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Annotated Bibliography

This page provides a research context for parent invovlement. It is intended for your use. Please observe any copyright restrictions of the resource itself. If you have additional literature or links to share, please post them to the Resource Links page.



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Factors contributing to improving partnership practice
There is a significant body of research demonstrating the contribution of parent involvement to student learning. Henderson and Mapp (2002) reviewed several studies and provided a synthesis of the research findings. The report points to the strong impact of parent involvement on both student achievement and attendance and behaviour. Research also indicates that participation declines with grade level, that socioeconomic status and family situation are factors in determining parent involvement and that students want their families to be involved (Epstein, 2002).

The model shown here depicts the factors that influence a continuous improvement cycle in school-family partnerships. Innovative schools engaging in strong school-family partnerships cause academic inquiry spawning research results. Positive evidence creates public pressure that results in policy and legislation embedding partnership practices in required school activities. And so the cycle continues.

There is ample evidence that parent involvement positively impacts student learning. This review attempts to understand the area from a variety of perspectives as a background to the role that technology may play in improving school-family partnerships.

The literature on this page is organized into four topics:

Models of Parent Involvement/Engagement

Importance of Parent Involvement to Student Achievement

Preparing Teachers and Administrators for Parent Involvement/Engagement

Technology Use in Parent Involvement/Engagement


Models of Parent Involvement/Engagement

Perhaps the most widely quoted work is by Epstein (2002) in her model of parent involvement which describes six different categories. Pushor (2007) extends the definition beyond involvement to engagement and argues that engagement is the hallmark of parent connections that truly make a difference for students.
All the models speak to the importance of context in understanding parent engagement. While the types of engagement can be described, schools will be successful in working with parents and communities if the staff take time to listen, to understand, and to relate to the families with whom they work (Pushor,2007). Each child arrives at school carrying the aspirations of the parent (Marjoribanks, 2002), a family background (Beothel, 2004), and the culture of the family community.


Boethel, M. (2004). Readiness: School, Family, & Community Connections
Annual Synthesis 2004, National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools.
(supplied) The fourth and newest research synthesis focusing on family and community connections with schools, Readiness: School, Family, and Community Connections describes 48 research studies on the contextual facotrs associated with children's readiness. In particular, this synthesis explores children's abilities as they make the transition to kindergarten, facots associated iwth these abilities, and implications of these factors on children's later success. It also discusses the preschool interventions that include a family or community focus.
(comments) The work notes that young children's home environment (family background and family interaction) is related to skills and abilities at kindergarten entry, that teachers and parents have different perceptions about what is important in kindergarten readiness, and that family involvement generally declines from preschool/child care situations to kindergarten. There are also significant research gaps in this area to be explored, such as transition practices to kindergarten, models for supporting parent involvement, and assessment strategies for young learners.


Epstein, J. L., M. G. Sanders, et al. (2002). School, Family and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action. Thousand Oaks, California, Corwin Press, Inc.
(from Introduction) This Handbook translates the lessons learned in reserach and fieldwork into practical approaches for program development. We present a research- based framework and field-tested tools to help leaders understand teh six types of family and community involvemnt, create an Action Team for Partnerships, plan and implemnt family and community invovlement activities to reach school goals for student success, mobilize community resources, encourage progress, evaluate results, and continue to improve plans, practices, and programs over time. (p.1)
(comments) Epstein et al have evolved a framework of six types of involvement: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and collaborating with the community. Each type of involvement generates different results for students, parents, and teachers. The framework brings understanding to the development of activities (each action can include more than one type of involvement), the measurement of results, and plans for improvement. This work is pragmatic and tactical for both teachers and parents.


Holmes, M. (1998). The Reformation of Canada's Schools: Breaking the Barriers to Parental Choice. Montreal & Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press.
Holmes describes six world views of education - Progressive, Technocratic, Traditional, Cultural, Egalitarian and Individualism - as a backdrop to recommendations for educaitonal reform in Canada that has global reach. We live in a pluralistic democracy, yet his research demonstrates that there is a consistent view (Progressive) of those in the education establishment that is not shared with the public at large. A comparison group of nurses and engineers held a predominant Cultural and Technocratic view versus the Progressive view of school district directors. Holmes contends that the debate should not be reduced to one of instructional methodologies. Rather the debate should be framed on values and ideologies. Children's lives outside of school are increasingly diverse yet we create a single minority view in the social context of our schools. Holmes argues for the separation of results, learning objectives and outcomes from instructional methodologies, the latter being teacher professional responsibility. The issue is that Canadian schools are governed by the interest groups - faculties of education, government bureaucracies, teachers' unions, administrators and school trustees - and not parents, so parents have no real say in their children's education. Thirteen problems are summarized, one conclusion of which is that one-size-fits-all schooling negates the research that parental involvement positively impacts student achievement. Holmes concludes with a proposal for a reformation of Canadian education that combines area public schools directed by elected parent council and dsitrbuted porgrams off choice accessible (at least nominally if not geographically possible) by all. School districts become managers of support infrastructure systems (buildings, human resources, transportation, administrative operations) rather than directors of a particular educational philosopy. Provincial authorities provide central policies and standards respecting outcomes, student evaluation, funding to schools (not just districts), collective agreements for staff especialy teachers, and collection of data to support decision-making by parents and schools.

Kerr, G. (2005). Stimulating Parent Involvement to Stimulate Student Success. The Quest for Communities that Work: Sustaining Student Improvement, An International Syposium for Education and Community Leaders, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.
(supplied by author) This report highlights the findings of a research project with the primary purpose of determining if school councils have the ability to influence the rate of parental participation in education, with a particularl emphasis on the types of involvement that may lead to improved student learning (building on Epstein's [1995] six types of involvement framework). The secondary purpose of the research project was to identify the ways in which Ontario's parents prefer to be involved in their chidlren's education.
(comments) The study concluded that a deliberate focus and activity related to the Epstein framework did produce a higher level of parental involvement as compared to schools without such a focus. Four recommendations for organizing programs to stimulate parental involvement are made. 1. Stimulate activity within eight strategic categories of involvement. These are described in the Parental Involvement Leadershp Model for Ontario (p. 17 and http://www.parentinvolvement.ca/QUESTStimulatingParentInvolvement.pdf), an extension of the Epstein (2002) model, adding Attending School Events and Fundraising to the model. Gord Kerr is the Director fo the Parent Involvement Centre in Ontario, Canada (http://www.parentinvolvement.ca/).


Marjoribanks, K. (2002). Family and School Capital: Towards a Context Theory of Students' School Outcomes. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Marjoribanks develops a context theory of students' school outcomes through a process of relating contemporary research to classic educational studies. "The theory is presented as sets of propositions that relate to (a) family influences, (b) school effects and (c) the impact on school outcomes of the interrelationship between family and school influences." p. 160. Parents should be assisted with both attitudinal and academic development of their children. Parents need to participate in both their own child's development as well as the decision-making processes in the school to ensure appropriate placement of their child for optimal success.

People for Education (2006). Parent Inclusion Activities in Ontario: A Snapshot of Current Activities.
People for Education is a registered charity in Ontario, Canada that advocates for parents in education. This report provides highlights of parent involvement activities across the province, organized according to the Epstein model: Parenting, Communicating, Volunteering, Learning at Home, Decision-Making, and Collaborating with the Community.

Pushor, D. (2007). Parent Engagement: Creating a Shared World. Ontario Education Research Symposium. Toronto, Ontario.
In this work, Pushor describes the difference between parental involvement (co-opted participation) and engagement (shared commitment). The importance of parents engaging with parents (creating shared commitment) is also discussed. The research is suggesting that involvement alone does not create achievement benefits but engagement does. The benefits according to Pushor for parents are clear:
- Parents have the opportunities to share their knowledge
- Parents & families are enriched by their engagement
- Parents benefit personally
- Parents have a voice & place on school landscapes
Schools need to change from a protectorate mentality where policies, procedures, programs, scheules and routines are established by the school staff and not collectively by staff with the parents and community. Parent engagement means changing the story in the school, where an atmosphere of trust and relationship is created, where parents are welcomed visibly rather than with "visitors must report to the office" and "staff parking only".
The paper concludes with a description of research gaps, including research and literature in the Canadian context, research in parent engagement through the eyes of the parent, in parent knowledge that contributes to the relationship, the benefits of parent engagement for the parent, and finally research on the influences and conditions that affect student achievement outside of school.


Stelmack, B. (2005). "Parental Involvement: A Research Brief for Practitioners."
The brief includes not only a summary of the research but also summarizes the key findings, includes suggestions for teachers, and an annotated bibliography. The key findings include that parental involvement can have an impact on student learning; "meaningful parental involvement" requires further dialogue; culture, socioeconomic background and family characteristics influence parental involvement; parental involvement at home is more impactful than that at school; schools need to support parents in helping with homework; that principles of trust and mutual respect are important; and that teacher professional development in this area is necessary.

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Importance of Parent Involvement to Student Achievement


There is a significant body of research demonstrating the contribution of parent involvement to student learning. Henderson and Mapp (2002) reviewed several studies and provided a synthesis of the research findings. The report points to the impact of parent involvement on both student achievement and attendance and behaviour.



Henderson, A. T. and K. L. Mapp (2002). A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Annual Synthesis, 2002, National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 East Seventh Street, Austin, TX 78701-3281. Tel: 800-476-6861 (Toll Free); Fax: 512-476-2286; e-mail: connections@sedl.org; Web site: http://www.sedl.org/connections/.
(supplied by author) Noting that the evidence of families influence on their childrens school achievement is consistent, positive, and convincing, this report examines research on parent and community involvement and its impact on student achievement. Following an introduction, the first section of the report describes the methods used for selecting the studies; describes what the studies cover; provides a table showing the studies by topic area, by age and grade level, and by design type; and discusses limitations of the studies. The second section of the report synthesizes the studies' findings. This section also provides some pertinent definitions; lists recommendations to help educators put findings to practical use; and presents research findings related to three areas: (1) impact of parent and community involvement on student achievement; (2) effective strategies to connect schools, families, and community; and (3) parent and community organizing efforts to improve schools. The third section provides summaries of the 51 studies, conducted between 1993 and 2002, described in this report. The report finds that there is strong and steadily growing evidence that families can improve their childrens academic performance in school and have a major impact on attendance and behavior. Children at risk of failure or poor performance can profit from the extra support that engaged families and communities provide. All students, but especially those in middle and high school, would benefit if schools supported parents in helping children at home and in guiding their educational career. The report's appendix provides a short history of the research in this field over the past 30 years. (Contains 96 references.)

Marjoribanks, K. (2002). Family and School Capital: Towards a Context Theory of Students' School Outcomes. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Marjoribanks develops a context theory of students' school outcomes through a process of relating contemporary research to classic educational studies. "The theory is presented as sets of propositions that relate to (a) family influences, (b) school effects and (c) the impact on school outcomes of the interrelationship between family and school influences." p. 160. Parents should be assisted with both attitudinal and academic development of their children. Parents need to participate in both their own child's development as well as the decision-making processes in the school to ensure appropriate placement of their child for optimal success.

Versteeg, D. A. (2006). Helping Parents and Students Set Expectations and Life Directions. FINE's 2006 Invitational Working Conference.
This monograph was prepared to support an issues discussion. The paper begins with a summary of five concepts supported by the research. 1. The Search Institute (1997, 2006) has identified developmental assets in teens that are related to setting expectations and life directions, several of which involve the family. 2. Parental involvement is a positive force in a child's life, but communication diminishes as child ages. Patrikakou (2005) demonstrated a relationship between parental expectation, time on homework, and student academic achievement. 3. Xu (2002) noted that adolescent desire for autonomy directed what kind of family involvement rather than creating a barrier to involvement. 4. Expectations for achievement influence both teacher and student, whether those expectations are internally or externally held. 5. Student perceptions of expectations are more important than the expectations alone, and how parents communicate those expectations is important. The paper closes with a list of strategies for schools to consider, including parent classes, revisiting the parent-teacher conference format, and developing data collection strategies to monitor results.

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Preparing Teachers and Administrators for Parent Involvement/Engagement

Therefore this section deals with both kinds of teacher preparation, for partnership and for technology. This may create double obstacles for schools to engage in parent partnerships. At the same time, an expectation is growing that teachers will use technology to engage with today’s parent. McEwan (2005) captures some of this skill-building in her book How to Deal with Parents. We are recently emerging from a belief that educators owned the schooling franchise to one in which we acknowledge that the public owns the public education franchise. Educators cannot come to their work knowing how to appropriately work with and engage parents without some prior knowledge and skill-building.

Boshuizen, H. P. A. and I. G. J. H. Wopereis (2003). "Pedagogic Benchmarks for Information and Communications Technology in Teacher Education." Technology, Pedagogy and Education 12: 149-159.
(supplied) This article analyses the required content and strategies of information and communications technology (ICT) training for teachers in terms of learning to know, learning to do, learning to live with each other and with others, and learning to be. We conclude that the fast-changing role and nature of ICT in education, combined with the low level of penetration of ICT into present educational practices, requires a strategy that includes three aspects. These aspects are the training of students within teacher training institutions, the high-level implementation of ICT in schools as a joint effort by students, schools and teacher training institutions, and the formation of cooperating communities of practice to ensure the continued flow of emerging knowledge and practices to the educational field. Special attention should be given to unwanted and unforeseen side effects that may affect pupils' lives today and in the future.
(comments) This article highlights the importance of teachers being personally and professionally familiar with the tools in order to engage students, and by extension parents, in learning. The practices proposed and described are for consideration in teacher/administrator preparation for using technology with parents.


Bueschel, E. (2004). "A Community Divided." The Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership 7(2): 21-26.
(supplied by author) This case is based in a small Midwestern school district. It was developed for use in a doctoral level couse in Public Engagement and has been revised as a result of student feedback. As developed for this course, the concept of public engagement is not about convincing the public to do what the experts believe should be done. A desired consequence of said engagemetn is the restoration of the historcal compact between the community and its puulic schools as one foundation for effecting school reform. The case deals with the impact of consolidation on the will of the community to support its schools.
(comments) The case uses Yankelovich's (1991) Seven States fo Comping to Public Judgment which clusters into three tasks: Consciousness Raising, Working Through, and Integration. This is an example of how administrators can gain knowledge in working through parent and public involvement strategies.


Kirschner, P. and M. Selinger (2003). "The state of affairs of teacher education with respect to information and communications technology." Technology, Pedagogy and Education 12: 5-17.
(supplied by author) If the Internet is an information superhighway, then teachers just might be the road-kill on the asphalt of the information superhighway. Possibly, for the first time in history, students are more adept at using the tools necessary for acquiring and transmitting knowledge than are their teachers. Children everywhere are creating their own virtual communities through the use of new technologies. They make use of chat facilities (MSN®, ICQ® etc.) to stay synchronously in touch with both old and new friends and email and short message services to stay in touch with them asynchronously. They take part in discussion groups, navigate through virtual worlds and assimilate new hardware and software as if it were second nature. In many ways they are light years ahead of their parents and teachers with respect to the possibilities of information and communications technology (ICT). As a result students are getting bored and frustrated and teachers are getting frustrated and distraught. To try to remedy this, the Inspectorate of Education of the Netherlands commissioned the Educational Technology Expertise Centre of the Open University of the Netherlands to lead an international study (quick-scan) on good/best practice with respect to the integration of ICT into the mental and physical toolbox of the aspirant teacher and to try to draw from this preliminary curricular benchmarks for teachers' colleges in the Netherlands. The quick-scan was carried out by a network of teacher training and ICT experts throughout the world. This special issue shows the reader the results of this quick-scan in terms of good practice and benchmarks for calibration and/or modelling of teacher training in ICT along with a number of pedagogical and policy repercussions of their adoption.
(comments) The authors focus on two aspects of core (as opposed to complementary) technology in teacher education, those being first the content focus of teacher learning and second its use in supporting participatory learning. The article summarizes several authors featured in the issue and highlights the following points: 1. Moving ahead with government policy coincidental with teacher preparation positions the area ultimately for success. 2. Much training has focused on using technology rather than learning with technology. 3. Benchmarking has provided a methodology for identifying and monitoring best practice in teacher pre-service and in-service approaches. 4. Technology levels the playing field by improving access to knowledge for all. 5. Deliberate actions need to be taken to integrate the benchmarks into teacher pre-service and in-service.


Kirschner, P. and I. G. J. H. Wopereis (2003). "Mindtools for teacher communities: a European perspective." Technology, Pedagogy and Education 12: 105-124.
(supplied by author) Programmes for teacher training should train (aspiring) teachers to be able to make use of information and communications technology as mindtools. Mindtools are not pieces of specialised software that'teach' a subject, but computer programs and applications that facilitate meaningful professional thinking and working. Teachers can use these programs and applications to engage their students in critical thinking and to help further their own professional development. In the latter case mindtools can be applied for cooperation (between teachers, teacher educators and student teachers) and collaboration (with other teachers, experts, designers, etc. on pedagogical projects). In this article we focus on electronic networking technologies (conversation tools) as mindtools in communities of practice for teacher professional development. Examples of good practice from teacher training institutions in Europe illustrate how to prepare (aspirant) teachers for working with mindtools that enhance teacher professional development.
(comments) The authors describe five characteristics of mindtools identified by Jonassen (2000): amplify processing speed of the human mind, are generalisable across learning domains, assist in making concept and knowledge connections for critical thinking, are intellectual partners filling in the gaps, and exist as a concept to be reflected on as well as a tool. Conversation tools are synchronous, such as Internet chat, video conferencing or MUD's (Multi-User Dimension, also known as Multi-User Virtual Environments - MUVE's), or asynchronous. Asynchronous communication can occur as 1:1, 1:many or many:many. The authors recommend teachers use the tools to support their being competent lifelong learners.


McEwan, E. K. (2005). How to Deal with Parents Who Are Angry, Troubled, Afraid, or Just Plain Crazy. Thousand Oaks, California, Corbin Press.
McEwan combines research about what drives parents today with a how-to guide for school administrators in dealing with parents. The parents are today are less respectful of authority, more educated about education, angrier than ever, cynical and distrustful, activists, stresses, and worried and fearful. The causes are deemed to be four-fold: 1. the world is a stressful place, 2. educators do things that upset parents, 3. educators and education fail to meet parents’ expectations, and 4. parents have personal problems. McEwan concludes with presenting a Healthy Checklist for schools, more than fifty proactive ideas for principals, and ten proposed goals for principals in creating healthy relationships with parents.

Shartrand, A. M., H. B. Weiss, et al. (1997). New Skills for New Schools: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement.
(supplied) This report presents a framework to help educators improve teacher training in family involvement. Information comes from the Harvard Family Research Project, which documented the nature and scope of preservice education in family involvement. Researchers reviewed state teacher certification requirements, surveyed courses and requirements at accredited institutions, and examined successful models of preservice training in family involvement. Section 1 of this report describes teacher preparation in family involvement, explaining that the best educational results occur when schools, families, and communities collaborate. Section 2 examines the status of teacher preparation in family involvement, noting that state certification does not encourage study of the subject. Section 3 describes new skills for new schools, illustrating types of training for family involvement (general family involvement, general family knowledge, home-school communication, family involvement in learning activities, families supporting schools, schools supporting families, and families as change agents). Examples from various universities are presented. Section 4 discusses the universities' successful methods of preparing teachers for family involvement (e.g., guest speakers, role-play, case method, cultural immersion, community experiences, research with families and communities, self-reflection, and interprofessional education). Section 5 presents recommendations regarding ways that educators, policy makers, and professional organizations can ensure that teachers are prepared to involve families and communities. An appendix describes the research methodology. (Contains 108 references).


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Technology Use in Parent Involvement/Engagement

Does technology change the picture for Parent Involvement/Engagement? There are four perspectives to technologies in this context:
  1. The teacher/administrator perspective: Are they ready to incorporate technologies when working with parents?
  2. The student perspective: Is the parent able to support the child’s use of technology?
*The parent perspective: Does the family have access to communication technologies? Are they able and comfortable with the use of communication technologies? * The parent group perspective: Do online communities form? Do these communities differ from face-to-face groups and/or associations?
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(2007). "Parents link potential for academic success to technological competence. ." Curriculum Review 46(5).
A Roper Public Opinion Poll made available by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in 2006 indicates parents feel children will need to be able to use media technologies to succeed in school. The survey found differences associated with socio-economic status.

Kleiner, K. D., R. Akers, et al. (2002). "Parent and Physician Attitudes Regarding Electronic Communication in Pediatric Practices." Pediatrics 109(5): 740-744.
Objective. To determine 1) the electronic mail (e-mail) capabilities of families, general pediatricians (GPs), and subspecialty pediatricians (SPs) from an integrated pediatric health care delivery system and 2) the knowledge base and attitudes of these groups regarding the potential issues involved in using e-mail for physician-patient communication. Methods. Parents were interviewed in the offices of participating practices using a standardized survey tool. Pediatricians and staff were interviewed using a separate instrument. The data were entered into a database for analysis. Results. A total of 325 parents and 37 physicians were interviewed. Fifty-seven percent of the 161 parents who were interviewed at the GP offices and 66% of the 164 families that were interviewed at SP offices had access to e-mail. Parents aged 31 to 40 years were significantly more likely to have access to e-mail than parents of other age groups. Access to e-mail increased with family income and parental education. Most (74%) parents who were interviewed expressed interest in using e-mail to contact their child's physician/physician's office for several purposes, including getting information or test results, scheduling appointments, and/or discussing a particular symptom. Although both groups of parents expressed concerns about confidentiality, parents at the GP offices were significantly more concerned (medianGP = 95 vs medianSP = 70). Seventy-four percent of GPs and 100% of SPs had access to e-mail; however, 79% did not want to use e-mail for physician-patient communication, citing concerns about confidentiality and the time demands that patient e-mail might engender. Conclusions. The majority of parents and pediatricians at both general and subspecialty pediatric offices are capable of communicating electronically. Parents and pediatricians are aware of the issues surrounding e-mail use for patient communication. Most parents express an interest in using e-mail for patient-physician communications, whereas most physicians are opposed to this practice.

McCarrick, K., X. Li, et al. (2007). "Parental Involvement in Young Children's Computer Use and Cognitive Development." NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Intervention Field 10(2): 67-82.
Increasingly, young children are using computers; however, the role of the parent in facilitating this type of learning is not yet clear. This study investigates the relationship between parental involvement in computer use and cognitive development in their children. Parents of Head Start children who owned a computer (n = 136) reported on the frequency and type of involvement with their children while at the computer. Children of parents who reported active involvement with them on the computer had higher scores on cognitive measures than children with nonactive parental involvement. Additionally, a linear relationship was found between the number of active interactions and many of the subscales. Children of parents reporting all 4 types of active interactions scored higher on subscales of cognitive assessment (verbal, quantitative, general cognitive, and memory) than children with less parental involvement. This study shows that active parental involvement in young children's computer use is related to children's cognitive development. These results are discussed within a Vygotskian framework of socially mediated learning.


McEwan, E. K. (2005). How to Deal with Parents Who Are Angry, Troubled, Afraid, or Just Plain Crazy. Thousand Oaks, California, Corbin Press.
McEwan combines research about what drives parents today with a how-to guide for school administrators in dealing with parents. The parents are today are less respectful of authority, more educated about education, angrier than ever, cynical and distrustful, activists, stresses, and worried and fearful. The causes are deemed to be four-fold: 1. the world is a stressful place, 2. educators do things that upset parents, 3. educators and education fail to meet parents’ expectations, and 4. parents have personal problems. McEwan concludes with presenting a Healthy Checklist for schools, more than fifty proactive ideas for principals, and ten proposed goals for principals in creating healthy relationships with parents.


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