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Parental Involvement and Student Engagement: A Review of the Literature

Smart Learning Institute, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Colllege of Education, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
Center for Teacher Education Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2023, 15(7), 5859;
Submission received: 12 February 2023 / Revised: 8 March 2023 / Accepted: 23 March 2023 / Published: 28 March 2023
(This article belongs to the Section Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development)


Although parental involvement is among the most crucial aspects of social support for students’ school engagement and achievement, current review work on the relationship between parental involvement and student engagement is largely missing. Therefore, we conducted a systematic literature review on such topics from the perspectives of landscapes, methodology characteristics (e.g., conceptualisation and measurement), and study patterns from 2000–2022. Following PRISMA guidelines, 33 articles involving 47,307 students and 3391 parents were reviewed. The results yielded several interesting facts. First, studies on this topic were primarily conducted in the United States during the first decade, but publications increased during emergency remote teaching (ERT) and China produced most of the publications. Studies were primarily cross-sectional (72.7%) and used secondary school Caucasian or Asian samples. In addition, although studies varied greatly on the conceptualisation and measurement of parental involvement and student engagement, they seem to embrace the idea of measuring parental involvement via school and home subtypes (85%) and student engagement via ABC dimensions (i.e., affective, behavioural, and cognitive; 57.4%). Moreover, in terms of patterns, studies often (82%) investigated its relations with student engagement or how it mediated the connections between parental involvement and learning achievement (e.g., success at school, dropout). They, however, often failed to provide concrete/practical parental involvement strategies. This pattern of results indicated an urgent need for more studies on specific parental involvement practices that could promote student engagement from multiple stakeholders. Limitations and suggestions for future studies were provided accordingly.

1. Introduction

More than eight hundred years ago, an old Chinese saying provided a vivid example of the importance of parental involvement in students’ education: “If a child is uneducated, his parents are to blame”. Previous research has suggested that adolescent school engagement, a multidimensional construct of behavioural, emotional, and cognitive components, is essential because of its links to parental involvement and school success [1]. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves students’ school adjustment [2] and student motivations, such as school engagement [3]. Student engagement is a multidimensional concept that includes different aspects of engagement, such as behavior, cognition, and emotion [4]. In general, parental involvement refers to the parent′s role in educating their children [5], which can take numerous forms, such as homework assistance, school-related discussions, and visiting the school to speak with teachers [6]. It was also defined as “parents’ interactions with schools and their children to promote educational success” [3] and often involves parental investment in the academic arena of children′s life [7]. Thus, parental participation encompasses parents′ educational goals and expectations and how parents encourage achievement at home, in school, and within the parent-child relationship [8]. Accordingly, parental involvement has been classified into several subtypes. Examples include school-based involvement (e.g., participating in teacher-parent meetings, being involved in school governance, or volunteering at school), home-based involvement (e.g., helping with homework, visiting a museum, or reading to their child), and academic socialisation (e.g., parents setting educational goals and holding expectations for their children, as well as communicating with their children about parental expectations) [8]. Others classified parental involvement as three parents’ relationship and involvement constructs: parental involvement in school, the parent–child relationship, and parents’ educational aspiration for the child [9]. To date, there are many studies on the effect of parental involvement on student engagement (e.g., students’ achievement [10,11,12,13,14] or motivation [15,16]). According to a meta-analysis, academic socialisation had the strongest relationship with academic success for adolescents, but school-based and home-based involvement had weaker relationships [8]. Similarly, parental aspiration/expectation for children′s education accomplishment has the most vital link with children′s academic achievement, but parental home supervision has the most negligible relationship [17].
More recently, research on parental involvement has expanded to examine the relations between parental involvement and students’ motivation, such as engagement [18,19,20]. Previous research in traditional educational settings indicates that solid associations exist between parental involvement and secondary school students’ academic engagement [4,21,22]. Student engagement was described as positive emotions, learning strategies [23], and institutional efforts enriching students’ learning experiences and performance [24]. Despite the considerable variation in how engagement has been defined, there is some consensus that engagement is a multifaceted construct that unites varying forms of engagement [25,26], such as parental involvement, student engagement has been categorised as having three subtypes: behavioural, emotional, and cognitive engagement [26]. In the academic world, these engagement dimensions point separately to on-task behaviour (behavioural engagement), interests or attitudes (emotional/affective engagement), and motivation and self-regulated learning (cognitive engagement) [27].
In the field of school intervention, engagement, as an essential malleable factor, is influenced by social contexts, such as family and peers, to provide consistent learning goals and support [18,28,29,30,31]. The interaction between parents, students, and schools is critical for students’ development and well-being. Current empirical studies have supported such links. For example, a previous study by Gil and colleagues [20] found a direct relationship between students’ socialisation skills (e.g., interacting with teachers and classmates through effective listening and communication), engagement and a mediating role of family involvement in the relations between students′ skills and behavioural engagement. Moreover, studies (e.g., [32]) examined the relationship between social support from family, teachers, and peers on affective and behavioural school engagement. The results revealed that family support correlated more with adolescents’ behavioural engagement in school, whereas peer support was associated with greater emotional engagement. Interestingly, student engagement was predicted by all three types of parenting practices in one study [33].
There are several reasons why parental involvement influences engagement and motivation, according to research findings. The first is the substantial connection between parent relationships with their children and overall psychological well-being, which establishes parental participation as the most important protective factor against disengagement. The second is the more direct impact of caring and supportive parental connections [10]. Meanwhile, after reaching middle school, children are less likely to involve their parents in their studies due to the increasingly demanding workload and more teachers in the classroom [34]. However, the vast majority of the literature in this field is qualitative and nonempirical. There appears to be considerable inconsistency among the empirical research that has quantitatively examined the problem. For instance, parental involvement was positively associated with affective engagement, unlike behavioural concentration [18], which significantly correlated with paternal involvement for maternal participation. Therefore, there is a need to clarify some issues of these relations in terms of conceptualisation, measurement, and conclusions.
Furthermore, a previous literature review on parental involvement has been presented in several works. One interesting work by [34] presented evidence of the father′s role in promoting student school motivation. An early meta-analysis by [17] found a small to moderate the relationship between parental involvement and achievement. In addition, study discovered a positive correlation between parental involvement and academic achievement, regardless of the criteria of parental involvement or the measure of academic achievement [35]. Moreover, the findings demonstrated that this association was highest when parental involvement was defined as parental expectations for their children′s academic progress. However, the influence of parental participation on student academic achievement was weakest when parental involvement took the form of assistance with homework. Taken together, although tremendous work has been conducted on the relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement, much is still unknown regarding parental involvement in student engagement. This review aims to fill in the abovementioned gap through a systematic literature review between 2000 and 2022. Our work contributes to the current knowledge from at least two perspectives: first, to date, we are one of the earliest to review the previous literature on relationships between parental involvement and student engagement; Second, in addition to the landscapes of studies, conceptualisation and measurements of parental involvement and student engagement, and design features, we also try to reveal common practices and patterns of studies on such relations. Accordingly, we asked the following questions: 1. What are the landscapes of the identified studies? 2. What are the study methodology features (conceptualisation; measurement of parental involvement; and study design features)? and 3. What are the patterns of previous studies on parent involvement and student engagement?

2. Method

This study systematically reviews the published literature on the empirical studies of parental involvement and student engagement in the past two decades. A systematic review was chosen because it addresses questions that individual studies could not, it summarises the state of knowledge in an area from which future research goals may be defined and it identifies the research that should be fixed in future studies [26,36]. Therefore, we opted for a systematic review approach to better understand how research on parental involvement and student engagement was conducted. The review was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses [37] (PRISMA) framework. Overall, three topics, including (1) the landscape of studies, (2) methodological issues (i.e., conceptualisation and measurement), and (3) patterns of previous studies of parental involvement on student engagement, were included in the literature review.

2.1. Search Strategy

Databases, such as ISI Web of Knowledge, Science Direct, Scopus, and Google Scholar, were systematically searched for the potential literature. These databases were chosen for the breadth of their content in education, psychology, and social sciences. Peer-reviewed journal publications published from January 2000 to September 2022 were screened. Three key search terms used on the databases were “parental involvement” and “student engagement.” Regarding student engagement, even though similar terms such as “student involvement” and “student participation” can be found in the literature, we opted to focus solely on articles that included the word “engagement” in the abstract section, expecting it to have direct linkages with student engagement. To expand the results, we included additional terms for parental involvement and engagement in the search strings, as shown in Table 1.

2.2. Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To ensure a quality collection of the literature, we only chose peer-reviewed journal articles published in English between 2000 and 2022. Since this study aims to explore the topics of parental involvement and student engagement, we only selected empirical studies (including both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies). Detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria are shown in Table 2.

2.3. Screening Process

The first round of the screening process features a comprehensive literature search that started in late September 2022, when we used the keywords through databases, such as WOS core collection, Science Direct, Scopus, and additional sources from reference and Google Scholar search engine. This resulted in 1916 articles. We limited our results to peer-reviewed English journal articles published between 2000 and 2022. As a result, we obtained 778 articles for screening after deleting 1138 duplicates. Next, this collection was further screened by applying the exclusion criteria, which led to a further exclusion of 615 articles by reading the title, abstract, and whole article texts. This process yielded a total of 33 pieces for final synthesis. Although the thesis and previous literature review were not used for analysis, they were used critically for background and discussion. During the screening and coding process, the two authors first worked independently; then, they worked together to combine results. Disagreements were discussed carefully. The detailed identification flow is shown in Figure 1. A full list of coding schema can be requested from the corresponding author. The data supporting this study′s findings and the coding schema are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

3. Findings

3.1. What Are the Landscapes of the Identified Studies?

During the first decade, it appears that the United States dominated the literature on parental involvement and student engagement, with 12 articles identified as being conducted in the U.S. Starting in 2014, China took the lead, contributing more than 30% (n = 10) of the total literature output. Interestingly, those publications mainly occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020–2022), which corresponds to the worldwide trend, since 42% (n = 14) of studies were identified through 2021 and 2022 when academic interest in such topics sprouted. In addition to the United States and China, Spain leads the European countries with four outputs, three of which were published in 2021 (during emergency remote learning). Although the publications are scattered across various journals, publishers that focus on child and family issues (e.g., Child and youth service review, Journal of youth and adolescents, Journal of family psychology, Journal of child and family studies) seem to be favoured by international authors (Table 3). See Table 4 and Figure 2 for more details.
Regarding the sample, a total of 33 articles involving 47,307 students and 3391 parents from 27 peer-reviewed journals were screened in this research. The average sample number of student participants is 1433, Mage for students is 13.09, and parent Mage is 46.37 (calculated based on data available). The student participants were primarily identified as attending secondary (both lower and higher levels) school (n = 18, 54.5%) and primary school (n = 9, 27.3%). Regarding ethnicity, almost half (n = 15, 45.5%) of the studies featured an Asian sample, followed by White Americans, which occurred in twelve studies (36.4%). In addition, students were most likely to come from working middle-class families (n = 14, 42.4%) versus low-income households (n = 4, 12.1%). Unfortunately, many studies (42.4%) failed to provide information on socioeconomic status (SES). See Table 4 and Table 5 for more details.

3.2. What Are the Study Methodology Features (Conceptualisation; Measurement of Parental Involvement; and Study Design Features)?

First, the conceptualisation of parental involvement. Approximately one in three studies (n = 11, 33%) failed to include a clear definition of parental involvement. Among studies with clear definitions, the definition of parental involvement seems to be varied but not without patterns. One of the most favoured ones is by scholars, such as [3,8], who regard parental involvement as parents’ communication with their children and schools to promote children’s academic success. Apart from that classic definition, there are also multidimensional, context-based definitions. For example, parental involvement has been conceptualised as participation, commitment, and investment (e.g., energy, time, and money), based on emotional, cognitive, intellectual, and behavioural dimensions [64], which, quite popularly, varied in contexts such as home-based involvement, school-based involvement, and academic socialisation.
Moreover, it seems that the conceptualisation of PI also indicates its positive links to a different kind of outcome, such as grade expectations and academic and social success [65], or entails targeted activities that increase parents’ familiarity with the school curriculum, promotes social capital and social networking among parents, fosters community spirit, and enhances the effectiveness of home-based learning [8,34,66]. However, the terms parental involvement, family involvement, and parental practices (including parental support, scaffolding independence for schoolwork, linking education to the future, and providing education advice) were used interchangeably and featured similar definitions. This is not the case with parenting (behaviours), which sometimes was approached from the perspective of supervision, autonomy granting, discipline, rules at home, etc. [47,54], or parental monitoring and school cohesion [33,49]. Taken together, there seems to be less consensus in the conceptualisation and measurement of parental involvement.
Unlike parental involvement, there was more consensus among the researchers on the definition of student engagement. A universal approach is to access it via the ubiquitous ABC (affective/behavioural/cognitive) approach that considers engagement from the perspective of affection, behaviours, and cognition. Surprisingly, primarily defined based on the work of [38], who developed a questionnaire based on the work of a couple of previous theories [27,67,68,69], student engagement in this study was defined as a multidimensional construct encompassing three related components: affective, behavioural, and cognitive [13,42,46,48]. However, there are exceptions. For example, under the umbrella of student engagement, some have defined and measured student engagement from subtypes, such as academic engagement, social engagement, a sense of belonging, and academic performance [61]. Others have used teacher ratings to measure student engagement and the dichotomous variable “active/passive participation” in classroom activities [40]. In addition, one study employed a context-specific approach to student engagement in stay-at-home self-learning environments, where they defined engagement as “the students’ degree of commitment to learning tasks such as reading self-learning modules (SLMs), lessons, and answering assigned exams/exercises embedded within their SLMs” [50]. A detailed description of the dimensions of parental involvement, student engagement, and stakeholder measurement are presented in Table 6.
Most studies were cross-sectional (72.7%), rather than longitudinal (27.3%). Studies with a longitudinal design often lasted six to twelve months, equivalent to one school semester to a whole school year [18,45]. In addition, we also looked at from whose perspective parental involvement and student engagement were measured. This is an indicator of a variety of research in this field. According to the results, there is more variety of measurements for parental involvement than for student engagement. For example, while 24 studies (72.7%) accessed parental involvement from children’s perceptions, seven measured it via parents [45,46]. Only one recruited students and parents as participants to understand how parents are involved in students′ schooling. As expected, for student engagement, the majority of studies (91%) measured it directly from student participants. One study rated student engagement via both students and their schoolteachers [39], while two accessed student engagement from teacher reports [19,40].
Studies also varied greatly regarding subtypes of parenting activities and student engagement. For parental involvement, while five studies (15.1%) focused on school-based parental involvement, the number of articles on home-based parental involvement was double (30.3%). Meanwhile, 13 works investigated both the home and school aspects of PI simultaneously. Regarding the measurement of student engagement, less consensus was reached among studies. The most popular practice was to use either “affective plus behavioural” subtypes (33.4%) or the “affective/behavioural/cognitive (in abbreviation: A/B/C)” (24.2%) constructs. For details on some research design issues, refer to Table 6 above.

3.3. Patterns of Studies

While more than half (51.5%) of the studies examined the direct role of parental involvement on student engagement, several others were also identified. For instance, three studies (e.g., [54,55]) employed a motivational mediator between those two factors and tested how motivation may play a role between parental involvement and student engagement. While some studies placed SE as a mediator and linked parental involvement to learning outcomes, such as dropping out [47] and achievement [48], others applied complex structural modelling that tested both indirect and direct relations (9%; e.g., [53,59]) or both direct and mediating effects between parental involvement and student engagement (15.2%; e.g., [40,44]). In summary, it appears that the current lines of research manifested different yet interesting patterns. For details of the patterns, please refer to Table 7 below.
Overall, the main findings can be summarized as follows:
  • Research on this topic was primarily conducted in the United States during the first decade, but publications increased during emergency remote teaching (ERT) and China produced most of the publications.
  • Studies were primarily cross-sectional (72.7%) and used secondary school Caucasian or Asian samples.
  • Although studies varied greatly on the conceptualisation and measurement of parental involvement and student engagement, they tend to measure parental involvement via school and home subtypes (85%), and student engagement via ABC dimensions (i.e., affective, behavioural, and cognitive; 57.4%).
  • In terms of patterns, studies often (82%) investigated its relations with student engagement or how it mediated the connections between parental involvement and learning achievement (e.g., success at school, dropout). They, however, often failed to provide concrete parental involvement strategies.

4. Discussion

4.1. Landscapes of Previous Studies

In terms of landscape, we looked at aspects, such as the trend of publications and the characteristics of the participants. As anticipated, studies have increased since the start of COVID-19, mostly in China. Since schools were mainly closed and emergency remote teaching was a common practice, students spent more time staying with their parents [19]. A close investigation of student participants found that most studies employed secondary school students with middle-class or urban backgrounds. There is a dearth of research on special student groups, for example, students with special needs, left-behind students, and other vulnerable students, such as minorities or black students, which were among the groups of students that remained under investigation based on the results of prior quantitative meta-analyses [34]. Youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, who receive less parental support, are more prone to disengagement and maladjustment; they are vulnerable to the negative outcomes associated with disengagement because they are less likely to complete high school and have fewer employment opportunities after graduation. For example, during the pandemic, families of disadvantaged backgrounds may find themselves lacking the digital education equipment and resources. As a result, socio-economic inequality in education may increase due to school disruptions [70,71,72]. This, in turn, increases their risk of poverty, poor health, and involvement in the criminal justice system [73,74]. Furthermore, while China and the United States dominated the published research, research work from European countries was underrepresented. This finding is interesting since studies on student engagement normally occurred in European and North American countries, according to a recent scoping review [75]. However, most of the research on student engagement occurred in the context of school (focus on academic activities), instead of at the family and community level. This may be an interesting opportunity for future studies. In addition, we found that students at the K7–12 level were more likely to be researched than those at the K6 level. This result is interesting since studies have found less parental involvement as children enter secondary school. For example, there is strong evidence that as children approach adolescence, mothers′ direct engagement decreases [76]. This is understandable since adolescence is characterised by increased autonomy, cognitive growth, problem-solving skills, and various goals [77,78]. Finally, our review found that only three studies examined K6 and K7–12 students. Considering the fact that parental involvement is crucial during such period [19], there is limited evidence on how parental involvement can impact student engagement during the K-6 and K7–12 levels. More studies can be conducted. For example, use longitudinal studies to better understand the complex interplay between parental involvement and school engagement during the primary–secondary transition period and how mothers and fathers can play a role during such a process.

4.2. Parental Involvement and Student Engagement: Conceptualisation and Measurement

In line with the viewpoint of [13], we found that the definition and measurement of parental involvement in studies on student engagement have been scattered. The literature suggests that the operational definition and measurement of parental engagement should receive specific attention and that different characteristics of parental involvement should be examined individually [17]. The construct definition of parental involvement often guided the methods of measurement. For instance, while five studies focused on school-based parental involvement, home-based parental involvement doubled the figure. This can be explained since studies during the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to focus on home-based activities since students were mostly involved in emergency remote teaching (ERT) sessions. Interestingly, academic socialisation, the strongest subtype of parental involvement for predicting student engagement, was ignored on a large scale. Instead, existing studies have focused on the relationship between children′s academic socialization skills and their behavioral engagement and how home support mediates the relationship [20]. Moreover, studies indicate that parental involvement in education has a favorable effect on student engagement [19]. From this perspective, the involvement of parents in promoting academic outcomes is crucial. Parental support for student participation is related to improved school behavior and increased learning enthusiasm. Therefore, studies on the parents’ academic socialization and how it impacts various aspects of student engagement (especially behavioral engagement) could be interesting in future research direction. In addition, more studies should be conducted on what and how academic socialisation can benefit students in the short and long term.
During the literature search, we tried to include studies discussing paternal or maternal involvement in student engagement. Unfortunately, almost all the identified articles were focused on parental involvement on a general level. Single parents, especially regarding the father′s role in SE, are very limited. As one study stated, “We know considerably more about mothers’ and children’s literacy than fathers and children” [79]. When parents are mentioned in studies incorporating parental literacy attitudes and practices, mothers comprise a disproportionately large number of the participants [80]. Even in two-parent families, existing theories and research on parental engagement frequently make no distinction between fathers and mothers and are mostly based on mothers [81]. Such a dearth of information on maternal/paternal practice in promoting student engagement is problematic, as it may lead to gender bias in the research when analysing parents. Furthermore, in our review, although there are nationally representative cross-sectional studies [38], few studies have investigated the individual long-term contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s schooling. Extant longitudinal research found that the father’s involvement at age seven predicted students’ educational attainment at age twenty [81]. In other words, early father involvement can be a protective factor in counteracting risk conditions that might lead to later low attainment levels [81]. A longitudinal design is essential since parental involvement is not effective immediately. It takes time for student perception and motivation to change. Thus, longitudinal studies could better understand how effective it is on student engagement, especially during the primary to secondary school transition [19].
Regarding the definition and measurement of student engagement, we have found patterns that are similar to previous research: student engagement is defined mainly via the affective, behavioural, and cognitive subtypes [27], and affective and behavioural aspects were frequently studied and used as benchmarks to measure how well other types of engagement work [82]. Consequently, the cognitive engagement subtype does not commonly appear in parental involvement research. This may be because cognitive engagement is typically described as self-regulating, setting learning goals, or persisting on challenging tasks [83]. Those effort and self-regulation components sometimes overlap with dimensions of both behavioural and emotional engagement (i.e., effort). As a result, cognitive engagement is difficult to precisely define [84]. Another reason may be that compared with cognitive engagement, other aspects of student engagement were relatively easier to approach via either survey or observation. Moreover, from the perspective of developmental psychology, students may not be cognitively engaged in their studies before they develop the ability to self-regulate and become purposeful learners [27,84].

4.3. Patterns of Identified Studies

In this review, we also looked at patterns of the current investigation of the relations between parental involvement and student engagement. Nearly half of the identified studies featured a “direct” model that directly researched parental involvement′s effect on student engagement. In other patterns, scholars tend to link parental participation, student engagement, and academic outcomes, such as achievement and school success, or use student engagement as an outcome variable to test how motivational variables mediate the relations between parental involvement and student engagement. Such results are reasonable since scholars have found that when researching student engagement, studies frequently concern factors that may affect student engagement (directly) [25]. Similar patterns were also found in a recent review work on teachers’ autonomy and student engagement [25]. Bidirectional relations are favoured since interactions between parental support and student engagement have been supported by many empirical studies [38,47], and studies tend to repeat research by applying them to different contexts.

5. Limitations and Future Directions

There are limitations in almost every study, and this work is no exception. First, despite using the most relevant search terms, we may have accidentally excluded some of the potential literature, which causes the “file drawer problem”. Second, this review systematically summarised the literature trends on parental involvement and student engagement. However, we did not provide evidence of parental involvement′s effectiveness (i.e., effect size) on student engagement. More specific questions are yet to be answered, such as: What is the interplay between involvement types and student engagement dimensions? How do different conditions of parental involvement (e.g., educational levels, time involved) impact student engagement? and Are those associations positive or negative? A follow-up meta-analysis is needed to obtain a comprehensive and insightful understanding of such interactions.
Based on the results of our review work and the limitations as stated, we propose the following directions for future works. First, we call for more research on students of vulnerable backgrounds (i.e., left-behind students in developing countries, single-parent families, and socioeconomically disadvantaged families) in such topics. This is crucial given that students of disadvantaged backgrounds are more prone to disengagement and maladjustment, and they are vulnerable to the negative outcomes associated with disengagement. For instance, recent research on how parents engaged in low-tech interventions to buffer against student disengagement and learning loss during school disruptions has suggested that parents being involved and aware of their child’s academic progress is critical to students’ academic progress [85]. Such findings have immediate policy relevance and long-term implications for the role of parents in supporting education provision during school disruptions. Therefore, support from parents or guardians has the potential to buffer against negative consequences in this sense, but much is unknown regarding how and what they should do to help students succeed.
Furthermore, we call for a follow-up meta-analysis to investigate how differences in roles (paternal or maternal), timespan, and types of involvement impact student engagement at both broader scales and subtypes, specifically. Last but not least, although getting parents involved in children’s schooling is an essential first step for enhancing children’s engagement, how parents become involved is also important. For example, a study found that autonomy-supportive, process-focused, and positive-affective parents may benefit children, while controlling, person-focused, and negative-affective styles may be harmful [85]. For example, the work of Valerie Walkerdine and colleagues expressed the need/concerns to investigate the psychodynamic process (i.e., stress, anxiety) involved in working-class (school) girls and boys because of parental pressures on their educational success [86]. Those can be challenging yet interesting topics to explore in future studies.

6. Conclusions

In this review, empirical studies of parental involvement and student engagement were examined systematically. This review′s primary objective is to provide an in-depth analysis of landscapes, methodologies, and study trends/patterns on this topic over the last two decades. The most important takeaway is that studies on parental involvement and student engagement have appeared since the outbreak of COVID-19, with China contributing the most. Studies were primarily cross-sectional and measured parental involvement and student engagement from the perspective of students, unlike parents and teachers. Home-based parental involvement and affective/behavioural engagement were the favoured subtypes to measure among such studies. Although studies have demonstrated direct and indirect patterns in study design, what and how parental involvement can promote student engagement is still an unsolved question; instead, they have typically examined parental involvement and student engagement on a general level. Therefore, future studies should work towards a deeper understanding of the specific parenting practices that increase student engagement, which, in turn, may minimise the risk of school maladjustment.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, D.Y. and Z.L.; methodology, P.C.; software, K.W.; validation, D.Y. and Z.L.; formal analysis, D.Y.; investigation, D.Y.; resources, P.C.; data curation, P.C.; writing—original draft preparation, D.Y. and Z.L.; writing—review and editing, D.Y.; P.C.; K.W.; Z.L. and C.Z.; visualization, K.W. and C.Z.; supervision, R.H. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Smart Learning Institute, Beijing Normal University.

Data Availability Statement

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Figure 1. PRISMA style article identification flow.
Figure 1. PRISMA style article identification flow.
Sustainability 15 05859 g001
Figure 2. Timeline of publications by geographic area.
Figure 2. Timeline of publications by geographic area.
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Table 1. Search terms and strings.
Table 1. Search terms and strings.
ItemsSearch TermsBoolean
Parental involvement“Parental involvement” OR “parenting” OR “parental practices” OR “paternal involvement” OR “maternal involvement” OR “parental monitoring” OR “parenting behaviours”AND
Student engagement“School engagement” OR “engagement in school” OR “student engagement” OR “pupil engagement” OR “learner engagement” OR “emotional engagement” OR “cognitive engagement” OR “behavioural engagement” OR “agentic engagement” OR “academic engagement”
Table 2. Inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Table 2. Inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Inclusion CriteriaExclusion Criteria
Journal articlesShort reports, conference papers, book chapters, etc.
Peer-reviewedNot peer-reviewed
Empirical studiesNonempirical studies and theoretical studies
Written in EnglishWritten in other languages
Published between 2000–2022Published before 2000 or after the time of writing
Focused on parental involvement and student engagementConcentrate on other aspects of parenting (parent–teacher interaction, parent discipline, harsh parent, etc.), literacy engagement, work engagement, reading engagement, etc.
Table 3. Publication of identified articles.
Table 3. Publication of identified articles.
JournalsN of StudyPercentage
British Journal of Educational Psychology27.7%
Child and Youth Service Review27.7%
Child Development13.8%
Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry13.8%
Current Psychology27.7%
Educational Psychology27.7%
Education 3–1313.8%
European Journal of Psychology of Education13.8%
Frontiers in Psychology27.7%
Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs13.8%
International Journal of Educational Development27.7%
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health13.8%
Journal of Child and Family Studies19.7%
Journal of Educational Researchh13.8%
Journal of Family Psychology13.8%
Journal of Marriage and Family13.8%
Journal of Psychology and Educational Research13.8%
Journal of Research on Technology in Education13.8%
Journal of School Health13.8%
Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice13.8%
Journal of Youth and Adolescence27.7%
Learning Environment Research13.2%
Psychology in the Schools19.7%
School Psychology Quarterly13.8%
Urban Education13.8%
Table 4. A summary of countries and participants of identified studies (n = 31).
Table 4. A summary of countries and participants of identified studies (n = 31).
Country/Place of StudynArticleNo. of Participants: Student/Parent/Teacher
China101. Lam et al., 2014 [38]3421/-/5
2. Li et al., 2021 [39]24/5/-
3. Poon, 2020 [40]349/-/-
4. Wang et al., 2019 [41]2775/-/-
5. Wang et al., 2022 [42]253/-/-
6. Wong et al., 2018 [43]507/-/-
7. Xiong et al., 2021 [44]2381/-/-
8. Yang et al., 2022 [21]1550/1550/-
9. Yu et al., 2022 [45]229/229/-
10. Zhu et al., 2021 [46]285/285/-
Iceland11. Blondal & Adalbjarnardottir, 2014 [47]835/-/-
Jamaica11. Jules et al., 2021 [33]293/-/-
Malaysia21. Jelas et al., 2016 [48]2359/-/-
2. Krauss et al., 2017 [49]507/-/-
Philippines11. Collado et al., 2021 [50]359/359/-
Romania11. Mih & Mih, 2022 [51]271/271/-
Singapore11. Chan et al., 2022 [52]7630/-/-
Spain41. Nunez et al., 2021 [53]730/-/-
2. Descals-Tomás et al., 2021 [54]267/-/-
3. Nunez et al., 2019 [55]643/-/-
4. Gil et al., 2021 [20]754/-/-
United States121. Ansong et al., 2017 [18]135/-/-
2. Borrero & Yeh, 2020 [56]128/-/-
3. Chen, 2005 [57]270/-/-
4. Chen & George, 2009 [19]59/-/-
5. Dotterer & Wehrspann, 2015 [58]108/-/-
6. Fan & Williams, 2010 [13]15325/-/-
7. Hill et al., 2018 [59]624/-/-
8. Li et al., 2010 [60]960/-/-
9. Roksa et al., 2021 [61]261/-/-
10. Simons-Morton & Crump, 2003 [62]1267/-/-
11. Wang et al., 2022 [63]692/692/-
12. Wang & Sheikh-Khalil, 2014 [16]1056/-/-
NOTE: “-” represents data not reported.
Table 5. The education level and ethnicity of students studied.
Table 5. The education level and ethnicity of students studied.
FrequencyPercent (%)
Education level
K7–12 *1854.5%
K6 and K7–1239.1%
Other2 *6.0%
Socioeconomic status (SES)
Low and middle13.1%
Note: (1) * studies reported sample as “secondary” were catalogued as K7–K12 level, corresponding to secondary school. Black refers to Blacks or African Americans; * one study failed to report the specific ethnicity, and another used Pacific Islanders as a sample.
Table 6. Design and measurement issues among studies.
Table 6. Design and measurement issues among studies.
Measured PI via
Student and parent13.0%
Measured SE via
Student and teacher13.0%
Types of PI
Types of SE
Affective and behav.1133.4%
Three aspects824.2%
Note: PI refers to parental involvement; SE relates to student engagement.
Table 7. Patterns of identified studies.
Table 7. Patterns of identified studies.
Patterns of StudyFrequencyPercent
1. Direct (PI-SE)1751.5%
2. Indirect (PI-motivation-SE)39.0%
3. Mediating (PI-SE-outcome)515.3%
4. Both direct and indirect relations39.0%
5. Both direct and mediating roles515.2%
Note: PI refers to parental involvement; SE relates to student engagement. Indirect pattern refers to studies that exampled the PI on SE via a third factor (i.e., motivation). Mediating pattern means that in addition to PI–SE, studies also applied a third variable, making SE a mediating variable.
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Yang, D.; Chen, P.; Wang, K.; Li, Z.; Zhang, C.; Huang, R. Parental Involvement and Student Engagement: A Review of the Literature. Sustainability 2023, 15, 5859.

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Yang D, Chen P, Wang K, Li Z, Zhang C, Huang R. Parental Involvement and Student Engagement: A Review of the Literature. Sustainability. 2023; 15(7):5859.

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Yang, Dong, Peng Chen, Kai Wang, Zhuoran Li, Chen Zhang, and Ronghuai Huang. 2023. "Parental Involvement and Student Engagement: A Review of the Literature" Sustainability 15, no. 7: 5859.

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