Involving parents in school-based learning can be difficult for both schools and parents, and more innovative approaches to involving parents are needed. Internet-based programs have the potential to address barriers to parent participation, but more research is needed to determine the effectiveness and social validity of such programs. This study explored the social validity of WhyTry for Parents, an internet-based program for parents of students enrolled in WhyTry, a school-based social and emotional learning program for students in grades K through 12. Eleven elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States participated in the study by inviting parents of WhyTry students to use the WhyTry for Parents curriculum. Whether or not parents utilized the curriculum, they were invited to take a survey about the importance they placed on the program's goals, procedures, and effects, and to give reasons for their level of participation in the program. A total of 836 parents were invited to take part in the study, and 14 parents made up the final sample. Coordinators (n = 10) of the WhyTry program at each school were invited to participate in interviews focused on their perspectives of parent participation rates and the WhyTry for Parents program. Regardless of whether parents utilized the curriculum, they found a high degree of social validity in WhyTry for Parents; however, they suggested that the curriculum be simplified and made more accessible. WhyTry coordinators suggested that low participation rates were due to parent resistance, and that helping parents to understand WhyTry might help overcome this resistance. Parents and coordinators suggested that the curriculum be available by app to improve accessibility. Future research should explore the social validity of WhyTry for Parents from the perspective of educators, who implement the program at the school level. Studying the costs associated with internet-based parent programs for both schools and parents may also be prudent.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





social and emotional learning; social validity; parent participation; family involvement; internet-based parent training