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Single Parenting And the Impact on Academic Achievement. By Pamela Ledbetter & Francene Leonce. Table of Contents. Page Introduction 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Review of Related Literature 3 Statement of the Hypothesis 5

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Single parenting and the impact on academic achievement

Single Parenting And the Impact on Academic Achievement


Pamela Ledbetter


Francene Leonce

Table of contents
Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Statement of the Problem 2

Review of Related Literature 3

Statement of the Hypothesis 5

Theorists 6


  • Single parenting is a very important social issue that can have significant effects on a child’s academic success. Children who are raised in a single family home are at risk of not reaching their full potential. Students within our educational system encounter many challenges in their family lives that they bring with them into the classroom. The family structure, ideally, provides a sense of security and stability that is necessary for children. When there is a breakdown in the family structure, it may have a tremendous impact on a child and their ability to function ordinarily or achieve academically. In most situations, the child no longer has two parents to depend on. Therefore they have to rely on one parent to meet most, if not all their needs. With limited finances, time and availability parents are less likely to provide the adequate support a child needs to perform to the best of their ability. This is not to say, necessarily, that the parent raising them is not providing them with more than adequate love and attention, but rather the single parent model within itself is comprised of many different factors that can affect a child’s level of academic success.

    Some of these factors are:

  • Emotional scarring left by separation that disrupts the child’s development and performance

  • Absence of the other adult may interrupt a child’s natural growth and development

  • Children may be inadvertently forced to grow up as they take on the duties of the absent adult

  • Limited time and income become an issue as in how much time is focused on homework or whether money is spent to build schema enjoying cultural activities

  • Educational goals and aspirations may not be set as high

Statement of the problem
Statement of the Problem

  • There are many students within our school system that come from single parent families. Due to the many issues that stem from the single family model, some students are unable to reach their full potential. As the single parent model rapidly becomes the norm, it is necessary to find a way to address these issues so as to provide students and parents with solutions to help them achieve to their highest ability.

Review of related literature pros
Review of Related LiteraturePros

  • Most of the available literature seems to support the belief that single parenting has an adverse effect on a child’s development and thus their level of achievement.This study examines the adverse effects of divorce or separation on academic achievement. The research implies that children who experience separation or divorce do not perform well or achieve academically. Research also identifies single parenting as a major social problem that is on the rise. Throughout the years single parent families have increased. At the same time, there is a tremendous growth in the number of children of single parents. Various studies presents research that indicates the impact of single parenthood on children. According to Wagner, (1992) there is a need to address single-parent children and academic achievement. The article points out four major areas effecting children from single parent homes. Stability/structure, acceptance, adult attention and parental involvement are extreme areas of concern that she believes are lacking in the lives of children with single parents. Many studies support this view and presents information that suggests the underachievement, criminal activity, poverty; racial differences are all consequences of children raised in single parent homes. Family structure is considered to be the major cause of dysfunction and low academic achievement amongst children. Clay (1980) stress the fact that school programs are not designed to accommodate dysfunctional families and emphasizes the need to provide various measures of support.

Review of related literature cons
Review of Related LiteratureCons

In contrast, there are a few studies that believe that the single parent household may not have as widespread and adverse an effect as is publicized. Findings suggest that conventional wisdom may exaggerate the detrimental effects of father absence (Debell, 2007). This study seemed to imply that once the socio-economic factors are controlled there is a much lessened effect on the academic performance and all around well-being of the child. Other studies suggest that much of the previous research has focused on the negative consequences for children (Glenn & Kramer, 1985). This focus and emphasis is primarily due to society’s negative reception of the single parent model and view of it as a deviation from the cultural ideal.

Research hypothesis
Research Hypothesis

  • This study intends to show that children from single parent families are at risk of not being able to achieve to their greatest capacity. Prior research has shown that single parenting has an adverse effect on a child’s development in the classroom. This study aims to focus on the impact this social problem has on the African American community and their students. The knowledge gained from this study can be useful to educators as they attempt to meet the individual needs of their students. One of the many goals of this research is to prove that greater teacher-parent communication, collaboration and contact can perhaps help to diffuse some of the effects of single parenting.


  • A. Bandura

  • B. Weiner

  • B. F. Skinner

  • J. Piaget

  • L. Vygotsky

A bandura social learning theorist
A. BanduraSocial Learning Theorist

  • Academic achievement can be attributed to various factors. There are many factors that can influence or impact student academic achievement negatively or positively. In this case, single parent families or the level of parental involvement can be very instrumental in influencing students in regards to educational achievement. (The Gale Group, 2002) provides a study that indicates that parental beliefs and behavior systems induce their children’s educational aspirations and achievements. Many theorists imply that student achievement can be a result of their learning environment, experiences, or various social conditions. A.Bandura, a social learning theorist, presents a social learning theory which draws attention to human behavior. It emphasizes the idea that human behaviors are learned. As stated in the (Encyclopedia of Education, 2002), the social learning theory of Bandura emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. According to Bandura, (1997), people learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. All adults including both parents and teachers are very influential in how children or students perform academically. We have to be very conscientious and methodical in the way we model behaviors and attitudes in regards to education. As educators we are observed by our students constantly our attitudes towards the student’s achievement and how we present ourselves in the classroom can have a major impact on their academic performance. Parents also are major contributors to the students and their values and beliefs toward education. When children attend school they arrive with a whole set of beliefs and values about education and their ability to achieve imparted by their parents.

B weiner attribution theory
B. WeinerAttribution Theory

  • (The Gale Group, 2002) interprets the attribution theory as a theory that relates to how individuals interpret events and how this relates to their thinking and behavior. It assumes that people try to determine why people do what they do, i.e., attribute causes to behavior. Weiner, (1980) focuses his attribution theory on achievement and he states that “Causal attributions determine affective reactions to success and failure.” The success or failure of students can be attributed to many things. As a result, we always try to determine the cause of student achievement. Although success is not always the outcome in many of our schools, there are many students who perform on grade level and demonstrate the ability to succeed academically. In the same way, on many occasions students are not always performing as well as they should. In this case, we have to determine the cause. Many times students do not do as well as they should because they may be weak in a specific academic area. Children may be experiencing difficulty in their families or at home. As educators, it is extremely important that we assess our student’s ability level and take their home environment or personal experiences into consideration.

B f skinners operant conditioning theory
B. F. SkinnersOperant Conditioning Theory

  • B.F. Skinners Operant Conditioning Theory is one that can also be applied to academic achievement. Positive reinforcement is essential in promoting academic achievement. Children need to be motivated to do well. This motivation should come from the people they value most such as a teacher or parent. Children want to do well when they are encouraged to do well. Skinner (1954) believes that changes in behavior are the result of an individual’s response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment.

Lev vygotsky s theory of cognitive development
Lev Vygotsky’sTheory of Cognitive Development

  • Vygotsky believed that there were certain higher functions developed through the direct interaction with significant people in a child’s life. The absence of the missing parent to guide, direct, discipline, model, and teach may be one of the reasons that a child from a single parent family may not perform at their full potential. Students who come from single parent households tend to be reaching out for that missing person in their life.

Jean piaget s theory of cognitive development
Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

  • Jean Piaget is well known for his work dealing with the cognitive development of a child. He believed that children need to be able to naturally advance through the different stages of development sequentially in order to graduate to higher levels of learning.

  • This theory can then be applied to the child who is part of a single family who is, in essence, by nature of the situation forced to grow up and do and act as though they are not the child but rather are little adults. This premature acceleration into the adult world may be a part of the reason that children from single families do not perform at their highest level.