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Influences on the effectiveness of homework interactions: the child, the parent, and the dyad

Apr

02

Doctoral Researcher Georgia Leith discusses parental support during homework activities

What aspects of parents might affect how they help during homework? Is it to do with their personality, their ability to empathise, or their expectations for their child? Is it also affected by the child: their temperament, their attitudes towards schoolwork? Or alternatively, is it down to the quality of the parent-child relationship: the warmth between them, the consistency of parenting and discipline?

Homework plays a large part in a child’s education, and has the potential to make a very useful contribution. Parents are expected to help with homework in the early school years, as they are assumed to make homework time more effective by guiding their child through the challenges. However, parents vary in the ways in which they give support; this affects the usefulness of the homework process on their child’s learning. What’s unclear is what might cause this variation between parents. To address this, my doctoral research (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council) explores a number of possible influencing factors.

Collaborating with Drs Nicola Yuill and Alison Pike, my three-year project aims to disentangle this web of potential influences by following a number of families through the first 6-12 months of formal schooling. Using a range of methods including puppet interviews, questionnaires and observations at home, I shall investigate which of these factors are the strongest influences on parental support during homework activities. In addition, I hope to uncover whether these influences remain just as strong over time.

Our conclusions will shed light on a relatively unknown part of every child’s education; the school work completed back at home. Policy-makers value homework, and teachers set it regularly; my research will add to their understanding by revealing the personal, and interpersonal, influences on the homework experience.

You can find out more about me and my research on the ChatLab website: www.sussex.ac.uk/psychology/chatlab