A case study of parent involvement and college awareness: Instilling going-to-college at the elementary level
Resulting from increasing Hispanic population and student enrollment numbers, educational institutions face the challenge to increase parental involvement and preparing educators in P-20 (Pre-school through graduate school) with critical praxis underlying effective and trust-building interactions between families and schools (Walker et al., 2011). Parents play a pivotal role as brokers between their family and school (Delgado-Gaitan, 1994); yet, need to be empowered sooner rather than later to feel a part of and be active in their children's schooling (Delgado-Gaitan, 1991). Therefore, the problem lies with an increasing number of Hispanic parents lacking parental involvement and college-going awareness which translates to not enough Hispanic elementary students opt to attend postsecondary education institutions in the years to come.
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore parental involvement and college awareness for Hispanic students beginning at the elementary level. In addition, a theoretical framework of social capital and validation were utilized to explore a college-going culture through perceptions and experiences of parents, teachers, and administrators. This study used case study methodology and focus group interviews. I collected data from three administrators, a six participant teacher focus group, and a five participant parent focus group interview at one large urban elementary school.
From the data analysis, three concepts for parental involvement and college awareness at the elementary level were identified. The three concepts were: (1) College-Going Culture, (2) Going-to-College, and (3) College Awareness. The administrator interviews, parent and teacher focus group interviews indicated that the participants' perceptions and experiences are contextual in this study.
Results from the study revealed that parental involvement occurs daily at home and not at school much to the teachers chagrin. Additionally, the results for college awareness indicate parents must be engaged in school wide events that enhance their child's educational future in higher education. It is essential that higher education be embraced at the elementary level to increase the number of Hispanic students entering postsecondary education. This study's findings have important implications for practice and recommendations for future research.