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William Jeynes, Professor

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, USA, April 17, 2024 / -- The results of a meta-study presented at the American Education Research Association’s Annual meeting in two speeches by professor William Jeynes are causing researchers to take a second look at how schools promote academic achievement and parental involvement. His meta-analyses combining the results of 107 studies including over 400,000 students indicated that relationships in student’s lives that were filled with love and kindness had a considerable impact on student lives. These relationships included the quality of their parent-parent bonds, also positive connections between parent and child, and their family and the teacher. As much as schools emphasize technological communication via texting, Facebook and other apps, email, etc., in contrast the two meta-analyses indicated that communication of this kind played a major role in increasing pupil scholastic outcomes and parental involvement. Technologically based communication had only a very small impact on students and parents compared to more traditional personal iinteractions. William Jeynes, a Harvard graduate and Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, noted, “The results are particularly intriguing, because schools are relying on technologically based communication to do so much and, to be sure it is more convenient. Moreover, these results indicate that it can serve as to supplement more personal forms of communication. However, what these results suggest is that families and schools should not regard technologically based communication as a timesaving short cut that enables one to bypass other.”

Dr. Jeynes stated, “I was surprised by the magnitude of the results. I have done meta-analyses for many years and when an academic undertakes them, one has to allow the numbers to guide him. When I first started doing these meta-analyses about 25+ years ago, many aspects of family dynamics were thought of in a simplistic way. Often, academics and practitioners approached family dynamics in much of a “how to” way. However, through various meta-analyses I have done and my experiences in counseling, it is apparent that this other approach contributes to a sense among families that these are naïve ivory tower strategies. If we want children and adolescents to behave better and do better in the classrooms, the answers are not simply holding to certain household rules or parents volunteering in school. Rather it really helps if they come from families whose marriages are stable, enjoy positive and frequent communication between parents and their children, and whose family enjoys solid relationship with the teachers.”

Dr. Jeynes continued by asserting, “Technology can be wonderful, but these meta-analyses
call for wisdom and caution, regarding technology’s place in family and school life. Families, educators, and society at large should view technologically based communication as a way to support in-person interaction, not replace it. Too often people view texting, emailing, posting via social media and other apps as a means of saving time and increased convenience. However, cutting corners in this way can also reduce the efficacy and quality of communication. Moreover, the meta-analyses results suggest that often perhaps the message sender is thinking primarily in terms of how he or she would benefit much more than what the recipients of the message need. As a result, the sent communication is long on convenience, shortcuts, and brevity, but short on warmth, guidance, and helpful communication. Consequently, the originating correspondent often comes across as curt, cold, and discourteous. The results certainly don’t indicate that we should leave technology out of the process pf improving relationships, communication, and children’s behavioral and academic outcomes. However, what is does indicate is that there is a place at which we can rely on technology so much that it does more harm than good. It is concerning that in so many facets of our society, we are probably already at that place. A balance that emphasizes loving and healthy relationships is a much better strategy.

William Jeynes
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