How to Promote Parent-Teacher Engagement

A new study finds the lack of information sharing between parents and teachers can serve as a barrier to student success.

When it comes to giving students with behavioral issues more support, creating an open line of communication between teachers and parents is critical. But a new study finds policies, processes and tools for documenting behaviors in schools are often implemented without considering exchanging information with parents. The findings of the study were presented May 7 at the CHI 2019 conference by Gabriela Marcu, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information.

“In terms of providing support to give kids feedback on their behaviors and manage feedback on those behaviors, it is really important for the school classroom team to collaborate with the parents because every time the child goes home each day they could be getting conflicting messages about their behavior,” Marcu said. “The more consistency between home and school, the more likely that the child is able to make progress.”

However, the study found parents are frustrated with the lack of information that they receive about their child’s behaviors at school and progress on their individual education plans (IEPs) throughout the school year. While teachers are creating behavioral records for internal use, these records cannot be easily shared with parents.

Another challenge is that behaviors can constantly be changing and differ between home and school so regular assessments are required. Teachers have more of tendency to document the most severe incidents because they wanted to protect themselves against litigation from parents. In addition, the researchers found that parents would not hear about problem behaviors until they had escalated and required a formal report.

In order to address these problems, Marcu recommends using technology that parents are already using their everyday lives to lower the barriers to their involvement in the development of IEPs. “I have done some pilot studies where teachers were using my apps to collect data and things were going well but we hit a roadblock where this data could be shared with parents. That’s where some of the litigious culture came up,” said Marcu.

Ultimately, the researchers determined that little is known about how mobile and social technologies can be effectively adapted into evidence-based strategies for supporting home-school collaboration.

The full study can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.