Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Stephanie Helms

Abstract

Parents and teachers have differing perspectives of parental involvement which presents a barrier to the development of effective parental involvement. This mixed-method, sequential, exploratory study of parents and teachers in rural school districts sought to identify, compare, and analyze these divergent parental involvement perspectives. A sample of 122 parents and 21 certified teachers from 3 rural elementary schools were first surveyed using parallel questions from Epstein's School and family partnerships parent (or teacher) questionnaire (SFP). Independent-sample t-tests of SFP scales confirmed parental involvement perspectives of parents and teachers differed significantly. Survey data was analyzed descriptively and identified 5 specific topics of differences: parents' ability to help with reading and math, their need for teacher ideas, checking homework, volunteering, teacher and parent communication, and sharing learning expectations. Next, 5 focus groups of parents, teachers, and parents and teachers together probed these topics. Digital recordings of focus group data were transcribed, segmented, and coded for repeated words and phrases. Themes were then inductively developed. Results specified parents want clear, timely communication, while teachers want parents' support and to assist with children's homework. Results further indicated improved communication would assist in building stronger parent teacher relationships. Focus groups provided a venue for communication and building relationships inspiring transformation. The implications of social change are that parental involvement programs that address the perspectives of both parents and teachers improve understanding and promote a sense of social justice where both parents and teachers share positions of power in the education of children.