Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The present exploratory study investigated the beliefs and practices of parents of various cultural groups, as well as teachers, regarding educational issues. The central focus was upon homework, the day to day link between school and home. A main objective of the research was to determine how individual and subcultural variations in parenting style (Baumrind, 1973) are linked with attitudes and practices towards the school. Interviews were conducted with 36 parents of 7th and 8th graders in three different ethnic groups, drawn from an urban junior high school in Toronto. There were equal numbers of sons and daughters in each of the three groups: Anglo, East Indian and Greek. Twelve teachers from the same school were also interviewed. In the first part of the semi-structured interview, respondents were asked about parent-child decision-making patterns around a number of issues. Responses were used to characterize three parenting styles (Baumrind, 1973): permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. The rest of the interview included questions on attitudes regarding the value of homework, practices regarding study, contact with and feelings about the school, ideas about home and school influences on child learning, and forced choice attributions for the child's performance in six academic areas. As well, a prediction task was included, in which children wrote the math portion of the WRAT after parents predicted their performance. Results indicated that teachers as a whole were more authoritative than parents in terms of decision-making ideals. Anglo parents were most permissive, while the East Indian and Greek parents scored highest on authoritarianism. The East Indian and Greek parents valued homework more and reported greater use of control and reward strategies when dealing with homework than the Anglo parents. When dealing with homework-related problems, Anglo parents reported a greater number of strategies and were more likely to form liaisons with the school. They also reported having more resources at home for their children. The frequency of school contact in general did not vary significantly across ethnic groups, although Anglo parents reported more contact regarding homework issues. Analyses of parenting style across ethnic groups revealed that authoritativeness was associated with more structuring and monitoring of homework, more liaison efforts with the school and more frequent and valued school contact. Permissive parents experienced least contact with the school. Authoritative parents attributed their children's school performance most to the home and least to ability, while authoritarian parents attributed least to the school and most to ability. As expected, authoritative parents assume most responsibility and play a more active role in their children's school life than permissive and authoritarian parents. Expectations that Anglo parents would share more homework attitudes and beliefs with teachers than East Indian and Greek parents were generally not supported. The greatest discrepancies emerged between parents and teachers as a whole. Teachers were least in favor of direct parental intervention with homework, and most in favor of structuring practices. They attributed children's school performance more to the home, while parents perceived the school/teacher factor as more important in determining academic success.

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