Research into educational achievement, class and parental involvement - Sociology Essay Example

The hypothesis I am going to research is ”middle class pupils, in Manchester Secondary schools, who achieve at GCSE, is a result of a high level of parental interest” I will be using the theory Liberal functionalism to focus on the amount of interest parents give towards their children’s schoolwork - Research into educational achievement, class and parental involvement introduction. My reasons for conducting this study is because whilst doing my GCSE’s I had a great deal of encouragement from my parents and achieved good high grades. Also my working class friend did not achieve as well as I did due to the lack of interest that her parents had given her.

Word count (103) Context and Concepts The concepts I am going to research are social class and parental interest. Social class can be defined as broad groups of people who share a similar economic situation, such as occupation, income, status and lifestyle. I will measure social class using the standard occupational classification. Class directly relates to my hypothesis by looking at middle class educational achievement. My second concept, parental interest, is defined as the amount of attention and contribution parents give to their children, with their education.

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I will measure this y the attendance of parents attending parent evenings, how they check for homework, and their intentions for their children future. This supports my research as parental interest affects educational achievement. A liberal functionalist named Douglas related educational attainment to a variety of factors, including the student’s health, the size of the family, and the quality of the school. The single most important factor appeared to be the degree of parents’ interest in their children’s education. Douglas had argued that middle class parents had frequent visits to their children’s school to monitor their progress.

They much preferred to see the head teacher as appose to seeing the class teachers about their children’s work. They were also more likely to want their children to stay at school beyond the minimum leaving age and to encourage them to do so. In contrast to working class parents, Douglas mentions that they were just happy in seeing their children’s class tutors and class teachers about their children’s progress. They did not have very high aspirations for their children doing further education. This relates back to my hypothesis as I mentioned that middle class pupils achieve igher because of the amount of parental interest. Another liberal functionalist named Khal had attempted to explain differences in educational aspiration in a small matched samples of American schoolboys. They came from similar homes and had similar abilities, but half aspired to go to college and half did not. Khal had come to assume that this was down to ‘parental pressure’.

Those boys with supportive parents tended to be sufficiently motivated towards their education, whereas those boys with less encouraging parents tended to do as they pleased. The modest educational or occupational aspirations of working lass pupils may still require long-range social mobility. All in all Khal concluded that the more parental interest the higher the children’s educational achievement. Both liberal functionalists have helped support my hypothesis. Word count (402) Main Research Method and Reasons. The research method that I have chosen is a structured questionnaire as this will help test my hypothesis as structural theories, such as liberal functionalism, favour the positivist methodological approach as it gives data a scientific quality to the research. Structured questionnaires produce quantitative data.

It measures as assesses achievement, which can be expressed in a form via exam results. This therefore allows me to show comparisons between both middle class and working class and allowing me to measure the amount of interest parents give to their children. This will be shown statistically in percentages. Structured questionnaires is reliable as it uses set questions with set answers, such as ” Did your parents attend parents evenings regularly? ” ” YES or NO”. This indicates that such a method is able to be replicated and similar results can be obtained, making it more scientific and valid.

To operationalise my concepts, I will measure it through set questions and answers. For example, to test parental interest, I might ask ”Did your parents help you with homework? ”. Also to operationalise social class I might ask an open question such as ”What are your parents occupation? ” The sample methods I will use is quota sampling. This is because I do not need a sample frame as obtaining names from a college register might be unethical and breach confidential laws.

My sample will consist of 30 working class and middle class students aged 16-19 years who attend college and have taken their GCSE’s, as this ill help me increase a representative sample. I will administer my questionnaires in Loreto College at lunch time in the canteen, as it will be highly populated by students at that particular time. Loreto is a multi- cultural college and diverse, creating a more representative sample. Before the main research is carried out I will conduct a pilot study. This will help test the administration of my questionnaire and ensure a good response rate. This will also enable me to ensure that I have mentioned all parts of parental interest and that I have portrayed my questions clearly in the questionnaire.

Whilst carrying out my research I will explain the purpose of the research and obtain full informed consent from all the students at Loreto college, which is important if we are prying into their personal life and details such as their exam results. Through informed consent anonymity will be respected which will therefore give a more valid and reliable data. Word count (394) Potential Problems A theoretical problem I will have is interpretivism, as it will see positivist methods as lacking validity.

Reasons being is because as my concepts consist of both social class nd parental interest, and the questionnaire includes a set questions and a set answers which therefore narrows down the reality as they contain the respondent to the areas covered by myself in these questions and responses. It also lacks qualitative data as the questions fail to examine the meaning behind actions, for example, Black and Martimore criticised Douglas’ work on parental interest as he pointed out that working class parents may have had less flexible working hours which therefore lead the parents to not attend parents evening.

Another theoretical problem is that, as my hypothesis looks at the educational achievement of when students took their GCSE’s, my response needed from the students depend on them remembering their results. If they have little remembrance of what they achieved then this would lower the reliability and the validity of my research. Whilst carrying out this research, ethical issues will occur with the problem of intruding into people’s lives, as I am dealing with sensitive and personal issues.

The students might feel the need to disclose their exam results or their parents’ occupation r even where they live, as they may be embarrassed. Another problem which may arise is the practical issues. By administering my sample at Loreto College means excluding those on Modern Apprenticeships and in jobs, which means a high number of those who underachieved and failed to go on to further education or those, whose parents emphasised immediate gratification. It also may administer to those around at the time or to those I feel will co-operate or to those who look friendliest which may lead to an unrepresentative sample.

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