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Effects of home background, homework and out-of-school activities

OTL is not restricted to the school environment; out-of-school factors can have important effects on OTL.

Influence of parental participation

Parents thus are involved in a variety of ways in children’s schooling, and numerous studies focus on the influence of parental participation. Hill and Tyson (2009) showed that involvement reflecting academic socialization (e.g. parental aspiration and expectations), are positively associated with achievement. Motivation to learn and academic self-confidence are also related to such factors (Grolnick & Slowiaczek, 1994). Other outcomes of parental involvement are student attendance (Sheldon, 2007), student behavior (Hawkins et al., 1999) and homework completion (Cooper et al., 2001). Academic socialization factors and their relation to achievement are well documented, but no consistent patterns have been found between other forms of parental participation and achievement.

Reverse causality

Although much previous work indicates that amount of time spent on homework is either unrelated or negatively related to achievement, reverse causality is likely to be at the root of these findings, since poorly performing students typically have to spend more time on homework than other students. Using three different analytical methods circumventing these effects, Gustafsson (2013) showed that the results rather support the claim that there is a positive effect of time spent on homework. However, it may be hypothesized that the effects of homework vary as a function of family SES and student gender. Furthermore, parental participation may depend not only on SES, but also on teachers’ willingness and skills to involve them. In the sub-project the research on effects of homework will be carried further, investigating moderating and mediating effects of home involvement and parental and student factors. The studies will also be extended to cover longer periods of time, going back to the TIMSS 1995 study.

Reason for decling student results

The question often is raised to what extent the declining Swedish achievement is caused by immigration. Several studies have investigated this issue, concluding that there is an effect of immigration, but that the effect is of relatively small magnitude. There is, however, need for a more systematic analysis of this issue, using all the information that is available. There is also a need to investigate more closely through which mechanisms immigration influences student achievement. One factor obviously is the need to learn a new language, which, however, is accomplished within a couple of years. Another factor is that immigrants tend to have lower SES, which is known to be related to student achievement. Yet another possible factor is that immigrant students may receive instruction of lower quality, because of segregation effects, peer effects and lower teacher competence. There is also the possibility that immigrant students affect the achievement of native students through peer effects. The contributions from these different categories of factors will be separated to the extent that is possible.