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Raising children’s self-efficacy through parental involvement in homework

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Abstract

Background: This paper is a qualitative evaluation of a small-scale pilot study that attempted to generate parental involvement in children’s learning. It used problem-solving mathematics homework in order to raise the children’s self-efficacy, or, put another way, the child’s belief that success lies in their own hands. Purpose: Homework is often seen as a common sense practice which is conducive to the development of the attributes of an effective learner. The pilot investigated whether situating homework tasks in everyday mathematical contexts enhanced parent–child interaction. If so, the child was then more likely to commit to learning, recognise the usefulness of mathematics as a life skill, and the value of sharing ideas and accepting feedback. Design and methods: The pilot took place between April and July 2015 in a primary school in the Northwest of England. Participants were a class of nine- and ten-year-old children (n = 27), their two class teachers and a self-selecting sample of parents. Children were asked to work on open-ended problem-solving activities designed to connect with everyday use of mathematics. The parental role was to model, encourage and reinforce rather than instruct. Data was collected from focus groups, from parent feedback sheets and from a self-efficacy questionnaire. The data was analysed thematically. Findings and conclusions: Despite limitations of time and scale, evaluation of the pilot suggests that the homework strategy does justify further research. The qualitative analysis of the data indicates that greater involvement of parents in learning was generated, the homework was well received by children and self-efficacy levels remained stable. The next step should be to run an extended version of the pilot.

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Williams, K., Swift, J., Williams, H., & Van Daal, V. (2017). Raising children’s self-efficacy through parental involvement in homework. Educational Research, 59(3), 316–334. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2017.1344558

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