, turned to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a nationally representative survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.

Existing studies of this type often analyze data focused either on what parents report about their own in-school involvement or what teachers believe about such contributions. This dataset, however, contains both, including independent surveying of math and English teachers, as well as student responses.

Ho and Cherng analyzed several measures from the data. The first included teachers answering the question, "How involved are the parents of this student in his or her academic performance?" for nearly 6,100 10th graders. Teachers could respond one of three ways: not involved, somewhat involved, very involved.

In the second set of measures, parents assessed their own contact with the school, including activities such as attending parent-teacher association meetings and volunteering. Parents also described what happens at home, such as whether they checked their child's homework nightly or what conversations occurred regarding college preparation.

"There is much debate around parental involvement. How much or how little should parents do? How do we best encourage parental involvement?" Ho explains. "That assumes there's a shared idea about what this looks like from parents and teachers, and we questioned whether this was the case."

The researchers' investigation showed that, in fact, the two groups differ on this matter, particularly for certain immigrant and minority populations. English teachers, for instance, tend not to consider immigrant Asian and Latino parents as highly involved. Math teachers generally perceive Latino parents through this same lens.

"It's a common story that immigrant parents have high aspirations for their children, and yet they are considered not very hands-on from a school's perspective. They don't do the things a school expects them to do," Ho says. "The views really match stereotypes related to academic ability."

In the short- and potentially longer-term, such attitudes affect the students in these families, a finding Ho and Cherng discerned by looking at GPAs at the end of sophomore year and teacher recommendations for academic honors. Two students whose academic potential look nearly identical on paper actually diverged in reality if their teacher viewed their parents' involvement differently; students whose parents were considered less involved had lower grades and less of a chance of being recommended for academic honors like advanced placement courses.

"The only difference between the two was whether the teacher viewed the parents as highly involved," says Ho. "One was seen as involved, the other not."

Ho says she believes the work could have implications for schools and for teacher training, presenting an opportunity to reassess how educators view families and what unconscious biases are at play. She also thinks the United States is an outlier from the rest of the world in this regard. "Outside the U.S., school is school and that's the teacher's realm, and home is home and that's the parents' realm," Ho says.

This clashing perspective could underscore why immigrant parents may shy away from certain types of school participation, she adds. "Because they're newcomers to the U.S., immigrant parents might be seen as uninvolved because they don't do some of what U.S. parents are expected to do," she says. "To me, that says maybe they're coming from places where it's just not the norm."

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to this work, including the fact that the dataset doesn't account for federal policy changes made since that time, such as No Child Left Behind, and doesn't include an assessment of the quality of interactions between parents and teachers. Despite this, Ho says the study shows the disadvantage placed on minority and immigrant families and students and contributes to the overall conversation about parental involvement in the U.S. In the future, she says she and Cherng hope to ask these same questions about kindergarten and elementary-age children and their families.
-end-
Phoebe Ho is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Arts and Sciences and an Institute of Education Sciences Fellow at the Penn Graduate School of Education. Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng is an assistant professor of international education at New York University. Funding for the research came from the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education Grant R305B090015.

University of Pennsylvania

Related Education Articles:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.
Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.
How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?
Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.
Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.
The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.
Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.
How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.
Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.
Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.
More Education News and Education Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.