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From Parental Involvement to Engagement

I spent the evening doing online research on parental involvement in K-12 education.  There is significant research to demonstrate a link between parental involvement and student achievement (which I will document in a future post).  I wanted to write about an insightful paper by Dr. Debbie Pushor from the University of Saskatchewan.  In Parent Engagement:  Creating a Shared World she 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 Dr. 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

Dr. Pushor’s broader research work is examining the questions, What is parent knowledge? and How is parent knowledge held and used?

I am interested in this work because it helps in my investigation of parent voice in a technology-enabled environment.  Does the presence of technology (in the home and/or school) change the involvement/engagement relationship?  Thanks to Dr. Pushor for providing a context for my investigation.


7 Responses

  1. I haven’t had a chance to explore your links yet, but thought I would share two links I have found regarding engaging parents:
    Jeff Utecht’s ‘Speaking their digital language’
    Matt Montagne’s ‘Parent meeting follow-up’
    You can guess my bias with respect to your question by the nature of these links.
    Hope these help you!

  2. The difference between being involved and being committed is best illustrated by a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

    The hen is involved.

    The pig is committed.

  3. Great stuff, Cindy, and I think you’ll find Debbie Pushor to be a great resource for a number of things — first and foremost that she is one of the flat-out nicest people I’ve ever met. One thing i would keep in mind as you follow your journey is “what kind of parent involvement/engagement” results in “what kind of student achievement”? I think you’ll find that the labels used in this area of research open many strands for investigation — they are not, in and of themselves, clearly defined. That’s not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind as you review the literature.

  4. As someone who has spent years dedicated to the issue of engaging parents, the discussion cannot exclude the idea of building efficacy among parents so that they can believe that they can have a role in shaping the education of their child.

  5. Steve, I would agree, and Dr. Pushor’s work would also support that idea.
    Thanks for taking time to read and respond to my blog. I’ve reviewed your website and am wondering if your work has touched on the role/impact of technology in parent engagement?

  6. It will be great to listen to Dr. Pushor’s insight in the upcoming EdTechTalk webcast. As a parent involved/engaged in education it is interesting to explore the continuum. I have always felt the difference between involvement and engagement was acceptance as part of the various decision making processes. I will read her paper to see if my opinion remains the same.

    As for technology, I personally think that web tools hold great potential for increasing parent voice, parent involvement and parent engagement. Furthermore (and perhaps most importantly) these tools hold the same potential for student voice / involvement / engagement.

  7. Just thought I would let you know that Dr. Pushor will be a guest on Parents as Partners webcast on Monday May 5th, 2008 . We can ask her then what she thinks!

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