UConn researcher Angran Li, a doctoral student in sociology, has found that one size does not fit all students when it comes to parents helping with homework, and that parental involvement in homework can be particularly beneficial among economically disadvantaged African-American and Hispanic students.
His findings, along with research collaborator Daniel Hamlin, a former doctoral student at the University of Toronto who is now at Harvard University, upend the conclusion of a 2014 study that found parents who help their children with homework hurt their performance at school.
These educational improvement initiatives of the second Bush and Obama administration respectively, both call for increased levels of parental involvement. "But we're now seeing that for disadvantaged families, we still need to encourage them to be involved, because it can be really beneficial to their kids.
"There is all this debate over parenting and how American parents spend too much energy on their children's education. "We talked about those articles that encouraged parents not to help their kids," Li continues.
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I think there is a big difference between answering the questions set for students and in helping them to structure their time and get into, maintain a homework regime as well as supervising and answering questions when they are stuck which surely is beneficial.By factoring in other variables, he and Hamlin found parental homework help can be beneficial for students in disadvantaged families, especially when compared to advantaged families."So we are encouraging especially parents from disadvantaged families to help with homework, to get actively involved at school, and stay actively involved in your child's education to compensate for this disadvantage," says Li.Taking a self-determination theory perspective on parental need support, the quality of parental homework involvement was differentiated into two dimensions of parental supportive behavior: autonomy support and competence support.We analyzed the data of 309 parents (82% mothers) of school students (52% girls) who participated in an online survey.When kids are not doing well at school and parents are helping with homework, it may look like they are having a negative effect on their children when parental involvement is evaluated in relation to performance alone.Li's research suggests the opposite may be true, and that low student performance may actually explain parental involvement – a conclusion that runs counter to assumptions about parents of economically disadvantaged, lower-performing students being less engaged with their children's education than those of more economically advantaged, higher-performing white students."When kids are not doing well at school, parents are more likely to help with their homework.That's why we observe this negative correlation between parent help with homework and student achievement," says Li.Parental expectations, beliefs, communication, school involvement, and educational activities in the home were also factored into their statistical analysis.They even looked at the number of days parents offered help to a student each week.