Communicating With Teachers: Perspectives From Parents of Children With and Without Exceptionalities
Parental involvement in education, such as parent-teacher communication, is important for promoting students' success (e.g., Jeynes, 2007). Parental involvement is especially important for students with exceptionalities who face greater challenges to their learning than their peers (Keen, 2007; Taylor, 2000). However, there is very little research on the subject. This study investigated the present state of parent-teacher communication regarding students with exceptionalities and compared it to communication regarding students without exceptionalities. It also examined the barriers to satisfactory parent-teacher communication and solutions for improvement. Family systems theory provided the framework for the research questions (Friend & Cook, 2013) and data analysis. Parents or primary caregivers of a student with an exceptionality (n = 199) or without an exceptionality (n = 423) completed the Parent-Teacher Communication Survey (PTCS). Results found parents and teachers of students with exceptionalities chose to communicate by text or email when communication was infrequent. However, the few parents that were in contact more than once a week tended to use written or face-to-face interactions. Parents of children with and without exceptionalities did not differ significantly in how often they communicated. However, parents of students with exceptionalities were more likely to discuss a variety of topics related to their child's performance in school (e.g., homework completion, peer relationships, classroom behaviour) and be less satisfied with their communication experiences. While some parents reported satisfactory parent-teacher communication experiences, many parents of children with and without exceptionalities struggled to obtain high quality, high frequency, two-way communication with teachers. This research provides an initial understanding of parents' perspectives on the current practices of parent-teacher communication (e.g., modes of communication, topics, frequency, barriers to satisfactory communication) that can inform educators, and other professionals who work with students with exceptionalities and their families, and enable all parties to evaluate and improve their own communication practices. Future research is needed to further our understanding of parents' and teachers' experiences communicating about students with exceptionalities, particularly explorations into teachers' perspectives and the effect of student age on parent-teacher communication.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramSchool and Counselling Psychology
CommitteeMiller, Dianne; Wilson, Jay; Hellsten, Laurie
Copyright DateJune 2015
students with exceptionalities