College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-26-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Horace Hall

Second Advisor

Erin Mason

Third Advisor

Joseph Gardner

Abstract

The present study explores the experiences of African American parents and how they support their children’s education inside and outside the school realm. More specifically, the study examines African American parents’ level of involvement or engagement in their children’s education and the impact this has upon their children. In this study, parent involvement refers to school-sanctioned, school-authored activities in which parents participate. Parent engagement refers to those activities that parents arrange for themselves and their self-directed, relational interactions with school person­nel. Moreover, parent involvement and parent engagement are not used interchangeably but as distinct terms. The participants in this study are African American parents whose children attend a tutoring center in the south suburbs of Chicago; they were selected on the basis of their involvement or engagement in their children’s education.

This study employed the ecologies of parental engagement and critical race theory as the theoretical frameworks. The ecology of parental engagement (EPE) offers a way to understand the interconnections between what parents engage in and how they manage to do so. Employing critical race theory (CRT) as a method allowed the use of storytelling; this captured each participant’s reality as it related to parent involvement and parent engagement. One-on-one interviews, observations, and a focus group were used to identify the nature of parents’ participation in their children’s education. Parents in this study predominantly participated in the home and school environment; however, the majority of the families in this study felt they were more engaged than involved in their children’s education.

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