A study to identify family factors that contribute to academic success in a group of children from single-parent families

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1991-11-01
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

The number of children from single-parent families has risen significantly since the 1970s. The stress associated with single-parent status not only places the parent in a precarious state, but also has the tendency to adversely affect the child's academic performance.

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among stress, coping resources, and academic success in a group of children from single-parent families. The study also was designed to access what family factors including race, gender, income level, education level, employment status, and family composition contribute to the academic success of the child.

Sixty-seven single-parent families and their oldest elementary school-age child participated in this study. The families' stress level was measured by using the Family Inventory of Life Changes and Events (FILE), while the Family Crisis Orientation Personal Evaluation Scales (F-COPES) were used to measure the families internal and external coping resources. A child's Resource Questionnaire was used to measure the child's coping resources. Academic success was measured using Grade Point Average (GPA) and Criterion Referenced Tests (CRTs) scores.

The results indicated no significant relationship between stress and academic success as measured by GPAs when controlling for gender, race, and resources. However, the education level of the parent, child's gender, and the number of children in the family were family factors found to contribute to academic success when measured by GPAs.

When measured by the CRTs, several factors contributed to academic success. In language arts, higher numbers of children in the family were associated with lower language arts scores. tended to score higher than boys. In addition, girls In math, only the child's gender was found to contribute to academic success, with girls tending to score higher than boys. In science, higher numbers of children in the family were linked with lower science CRT scores, while higher family coping resources were associated with higher science CRT scores. In social studies, single mothers were linked with higher CRT scores than single fathers. In addition, higher family stress was associated with lower social studies CRT scores, and white children tended to score higher than minorities.

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