Date of this Version
Chapter 26 in Handbook of Research on STEM Education (Johnson, Mohr-Schroeder, Moore, and English, editors), pp. 323–324. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
A growing understanding that parents and teachers can effectively collaborate to help children succeed in school has led worldwide policymakers and school leaders to begin deliberate actions to increase parents’ participation in school life. For example, the Chilean Education Minister recently encouraged contracts between parents, schools, and the state to increase parental involvement. The Australian government has formed a Research Alliance for Children and Youth to develop and promote understanding of parent involvement (i.e., what it is, why it matters, how it influences learning) and to build evidence about what works. From a sociological perspective, a school’s organizational boundaries are permeable, thus the outside environment (which includes parental culture, values, and knowledge) can mediate student achievement. Therefore, a considerable body of research demonstrates the cultural capital parents wield as they (intentionally or unintentionally) hand down familial norms, skills, and habits.
The purpose of this chapter is to discern the international scope of research that describes parent involvement as it relates to children’s STEM learning. However, this noble intent was offset somewhat by (a) the limited research on parent involvement in STEM (though considerable research has been done on parent involvement in science and mathematics independently) and (b) the limited international research on parent involvement in STEM as an integrated focus. Authors identified these limitations as a chance to broadly recognize cultural context as both a U.S. and an international concern and to generate recommendations for future opportunities in the burgeoning field of research on parent involvement. While seeking to develop an international perspective, this international team of authors continuously generated a list of search terms, online databases, and references that came to include more than 300 articles, reports, books, and dissertations relevant to this research review. Through a system of independent reading and team discussions, authors distilled current research findings within three broad categories: (1) academic advantages related to parent involvement, (2) culture as a context for parent involvement, and (3) teacher/school perspectives on parent involvement. In closing, authors pointed to gaps in the knowledge of parent involvement in STEM education and opportunities for future research.