Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


School Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Jeannie Montagano

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Elvin Gabriel


The Problem

Underachievement remains a long-standing issue for the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago. This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which deleteriously impacted the education system. School closures became mandatory, and online learning was implemented throughout the education system. The results of the 2022 sitting of the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams emphasized the issue of underachievement, with a significant decline in performance. Only 37.06% of students scored above the 50% mark. Familial factors such as parenting styles and parental involvement have been noted in the literature to positively impact students’ academic achievement (Borup et al., 2019; Checa et al., 2019; Fernández-Alonso et al., 2017; Harper, 2019; Ishak et al., 2012.; Murray, 2012; Sahithya et al., 2019; Scharton, 2019; Seth & Ghormode, 2013). However, no known studies explored to what extent these parenting variables have impacted the performance at SEA. The pandemic also resulted in widespread job losses, salary cuts, and the closure of industries, making socioeconomic status more relevant to educational outcomes. Goudeau et al. (2021) noted that digitizing the education learning process necessitated the use of technology, exacerbating social-class academic disparities. The impact of maternal involvement and parental styles, as well as the socioeconomic impact of SES on the SEA exams during the pandemic, is yet to be examined.

The Method

This study employed a quantitative, non-experimental correlational approach to investigate the relationships between parenting styles, maternal involvement, socioeconomic status, and the outcome variable, academic achievement. It used a cross-sectional survey of Likert scales on structured web-based questionnaires managed on the SurveyMonkey user platform. Respondents consisted of 393 mothers of students who sat for the 2022 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam. The data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences Statistics 29 (SPSS, IBM) and Analysis of Moment Structures 29 (AMOS) software. Statistical techniques employed included descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling. Confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses were used on all instruments to identify their underlying factor structure within the context of this sample.

The Results

Authoritative parenting was the predominant style practiced by mothers, followed by authoritarian and neglectful parenting. There was a weak relationship between the permissive scale and its latent factor, with only 2% of the variability attributed to the parenting factor. Despite the perceptions of mothers being highly demanding of their children in this culture, a very high level of maternal warmth was reported, as measured by the Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ). There was a high level of maternal involvement across all six dimensions. However, the results showed that maternal involvement did not significantly affect students’ academic achievement on the exam nor mediate the relationships between parenting styles and achievement or socioeconomic status and achievement. Parenting styles had no significant relationship with academic achievement, and neither did it mediate the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement. Socioeconomic status on the other hand, directly influenced academic achievement but failed to influence maternal involvement. Overall, the final model produced an acceptable model fit with the data, accounting for 32% of the variance in academic achievement.


This study demonstrated that in the context of COVID-19, traditional forms of parenting involvement were insufficient to impact academic achievement at the SEA exam. It did not mediate the relationships between parenting styles and achievement and socioeconomic status and achievement. Socioeconomic status was a robust predictor of academic achievement but did not statistically influence maternal involvement. On the other hand, parenting styles had direct influence on maternal involvement but had no statistically significant effect on achievement.

Subject Area

Academic achievement--Trinidad and Tobago; Education--Parent participation; COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020--Influence; Education--Trinidad and Tobago--Economic aspects

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