This study examines qualitative and quantitative data from students, their parents, and their teachers at the Grades 4 to 7 levels in order to understand: (a) the expectations of each party for the other with respect to collaboration based on instructional concerns, and (b) whether and how these expectations are met within the web of instructional relationships among the three parties. The study ultimately addresses a third research question: How can triad relationships be improved? Data for this mixed-method study were drawn from "The CoProduction of Learning Project" a recently completed multi-year, multi-site research effort examining curricular/instructional relationships between families and schools in which I took part as a team researcher. Five-point Likert-style surveys were designed to determine teacher, student and parent attitudes and practices regarding home-school collaboration. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were prepared for each of the three respondent groups. The quantitative data set for this study consists of 20 teachers and 159 student/parent sets from the second year of the larger project, and twenty-one teacher participants with 174 accompanying student/parent dyads from the fourth year. The qualitative data set consists of 44 teacher interviews, and 100 parent interviews and 100 student interviews over three years of the larger project. As far as expectations are concerned, there is little sense among teachers of the interaction of parents and students in the home and little sense among students of instructional relationships between parents and teachers. Parents look to teachers to communicate openly and extensively with them, and to respect parent knowledge of their children. Students expect a challenging academic environment, but also help and support. In triadic relationships in which expectations are met teachers create responsive, collaborative centres of academic learning for students in which respect and responsibility are features. Students are appreciative of these efforts. Teachers also make strong and consistent efforts to reach out to and include parents whom they also consider to be partners in practice. Parents, for their part, respond to the teachers' initiatives for support and participation by helping at home and communicating freely with the teacher. In triadic relationships in which expectations are not met there is little conviction demonstrated by teachers regarding the importance of participation by students and parents. These teachers do not make efforts to reach out to parents and often feel that parents are choosing not to help. Parents refer to work that they do with their children but do not mention receipt of information from the teacher about how they might help. Students speak neither of teacher efforts to work closely with them, nor of teacher efforts to use practices to bring students, teacher and parents closer together. Findings here suggest that collaborative instructional relationships between students, parents and teachers can be sustained and developed by the continued efforts of parents to initiate connections with teachers and to speak up for their children, and by the efforts of teachers to create participatory classrooms for students and to both seek and respect parent contributions.
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Thesis advisor: Coleman, Peter
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