Parents' and Teachers' Perceptions of Effective Parent Involvement
The purpose of this study was two-fold: to learn if parents and teachers have different perceptions of the ways parents can effectively be involved in their children's education and to learn what parents and teachers would suggest to improve parent involvement in the school. These perceptions were measured using an original survey of two questions. The first question asked those surveyed to define parental involvement; the second question asked what the school could do to improve parental involvement. The participants included 117 parents and 16 teachers from an elementary school located in Des Moines Iowa. Each response was recorded verbatim on individual note cards. The individual responses of both parents and teachers were then content-analyzed for each survey question. The note cards were sorted by the researcher looking for trends that would lead to common categories. A preliminary label was then assigned to each group of statement cards. The researcher reevaluated each set of cards looking at the individual statements to determine if they fit within a category. After reevaluating the statement cards several times, they were further subdivided according to common themes until each statement had been properly assigned within a category. A frequency count was completed for each category. The total number of surveys completed was then divided by the number of statements in each category to provide percentages for categories and sub-categories. A team of experts was asked to validate the researcher's categorization of the responses by teachers and parents. The team included a female elementary principal, a male elementary principal, and a university professor who brought an analytical perspective to the team. Six research questions were addressed regarding parental involvement. The first three evaluated what parents and teachers each believe to be effective parent involvement and then how their perceptions are similar and different. The last three evaluated what parents and teachers each believe the school can do to improve parental involvement and how their perceptions are similar and different. The study indicates that both parents and teachers define effective involvement using many of the same qualities but differ when determining how frequent parents should be involved. Parents and teachers both viewed communication as the most important factor in improving effective parent involvement. This exploratory study provides the insight that the perceptions of both parents and teachers are not easily predictable nor can they be summarized in two or three statements. Both parents and teachers shared strong views about what they believe to be effective. Among the recommendations is that the school has a base of information in understanding the differences of both parents and teachers to taylor the parental involvement program to be more meaningful to both parties. The survey also provides topic for staff inservices to help staff better understand parent involvement from both parent and teacher perspectives.