Tag Archive: IndividualandFamilyStudies

Unraveling the neighborhood and school effects on youth behavior (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )

Few studies of contextual effects have attempted to model the effects of neighborhoods and schools at the same time, or to explore the differential impact of these contexts on behavior. In response, this dissertation examines the relative and joint impacts of neighborhood and school Social environments on youth behavior by modeling the effects of each on the likelihood of delinquency, school dropout, and arrest. Particular attention is devoted to understanding how the embeddedness of schools within neighborhood communities and the integration between schools and other neighborhood institutions influences Social control and, ultimately, youth behavior. The central goal of the study is to understand not only if neighborhoods and schools matter, but also how and why they matter. That is, focus in the study is put upon understanding how and why Social ties within neighborhoods, within schools, and between neighborhoods and schools influence processes of social control. One central challenge to the study of multiple social contexts is the ability to gather information on the structural features and social processes that characterize each context. This dissertation utilizes six data sources in order to examine the neighborhood and school effects on youth. Data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and the U.S. Census provide information on neighborhood context. Data from the Consortium on Chicago School Research describes the social context of the Chicago Public Schools. These contextual data are combined with individual-level data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, the Chicago Public Schools, and a merged set from the Illinois State Police and Chicago Police Department.

Measuring language- and literacy-related practices in low-SES Costa Rican families: Research instruments and results (Education Papers posted on March 25th, 2013 )

This dissertation includes three articles describing the construction of research instruments to measure language- and literacy-related practices and the results obtained using those instruments with low-SES Costa Rican families with kindergarten children. The first article reports the socio-cultural and literacy-relevant characteristics of the families who responded to the Family Environment Survey EAF, Encuesta sobre Ambiente Familiar). Results show that parents hold high educational expectations for their offspring; however the home supports provided are not in line with the demands of the Western School Model WSM) prevalent in the region. IT is argued that this mismatch is a consequence of the non-nativization of schooling and of inadequate communication mechanisms between the school and the home. The second article reports two studies involving the EAF. Study I examines the internal structure of the EAF using factor analysis. Eight components emerged and most items were relevant in characterizing language- and literacy-related practices. Study II reports correlational analyses among the EAFs components and students outcomes to determine the instruments predictive validity. Significant associations were found between this instrument and language and literacy measures. These studies indicate that the EAF is a valuable resource for investigating home language- and literacy-related practices. Potential uses of the EAF in the school context are discussed. The third article compares the results obtained through five observational situations and the EAF to assess the cultural pertinence of these situations and to identify the specific aspects of the home literacy environment that each of them captures. Four of the five observational situations were related—in different degrees—to the language- and literacy-related practices of these families. However, correlational analyses showed that the categories used in the analyses do not match the participants meaning- making system, as most of the anticipated relationships were not confirmed. The results presented in this dissertation are framed in a cultural perspective pointing to the mismatch between the culture of the home and the culture of the school. Suggestions are made about how to bridge this gap by designing strategies that promote bi-directional communication between these two fundamental influences in childrens development.

The impact of proactive coping strategies on men’s collegiate basketball referees (Education Papers posted on March 23rd, 2013 )

The purpose of this multiple observation study is to examine the relationship between proactive coping and an individual’s ability to remain poised under pressure. Specifically, the study focuses on the proactive coping skills of Division I men’s basketball referees (n = 194). The referees completed a self-reported survey and the 14-item Proactive Coping Subscale (PCS). A statistical analysis compared those results with direct observation ratings from independent observers and head coaches of the participating teams. While the PCS scores suggest the referees are strong proactive copers, the poise under pressure ratings by observers and coaches failed to support the PCS scores. Therefore, by combining the self-reported PCS results with the poise under pressure ratings by coaches and observers, the researcher incorporated all three ratings into the referee overall coping behavior model. However, this model still has limits because the self reported PCS score might not be an accurate representation of an individual’s ability to reduce or eliminate future stressors. A significant finding of this study is the notable disconnect between the PCS and direct observation ratings, suggesting limitations in the applicability of the Proactive Coping Subscale, especially in studies involving acute stressors. The researcher of this study believes the PCS is an inadequate stand-alone instrument because IT fails to consider the environmental variables affecting how individuals cope with future stress agents.

Addressing the challenges of parenting: Parent training with parents of children with ADHD (Education Papers posted on March 22nd, 2013 )

Behavioral parent training (BPT) is an effective treatment to reduce noncompliant behaviors in children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD have a significant impact on the functioning of families. This psycoeducational program design evaluates the efficacy of a multi-therapeutic approach, based on concepts from Russell A. Barkley’s Ph.D. Defiant children: A clinician’s manual for parent training (1997) in combination with a counselor led support group on behavioral symptomology, parental stress, and parental sense of competence and efficacy related to parenting skills. This nine-week Behavioral Parent Training Program was aimed at increasing parent knowledge and skills in interacting with children with ADHD. Thirty-six parents from families with ADHD children aged 6 to 12 years were randomly assigned to one of two groups: treatment or wait-list control. Treatment outcomes were evaluated by the Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 6-18 (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001), Teacher’s Report Form (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001), The Parent-Child Relationship Inventory (Gerard, 1994), and the Parenting Stress Index (Short Form) (Abidin, 1995). The multi-therapeutic approach of utilizing concepts from Russell Barkley’s parent training model in combination with a counselor led support group resulted in no statistically significant decrease in parents’ or teachers’ perceived severity of the child’s ADHD symptoms in comparison to the control group. Second, the program did not demonstrate statistically significant increases in parents’ sense of competence and efficacy in comparison to the control group. There was also no statistically significant decrease in parents’ reported stress in comparison to the control group. Although increases were not found to be statistically significant, there was an increase in the mean scores of the treatment group on each variable.

Parent-child communication: Influences of maternal sexual experiences as a teenager on the occurrence of sexuality communication with their adolescent (Education Papers posted on March 19th, 2013 )

This study investigated factors that influence parent-child communication on sexual topics and sought to determine if maternal teenage sexual experiences influence mothers’ discussions with their adolescent children. Randomly selected mothers of children ages 10-14 years were mailed questionnaires. Using a list of sexual topics, respondents reported the frequency of discussions with their adolescent and completed a checklist of their own teenage sexual experiences. Correlational research design was used to rank and list sexual topics by frequency. Although a majority of the respondents reported that their own teenage sexual experiences influenced the discussions they had with their adolescents, no statistically significant association was found regarding those experiences and the amount of discussion mothers had with their child. The most frequently discussed topics were dating/relationships and homosexuality. The majority of respondents reported their first sexual intercourse at age 19 or younger, use of birth control, and participation in oral sex as teenagers.

A father, a son, and a storybook: A case study of discourse during storybook reading (Education Papers posted on March 18th, 2013 )

Conversations between a father and his four-year-old son during their storybook reading sessions were audiotape recorded by the father. The sessions were recorded in the family home, at the family’s convenience, over a six-week time span in 1995. The purpose for this study was to examine the nature of interactions between a father and his son during initial and subsequent readings of different storybook genres. Of interest was the role gender and genre played in storybook reading, the nature of decontextual interaction patterns, and the role adult power played in this situated literacy. Conversation analysis systems by Grice (1989), Halliday (1975), Millar and Rogers (1976), Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson (1974), and Watzlawick, Bavelas, and Jackson (1967) were used. This case study provided evidence that gender, genre, repeated book reading, and adult power were intricately related to this dyads communication patterns in contextual and decontextual literacy experiences.

Parent training with African-American families (Education Papers posted on March 16th, 2013 )

Developing parenting interventions that produce positive results for African American families continues to be a priority in the field of human services. This dissertation begins with a review of the literature regarding parenting practices and parenting styles in general, and then more specifically of African Americans. The work continues with a discussion of successful parent training programs and their components. A study is then presented that aims to explore how 31 African-American participants describe their parenting style, and then also information was obtained on what they perceive as the elements necessary for a successful parent training intervention for African-American families. Finally, implications for human services practice and policy are outlined. The study was exploratory in nature, however, IT was hypothesized that the participants would describe their parenting style as high on monitoring and control, but also warm and supportive. Participants would also describe their parenting practices to be based in African American culture and tradition. And thus, express a need for more African American customs and parental strategies to be included in the parent training program presented in this study. These findings would add to a growing literature that suggests a need for culturally specific interventions. To test these exploratory hypotheses, 31 African American parents and non-parents of a small Midwestern community were presented with instruments measuring parenting practices AAPI-R), level of acculturation AAAS-R), and a vignette, with an accompanying questionnaire, that gleaned useful information about rater preferences for a parent training program. The data in this study supported the growing literature on the African-American parenting style. Generally, the participants described their parenting style as strict, but nurturing. Participants also expressed the importance of including corporal punishment and cultural values in their parenting practices, and also in parent training programs with African American families.

Emerging literacy and family rituals (Education Papers posted on March 14th, 2013 )

The purpose of this study was to extend the research on children’s early literacy development by examining the practice of daily family rituals. The assumption was that the predictability and affective meaning that rituals provide would create an environment that fosters the development of literacy skills and motivation to learn. Measures included the PALS Prek, PPVT-III, and Family Ritual Questionnaire. Although there were no significant positive relationships between regular family rituals such as dinnertime and reading aloud practices and literacy outcomes, negative correlations were found between the assignment of roles on weekends, the routine of vacations, mother’s work hours, and children’s literacy scores. These findings may indicate some inflexibility among family members and not enough time spent in a variety of spontaneous literacy-building activities.

Family member perspectives on collaboration: An exploratory study (Education Papers posted on March 13th, 2013 )

Collaboration is an essential component in support and service provision for children who have developmental disabilities due to the extensive needs and specialized care required in all aspects of daily living. This exploratory, qualitative study examined the attitudes, opinions, and experiences related to the collaborative process as viewed from the perspective of family members who have children with developmental disabilities. Purposive sampling was employed in this study. Four focus group interviews were conducted using family members of children with developmental disabilities. From these sessions, seven themes emerged (a) knowledge; (b) sensitivity; (c) individuality; (d) equality; (e) funding; (f) support; and (g) quality. The findings of this study help facilitate a better understanding of family members’ views on collaboration, which will ultimately help to facilitate and overcome barriers to collaboration between family members and professionals within this field.

From wounded child to empathic mother: A heuristic inquiry into the experience of parenting sexual minority children (Education Papers posted on March 12th, 2013 )

This heuristic inquiry explores my experience as the mother of fraternal twins who are both sexual minorities and the process I went through in coming to accept their sexual and gender identities. Primary emphasis was directed toward my experience of becoming a more empathic parent to my children as my understanding and acceptance of them increased. Also explored was the impact of this empathic perspective on my relationships with my children and family, with others, and, ultimately, with myself. This inquiry was initially guided by two primary questions: 1) How was I able to accept my children and become an empathic parent, given that I didnt start out as one and research suggests that almost half the parents of sexual minority children reject them? 2) What is empathic parenting? Why is IT important for healthy child development and what happens to children who dont get IT? The concept of disenfranchised grief, defined by Lenhardt 1997) as resulting from “experiences that are not or cannot be openly acknowledged by peers or society” in Bracciale, Sanabria & Updyke, 2003, p. 4), was also explored, given disenfranchised griefs proposed role in the parental rejection of their sexual minority children. Through this heuristic inquiry, another form of disenfranchised grief has been identified that appears to expand Lenhardts 1997) existing definition. This form of disenfranchised grief is proposed to occur when young children must psychologically defend against the experience of overwhelming pain resulting from a lack of attunement with the mother or failure by the mother to appropriately recognize and regulate her childs distress. It is through the process of attunement that a mother regulates the physical and emotional needs of her child, needs that are expressed as distress. This form of disenfranchised grief is thought to obstruct or interfere with the natural flow of attunement between humans. In particular, this disenfranchised grief is thought to specifically interfere with the mothers innate instinct to seek out her child when she is distressed. Lastly, it is thought that disenfranchised grief may be transmitted from one generation to the next through the mother-child interaction. The possibility that disenfranchised grief may be operating at a societal level is also proposed. However, additional research is needed to further explore this idea. Finally, the implications for parents, educators and leadership are discussed.