Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Stephen W. Tonelson

Committee Member

Jack Robinson

Committee Member

Dwight Allen

Committee Member

Robert Lucking

Committee Member

Donald Myers


The purpose of this study was to determine what characteristics of families are most likely to enhance the development of social capital in young urban school children and to determine which of these characteristics or combination of characteristics contribute to a child's ability to adapt positively to a formal school environment. This purpose was accomplished through the design and implementation of an ex post facto study utilizing qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The sample for this study included 33 second grade students from four target schools in the Norfolk Public School System who were identified as disadvantaged and as either having adapted well or not having adapted well to the school milieu. The students then were assessed on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales: Classroom Edition which enabled the empirical placement of the students into two distinct groups, those who had adapted well and those who had not. Six students and their families then were selected from each of these groups with scores on the Vineland Scales between one and two standard deviations from the mean.

In-depth interviews were conducted with these children individually and with the family to determine the characteristics of the family and home environment that have contributed to the child's level of adaptation. The HOME Inventory for Families of Elementary Aged Children (HOME) and the Family Functioning Style Scale (FFSS) were utilized during the family interview process to insure consistency in data collection. The Kinetic Drawing System for Family and School was utilized to initiate and to structure the child's interview. The process of inductive analysis indicated that there were differences in the family characteristics and home environments between those children who have and those who have not adapted well to school.

T-tests for independent samples were completed to determine if there was a significant difference between the well adapted and poorly adapted children on the HOME and FFSS variables. This analysis resulted in a significant difference at the.05 level on the HOME. This finding suggests that there are identifiable differences in the family characteristics and home environments of well adapted and poorly adapted urban school children. There was no significant difference found between the two groups on the FFSS variables. This finding suggests that the well adapted and poorly adapted children and their families are similar in regard to family strengths characteristics.