In the U.S. and other Western countries, parental involvement with their children is viewed as positive. When teachers, psychologists and other child development professionals discuss parental involvement, they're usually referring to the level and style of parents' engagement with their children's education. There are limitless topics on which a PhD candidate of education or psychology may choose to write a scholarly dissertation.
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Basic Parenting Styles
Child development professionals often view parenting styles as being on an authoritarian to permissive spectrum. An "authoritarian" parent makes almost all decisions for the child without justifying reason. "Permissive" parents wish to make few rules and let children learn by living freely. Toward the middle of the spectrum, "democratic" parents seek to give children choices when appropriate and help them understand that rules aren't arbitrary. A scholar writing a dissertation will likely take into account parenting styles and the effects that they have on education.
In places where teachers and other professionals are working with a population of children from many cultures and races, scholars are very interested in the relationship of culture to parental involvement. Parents of different ethnic origins may believe in differing levels of parental involvement, and children who grew up in certain backgrounds may be likely to respond better to different types of parental involvement.
Some scholars may seek not to understand the effects of parental involvement but simply study how to increase the involvement of parents with their children's education. For example, a dissertation could compare the effectiveness of official mediums for involvement, such as parent-teacher associations, versus personal and individual relationships between student, parent and teacher. A scholar may find official practices of schools and teachers to work to better engage parents.
School District Studies
A scholar may choose a wider-angle topic, such as how policies across school districts and state and local governments serve to enhance parental involvement. If efforts are coordinated, education professionals may find community agencies and programs valuable resources in ensuring that parents are engaged in education. For example, a dissertation may address the effects of time-off policies for working parents to attend parent-child educational activities.
Developmental Stage Studies
Education and development professionals generally believe that the earlier and more consistently that parents are involved, the greater the benefit to the child's education. However, engagement strategies must be adjusted accordingly with the child's development. A scholar may write a dissertation studying ways to engage parents with the education of their adolescents, or how best to help them adjust to higher levels of schooling.
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