2.1 THEORETICAL FRAME WORK This study is informed on the theory of concerted cultivation by lareuae, (2003). Lareau stated that lower income families have children who do not succeed to the level of the middle income children, who feel entitled, are argumentative, and better prepared for life. According to Suizo (2010) analysis of Lareau’s book, ‘Unequal childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life’, there is a clear distinction between the parenting styles of the working class families and the middle class families. College enrollment rates vary systematically based on income and socioeconomic status (SES), with lower enrollment rates for lower-income students and students with lower SES than for their higher-income and SES peers. Although college enrollment rates increased for all groups over the past three decades, the gap in these rates between students from low-income families and those from high-income families was the same size in 1997 as in 1970. Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), Cabrera and La Nasa (2001) found that, after controlling for relevant variables, college application rates were 26 percentage points lower for students with low socioeconomic status than for those with high socioeconomic status. These differential application and enrollment rates are especially disconcerting at a time when there are widening gaps in income insurance benefits between high school and college graduates (Baum & Ma, 2007). Educational expectations not only are strong predictors of postsecondary enrollment, but also are relatively stable over time; nevertheless, college plans can and do change. Messersmith and Schulenberg (2008) show, for example, that low-income students, and particularly those from lone-parent families, from minority backgrounds, and who reside in rural areas often fall short of realizing their expectations. However, they did not examine the timing of enrollment as a mechanism through which youth become derailed from their expected pathway, nor did they consider whether the type of institution initially attended lowered students’ college attainments relative to their reported expectations. One of the most comprehensive of recent investigations into subject choice of pupil has been the Australian Center for Educational Research (ACER) longitudinal reports on subject choice (Fullarton & Ainley 2000). Analysis of the Australian data collected in 1993 and 2001 provided comprehensive statistical profiles of subject choice by senior high school students. The studies report that enrolments in science course are strongly associated with a number of background factors, including gender, peer influence, socioeconomic status, parents’ education levels and ethnic identity. These factors constitute external influence on students’ enrollment decision at all levels (Abouchedid & Nasser 2000). They were also considered background factors that were strongly implicated in students’ science enrollment decision (Hodkinson & Sparkes 1997). For that matter they formed part of the influential variables on students’ physical science being studied. According to the ACER studies and research in the USA (Leshie, McClure & Oaxaca 1998) and UK (Woolnough 1994), the choice of physical science is more closely associated with high socioeconomic status (based on parental occupation) than any other subject area. This is not the case, however, among other students in Australia, as enrolments tend to be fairly consistent across socioeconomic levels. In Ghana and most African countries, socioeconomic levels are generally low, most settlements are rural with very high level of illiteracy reportedly about 60% in Ghana. Aside the general socioeconomic factors across the country, disparity also exists in terms of provision of both material (educational infrastructure) and human educational resources and opportunities between rural and urban centres. This affects quality teaching and learning (Fredua-Kwarteng & Ahia 2005), which could eventually affect students’ interest in education especially science (as a practical subject) among students from rural schools in particular. Fortunately, Ghana has a culture of communal living or extended family system, so a child of a poor and/or illiterate parent might still receive help from an educated and/or wealthy relative. Thus, a casual scrutiny of the circumstantial differences for Ghana compared to the countries where these studies were carried out, suggests the correlation between parents’ socioeconomic and educational level and science class enrolment might not be feasible or at least not easily determined.
2.2 SOCIETAL INFLUENCE Inherent in the meaning of society is the fact that it is constituted by people who live in a geographical area defined as a nation, made of social institution such as religious bodies, political parties among others and whose members share some mutual concern or interest, a common objective or common characteristics (Jenkins 2002). This is the perspective in which society is viewed in the scope of this study. According to Lipps (1999), interest in science could be influenced by the recognition and value placed on knowledge of science and its application, scientist, and science related professions by society. When science professions are highly rewarded, people would consider it a worthwhile profession to engage in. With enrolment in science classes, studies have shown that the influence of society is more pronounced in girls’ decision than boys due to socio-cultural traditions. Society perceives science - related professions as masculine and difficult (Jones, Howe & Rua 2000; Anamuah-Mensah 1995).
2.3 PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT Although prior research sheds light on the relationship between parental involvement and college opportunity research on the contribution of parental involvement to college opportunity is limited in several ways. First, with only a few exceptions, quantitative research typically operationalizes parental involvement using a narrow set of indicators that focus on quantity rather than quality of different types of involvement. Second, while Perna and Titus use multilevel modeling to demonstrate the relationship between both student and school-level measures of parental involvement and college enrollment, few researchers examine how parental involvement is shaped by school structures and, conversely, how school efforts to promote college opportunity are shaped by parental involvement. Finally, while some research explores racial/ethnic group differences in the relationship between parental involvement and college enrollment (e.g., Perna & Titus, 2005), little is known about variations in the relationship based on socioeconomic status. This study addresses these knowledge gaps by drawing on a multilevel model of college enrollment. The study describes how parental involvement not only is shaped by the school context but also shapes the school context for college opportunity. The study also describes the ways other aspects of context, particularly the higher education context and the state and economic context, shape parental involvement. Although parental encouragement and involvement appear to be important facilitators of college enrollment, this study describes the barriers that limit parental involvement not only for low-SES parents but also for middle-SES parents.
2.4 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK Based on a review and synthesis of prior research, the conceptual model (Perna, 2006) draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and assumes that students’ college-related decisions are shaped by multiple layers of context. The model assumes that the most important student level predictors of college enrollment are academic preparation and achievement, financial resources, knowledge about college, and family support (Perna, 2006). The model also assumes that college enrollment decisions can be fully understood only by taking into account four layers of context: students and their families, K–12 schools, higher education institutions, and the broader societal, economic, and policy context (Perna, 2006).