Rethinking parental roles: A teacher research study

Shirley Ann Kaltenbach, University of Pennsylvania


This qualitative study explores a teacher's understanding of the range of perspectives of parent participants in a large urban elementary school in Alaska. In this classroom-based study, analysis of the perspectives of selected parents as well as a broader group of parents and teachers revealed how parents' perspectives about their participation differed and converged, how teachers' perspectives differed from those of parents, and how the many perspectives interacted with and influenced one another over time. This teacher-research study employed interpretive methods for data collection and analysis. Data sources were collected throughout the 1995–1996 school year. Procedures included audiotaping, journal reflections, and document collection. Six case studies were selected for study. Three units of analysis revealed a chronological analytical framework: (a) to distinguish some of the social conditions and circumstances that constrain or support parents' ability to be involved in their children's schooling and (b) to uncover teachers' perceptions about parental roles. In this study I make the case that the circumstances and conditions of parents' lives support or become obstacles to parents' abilities and efforts to be involved. Teachers often lack understanding of parental circumstances. Consequently, they may not be very sensitive to the agendas of some parents, particularly parents who do not appear to be very involved. These arguments challenge a common belief in teachers' thinking and in the professional literature that “barriers” to parental involvement can be overcome primarily through shifts in school-based programs and practices. I propose a much more complicated view that suggests reconceptualization of school-based practices to reflect an understanding of the sociocultural conditions of parent participation. Implications of a broadened definition of parental roles are discussed for school and university-based educators and policymakers.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Elementary education|Curricula|Teaching|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Kaltenbach, Shirley Ann, "Rethinking parental roles: A teacher research study" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926150.