Family Literacy across Three Generations of Undergraduate Students in Africa and the United States: Relation of Family Literacy Experiences on the Grade Point Averages of Undergraduate Students at the University of Botswana, University of Pretoria in South Africa, and Vanderbilt University in the United States
The aim of this study was to describe literacy across three generations of undergraduate students (the students, their parents, and their grandparents) in Southern African (at the University of Pretoria and at the University of Botswana) and in the United States (Vanderbilt University). And, in addition to the main aim, there was an investigation of possible causal relationships that connect the literacy experiences that the undergraduates reported having experienced in the home before the age of five years. The results show strikingly different patterns of family literacy across the three generations: none of the University of Botswana students’ grandparents could read, fewer than half could read at the University of Pretoria, and all could read at Vanderbilt; fewer than half of the University of Botswana parents could read, more than 70% of the University of Pretoria parents could read; all of the Vanderbilt parents could read, and all of the undergraduate students could read. Series of analyses of variance and t-tests were conducted to investigate influences over the college students’ grade point averages, probing the effects of family literacy, reading opportunities in the home, and experiences with story and picture books as young children. Again, the significant findings varied across students from the three universities. For University of Botswana students, there was only one statistically significant relationship, namely, their access to picture books when they were young children. For University of Pretoria students, there were many statistically significant relationships that connected mother and grandfather literacy as well as numbers of adult books and children’s books to university GPA. And as for Vanderbilt students, there was little variability in the data, since all students reported to have literate parents and grandparents, many adult books in the home, and many children’s books in the home.