Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Zorka Karanxha


Low-income, Minority custodial parents, Parent Involvement, Title I


Literature suggests strong, positive and mutual relationships between home and school lead to higher levels of success and achievement for students. Schools should begin to focus on being more aware and sensitive to the cultural and social wealth that marginalized families carry. When institutions of learning begin to tap into and embrace the strengths of their families, it is likely to be of mutual benefit for the students, staff and families. Utilizing qualitative research methodology, this study sought to understand African American grandmothers' perspectives on parental involvement, and identify strategies that supported, maintained, and facilitated their involvement in the educational process of the grandsons in their care.

In this research study, I specifically sought to address the following questions:

* How do African American grandmothers see their involvement in their grandchildren's education?

* How have the grandmothers shaped their involvement in the education of the grandchildren under their care? What influenced their involvement?

* What are their perspectives on the level of involvement in the education of the grandchildren under their care?

* What do African American grandmothers see as barriers and opportunities as they try to guide their grandchildren through formal schooling?

The cultural capital theoretical framework helped to understand and interpret the experiences of the African American grandmothers in this study raising their grandsons. The framework also helped to understand how each grandmother constructed and perceived their roles as grandmothers. In terms of support for the theory, the findings collected through interviews revealed that despite past oppressive conditions, barriers and cultural incongruence associated with schools, the grandmothers stayed abreast of and connected to school norms and practices for the benefit of their grandsons. Although each grandmother displayed a combination of capitals and wealth, aspirational wealth, resonated across each capital. Major themes of the study included: Grandmothers: Mothering and Leading by Example; Family and Communal Support: "It Takes a Village;" Grandmothers Engaging in Traditional Parental Involvement Activities; Grandmothers-Grandsons as Co-learners; and Grandmothers' Critique and Advice for Schools.

Implications for future research includes creating supportive and caring school environments, ensuring that school leaders and staff display welcoming behaviors and demonstrate support in parental involvement programs, and school leaders and teachers having and maintaining high expectations. Understanding how African American grandmothers and other family members, construct, perceive and enact certain cultural wealth and social capital should become more prevalent in scholarly work and research. Parents of different races and culture favor different forms of involvement. Implications from this research study suggest that educators and school leaders must begin to acknowledge, address, and value the cultural differences and social wealth that African American grandmothers and family members possess.