Sociology professor to speak at White House symposium

Eunice Ali

Sociology professor Keith Robinson will be speaking at a symposium held at the White House on Wednesday.

Robinson and Duke University professor Angel Harris will discuss their new book on children’s education at the Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement, held by the U.S. Department of Education and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation at the White House, which starts on Tuesday night and ends on Wednesday.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for professors,” Robinson said. “It’s not something we ever really anticipate happening in our careers.”

Robinson and Harris’ book, “The Broken Compass,” addresses the impacts of parental involvement on children’s academic success.

In his research, Robinson examined the academic performances of children in K-12 across varying ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds over a period of time. He looked at how the children were doing in school and recorded their parents’ behavior. He later measured any changes in the children’s academic performances.

According to Robinson, parents expecting their children to go to college had an effective impact on their children’s academic performance, regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds. But Robinson said he also found parents help their children with homework was ineffective.

“I started becoming aware of the counterintuitive finding,” Robinson said. “There’s something about the way parents help with homework that’s not effective.”

Regarding his “counterintuitive finding,” Robinson said he was only able to record what parents were doing, but he was not able to test how they were doing it.

“Telling parents to be more involved won’t work,” Robinson said. “It needs to be directed on how we’re telling the parents and customized based on ethnicity, socioeconomic backgrounds and grade levels.”