All at sea: A dissonance model for teacher inservice

Year: 1994

Author: Arthur, Julie, Bingham, Bob

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The involvement of parents in schools has been shown to have significant effects on student achievement. Catholic schools have a defined policy related to the importance of parent-teacher partnerships across all levels of schooling. However the practices of parent involvement often fall short of the rhetoric. Trends in research have identified teachers as the key to parental involvement. Against this background a pilot project was instituted with a cohort of K-12 teachers from Catholic schools in a coastal Australian town. The teachers (N=16) were involved in twilight seminars, collaborative reflection through collegial groups, and the implementation of action research projects related to parent-teacher partnership.

An initial survey of teacher beliefs and practices was complemented by interviews with participant teachers and analysis of personal journals. Ongoing research indicates that teachers have concerns about the decline in parent participation as children progress through schools. Of particular concern at the secondary level was the delay in reporting student achievement to parents. Differences have been identified between the beliefs teachers espoused about the importance of parental involvement and the practices in their schools.

The paper presents a description of the pilot inservice project and the action research process. The researchers report their perceptions of the efficacy of the project and discuss the expected outcomes for teachers, parents and administrators. This paper also reports on preliminary findings related to participant perceptions of the action research process and on teacher understandings of the nature of parent- teacher partnerships.