Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education

Department

Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Nita A. Paris

First Committee Member

Dr. Mei-Lin Chang

Second Committee Member

Dr. Anete Vásquez

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to; a) design an instrument that could be used to assess parent’s access to school social networks; b) to determine if relationships exist between parents’ beliefs and ability to access school networks and resources; and, c) to determine if there are significant differences in parents’ access to school networks and resources as it relates to social class. A total of 430 respondents replied to a 37-item survey consisting of 31-Likert scaled items and six demographic questions. All respondents were parents or guardians of middle grade students in one of two middle schools in a large suburban area in the Southeastern United States. Items on the survey were developed to align with social network theories, influences of social capital, and accessibility factors identified in previous research and aligned with Hatala’s (2009) research on social networks. An exploratory analysis using principal components factoring method with direct oblimin rotation was used to examine the factors and to investigate if the influences of social capital uncovered in the review of literature were indeed accessibility factors of school networks. Four factors (Management of Educational Experience, Network Information and Resources, Structural Barriers, and Parent Beliefs about Responsibilities) and two sub-factors (Negotiating the Context of School Structures and Accessing Information) were identified in the exploratory analysis. Furthermore, related samples t tests indicated there were significant relationships between parents’ beliefs, their actions, and their access to school networks. Also, independent samples t test of social class differences revealed that parents’ access and involvement within school networks is significantly impacted by certain structural barriers. The present findings suggest that the survey, School Network Accessibility for Parents Scale (SNAPS), is a useful tool for investigating parents’ social capital in school networks and highlights the importance of social capital research in educational settings. Further research is needed to validate the scale across several school settings and contexts. Additionally, future research is needed to explore the impact of social class differences on family members’ access to school networks.

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