Virtual School Meanderings

March 26, 2013

SITE 2013 – Parent Involvement And Student/Parent Satisfaction In Cyber Schools

site-conf-logo-2013The actual first session that I am blogging from the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference is:

Parent Involvement And Student/Parent Satisfaction In Cyber Schools

Dennis Beck, University of Arkansas, United States, University of Arkansas, United States
Robert Maranto, University of Arkansas, United States, University of Arkansas, United States
Wen-Juo Lo, University of Arkansas, United States, University of Arkansas, United States

Tuesday, March 26 10:15-10:45 AM

There is evidence that in traditional public schools the school satisfaction of students and parents varies by parent involvement. Prior studies suggest that multiple factors influence parental involvement, including race, socioeconomic status, parents’ educational status, and student gender and age. Although prior research has studied parental involvement and its impact on student achievement in a cyber environment, no prior research has studied its impact on student and parent school satisfaction. Here we investigate parental involvement and school satisfaction in a cyber charter school, using a student (n=269; 53.7% response rate) and parent (n=232; 48.7% response rate) survey. Results show that increases in reported parent involvement are associated with higher levels of student school satisfaction. Save regarding race, we find no statistically significant differences in school satisfaction across demographic groups. Implications are discussed.

Dennis began with a general discussion about parental involvement in K-12 schooling. Interestingly, parent involvement is a better predictor of student achievement than socio-economic status. However, race and socio-economic status are both indicator of parental involvement.

As he said, Dennis likes to ask a lot of questions – and had five hypotheses to test.

1. Student satisfaction increase with parental involvement
2. Female students have higher parental involvement
3. African American students have lower parental involvement than Whites
4. Latino students have lower parental involvement than Whites
5. Special education students have higher parental involvement than general education students.
6. Parental satisfaction increase with parental involvement
7. Parents of female students have higher parental involvement
8. Parents of African American students have lower parental involvement than Whites
9. Parents of Latino students have lower parental involvement than Whites
10. Parents of special education students have higher parental involvement than general education students.

The study occurred at SunTech (a pseudonym), a cyber charter school serving grades 7-12 with a higher proportion of special education students than the statewide average.

The instrument used was a survey (67 items for the parents and 66 items for the students). There was a response rate of about 50% for both groups (a little higher than 50% for the parents and a little less than 50% for the students). An ANOVA was used to test the hypothesis. A look at the sample indicated that it was a more white and female sample than the statewide averages, but it also had almost twice the special education average included in the sample (particularly for special education student requiring psychological assessment and learning disabilities).

The results indicated:

H1 – statistically significant (with a large effect size)
H2 – not statistically significant
H3 – not statistically significant
H4 – statistically significant
H5 – not statistically significant
H6 – not statistically significant (but a high percentage of the variance was accounted for by this variable)
H7 – not statistically significant
H8 – statistically significant (with a small effect size)
H9 – statistically significant (with a small effect size)
H10 – not statistically significant

The parent sample was smaller (about half as large as the student sample), so the variances were much smaller across the board.

Cyber schooling lends itself to a greater parental involvement because the learning generally takes place in the home, and the learning management system allows parents to monitor the students’ course participation and interaction with the teacher much easier.

The majority of the open-ended comments were positive. The negative comments that were received did not focus on parental involvement, but rather the weakness of the curriculum and lack of technical support.

Interestingly, parental involvement for minority students is lower in a traditional public school setting. However, in this study the parents of African American students were more active than parents of White students (although not statistically significant) and parents of Latino students were also more active than parents of White students (which was statistically significant).

Dennis finished with a caution that this is a study focused on one cyber charter school, with 500 students. So the generalizability of this study is limited. But it is a promising start that should be replicated in other settings, as well as asking some new questions that could be examined in future research based on these initial findings.

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