This year-long research investigated fathers' involvement in 1 public elementary school in southern California that served an ethnic diverse and lower socioeconomic population. This case applied Epstein's 6 typologies to analyze the perceptions of 112 fathers and 132 mothers utilizing a 35-item validated questionnaire, followed by long interviews of fathers, school administrators, and teachers in addition to researcher's field notes. Compared to prior studies, findings revealed that fathers and mothers reported that fathers' involvement in parenting and home learning was high. Responding to "all the time" and "sometimes," 91% of the fathers indicated they attended extracurricular activities; 87% participated in PTA activities; 86% attended parent-teacher conferences; 82% monitored or assisted with homework; 82% offered study space; 81% regularly purchased supplies; 75% provided computer and technology equipment; and 80% celebrated academic achievement. Utilizing 2 chi-square analyses to survey data, these findings applied to fathers who were employed (71%) or unemployed (29%) as well as to higher-educated fathers (community college degree and above) and fathers with a high school diploma or less (p > .05). Applying a chi-square analysis to survey data, fathers' and mothers' perceptions were similar (p > .05) except volunteering, fathers indicating higher involvement. However, 88 to 100% fathers responded to "not at all" or "a few times" on the items in this typology, a low level of involvement. All groups of respondents reported fathers' low involvement in school decision-making and community collaboration activities. Regarding communication, fathers indicated that they desired direct communication from the school such as e-mail blasts, text messages, and focused notices related to their child. Since fathers indicated that 32.0% were divorced or separated and almost half of the participating mothers were single, targeted communication to fathers as well mothers is necessary to encourage father involvement. School personnel reported communication is primarily sent to one set of parents as accurate 2-parent information is difficult. The study provides recommendations to stimulate father engagement, such as staff should connect with fathers during child pick-up and after-school activities. Also, staff should create a father-friendly school environment and offer focused, task-oriented opportunities to involve fathers as well as social activities that attract mothers.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Education, Father and child; Education, Elementary -- Parent participation

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Hiatt-Michael, Diana B.;