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Changing Parental Participation in a Primary School

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MASTER OF TEACHING Changing Parental Participation in a Primary School. Challenges and Possibilities. A Case Study of a Primary School in Fiji.

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RESEARCH PROPOSAL . 2010 AN ACTION RESEARCH PROPOSAL In Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Masters in Teaching University of Fiji LECTURER: ASS. PROF. MR. KENNETH NOBIN HEAD OF DEPARTMENT EDUCATION THE UNIVERSITY OF FIJI SAWENI, LAUTOKA. ‘You never come in an isolated way; you always come with pieces of the world attached to you’. (Malaguzzi, 1994) NAVEEN KUMAR (ID: S100150)

EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 AB S T R AC T Participatory action research will be conducted to determine whether or not teacherinitiated, regular communication with parents makes an impact on parents’ participation in school activities, helping children show effectiveness towards teaching and learning outcomes. The goal of me as a teacher researcher is to communicate in native language about school activities and diminish the ‘barrier’ that limits the teacher parent interaction.

The feeling of much poor participation towards Gandhi Bhawan Primary School has been the poor communication. The purpose is to better the line of communication between home and school. This study will focus on Class 8 students and their parents employing instrumental qualitative research tools that are home visits (interviews), class meetings (focus group) and case study. The challenge is to provide an atmosphere that is user friendly and if parents were struggling with how to best support in school activities they could feel free to contact me.

It is my belief that positive and consistent communication between home and school is important for student transitioning into adulthood. However, the challenges and possibilities faced in the core of the research will be discussed further after its implementation. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 2 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 T AB L E O F CO N TE N TS 1. 0 Abstract Background of the Problem 1. 1 Personal Motivation 1. 2 Need for Study 1. Description of Community 1. 4 Description of Work Setting 1. 5 Researcher’s Role Purpose of Study 2. 1 Purpose 2. 2 Aim 2. 3 Research Question Theoretical Framework 3. 1 Defining Parental Involvement 3. 2 Why Parental Involvement 3. 3 Frequency of Parent-Teacher Interaction 3. 4 Type of Parent Involvement 3. 4. 1 Parent in Involvement Process 3. 4. 1. 1 Parent as Audience 3. 4. 1. 2 Parent as Volunteer 3. 4. 1. 3 Parent as Paraprofessional 3. 4. 1. 4 Parent as a teacher of own child 3. 4. 1. 5 Teacher as Decision Maker 3. Significance of Parental Participation 3. 6 Barriers to Parental Involvement 3. 6. 1 Socio economic background 3. 6. 2 Language 3. 6. 3 Parent Literacy 3. 6. 4 Literacy 3. 6. 5 Family Structure 3. 6. 6 Working Parents 3. 6. 7 Teacher Attitude 3. 6. 8 Parents The Possibilities 3. 7 Research Design 4. 1 Rationale 4. 2 Study Design 4. 3 Data Collection 4. 4 Data Analysis 4. 5 Delimitation 4. 6 Participants Research Timeframe Proposed Thesis Structure Significance / Expected Outcome of Study Reference Appendices Page No. 4 4 4 5 6 7 8 8 8 9 10 10 11 13 14 17 17 17 18 18 18 20 23 23 24 25 25 26 26 27 27 29 30 30 31 32 33 34 34 35 36 38 39 41 2. 0 3. 0 4. 0 5. 0 6. 0 7. 0 8. 0 9. 0 _____________________________________________________________________________________ 3 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 1. 0 B AC K G R O UND O F P RO B LE M 1 . 1 Personal Motivation The social and educational context of this research proposal is directed towards increasing parent-teacher-child interactions and changing parental participation towards educational requirements of the child.

Very few of the parents of the students in my class participated in the school-related activities which I experienced at the first year of transfer to this school. The parental participation was very limited to report signing. As a new ‘recruit’ to this organisation, I anticipated for parental participation as compared to the previous school. The parental ‘touch’ which I felt at previous school was somehow missing in the current location. As such, the need for this study will ‘open the door’ to the community interaction. The action process will journey through the challenges and possibilities.

While no single meeting is especially memorable, I have noted several recurring problems: (1) parents do not attend scheduled meetings; (2) parents appear to be unaware of the purpose of Community & Parent Support (CAPS) working; (3) parents only ask questions; (4) parents ask others to make decisions on their behalf; (5) parents rarely refute statements made by educators; and (6) parents seldom ask for services. 1 . 2 Need for Study Rather to give perception on parental participation, the study is much needed in providing naturalistic approach to understand ‘real world setting’ where the phenomenon of interest unfolds naturally.

Though the research does not compare between two different settings preferably rural and urban community however through personal experience as a teacher in both settings primarily differences can be identified. In addition, communication is a key to any relationship and so is the case with parents and teachers. The parent and the _____________________________________________________________________________________ 4 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 teacher relationship are dynamic.

Therefore, what one does affects the other, but in any educational community the most impacted is the child. As Class 8 is a transition point from primary school to high school, parental participation is a must to enable them better understand the reforms in education from 2011. Most parents are quite unfamiliar on its implementation of internal assessment and school zoning and requirements and through this research intervention; parents can be made more aware of their roles and responsibilities. However, internal assessment and school zoning can be taken account into another research finding.

Parents need to be facilitated and challenged to ‘shift’ their thinking from ‘exams results’ to child-centred learning. Moreover, the absence of Parent Teacher Association was largely felt this year as ‘bulk’ of burden lies on our shoulders rather than having a shared responsibility. In a much more holistic term, parents are to be made aware to taking ‘ownership’ of the school in their community. 1. 3 Description of the Community The setting where the study will take place is urban community about 4 kilometres from Lautoka City and it largely consists of Indo-Fijian and Fijian ethnic groups.

It is densely populated housing area adjacent to the Tavakubu Industrial Area. The residents range from low-income earners to moderate income earners. Public services (transport, health care) are easily accessible along with shops, religious centres, Public Park, and police post. In each household, at least a member is self employed, part time employee or full time employee. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 5 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 1. 4 Description of the Work Setting

The Vision Statement of the school is; To provide wholesome holistic education in partnership with the community. The Mission Statement of the school is; To educate the students holistically to become directed, lifelong learners who can create a positive future for themselves, . the community and the nation. School Annual Plan (2010) The primary school where this research will be conducted is classified as follows: CLASS KINDERGARTEN 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 NUMBER OF STREAMS 1 2 2 1 2 2 1 2 2 The school in which research will be conducted is Gandhi Bhawan Primary

School in Lautoka with 384 students enrolled as of 2010. Due to increasing number, plans for building extension are in the pipeline. See Appendix for School Location as in Home Zone Classification & School Ethnic Classification. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 6 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 1. 5 Researcher’s Role I, as the teacher researcher graduated from Lautoka Teachers College in November, 2001. This is my ninth year as a teacher. Currently, teaching Class 8 and got posted to the school in Week 8, Term I 2010.

First year, I taught in a remotely located rural school (Bulabula Indian School), seven years in another rural school (Teidamu Primary School) and a year in urban school (Arya Samaj Primary School). During this year, I have held responsibilities, as Athletics Coordinator, Quiz Coordinator, Scouts Leader and Coordinating School Based Programmes as delegated by the Head Teacher. Because of these activities, I was able to interact with few parents and the in many cases poor responds has ignited the quest to pursue with this study. ____________________________________________________________________________________ 7 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 2. 0 P UR POSE AN D AI M O F S T U D Y 2 . 1 Purpose The intended purpose of this study is examine how parental participation changes to school-related activities (such as reviving of Parent Teacher Association, attending to family support programs, volunteering and involving in general obligations at home including school supplies, general support and supervision at home) through home visits, class meetings and family support programs.

The strategies defining ways to change parental participation in this study to some extent runs parallel to the developed framework of defining six different types of parental involvement by Epstein (1995, p. 703). It also intends to help parents understand that the school desires their participation. Finally, by having parents involved in school-related activities, it is hoped that there will be lot of challenges. 2 . 2 Aim The present study aims; ? ? To see how parental participation to school activities change through processes of increased parent-teacher interactions.

To identify the challenges and possibilities towards achieving increased parental participation. To achieve this twofold aim, the study will consider the extent to which parental involvement is maximized in relation to school related activities. The study will involve qualitative case study of naturally occurring events during parentteacher and parent-teacher-child interactions at a primary school environment in Fiji. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 8 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 2 . 3 Research Question The compelling issue guiding this case study mirrors in some respects to Greenwood & Hickman’s (1991, p. 279) idea of six types of parental involvement: (1) Parent as a volunteer What do parents contribute towards the success of school events? (2) Parent as an audience How well do parents meet the basic obligations at home? (3) Parent as decision maker How does PTA participate in decision making about schools program and activities? (4) Parent as a learner How do the parents value the family support programs? ____________________________________________________________________________________ 9 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 3. 0 T HE RE OTI C AL F R AME WO R K 3. 1 Defining Parental Involvement “Parent involvement” and “parent participation” are nebulous terms because there is an array of parent behaviors that these could include. As Carol Ascher (1986, p. 109) has stated, “Of all education issues, parent involvement is one of the vaguest and most shifting in its meanings. Parent involvement may easily mean quite different things to different people”.

To define parent involvement more operationally, Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler, and Brissie (1987) theorized a two-way breakdown into home-based activities (e. g. , parent home tutoring) and school based parent involvement activities (e. g. , parent volunteering, attendance at parent-teacher conferences). Adding to this distinction, Ascher (1988) finds that “the meaning of parent involvement in this new era [the 1980’s] has shifted from the affairs of the school to the home site. ” (p. 120). In his journal, Smith (n. d, p. 44) discusses parental involvement relating to Lareau (1987) as an integration of home and school.

He continues to define it as a practice that encourages parents to participate in the life of the school, as well as attend to the learning of their children at home with respect to the work of Epstein, Sanders, Simon, Salinas, Jansorn, & Van Voorhis, 2002. He elaborated that many educators believe that creating a community of families, students, teachers, and school administrators provides additional support for children’s learning. Furthermore, evidence suggests that academic success may be predicted by the quality of these connections (Booth & Dunn, 1996. The work of Comer and Haynes (1991), Epstein (1995), and other researchers’ points out that family, school, and community are three major interrelated spheres of influence on a child’s life. They are parts of a larger whole that can either work toward academic success or, conversely, can impede progress. Because they are part of a larger whole, these spheres are themselves influenced by societal factors, such as cultural values and economic conditions. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 10 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 The following figure shows how the three components interrelate. It is based on the concepts of Urie Bronfenbrenner (1979) and their subsequent adaptation by James Garbarino (1992). As discussed by Onikarna, Harnmond & Koki. the inner most core is the individual child. The child has face-to-face interactions with those most influential in his or her life, including parents, other family members, teachers and church members. There are also important interactions between home and school, school and community, and community and home.

These are strongly influential in the life of a child, depending on the frequency and quality of the interconnections. Negative or conflicting relationships may place a child at risk in all three settings. 3. 2 Why Parental Involvement In an article titled, “Listening to Parents’ Voices: Participatory Action Research in the school” by Christine Ditrano, the author stated, “Family-school collaboration is an approach that virtually everyone supports but few know to implement successfully. ” School and parents will need to assess the best avenues to take in maintaining a positive, consistent interaction between the two entities.

Gandhi Bhawan Primary School took some steps to improve parent interaction in Term 2 when Community & Parent Support Workshop (CAPS) was held. Teachers were located their classrooms to discuss with parents on the pertaining issues. As suggested by Ditrano (n. d, p. 7) an open parent-teacher conference night can be held where parents can move freely from one teacher-to-teacher. As responded by parents in this situation that this was first time they had seen their child’s teacher in four years (Ditrano n. d, p. 8), a totally opposite _____________________________________________________________________________________ 1 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 had been responded by teachers at Gandhi Bhawan Primary School, some parents hardly turn up to school activities. Besides, the ideas presented in the article supports it is vital for schools and parents to develop a community of learners to best serve their students. Ideas for teachers to support parental involvement include keeping parents informed and call home immediately when academic problems appears; send home a newsletter telling parents of class activities and deadlines; and give parents valuable study ips (McDonald, 2007. ) Though McDonalds above perspective is quite influential in parental participation, however, the study will look into home visits as to get face-to-face contact with the parent so that first hand information is sought. In their article, Avvisati, Besbas & Guyon (2010, p. 3) states, “we review about levels, determinants and effects of parental involvement in school, and what we could learn from the current wave of reforms. ” They tend to elaborate further on parental involvement being instrumental to student achievement.

It is quite remarkable how they discussed on the influences that make parents get involved. These influences include parents’ understanding of their roles in the child’s life, parents’ sense of efficacy for helping their child succeed in school and general invitations, demands and opportunities for parental involvement by both the child and the child’s school. These arguments were also milestone to developing the current research questions. “Parental involvement practices also vary with the child characteristics” Avvisati et al. (2010, p. 3) explains on study by Muller (1998) in his data from the US National Educational Longitudinal Study showed that parents are involved slightly differently in their sons’ and daughter’s school life, in ways which are consistent with the general literature on gendered education. That is, parents are more nurturing and restrictive towards their daughters but may discipline their sons more. During home visits, class meeting, this trend be argued further as agreeable or disagreeable from personal observation, reflection and interactions.

However, to Ostby (2010) at the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Second Report 1990-2009 for Fiji Islands revealed that Fiji has succeeded in achieving gender equality in primary and secondary school _____________________________________________________________________________________ 12 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 enrolments but is lagging behind in empowering women in decision making and professional jobs. Besides these impact of gender of parental participation can be taken as separate piece of study with detailed findings.

One of studies that have assessed the relationship between parental involvement and school performance longitudinally was by (Izzo, Weissberg, Kasprow and Fendrich 1999, p. 387). This research is greatest contribution to current study as it provided additional evidence that parental involvement is worth pursuing and may actually yield measurable improvements in children’s school functioning. They later recommended on experimental and quasi-experimental studies in order to move from basic research about school-family collaboration to assessing their impact directly on children’s school performance. . 3 Frequency of Parent-Teacher Interactions A significant study that examined the ways in which parental involvement in children’s education changes over time and how it relates to children’s social and academic functioning in school was carried out by Charles V. Izzo, Roger P. Weissberg, Wesley J. Kasprow and Michael Fendrich in Chicago. For the purpose of this study teachers provided information on parental involvement and school performance for 1,205 urban, kindergarten through third grade children for 3 consecutive years.

As predicted and results suggested the frequency of parent-teacher contacts, quality of parent-teacher interactions, and parent participation at school declined from Years 1 to 3. While discussing their research, Izzo et al (1999, p. 833) explained that the study explored three important issues regarding school-family partnerships: current practices of parental involvement in children’s education, changes in parental involvement over time, and the relationship between parental involvement and children’s later school performance. They also found partial support for their hypothesis that parental involvement declines over time.

There were small, but significant declines in the number of parent-teacher contacts and parents’ participation in school activities. Declines were also found for quality of parent-teacher interactions. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 13 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 As related to current study parental participation needs to be increased in relation to school activities. The frequency of parent-teacher interaction at the school concerned will also be outcome to reflect upon.

Though the research will look into a particular class involving 26 parents, the frequency at which this interaction changes will be a matter of concern. 3. 4 Type of Parental Involvement Some researchers’ views on types of Parental Involvement include; ? Although most parents do not know how to help their children with their education, with guidance and support, they may become increasingly involved in home learning activities and find themselves with opportunities to teach, to be models for and to guide their children. (Roberts, 1992) ?

When schools encourage children to practice reading at home with parents, the children make significant gains in reading achievement compared to those who only practice at school. (Tizard, Schofield & Hewison, 1982) ? Parents, who read to their children, have books available, take trips, guide TV watching, and provide stimulating experiences contribute to student achievement. (Sattes, n. d) According to Henderson (1983), families whose children are doing well in school exhibits the following characteristics. ? Establish a daily family routine.

Provide time and a quiet place to study, assigning responsibility for household chores, being firm about bedtime and having dinner together. ? Monitor out-of-school activities. Setting limits on TV watching, checking up on children when parents are not home, arranging for after-school activities and supervised care. ? Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work. Communicating through questioning and conversation, demonstrating that achievement comes from working hard. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 14

EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 ? Express high but realistic expectations for achievement. Setting goals and standards that are appropriate for children’s age and maturity, recognizing and encouraging special talents, informing friends and families about successes. ? Encourage children’s development/progress in school. Maintaining a warm and supportive home, showing interest in children’s progress at school, helping with homework, discussing the value of good education and possible career options, staying in touch with teachers and school staff. Encourage reading, writing, and discussion among family members. Reading, listening to children read and talking about what is being read. Existing programmes to better teacher-parent-child interaction can be classified along a variety of dimensions and differ in many ways from each other. An influential classification distinguishes programmes according to the type of involvement that schools try to foster. Avvisati, Besbas and Guyon (2010, p. 14) refers to Joyce. L. Epstein’s (1991) as a frequently cited scholar in this area distinguished six types of involvement from parents.

Epstein’s Six Types of Parent Involvement Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University has developed a framework for defining six different types of parent involvement. This framework assists educators in developing school and family partnership programs. “There are many reasons for developing school, family, and community partnerships,” she writes. “The main reason to create such partnerships is to help all youngsters succeed in school and in later life. ” Epstein’s framework defines the six types of involvement and lists sample practices or activities to describe the involvement more fully.

Her work also describes the challenges inherent in fostering each type of parent involvement as well as the expected results of implementing them for students, parents, and teachers. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 15 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of Involvement Type I Parenting Help all families establish home environments to support children as students. E. g. Family support programs to assist families with health, nutrition, and other services.

Type II Design effective forms of school-to-home and home-to-school Communicating communications about school programs and children’s progress. Such as conferences with every parent at least once year. Language translators to assist families as needed. Type III Volunteering Recruit and organize parent help and support. Such as school and classroom volunteer program to help teachers, administrators, students, and other parents. Parent room or family center for volunteer work, meetings, and resources for families.

Provide information and ideas to families about how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities, decisions, and planning. Such include Information on homework policies and how to monitor and discuss schoolwork at home. Involvement in school decision-making, governance and advocacy. Includes active PTA/PTO or other parent organizations, advisory councils, or committees for parent leadership and participation. Identify and integrate resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.

Such as Information for students and families on community health, cultural, recreational, social support, and other programs/services. Type IV Learning at Home Type V Decision Making Type VI Collaborating with community Izzo et al. (1999, p. 817) also rated the following four dimensions of parental involvement: frequency of parent-teacher contact, quality of the parent-teacher interaction, participation in educational activities at home, and participation in school activities.

In addition, these distinguished participation mirrors in some respects to teacher’s role, particularly in the primary school, interacting with 6 types of parental involvement: (1) parent as audience, (2) parent as volunteer, (3) parent as paraprofessional, (4) parent as teacher of own child, (5) parent as learner and (6) parent as decision maker. Greenwood, G and Hickman, K (1991, p. 279). By developing awareness of the levels _____________________________________________________________________________________ 16 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 of family involvement, schools can let family members know that there are many different ways in which they can participate in the education of their children. 3. 4. 1 Parent in ‘Involvement’ Process The subtitles later follow integrated educationists view on different types of parental involvement as discussed earlier in detail. 3. 4. 1. 1 Parent as audience As Chavkin (1993, p. 76) defines, “parent as audience supports child by going to school performances, open houses and so on. ” The parent as supporter of child’s activities gets involved. Active parents may be more likely to have active children because they encourage that behavior through the use of support systems and opportunities for physical activity, but there is no statistical evidence that a child is active simply because they see that their parents exercise,” said Trost. (2010). Activities that may see parent as audience annual functions, school athletics and sports and other school based competitive or participatory events. 3. 4. 1. 2 Parent as volunteer School-program supporter can be involved by parents coming to school to ssist in events. Volunteering in school enables to contribute towards progress and development of the school and its pupils and this brings happiness and satisfaction. Brinton, B. (1991) in an article ‘Parents’ Source’ shared reflected on her experience as parent volunteer. Her duties varied according to the needs and styles of the teacher. Assistance were in forms of supervising art projects, signing out homework books, running off copies, and working one on one with students who might need a little extra help with a certain subject.

As for qualifications for parent volunteers, the NEA recommended that parents enjoy working with children, have an interest in education and the community, feel committed to the goals of parent involvement, have the desire to help, and are dependable and in good health. Based on her observations, she also recommend that a parent volunteer be flexible, and expect the unexpected. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 17 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010

Parents can volunteer in our local schools through organizing and arrangements for religious festivals, fund raising drives, school development projects, school outings and assist in meeting educational meets of extremely needy students in class. 3. 4. 1. 3 Parent as paraprofessional Paraprofessionals have many different roles, duties and responsibilities, and expectations that often vary among individuals who work as the same school. Paraprofessionals provide aides and support to teachers in classrooms and colleges.

Even without being lead teachers, paraprofessionals work responsibly assisting head of departments and senior teachers. In the recent years, owing to stress and pressure on teachers in schools and colleges, paraprofessionals have been recruited to provide assistance in variety of educational set ups. As discussed by Hankerson (1983, p. 75), this development incorporated many concepts: (1) new careers, (2) growth of educational technology, (3) cultural assimilation and diversity, (4) team teaching, (5) personal improvement of teacher aides, (6) parents as partners, and (7) home and school focus on achievement.

The research findings on teacher aides and parent involvement in early childhood and elementary school programs showed that with this additional support, children make significant cognitive gains. In his ‘The Urban Review’ he summed up relating to the work action theorists (Mead, 1934; Brookover, 1959; Smith, 1978; Smith and Brache, 1963) have postulated that, “the child’s motivation and achievement performances are influenced by his/her primary interactions with parents and ‘significant others’. Smith defines “significant other” as persons (such as teachers, teacher aides, community members) other than natural parents who are important to the individual. Thus, with parents serving as teachers aides, both motivating factors are met. 3. 4. 1. 4 Parent as a Teacher of Own Child Homework can be an effective way for students to improve their learning and for parents to communicate their appreciation of schooling. In the article, No Child Left _____________________________________________________________________________________ 18 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 Behind Report 2003 states that, “research shows that if a child is having difficulty with homework, parents should become involved by paying close attention. ” Furthermore, it argues that parents’ interference in learning can confuse child such as completing tasks that the child is capable of completing along. Peterson (1989) states, “children spend much more time at home than at school. Their parents know them intimately, interact with them one-to-one, and do not expect to be paid to help their children succeed. The home environment, more familiar and less structured than the classroom, offers what Dorothy Rich (1985) calls “‘teachable moments’ that teachers can only dream about. ” 3. 4. 1. 5 Parent as Decision Maker This fifth type of parental involvement as explained by Epstein (n. d) stated that parents’ voices must be heard when it comes to decision making at the school. This enables families to participate in decisions about the school’s programs and activities that will impact their own and other children’s educational experiences.

All parents must be given opportunities to offer ideas and suggestions on ways to improve their schools. Having families as true stakeholders in the school creates feelings of ownership of the school’s programs and activities. Sample Activities Examples of activities schools could conduct to promote decision making include, but are not limited to:      Encouraging parents to attend school improvement team meetings. Assigning staff members to help parents address concerns or complaints. Inviting staff and parent groups to meet collaboratively, providing space and time to do so.

Helping families advocate for each other. Involving parents in: o planning orientation programs for new families, o developing parenting skills programs, and o hiring staff members. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 19 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 This current research on ‘Changing parental participation in a primary school in Fiji’ will give critical insight into ‘Parent as volunteer’, ‘Parent as an audience’, Parent as a decision maker’, and ‘Parent as a learner. Epstein’s (1995) and Greenwood & Hickman’s (1991) distinguished parental involvement will be well challenged in the sense the settings and time factor being a variable. As related to current education system in Fiji what impact it has and doors of possibilities can be looked into. Engaging as a reflective practitioner will be very vital tool to analyse and discuss the research findings. 3. 5 Significance of the Parental Participation Constructive interactions as recommended earlier in Izzo et al findings is well supported by the article, ‘Parents and Learning’ by Dr.

Sam Redding who is the president of Academic Development Institute. Dr. Redding’s article (n. d. p. 7-27) under each chapter is summarized as following; ? ? ? Identifiable patterns of family life contribute to a child’s ability to learn in school. Children benefit from parent / child relationship that is verbally rich and emotionally supportive. Children do the best in school when parents provide predictable boundaries for their lives, encourage productive use of time, and provide learning experiences as a regular part of family life. ? ?

Parents set standards for their children, and these standards determine what children view as important. Students learn best when homework is assigned regularly, graded, returned promptly and used primarily to rehearse material first presented by the teacher at school. ? ? Children benefit from communication between their parents and their teachers that flows in both directions. Parental involvement includes parents’ involvement with their own children, involvement with parents of other children, and involvement with their children’s school. ____________________________________________________________________________________ 20 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 ? Programmes to teach parents to enhance the home environment in ways that benefit their children’s learning take a variety of forms and may produce substantial outcomes. ? ? Because families vary in their relationship to schools, schools must use different strategies to engage all families in the learning lives of their children.

When the families of children in a school associate with one another, social capita is increased, children are watched over by a large number of caring adults, and parents share standards, norms and the experiences of child-rearing. On the same context, Dr. Redding’s integrates and states a commonly accepted typology into categories as it was discussed by Joyce. L Epstein’s (1991) distinguished types. As mentioned earlier, this current research will focus on these types. Dr. Redding (n. d. p. 18-19) provides a selection of communication examples between school and homes.

These include parent-teacher-student conferences, report cards, school newsletter, happy-grams (complementing students for specific achievement and behaviour), open day parent / teacher conferences, parent bulletin board, home links from classroom and assignment notebooks. Dr. Redding’s principles as discussed herein needs to be assessed with reference to local conditions and adapted accordingly. Leaping into local context, parental participation in school management in most countries, including Fiji, generally lies between consultation/pseudo-participation and involvement / partial participation levels.

This is mainly because the statutory power in most schools lies largely with school heads and they determine the types of parental participation in their schools as viewed by Dr. Sharma (n. d. p. 60). Furthermore, Sharma (n. d. p. 61) noted, The Fiji school curriculum is based on the centre-periphery model, and it is designed largely to secure the passing of external examinations. It is inevitable that in such a system of education, preparation of examination becomes the preoccupation of pupils, teachers and parents.

As a result, there is little concern for parental participation in school management and curriculum development because of the fear of not completing the syllabuses. ______________________________________________________________________________ _______ 21 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 However, the shift from exam oriented curriculum to internal assessment as of 2011 which also marks the new era in Education System in Fiji by introducing 12 year basic education (as circulated through EDU Gazette, Term 1, 2010) calls for great challenges and possibilities on teachers and parents role.

This current study on parental participation at Class Level will integrate the shift to assessment procedures and implications. The research shall address on this issue also. In addition to this, Sharma (n. d. p. 70) concluded that the parental participation is central to democracy, strengths parents-autonomy and welfare of child. He also emphasized that parent involvement in management helps improve pupils’ learning environment and prepares them for a democratic society. In addition another challenging issue raised by Koki & Lee (1998) argued on perceived value of parental involvement in the Pacific.

According to their perspective as Education Program Specialists discussed a fundamental barrier to increasing family involvement in the Pacific education is that it is not closely aligned with Pacific cultures. They pointed out that attending school functions is of considerably less social value than holding titles and receiving public recognition and that participation in school activities does not carry as much credence as attendance at a village feast, where participation is expected.

It also compares private and public schools in view point that parents who pay tuition for private education assume greater responsibility for their children’s education and play more active role. Because public schooling is not an inherent part of the traditional culture, many parents now see themselves as outsiders, rather than as significant stakeholders in the school. The challenging question posed at Pacific Resources for Education and Learning centre was, “Is there a Pacific way of involving parents in their children’s education? ” This question was investigated the uestion by surveying Pacific educators in order to develop parental involvement profile and identify promising practices. Three successful practices identified were Hawaii Parent-Community Networking Centre (PCNC) Program, Belau Family School Community Association (BFSCA) and Chuuk Teacher, Child, Parent and Community (TCPC) Project. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 22 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 Applicable observable facts though with different names were discussed based on the three successful practices.

PCNCDeveloped a sense of community in and among the home, classroom, school. and neighbourhood, so that supportive networks of personal development and student academic achievement and performance are created and nurtured. The program followed a four-phase sequence. BFSCARepresented a partnership among individuals and organisations – school, families, community, and students – in order to improve education and the quality of life for future generations of Palauns. The association worked to assertive parenting skills, and make parents comfortable in reinforcing school policies at home.

TCPC The project demonstrated a strategy often overlooked by Pacific schools in parental involvement – first involve traditional leaders, and get their support. Then parental involvement in schools will become a reality. Koki & Lee (1998) recommended the intent of their paper was not be exhaustive, but rather to feature promising practices and a successful mean in bringing parents and schools together. They advised on adapting it to other areas of Pacific in order to increase parent’s involvement in education. 3. 6 Barriers to Parental Involvement in Schools 3. 6. 1 Socioeconomic status Socioeconomic status has been recognized as an nfluential factor concerning parental involvement. “The Coleman (1966) report, which stated that the best predictor of student achievement is the socioeconomic status of the parents, led to a flurry of investigations on student achievement” (Bulach, et al. , 1995) Muller(1991), in Schneider and Coleman, (1993) stated that several researchers have found that parent qualities typically associated with socioeconomic status are positively related to parental involvement. For example, Lareau (1987) found that upper middle class parents were _____________________________________________________________________________________ 23

EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 typically engaged in school activities and influential in school decision, while working class parents took on a more supportive role with respect to their involvement with their children’s school. As a result of his personal experiences, reading, and research, Motsinger (1990) asserted that “the developers of Teacher Expectation Student Achievement (TESA) workshops found that teachers do tend to give high achieving students more attention than those who lag behind” (p. 5). Underachieving children feel disliked by the instructor. Parents then feel, “it is because we are poor (p. ). ” and resentment grows. According to Brantliner and Guskin (1987), some low income parents feel schools discourage their involvement and view them as the problem, and they believe that stereotypes of poor parents as inadequate care givers and uninterested in their children’s education persist among educators. Although low income families may feel unneeded or unable to be involved with their children’s school, Henderson (1988) states that children of low income families benefit the most when parents are involved in the schools and parents do not have to be well educated to make a difference. . 6. 2 Cultural background The cultural background affects the relationship between home and school. As cited in Rudnitski (1992), Litwak and Meyer (1974) found that “parents from racial, ethnic and cultural minorities, especially those of low socioeconomic status, tend to feel less affinity for the school than those in the mainstream middle class” (p. 15). This shows that schools in the United States have different values than those of the family as well as inability to communicate with culturally diverse families effectively.

Also in Rudnitski (1992), Liontos (1991) writes that: Low income, culturally different parents have traditionally been marginalized through an inability to communicate with schools and through the inflexibility of the school as an institution. This tradition has fostered the feelings of inadequacy, failure, and poor self-worth which are cited as reasons for low participation of parents from marginalized groups (p. 15). _____________________________________________________________________________________ 4 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 It is proven in this research that these traditions of ineffective communication and cultural differences are the factors that prevent parents from becoming involved in their children’s education. 3. 6. 3 Language A language barrier happens when a lack of English proficiency prevents communication between immigrant families and the school system. Ascher’s (1988) work discussed the language barrier that affects Asian/Pacific American parents.

Since English is not the native language of this group, parents think their language skills are so poor that they cannot be useful as participants in assisting their child in school. “Involving parents from any background is no easy task and in light of cultural and language differences, linguistic minority parents present a special challenge” (Constantino, et al. , 1995, p. 19). In a study by Zelazo (1995) it was found that more English than Spanish speaking parents are involved at the school site as volunteers and in attending school meetings. Parents whose English proficiency is limited may find it difficult or intimidating to communicate with school staff or to help in school activities without bilingual support in the school or community” (Violand-Sanchez, 1993, p. 20). Lack of language skills became an intimidating factor when parents and schools could not communicate effectively. 3. 6. 4 Parent literacy Students cannot expect parental support in their home schooling when their parents are not literate.

As stated by Liu (1996), “Students’ academic performance at school is closely related to the family literacy environment and their parents’ educational levels” (p. 20). Children need families that can provide literacy rich environments that often foster readers in the school (Edwards, 1995). Unfortunately, not all students can have literacy rich environment at home because many parents did not receive an adequate education and therefore are unable to provide academic support for their children. This issue is severe with many parents whose English proficiency and education level is low (Liu, 1996).

Parents who dropped out of school needed to support the family or care for _____________________________________________________________________________________ 25 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 siblings. Limited schooling impaired parental help on homework beyond the primary level. A compound problem exists when the dominant language in the home conflicts with assignments in English (Finders and Lewis, 1994). If parents are not literate, they cannot assist their children with school work at home. 3. 6. Family structure These days, the changing structure of the family affects parental involvement and student achievement. According to Lee (1991) the structure of the American family has undergone significant changes over the past thirty years, and as a result of this, it is clear that many children experience multiple family compositions resulting from the transitory nature of the modern family. Students who have complete families may have problems that effect parental involvement, but according to Motsinger (1990), “having two parents will give a student a 200% better chance at success in school. This does not mean that students who do not have two parents cannot succeed, but they have a more difficult time or have to struggle harder to succeed. 3. 6. 6 Working parents I found that working parents can still participate in parental involvement programs, but it is harder than those who do not have a job. Unfortunately, many parents hold down two or three jobs in order to cope with economic realities, and quite frequently work schedules prevent these parents from attending meetings and other events at the school (Onikama, 1998).

According to King(1990), “in the United States, more than half of the women with children under six years of age are in the labor force” (Onikama, 1998, p. 21). How can educators effectively involve working parents in children’s education, especially in families where both parents are working, is a major issue today. As stated by Onikama (1998), working class parents want their children to do well, but tend to give educational responsibility to the teacher. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 26 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 3. 6. 7 Teacher attitudes Teacher attitudes can be one of the barriers in parental involvement. According to the State of Iowa Department of Education (1996), “School staff interest may vary in terms of commitment to family involvement, and may generate mixed messages to parents” (Onikama, 1998, p. 2). Many schools believe that classroom learning is best left to the professors. They also argue that involving parents is a time consuming “luxury” that places yet another burden on already overworked teachers and principals (Henderson, 1988).

These worries make parents feel that the teachers don’t want them around, which drops off the level of parental involvement. 3. 6. 8 Parents When discussing parental involvement, the most commonly appearing-word will be “parents”. Before introducing parental participation strategies, it is necessary to define the meaning of “parents”. As Lockette (1999) mentions, “When we use the term Lunts (2003) includes parents, ‘parents’ involvement, we need to remember that ‘parent’ can also mean other adults who play an important role in a child’s life” (p. 1). uardians, stepparents, siblings, members of extended family, and any other adults who might carry the primary responsibilities for a child’s health, development and education into the meaning of “parents”. In the article by Bal and Goc (1999), they indicate that: Numerous methods to increase parent involvement have been suggested. Such strategies include increasing communication between teacher and parents, involving parents with limited English proficiency, providing information regarding how parents can enhance learning at home, and encouraging parental academic engagement at home (p. 7). In spite of this fact, many teachers still show their concerns about the lack of parental involvement at schools and its negative effects on students’ academic performances on grades. Parents are also dissatisfied that they are not well informed about their students’ behaviors or test grades conducted in the classroom and admit that they are not actively involved in these school activities and it affects on their own students’ _____________________________________________________________________________________ 7 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 performance. Knowing about the most state-of-the-art strategies of parental involvement and taking them into practical actions are essential not only for parents and their students but also for everybody who is involved in education such as teachers, educators, practitioners, and community. Onikarna et al in a promising article based on ‘A synthesis of Research for Pacific Educators,’ stated specific barriers to effective family involvement dentified by case studies and these included; ? Lack of time — Many parents hold down two or three jobs in order to cope with economic realities. Work schedules prevent these parents from attending meetings and other events at the school. ? Language barrier — Lack of English proficiency often hampers communication between immigrant families. Cultural differences — Differences in cultural values affect family involvement. In some cultures, family involvement at school is valued; in others, its priority is lower. ? ?

English as a second language — In immigrant families as well as among the local population, lack of English proficiency often makes it difficult for parents to read with their children at home. ? Student attitude — Students, especially at the secondary level, may not welcome their parents’ presence at the school and may discourage their parents’ participation in school activities. Other researchers that identified some barriers to family involvement in education across all cultures and groups are cited as below; ?

Families may lack the means to help their children learn and become socialized. They may not know how to approach schools in order to become involved (Mannan & Blackwell, 1992). ? Schools may not know how to effectively encourage families to participate (Ortner, 1994). _____________________________________________________________________________________ 28 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER ? THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 School staff interest may vary in terms of commitment to family involvement, and may generate mixed messages to parents (State of Iowa Department of Education, 1996). Outreach procedures that are not sensitive to community values can hinder participation (Ortner, 1994). Changing school system policies may create instability in the area of soliciting family involvement (Mannan & Blackwell, 1992). ? Events outside the home, school, and community are also important in a child’s life as emphasized by Onikarna et al. Examples include parents’ work obligations, school board priorities, recreational pursuits, and religious activities. A decision made by a school board might directly affect the school curriculum.

If it conflicts with family values and beliefs, then the support a family gives to education might be decreased. As Pacific educators look at barriers to family involvement, they must acknowledge the complexities of home, school, and community interactions and realize that events at all levels can and do affect the lives of children, directly or indirectly. This article is quite remarkably summed up with the statement, ‘as barriers are overcome, school, home, and community can once again find common ground.

They can be woven together, like pandanus mats, into a foundation that supports and fosters student learning. ” 3. 7 The Possibilities There are many parents who want to become involved but do not know how to translate that desire into effective involvement. (Baker, 2000b; Eccles & Harold,1993; Epstein & Connors, 1992). They may feel they lack the skills to participate in such activities as school advisory councils or classroom volunteering (Greenwood & Hickman).

This is an unfortunate state of affairs given that it has been suggested that parent involvement programs will meet with limited success unless they address parental efficacy for helping their children succeed in school (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Teachers need to be informed of the importance of parental efficacy for involvement, and they need to have some understanding of communication and parent involvement strategies that will increase such efficacy. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 29 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER

THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 Finally, yet more than thirty years before Ramirez’ research in 1999, the Plowden Report in1967stated: “What matters most are the attitudes of teachers to parents and parents to teachers whether there is genuine mutual respect, whether parents understand what the schools are doing for their individual children and teachers realize how dependent they are on parental support. ” 4. 0 RESE AR C H DES IG N 4. 1 Rationale The approach of this research study is on changing parental participation to school activities. ‘School activities’ in this approach is defined as ocial, educational, physical and spiritual development through teaching and learning in collaboration with its stakeholders particularly the parents. The participation of parents, teachers and students makes it more of participatory in nature. As such, Participatory Action Research (PAR) or Action Research, as it is sometimes known, will be implemented for the action purpose. Lewin (1946), as a social psychologist, felt ‘that the best way to move people forward was to engage them in their own enquiries into their own lives’. The other difficult issue for PAR is the research end date.

Unlike most other research methods, which tend to be timed undertakings with clear start and stop periods, the iterations of PAR continue until the problem is resolved. In addition, contextual findings will emerge after close observation, careful documentation, and thoughtful analysis of the research topic. This inquiry process will be more of qualitative research approach. Denzin and Lincoln (1994) defined qualitative research: Qualitative research is multi-method in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter.

This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials case study, personal experience, introspective, life story interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual textsthat describe routine and problematic moments and meaning in individuals’ lives. _____________________________________________________________________________________ 0 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 4. 2 Study Design The methods and strategies used in this research process need triangulation to maintain validity and reliability of research and findings. Mathison (1988, p. 13) elaborates this by saying: “Triangulation has risen an important methodological issue in naturalistic and qualitative approaches to evaluation [in order to] control bias and establishing valid propositions because traditional scientific techniques are incompatible with this alternate epistemology. The proposed methodology for this study is illustrated as follows: Action Research Methods Putting PAR into Place Home Visits Meetings Family Support Programs Strategies to Promote School/Home Interaction The iterative cycle of participatory action research Observation Observation Observation Cycle continues until issue is resolved or agreed by all parties Action Action Action ISSUE Initial Planning Reflection Informed Planning Reflection Informed Planning (Adapted from Wadsworth, 1998) _____________________________________________________________________________________ 1 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 4. 3 Data Collection In order to maximize validity of findings, the data collection process will involve: · Data triangulation (Collecting accounts from different participants involved in the chosen setting, from different stages in the activity of the setting and … from different sites of the setting’, Tindall, 1994, p. 146) Participants in each case will be ? Children ? Teachers ? Parents · Method triangulation (The use of different methods to collect information’, Tindall, 1994, p. 47) This will include; Naturalistic Observation – will entail the collection of field notes and will include a focus on the interactions occurring parent – teacher – children towards school activities. Digital photographs – will similarly focus on the interactions occurring between parents, teachers and children around notes and audio-recordings. Naturally occurring conversations with adults and children – These conversations are intended as those spontaneously occurring (unplanned and unstructured) between myself and adults and children.

Selected conversations will focus on the experience and interpretation of documentation, and will be taped and transcribed in full. Interviews with children, other staff and parents – This semi-structured format is the most appropriate to ensure that significant questions posed by the study are addressed, while allowing for participants’ views and perspectives to be revealed through an open-ended documentation. facilitation of discussion. Interviews with both adults and children will occur in small groups, and will focus on uses and interpretations of the processes of collecting, observing, and interpreting documentation.

Photos will be collected to supplement and extend field _____________________________________________________________________________________ 32 EDU 410: THE TEACHER AS RESEARCHER THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL 2010 Researcher’s reflective journal – The reflexive journal will focus on recording my feelings, perspectives and experiences within the context, in order to assess how these may have influenced data collection and analysis. Case Study – a qualitative descriptive research approach that will look at parent participants using interviews, conversations and direct observations. Theoretical triangulation (The embracement of multi-theories, Tindall, 1994) The study is not locked in one theoretical tradition, but instead it develops and relates insights from: educational theory, research, and practice and developmental theory. In addition, the study interprets and integrates scholarly and practitioner theory, research and practice from the diverse sources. 4. 4 Data Analysis It is predicted that data will be divided into five subgroups according to its nature: 1. Sub-group 1 will include data from: observations and digital photographs.

The data collected through these methods is considered to be closely related, due to its naturalistic essence and to the focus on processes of documentation (audiorecordings and photographs supplement field notes). 2. Sub-group 2 will include data from: naturally occurring conversations and interviews. The data collected through these methods is considered to be closely related, due to my own involvement in questioning and in facilitating discussion. 3. Sub-group 3 will include data from reflective journal. The data collected through this method is considered to be closely related, due to its narrative and ‘documentative’ nature. . Sub-group 4 will include data analyzed from questionnaires. The data will be derived from other staff members at the school. 5. Sub-group 5 Analyzing the case through the following steps; 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Defini

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