Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henning, Mary Beth

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Educational sociology; African Americans--Study and teaching; Education


This study advances the premise that African-American parents are deliberately involved in their children's education; however, many educators may not recognize their involvement because it may not always align with dominant cultural expectations. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore beneficial social capital and cultural capital that low-income African-American parents use to involve themselves in their children's suburban school education. Data was collected for this study, in a suburb outside of a large metropolitan city, through the use of a World Cafe (a type of community discussion group) and semi-structured interviews. Using portraiture research design, the findings of the study are highlighted through six participant portraits, which narrate their involvement in their children's education. In summary, all of the participants utilized both social and cultural capital to become involved in their children's education. Generally, each interview participant's family cultural capital motivated her to participate in her child's education, in a manner unique to her own educational experiences. In addition to understanding and utilizing valuable dominant forms of cultural capital (attending parent-teacher conferences, volunteering, and communicating with the teachers, working with children at home, and having educational expectations), participants in this study also referenced the use of culture-specific forms of capital, such as: family cultural capital, family networks and church, teaching cultural knowledge, community collective beliefs, and African-American networks. Additionally, participants used the following forms of social capital to benefit their children's education: relocating, hiding poverty, utilizing community service resources, and using intergenerational closure. Suggestions are made for educators to recognize and honor these non-dominant social and cultural forms of parental involvement, so that low-income African-American parental involvement can benefit their children's education. Participants called for more supportive social and cultural African-American parent networks to be created within schools, to help parents feel more welcome and supported in the schools, and become more knowledgeable about the schooling process.


Advisors: Mary Beth Henning.||Committee members: Joseph E. Flynn; Laura R. Johnson.||Includes bibliographical references.


viii, 319 pages




Northern Illinois University

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