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Title of Dissertation:



Yong-Mi Kim, Doctor of Education, 2014 Dissertation directed by: Professor Carol S. Parham Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education The strongest and most consistent predictors of parent involvement at school and at home are the specific school programs and teacher practices that encourage parent involvement at school and guide parents in how to help their children at home (Dauber & Epstein, 1995). Joyce Epstein (2004) developed a framework for defining six different types of parent involvement. This framework assists educators in developing school and family partnership programs. "Schools have a vested interest in becoming true learning communities. They are now accountable for all students' learning,” she writes. "To learn at high levels, all students need the guidance and support of their teachers, families, and others in the community." School improvement no longer rests solely on the shoulders of the principal, but rather takes the collaborative effort of the entire school community to increase achievement levels of all students. A major stakeholder of that community is the parents who want what is in the best interest of their children.

This mixed-methods study examined the perceptions of Korean American mothers regarding their own parent involvement practices and investigated the role of Bourdieu’s Cultural Capital Theory using the conceptual framework of Epstein’s Parent Involvement Framework. Data for this study were collected by way of survey responses and interview probes with focus groups of six Korean American mothers. In the quantitative phase of the study, 81 mothers from a single school district in the mid- Atlantic United States were identified.

The results from the quantitative phase of the study found that English proficiency had a significant impact on whether Korean American mothers engaged in parent involvement activities. Examination of the focus group responses revealed that the Korean American mothers identified English and time as major factors in determining in what types of parent involvement activities they engaged. Parent involvement is essential for promoting successful school improvement. It plays a pivotal part in school reform.

Further research is recommended with larger samples of participants in rural and urban settings. In addition, future research should examine the role of fathers in parent involvement.




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This dissertation is dedicated to my parents: my father, Mike Il-Pae Kim, who always valued the importance of an education so much that he would immigrate to an unknown world, oceans away, in order to give his children the education that he always wanted and knew that once achieved it could never be taken away; and my mother, Yong-Ho Choi, who inspires me every day with her dedication to her family and children and who demonstrates on a daily basis that with sacrifice, comes rewards. Last, but not least, this dissertation is dedicated to my best friend and husband, CS Kim and our two boys, Nathan and Noah, whose love has sustained me. For the past six years, the three of you have encouraged me and kept me going. Boys, I always asked you to work hard and not settle for less, and I couldn’t do less-I had to walk the talk. And now I have with God’s love and grace. I love you! This is for you!

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For the last six years, I have been supported and encouraged by so many people.

Included are the principals, teachers, supporting service staff, friends, mothers, and students, too numerous to name who have propelled me forward and supported me and knew I would do it and believed in me. While there are so many of you to thank, I do feel that it is necessary at the summation of this road to recognize some of the key people that have been there along the way.

 Dr. Carol Parham, my advisor and committee chair, whose advice, encouragement, and guidance assisted me in completing this study. Her determination, fierceness, and firm hand have helped me to continue and maintain my momentum in accomplishing this degree.

 The dedicated committee members whose scholarly advice and high standards for excellence moved me through the dissertation process: Dr. Gilbert Austin. Dennis M.

Kivlighan, Dr. Helene Cohen and Dr. Saracho. I am particularly appreciative of Dr.

Austin for his tireless feedback and encouragement.

 It is important that I recognize the dedicated time, guidance, and critical support rendered to me by the Korean American mothers. I can’t thank you enough for all your time, support, and encouragement. Your outpouring of support has me awestruck - 97% return rate-unheard of! I am humbled by your work and dedication to your children each and every day. To the mothers in the focus group discussion-I am forever grateful for your time and your support. 정말 감사합니다!

 I could not have completed this work without the support of some key people in the process. I would like to thank Mr. An Dong K., who helped with the translation of the survey. Many thanks to Mrs. YoungMee Choi, Ms. Molly Hong, and Mrs. Joy Kim who helped me with the translation of letters, surveys, and questions. You ladies were amazing! Thanks also go to Mr. Juan Cardenas and Ms. Cynthia Loeb for your support and guidance in getting my study approved through the county.

 Thanks to the Dragon Sisters, the original super moms, thanks for being such an inspiration to me. When I think of mothers who dedicate their lives to their children, I think of you.

 Many thanks to my friends and family at the First Korean Presbyterian Church of Maryland. Your prayers have been answered. Thank you so much for all your love and support.

 The members of my MPEL 2 cohort, who served as colleagues during the doctoral coursework. Mr. Troy Boddy, Mr. Kenneth Marcus, and Mrs. Sweta Dharia-Zaks, who while on the same journey, did not hesitate to urge me to finish my dissertation project. They all served as voices of encouragement during the writing process.

 To my sisters and brothers in League of Educators for Asian-American Progress (LEAAP), thanks for being such an inspiration to me. Your dedication and work to support the Asian-American community is exemplary.

iii  I am especially grateful to Dr. Charla McKinzie for supporting me with the data analysis and offering insightful advice and to Ms. Kim Holmes, for her feedback along the way.

 I want to acknowledge my friends at Wayside Elementary School: Nancy Averill, Courtney Jones, Ioanna Chase, Maryann Guevara, Joyce Eisenberg and Donna Michela. They started this journey with me and when I wanted to give in, they lifted me and laughed with me through the hard times. I will always love you and remember the good times.

 I want to acknowledge my new friends at Hoover: Jon Green, Paul Ajamian, Katrina Brown, Lee Wartski and Barbara Carlstrom, when I needed it, would make me laugh so hard that I would forget I was working. Thank you for making me laugh and supporting me through the last leg of the race.

 A debt of gratitude goes to many of my county colleagues who encouraged my pursuit of this degree, including Mrs. Kwang-Ja (Sunny) Lee, Mrs. Donna Michela, Mrs. Judy Brubaker, Dr. Donna Hollingshead, Dr. Michael Zarchin, Dr. Nelson McLeod, Dr. Debra Munk and Ms. Amy Bryant.

 Finally, I thank my family for their encouragement: Chong-Song Kim, my father-inlaw; Kum-Pun Kim, my mother-in-law; Janet Oh, my sister; Jason Kim, my brother;

and my nieces and nephews, who constantly supported me with their unwavering love and encouragement. James Kim, my little brother, has been my inspiration in perseverance and courage, I love you, little brother.

Thank you all for your steadfast support.

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List of Tables

List of Figures

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Translation of PASS to PASS-K and the Pilot Study


Data Collection

Survey Reliability

Correlation Coefficients

Research Questions and Statistical Hypotheses

Research Question 1

Hypothesis 1

Research Question 2

Hypothesis 2

Research Question3

Hypothesis 3

Research Question 4

Hypothesis 4

Research Question 5

Hypothesis 5

Research Question 6

Hypothesis 6

Additional Analysis


Fathers and Mothers

English and Korean

Overview of Qualitative Design Selection of Interview Participants

Research Questions

Focus Group Questions

Focus Group Coding System

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PASS Items and Their Correspondence to Epstein’s and Table 1 Bourdieu’s Construct………….....

Table 2 Student Demographics for CES

Table 3 Student Demographics for SMES

Table 4 Student Demographics for WES

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Table 7 Demographic Characteristics of 97 Parents Completing PASS survey

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Table 9 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Outcome Measures for the Mothers Only

Table 10 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Parenting

Table 11 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Communicating

Table 12 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Volunteering

Table 13 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Learning at Home

Table 14 Correlational Relationships Between Demographic Variables and Decision-Making

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Table 16 T-Test Comparison: Mean Differences in Major Outcome Scales Between Mothers and Fathers

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Bourdieu’s Cultural Capital Theory Model and Epstein’s Figure 2 Parental Involvement Framework Overlap

Figure 3 Overlapping Spheres of Influence Model (Epstein 2002)............. 29

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The issue of parental involvement in schools has become an increasingly important topic among professional educators, researchers and politicians with influence in school funding structures (Epstein & Jansorn, 2004a; Fan, 2001). While public schools face a wide range of problems, lack of parent involvement is one that continues to challenge many schools (Bosher, Funk, & Holsworth, 2001). Research on the effects of parental involvement has shown a consistent, positive relationship between parents' engagement in their children's education and student outcomes (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Studies have also shown that parental involvement is associated with academic achievement as well as student outcomes such as lower dropout and truancy rates (Epstein, 2011).

Commitment to parent involvement is supported by 30 years of research, including an analysis of over 100 studies throughout the United States, which found that the ways in which parents are involved do matter (Fan & Chen, 2001; Jeynes, 2003; Kohl et al., 2000; Lee & Bowen, 2006). Successful parental involvement benefits not only students, but also parents and teachers (Pena, 2000). Parents who are involved in their children’s schools often develop a better understanding of school curricula, programs, and activities. Schools gain advantages in that parents share valuable human and cultural resources by providing information about their children and volunteering to support school programs and other efforts (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997; Lee & Bowen, 2006). In addition, parental involvement helps school personnel to understand parents’ viewpoints, and thus, increase their awareness of the needs of students and their families

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benefit from a combination of three influences, support from parents, support from teachers, and feeling connected to their school, have higher grades than students who report lower levels of support (Henderson & Mapp, 2007).

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In the 1960s, federal legislation began to encourage parent involvement in schools. Passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Wikipedia.org) was one of the first legislative acts linking parent involvement to education. Recognizing parents as full educational partners, the recent No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002) emphasized collaboration between schools and families in support of their children’s educational success. Specifically, the Title I policy of NCLB (2002) targets schools with large populations of students from low-income families, and presents specific guidelines on how schools can maximize active parental involvement in their students’ education. On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), historic legislation designed to stimulate the economy, support job creation, and invest in critical sectors, including education (US DOE, 2009). President Obama stated, “It's time to stop just talking about education reform and start actually doing it. It's time to make education America's national mission.” Parental involvement is a key component of every Title I program, and Title I, Part A ARRA funds were set aside for schools to use for a range of activities designed to build the capacity of parents of Title I students and school staff to work together to improve student academic achievement (US DOE, 2009). With the guidelines set by the

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