April 12, 2021

Researchers seek input from Inland Empire parents, caregivers of school-age children

Study by UC Riverside researchers will examine impacts of remote learning on families with children in grades K-12

Author: Tess Eyrich
April 12, 2021

Do you live in Riverside or San Bernardino counties and have a child in grades K-12? Has your child spent much of the past year learning remotely? If so, researchers at the University of California, Riverside, want to hear from you. 

Parents and primary caregivers of children in grades K-12 are invited to share their experiences of remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a study geared toward understanding how families have navigated educating their children at home, as well as the effects of the experience on mental health and overall well-being.

The Parent Experiences of Remote Learning Study, or PERL, is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health that was awarded to a team of researchers in September by UCR’s Center for Health Disparities Research, which is housed within the university’s School of Medicine. 

Leading the project are Jan Blacher, distinguished research professor in UCR’s Graduate School of Education and director of the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center; Yasamin Bolourian, postdoctoral researcher in the Graduate School of Education and SEARCH Center; and Dr. Richard J. Lee, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine. 

Blacher said the study is unique among others that have explored the impacts of remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic for three key reasons. 

First, it focuses on families living in the vast Inland Empire region, which comprises neighboring Riverside and San Bernardino counties and largely has gone understudied throughout the pandemic. 

Second, it is built on a theoretical model, allowing the researchers to assess both the stressors families have contended with amid the pandemic and the ways they have demonstrated resilience, optimism, and other strengths while grappling with those stressors. 

Finally, the study is longitudinal in nature, taking place over a six-month period and featuring intermittent contact with participants. 

“Our main goal, in partnership with the School of Medicine, is to come out with a set of guidelines to dictate what families want in times of crisis and at various stages of the pandemic,” Bolourian said. 

Another of the researchers’ objectives, she added, is to hear from the families themselves about what worked and what did not, which ultimately could inform the development of programs, resources, and supports to better meet families’ needs and improve their well-being.

Participation in the study involves completing six brief surveys, with one survey to be completed each month. Two of the six surveys — the first and final in the series — are estimated to take about 15-20 minutes to complete online, while the remaining four should only take about five minutes. 

All told, participants should expect to spend only about a combined hour engaging with all six surveys, the researchers said. 

Blacher noted that although it will be piloted out of the SEARCH Center, which provides resources for families of children with autism, the study is not focused specifically on autism. 

“It’s focused on everyone,” she explained. “Our aim is to recruit a diverse sample of participants from the broader community, whether or not those families have children who receive special education services.” 

Bolourian added: “We would love for any parents or caregivers who are part of the UCR community to also participate in this study.”

Parents and primary caregivers who are interested in providing input and sharing their experiences can sign up and access the first survey here; participation in the study will require agreeing to an informed consent document that precedes the survey. Families who complete four of the six of the surveys will receive a $50 Amazon e-gift card while supplies last. 

Header image by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

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