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What does research say about parental involvement in learning?

Found in: Leadership Blog

Hundreds of research studies have been undertaken in recent years to determine the effectiveness of parental involvement on student learning.

Hattie (2009) a highly respected contemporary educator, undertook an extensive meta-analysis of educational research into the size of effects on student achievement. He used an ‘effect size’ (d) to compare the magnitude of these effects. In establishing a benchmark or ‘standard’ for effect-sizes he used a measure of d = 0.15 to indicate the normal student developmental effects on student learning in any single year for any student who did not go to school, and d = 0.4 to indicate the effects that an average teacher would make on student learning in one year. An effect size of d = 1.0 would indicate the effectiveness of any strategy that advances children’s achievement by 2 – 3 years.

In using this ‘measure’ he was able to compare the effectiveness of strategies, interventions and approaches on student achievement. Teachers at MCC are currently exploring the effect sizes of many teaching strategies and approaches on the learning of students at the college.

Some of these effect sizes for parental involvement might interest you. Significantly the highest effect sizes regarding parental involvement occur when parents have high expectations for the learning and achievement of their children and when they take a more active approach to learning (d = 0.58). There are however, negative effects when parents’ involvement includes a ‘surveillance approach’. Overall, parental involvement has an effect size – on average – of d = 0.51.

Parental involvement in learning

Effect size (d)

Homework supervision


Participation in school activities


Communication with school and teachers


Parent training


Parent listening to student reading


Parent reading to the child (K-3)


High expectations for student achievement (and verbalising these to the student)



Ultimately, the higher the hopes and expectations of parents with respect to the educational attainment of their child, the higher the student’s own educational expectations. “Parents need to hold high expectations for their children and schools need to work in partnership with parents to make their expectations appropriately high and challenging”. (Hattie, 2009, p.70).

Dr Thelma Perso
Director of Teaching and Learning

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, New York