Details of Thesis

Title Parent Expectations of Catholic Secondary Education: A study over time in one particular school
Author Griffiths, William Robert
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 1998
Abstract This thesis explores the expectations that parents had of a particular Catholic secondary school for boys during the first half of the 1990s. By exploring in some detail the expectations of one group of parents whose children attended one particular Catholic secondary school in suburban Adelaide (South Australia), the research illuminates the larger issue of the changing nature of parent expectations of Catholic secondary schooling, and how these expectations were being shaped in the last decade of the twentieth century. The social, educational and ecclesial context within which Catholic secondary education operates has altered in the three decades following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The literature reviewed in this thesis indicates that parent expectations of Catholic secondary education in the 1990s were increasingly shaped by a complex variety of factors beyond traditional religious or denominational loyalty. The post-1973 organisational and administrative structures established for the delivery and development of Catholic schooling in Australia reset the centralisation/decentralisation balance. These changes in administrative centre of gravity have of themselves created a climate in which a greater range of parent expectations is evident. This research used an established questionnaire to gather data from parents about their expectations of the school as their sons entered the first year of secondary schooling. The same parents were then surveyed four years later to gauge the extent to which they believed the school had met their expectations. Exploratory analyses were conducted to investigate if there were significant statistical differences in parent expectations, or in parent perceptions of the school's meeting their expectations, that were due to different parent characteristics. In particular, the research investigated whether parent gender, religion, religious practice, level of education, or length of parent association with the school played a significant role in parent expectations. A further important research aim was to investigate the statistical properties of the research questionnaire, first used to explore parent expectations of Catholic secondary education in the early 1980s, and to suggest appropriate changes to the way in which the items and scales of the questionnaire were constructed. Eight of the nine scales of the research instrument, whether used in the first round of the survey (as the student entered Year 8, and parents were asked what their expectations were in anticipation of their child's Catholic secondary education) or the second round (as the student entered Year 12, and parents were asked to indicate the degree to which the school had met their expectations) were found to be reliable. The results from the research reported in this thesis indicate that the parents believed that the school in large measure met their expectations. The results also demonstrate that, for these parents, there was no significant relationship between their expectations of the school and the sample characteristics of parent religion, gender, or level of education. Only two parent characteristics were found to demonstrate a significant relationship with parent expectations as measured by the questionnaire scales: the frequency of parent religious practice (as measured by reported church attendance) and whether the parents had earlier enrolled their sons in the primary section of the school. A more finely-nuanced examination of the data indicated that parent religion and parent gender may indeed have an influence on parent expectations of the school, but that the influence of these parent characteristics on parent expectations of the school are mediated by the degree to which the parents practice their religion. This research appears to confirm that parent expectations of Catholic secondary schooling are not a simple function of parent religion. The research indicates that parents, whether Catholic or not, whether practising church goers or not, tend to share a reasonably coherent view of what a Catholic secondary education should include, and of what constitutes a "good" Catholic secondary education. This shared view may not necessarily be consonant with basic church teaching about the nature of the Catholic school as a Christian community. This research confirms the trend evident from the literature that parents are tending to express their expectations more in pragmatic terms, rather than as an expression of personal ideology or faith, and that Catholic secondary schools are seen by parents to meet these expectations.
Thesis 01front.pdf  335KB
02chapter1.pdf 1,176KB
03chapter2.pdf  615KB
04chapter3.pdf 3,452KB
05chapter4.pdf  897KB
06chapter5.pdf 4,172KB
07chapter6.pdf  1,602KB
08chapter7.pdf 657KB
09appendices.pdf  6,669KB

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