Empowered Parent Education: An empirical investigation of empowerment concepts

Sally Schwer Canning, University of Pennsylvania


Low-income, urban, minority families are faced with grave difficulties as they cope with concerns such as inadequate education, economic hard times, violent crime, and drug abuse. Parent education interventions have been employed by professionals in partial response to these formidable difficulties. A number of strategies have documented positive effects on particular child or parent variables. However, significant problems attracting and retaining participants, achieving comprehensive treatment gains, and maintaining desired outcomes have been widely reported. These failures suggest a serious mismatch between the design and delivery of interventions and the strengths and needs of targeted parents. The argument is made here that parents can be empowered to actively collaborate in shaping their own parent education opportunities. The purpose of this study was twofold. First, concepts from the empowerment literature (partnership, critique, co-construction and mastery) were used to design the Empowered Parent Education strategy (EPE). Second, a parent rating scale was developed to capture salient features of empowered parent and presenter behavior during the intervention. One-hundred-twenty-six Head Start parents participated in the development of the Empowered Parent Education Scale (EPES) and a comparison of EPE with a conventional parent education condition (CPE). Item analyses and scaling of the EPES yielded a reliable measure with two underlying dimensions: Parent Involvement and Presenter Respect. Comparison of the strategies indicated that participants in the empowered condition were perceived by peers as more actively involved than participants in the conventional counterpart. In addition, EPE content was judged as more relevant and presenter behavior as more respectful than in the conventional condition. Finally, parents overwhelmingly preferred the empowered strategy to the conventional one. Implications for the development of parent education strategies and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Educational evaluation|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Canning, Sally Schwer, "Empowered Parent Education: An empirical investigation of empowerment concepts" (1994). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9427508.