Article review: Racial/ethnic socialization

Article review: Racial/ethnic socialization

Racial/ethnic socialization and parental involvement in education as predictors of cognitive ability and achievement in African American children.


Study design

The study’s primary aim was to test the relationship that exists between the involvement of parents in education and the effects it has on a child’s cognitive outcome. A sample of African American youth was chosen and a test carried out to determine if indeed racial/ethnic socialization and parental involvement in education have some effects on their cognitive ability and achievement.

The research mainly uses cross-sectional examination when determining the correlations that exist between ethnic/racial socialization and other outcomes. This is evident as the variables used for racial/ethnic socialization were only restricted to a single phase of data collection. Therefore, the type of study used for the research is correlational in nature.


The research employs the use of a wide range of variables. Some of the variables used in the study are cultural exposure, cultural socialization, passage comprehension, and parental involvement in education.  The dependent variables that are used in the study include letter-word identification, passage comprehension, and picture vocabulary score. On the other hand, the independent variables are cultural exposure, cultural socialization and parental involvement in education.

Operational definitions of variables

Operational definition of independent variables

The measure of parental involvement was done in relation to parent-teacher relationships that had a direct relationship with school involvement and teachers’ viewpoint of children’s academic competence.


The hypothesis of the study is to identify whether racial/ethnic socialization and parental involvement in education would separately and jointly predict the cognitive ability and achievement in reading and language skill over time for a sample of African American youth.


The results of the study indicate that different dimensions of racial/ethnic socialization have different effects on the outcomes. It also indicates that cultural socialization has some relation to the academic outcome but has no relation to cognitive ability and achievement on a standardized measurement.

High levels of cultural socialization and cultural exposure were recorded amongst most of the parents with some of them not being involved extensively in their child’s 5th-grade education. The implication of this exposure is to develop intra-group pride and knowledge. Greater cognitive performance was correlated with a higher income to needs ratio, increased levels of parental involvement in the 5th grade was positively correlated to verbal ability and achievement scales, and increasing cultural socialization was an important element of cultural exposure.

Another important finding was the relation between passage comprehension, cultural exposure, and parental involvement. The results indicated that there was a positive relationship between cultural exposure and parental involvement. The relations between parental involvement and cultural exposure also determined the levels of passage comprehension. However, low levels of parental involvement eliminated possible relationships between cultural socialization and passage comprehension. Better performance passage comprehension was therefore recorded in children whose parents were more involved in education and who were more exposed to other cultures.

The implication of the results from the research is that parental involvement in education and cultural socialization did not predict cognitive ability or achievement in the sample that was used. The research therefore partially supports the hypotheses under study.


The results of the study are essential in adding more insights to the already existing literature regarding racial/ethnic socialization on the levels of academic achievement in African American children. Even though the existing research has been critical in the analysis of racial/ethnic socialization relating to a variety of outcomes, only a few of the research has been able to establish exclusively the relationship that exists between ethnic socialization and achievement ability over time. The current study proves that indeed there exists some positive relationship between parental involvement and racial, ethnic practices in enhancing reading passage comprehension.

The findings of the research also indicate that combining several parenting practices is essential in effecting the outcomes of a child. Therefore, it would be important if research conducted in the future put into use the different components and contributions of parental involvement in education and racial/ethnic socialization messages and practices. This means that this area of research is still open to more extensive study which is critical in understanding the role and value of culture and cognitive outcomes.


In future research, examination racial/ethnic socialization may be exhaustive if researchers include a focus group. The focus group acts as a qualitative component of the study if it is combined with the standard ethnic/racial socialization measures. The main aim of this is to give a better understanding of parent’s usage of the message which will, in turn, allow for a deeper understanding of the concept of racial socialization that cannot be gleaned from self-report surveys.

The analysis and research on racial socialization mainly use a cross-sectional examination of the correlation between racial socialization and other outcomes. It would be appropriate if research conducted in the future employs the use of longitudinal designs to give a better understanding of racial socialization and its relationship with other outcomes over time. Analyzing the hypotheses in the research across different time points to determine the changes in the levels of ethnic socialization, parental involvement, and the level of achievement would have been interesting for the research.

Future research conducted in this area should include more consideration to both the fathers and mothers and their ethnic socialization practices. To make sure the research is inclusive, both the sexes should be fairly represented thus ensuring that better comparisons are made when exploring the differences in specific messages of race/ethnic socialization.



Banerjee, M., Harrell, Z. A., & Johnson, D. J. (2011). Racial/ethnic socialization and parental involvement in education as predictors of cognitive ability and achievement in African American children. Journal of youth and adolescence, 40(5), 595-605.

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