Research Proposal on the impact of Single Parenting on the Academic Performance of Children
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This paper discusses in detail the research proposal on the impact of single parenting on the academic performance of children. In particular, the research will focus on the question: “Do children raised in single-parent homes make poorer grades than those who do not?” In this research proposal, the background, context and theme of the study are presented; the objectives of the study and the research statements are formulated. Here, vital concepts, questions and assumptions are stated. Finally, the scope and limitation of the study, methodology to be used and the significance of the research are discussed. Further, this paper briefly reviews related literature.
PROBLEM TO BE INVESTIGATED
Purpose of the Study
Generally, the purpose of the research is to conduct an experimental study to determine whether single parenting negatively affects academic achievement of children. The research will specifically compare the academic performance of children raised in single-parent homes and children from two-parent family. Moreover, this proposed study will review relevant literature on the same topic. Based on the preliminary review of literature, the researcher assumed that single parenting does influence a child’s academic performance.
Research Question and Null Hypothesis
The focus of this problem statement is to establish a relationship between single parenting and children’s academic performance. Currently, there are no studies that provide a definitive answer regarding the negative influence of single parenting to children’s academic achievement. The researcher is hopeful that the proposed research will yield a significant result in terms of the negative impact of single parenting. Thus, the study will work on the following hypothesis: “Children raised by a single parent are more likely to make poorer grades compared to children raised in two-parent home.”
This study will attempt to answer the following questions:
1. What are the factors that affect academic performance of children from single-parent homes?
2. What are the factors that affect academic performance of children from two-parent homes?
Definition of Terms
Brief Overview of the Study
The proposed study will attempt to prove that single parenting has a negative impact on the academic achievement of children. A comparison of grades in school, using experimental research method, will be made between children raised by single parenting and children from two-parent homes.
The study will be divided into five sections. The first section will introduce the topic and the background and nature of the problem. The second section will present a review of literature. The third section will discuss the methodologies that will be used for the study. The forth chapter will be presenting the results and findings. And the final section will present the conclusion.
BACKGROUND AND REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Research on the impact of single parenting to children has followed one of two models: the Family Deficit Model or the Risk and Protective Factor Model (Donahoo, 2003).
The Family Deficit Model views the nuclear or two-parent family as the ideal family structure. According to this model, single-parent families have a negative impact on children simply because they do not have a nuclear family structure [Marsh, 1990; Thiessen, 1997)]. Here, it is assumed that single parenting is bad for children, and the results of these studies typically support this assumption.
On the other hand, the Risk and Protective Factor Model does not regard single-parent families as irregular (Seifer et al., 1992; Thiessen, 1997) because the foundation for the model is that all families have both strengths and weaknesses(Marsh, 1990). Rather than view single parenting as the cause of negative outcomes for children in these families, this model describes family structure as one of many risk factors. Risk factors are the weaknesses and protective factors are the strengths of any given family. According to this model, single parenting can be both a risk factor and a protective factor for children in this type of family (Donahoo, 2003).
Personality, availability of social supports, and family cohesion are often identified as categories of factors that can impact a child positively or negatively (Donahoo, 2003). Risk factors can lead to negative results, but the presence of risk factors does not guarantee poor outcomes (Seifer at al., 1992; Thiessen, 1997). Indeed, protective factors mediate and limit the impact risk factors have on academic achievement and other aspects of child development.
According to research in this area, protective factors include high self-esteem, strong social support at home and at school, low rates of criticism from parental figures, positive parent mental health, college-educated parents, high income, and parenting strategies that effectively address high-risk situations. Similarly, strong parenting is a protective factor, and children who live in impoverished areas can successfully avoid negative outcomes if parents develop higher expectations for their children's school performance (Kaplan, Liu & Kaplan, 2001).
Currently, research does not provide a definitive answer regarding the negative influence of single parenting to children’s academic performance. In some ways, children in single-parent families are at greater risk than children in other types of families. Even when they have the same academic abilities, children in single-parent families are three times more likely to drop out of high school than children from two-parent families (Thiessen, 1997; Zimiles & Lee, 1991). Likewise, Amato and Keith (1991), Bumpass (1990), and Lauer and Lauer (1991) found that children in single-parent families may be at greater risk than children of two-parent families. Because they are the primary and frequently sole source of financial support for the family, single parents have less time to help children with homework, are less likely to use consistent discipline, and have less parental control, and all of these conditions may lead to lower academic achievement (Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Mulkey et al., 1992; Thiessen, 1997).
Amato (1993) suggested that single parenthood is problematic for children's socialization because many children with one parent receive less economic and emotional support, practical assistance, information, guidance, and supervision, and less role modeling for adult interpersonal interaction than children in two-parent families. According to Mulkey et al. (1992), among children in single-parent families, those from mother-absent households earn lower science grades than children from father-absent homes; and no matter which parent is missing, children from single-parent families generally find it more difficult to connect with school.
However, according to Battle (1998), Knox (1996), Milne et al. (1986), Mulkey et al. (1992), and Thomson, Hanson and McLanahan (1994) the factor that has the greatest impact on student achievement is not family structure but income. Consider the influence of both family configuration and income, Battle (1998), Knox (1996), Mulkey et al. (1992), and Thomson, Hanson and McLanahan (1994) find that there is little difference in the academic performance of children from two-parent and single-parent homes when family income is equal.
Family income also influences parent support and involvement in education -- factors related to school achievement. Students who regard their parents as warm, firm, and involved in their education earn better grades than their classmates with uninvolved parents (Deslandes, Royer & Turcottle, 1997). In these families, parent support acts as a protective factor countering some of the risk factors these children encounter. Although economic pressures often limit or prevent parent involvement in single-parent families, when single parents make the effort to support their children's education, their effort acts as a protective factor.
Single parenting is not the sole predictor of academic failure for children; there are many risk and protective factors that interplay to encourage a child's academic success or contribute to a child's poor school performance (Donahoo, 2003). Even in the middle of parents’ dispute over custody, there is no significant difference in children's perceived scholastic competence (Schnayer & Orr, 1989).
Some researchers focus on father-absent households and its effect on the academic performance of children (Johnson, 1999). However, assessing intellectual functioning in relation to family structure is difficult (Johnson, 1999). In his review of 54 studies of father absence that assessed math, reading, verbal, and intelligence scores of male and female children, Shinn (1978) found that slightly more than half of the studies found that father absence had a negative effect on the stated indicators of cognitive functioning, nine were mixed or found no differences between groups, and three found positive effects.
Lessing, Zagorin, and Nelson (1970) found children in father-absent households had lower IQ, verbal, and performance scores than children in father-present households. According to Mott (1994), girls are more likely to be helped with poor school performance if the father is not in the home. By comparison, girls in homes where fathers are residential can be more negatively cognitively affected (Mott, 1994; Radin, 1981), particularly in middle childhood. Atkinson and Ogston (1974) determined father-absent and father-present children performed equally well in school and were involved in many activities at home and at school. Boys' academic performance is typically reported as being impaired by father absence (Hetherington, Camara, & Featherman, 1983).
Description of the Research Design
There are three kinds of research methods, correlational, experimental and descriptive. (Walliman and Baiche, 2001) The correlational kind of research method is used due to ethical problems with experiments. It is also used due to practical problems with experiments. Moreover, inferring causality from correlation not actually impossible, but very difficult. This mode of study is widely applicable, cheap, and usually ethical. Nonetheless, there exist some "third variable" issues and measurement problems.
The correlational research refers to studies in which the purpose is to discover relationships between variables through the use of correlational statistics (r). The square of a correlation coefficient yields the explained variance (r-squared). A correlational relationship between two variables is occasionally the result of an outside source, so we have to be careful and remember that correlation does not necessarily tell us about cause and effect. If a strong relationship is found between two variables, using an experimental approach can test causality.
In the descriptive method, it is possible that the study will be cheap and quick. It can also suggest unanticipated hypotheses. Nonetheless, this method will be very hard to rule out alternative explanations and especially infer causations. This descriptive type of research utilizes observations in the study. To illustrate the descriptive type of research, Creswell (1994) states that the descriptive method of research is to gather information about the present existing condition.
In this study, the experimental method will be used; it is the only method that can be used to establish cause-and-effect relationships (Creswell, 1994). That is, it is the only one that can be used to explain the bases of behaviour and mental processes. In this method, the subjects are split into two (or more) groups. One group, called the experimental group gets the treatment that the researcher believes will cause something to happen (this treatment is formally called the independent variable). The experimental and control groups are compared on some variable that is presumed to reflect the effects of the treatment, or outcome. This is formally referred to as the dependent variable.
To come up with pertinent findings and to provide credible recommendations, this study will utilize two sources of research: primary and secondary. Primary research data will be obtained through this new research study. A pretest-posttest will be conducted. At the beginning of the study, children raised in single-parent homes will be compared with children raised by both parents. And then, the same comparison will be done 3-5 months later. The researcher will obtain permission from both parents and children by using adult and child consent forms.
The secondary research data will be obtained from previous studies on the same topic.
This research will base its findings partially through quantitative research methods because this permits a flexible and iterative approach. During data gathering the choice and design of methods will be constantly modified, based on ongoing analysis. This will allow investigation of important new issues about single parenting and questions as they arise, and allow the researcher to drop unproductive areas of research from the original research plan.
This study will also employ qualitative research method because it intends to find and build theories that will explain the relationship of one variable with another variable through qualitative elements in research. Through this method, qualitative elements that do not have standard measures such as behavior, attitudes, opinions, and beliefs will be analyzed.
Furthermore qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnected methods, hoping always to get a better fix on the subject matter at hand.
For this research design, the researcher will gather data, collate published studies from different local and foreign universities and articles from books and journals; and will make a content analysis of the collected documentary and verbal material. Afterwards, the researcher will summarize all the information and make a conclusion based on the hypotheses posited.
Description of the Sample
The design is a randomized pretest/posttest control group design. Students in intact classes will be randomly assigned to their particular section/class for a content area. There will be 30 subjects in both groups- Treatment and No Treatment. The Treatment group will compose of 15 males and 15 females; the same for the other group. Samples will be 8-12 years old. There will be an intervention of some type with the Treatment group. The other group be receiving some type of instruction but not the same. This will be done for the purpose of comparison. Therefore, it is called a comparison group because a true control group receives nothing.
Astone, N. M., & McLanahan, S. S. (1991). Family structure, parental practices, and high school completion. American Sociological Review, 56(3), 309-320.
Battle, J. J. (1998). What beats having two parents? Educational outcomes for African American students in single- versus dual-parent families. Journal of Black Studies, 28(6), 783-801.
Deslandes, R. Royer, E. & Turcotte, D. (1997). School achievement at the secondary level: Influence of parenting style and parent involvement in schooling. McGill Journal of Education, 32, 191-207.
Donahoo, S. (2003) Single Parenting and Children's Academic Achievement. National Parent Information Network. Available at [http://npin.org/pnews/2003/pnew303/int303a.html]. Accessed [06/11/03].
Johnson, D. J. (1999) Father Presence Matters: A Review of the Literature: Toward an Ecological Framework of Fathering and Child Outcomes. National Center on Fathers and Families. Available at [http://www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu/litrev/fpmlr.htm]. Accessed [06/11/03].
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