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  Role Construction

Parental Role Construction For Involvement in the Child’s Day-to-day Education
Last updated: May, 2005

The Parental Role Construction instrument described here was developed during our OERI/IES funded project (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005). It includes two scales, Role Activity Beliefs and Role Valence Toward Schools. These are described below, and are discussed in more detail in Walker, Wilkins, Dallaire, Sandler, & Hoover-Dempsey (2005) and Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (2005). Earlier work on role construction is described more fully in Hoover-Dempsey, Wilkins, Sandler, and O’Connor (2004) [click here to view .doc] and may be accessed elsewhere in the Scale Descriptions section of the website [click here to view]).

Background
Consistent with role theory (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2004), our early work on role construction was grounded in the assumption and roles are made up of beliefs about what one should do in a given role and the behaviors characteristically associated with performance of the role. Our early analyses of qualitative data (Hoover-Dempsey & Jones, 1997) suggested three discrete patterns of role construction that included role beliefs and behaviors: parent-focused, school-focused, and partnership-focused role construction. However, when we subjected previously gathered survey data to a principal components factor analysis to confirm patterns of role-related beliefs, we found that parent- and partnership-focused survey items fell on one factor, while school-focused items fell into a second.

This finding supported an emerging conceptual conviction that parent- and partnership-focused role patterns are grounded in a similar set of role beliefs that includes strong endorsement of the idea that a parent should be active in approaching involvement in children’s education. Items in the school-focused factor, on the other hand, seemed to reflect a relatively passive stance toward involvement. Thus, we developed a Role Activity Beliefs scale. To take into account parents’ experiences with schools as an influence on current beliefs and behaviors regarding school, we also developed a ‘companion’ scale, Valence Toward Schools scale. Both scales are described below.

Parent Role Construction (Beliefs and Valence)

Role Activity Beliefs 


Grounded in work summarized in Hoover-Dempsey et al. (2004), we developed a 10-item measure of Role Activity Beliefs. The measure assesses the extent to which a parent believes that he or she should be actively involved in the child’s education.

The scale employs a 6-point Likert-type response format: Disagree very strongly = 1, Disagree = 2, Disagree just a little = 3, Agree just a little = 4, Agree = 5, Agree very strongly = 6. Higher scores indicate beliefs supporting a more active parental role in the child’s education; lower scores indicate beliefs supporting a less active or more passive role in the child’s education.

Participants were asked to respond to the following prompt:
“Parents have many different beliefs about their level of responsibility in their children’s education. Please respond to the following statements by indicating the degree to which you believe you are responsible for the following.”

Data on this scale, gathered during the final study of our OERI/IES-funded three-year research project (involving a sample of 358 parents of students in public school grades 4-6) yielded an alpha reliability of .80 (see Walker et al., 2005; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005).

 Items include the following:

1.
… to volunteer at the school.
2.
… to communicate with my child’s teacher regularly.
3.
… to help my child with homework.
4. 
... make sure the school as what it needs.
5.
... support decisions made by the teacher.
6.
... stay on top of things at school.
7.
... explain tough assignments to my child.
8.
... talk with other parents from my child’s school.
9.
... make the school better.
10.
... talk with my child about the school day.


Valence Toward School

This scale assesses the parent’s attraction to or general disposition toward schools, based on his or her prior personal experience with schools. 

The scale employs a 6-point Likert-type response format in which respondents are asked to rate their experience regarding selected elements of schooling. Each of the elements is on a continuum; one end is anchored by negative experience, the other by positive experience (e.g., My school: 1 = disliked, 6 = liked) Higher scores indicate a stronger attraction to school; lower scores indicate lower attraction toward school.
 
Participants were asked to respond to the following prompt:
“People have different feelings about school.  Please mark the number on each line below that best describes your feeling about your school experiences when you were a student.”

Data on this scale, gathered during the final study of our OERI/IES-funded three-year research project (involving a sample of 358 parents of students in public school grades 4-6) yielded an alpha reliability of .84 (see Walker et al., 2005; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 2005).

Items include the following:

1
My school:
disliked
1
2
3
4
5
6
liked
2
My teacher:  
were mean
1
2
3
4
5
6
were nice
3
My teachers:
ignored me
1
2
3
4
5
6
cared about me
4
My school experience: 
bad
1
2
3
4
5
6
good
5
I felt like: 
an outsider
1
2
3
4
5
6
I belonged
6
My overall experience:
failure
1
2
3
4
5
6
success


A note on categories of role construction

We believe that scores on the two scales (Role Activity Beliefs; Valence Toward Schools) may be used to identify categories of parental role construction, as hypothesized below:



Activity Beliefs


Passive Active
Valence Away Disengaged Role Construction Parent-Focused Role Construction
Towards School-Focused Role Construction Partnership-Focused Role Construction

Such categorization may be helpful diagnostically in identifying specific steps that parents and schools might take to increase the incidence and effectiveness of parental involvement in a child’s education.

      
References

Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Jones, K. P.(1997, March).  Parental role construction and parental involvement in children’s education. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., & Sandler, H.M. (2005). Final Performance Report for
OERI Grant # R305T010673: The Social Context of Parental Involvement: A
Path to Enhanced Achievement.
Presented to Project Monitor, Institute of
Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, March 22, 2005.

Hoover-Dempsey, K.V., Wilkins, A.S., O’Connor, K.P.J., & Sandler, H.M. (April, 2004). Parent role construction for involvement: Interactions among theoretical, measurement and pragmatic issues in instrument development. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

Walker, J.M.T., Wilkins, A.S., Dallaire, J.R., Sandler, H.M., & Hoover-Dempsey, K.V. (2005). Parental involvement: Model revision through scale development. Elementary School Journal, 106(2); 85-104.












The Family-School Partnership Lab is part of the Psychology and Human Development Department, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.