Download Full Text (647 KB)


The family, in educational psychology research, is unidimensional. It is either a covariate, a tool for school agenda or narrowly defined by a single person, usually the mother and her college educational attainment. These diminutions of family hamper efforts to fully understand critical contextual factors that impact student learning, like family. Inspired by Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and Family Communication Practices (FCP), Family Learning Culture Theory (FLCT) emerged as the conceptual framework for a exploratory research project, which interviewed three middle-class family representatives, of high school students in two school districts in a Southeastern city in the United States. Aggregate findings, from that preliminary study reveal that family expectations towards learning, school and knowledge, is shaped academic success is a multi-membered, cultural dynamic which extends beyond households and bloodlines. This study also found that over time, family is less directive and more consultative in its support for children’s personal fulfillment and goal attainment, which may not include college. The results of this study informed the development of the Family Learning Culture Assessment, which combines interdisciplinary, reliability-tested, metrics along with new dimensions unearthed during the qualitative study, to understand emergent family typologies in school-based settings. This research and the resulting assessment have implications for removing deficit-based binaries, like engaged or disengaged, and replacing them with more nuanced descriptive typologies, reflective of families as complete cultural entities. The possibilities for targeted support or intervention are as varied as the typologies themselves.

Publication Date





Educational Psychology

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Family Learning Culture Assessment: Development of metrics of the collective epistemic orientations  and achievement motivations in diverse families