Parent-teacher engagement : a coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing approach

Willis, Linda-Dianne (2013) Parent-teacher engagement : a coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing approach. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The accumulated evidence from more than four decades of education research strongly suggests that parent involvement in schools carries significant benefits for students as well as for the success of schools (e.g., Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Governments in Australia and overseas have supported parent involvement in schools with a range of initiatives while parent groups have indicated a strong desire for expanded school roles that include participation in formal educational processes namely curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. Research has also signalled the need for teachers to engage parents rather than adopt traditional parent-school involvement practices so that parents can participate as joint educators in their children's schooling alongside teachers (Pushor, 2001). Actually improving the quality of contact and relationships between parents and teachers to enable engagement however remains problematic.

Coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing originally emerged as an innovative approach in the context of teaching secondary school science. Coteaching brings together the collective expertise of several individuals to expand learning opportunities for students while cogenerative dialogues refer to sessions in which participants talk, listen, and learn from one another about the process (Roth & Tobin, 2002a). Coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing reportedly benefits students academically and socially while rewarding educators professionally and emotionally through the support and collaboration they receive from fellow coteachers. These benefits ensue because coteaching theoretically positions teachers at one another's elbows, providing new and different understandings about teaching based on first-hand perspectives and shared goals for assisting students to learn. This thesis proposes that coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing may provide a vehicle for improving quality of contact and relationships between parents and teachers.

To investigate coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing as a parent-teacher engagement mechanism, interpretive ethnographic case study research was conducted involving two parents and a secondary school teacher. Sociological ideas, namely Bourdieu's (1977) fields, habitus, and capitals, together with multiple dialectical concepts such as agency|structure (Sewell, 1992) and agency|passivity (Roth, 2007b, 2010) were assembled into a conceptual framework to examine parent-teacher relationships by describing and explaining cultural production and identity construction throughout the case study. Video and audio recordings of cogenerative dialogues and cotaught lessons comprised the chief data sources. Data were analysed using qualitative techniques such as discourse and conversation analysis to identify patterns and contradictions (Roth & Tobin, 2002a). The use of quality criteria detailed by Guba and Lincoln (2005) gives credence to the way in which ethical considerations infused the planning and conduct of this research.

From the processes of data collection and analyses, three broad assertions were proffered. The findings highlight the significance of using multiple coordinated dialectical concepts for analysing the affordances and challenges of coteaching and cogenerative dialogues that include parents and teachers. Adopting the principles and purposes of coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing promoted trusting respectful relationships that generated an equitable culture. The simultaneous processes and tensions between logistics and ethics (i.e., the logistics|ethics dialectic) were proposed as a new way to conceptualise how power was redistributed among the participants. Knowledge of positive emotional energy and ongoing capital exchange conceived dialectically as the reciprocal interaction among cultural, social, and symbolic capitals (i.e., the dialectical relationship of cultural|social|symbolic capital) showed how coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing facilitated mutual understandings, joint decision-making, and group solidarity. The notion of passivity as the dialectical partner of agency explained how traditional roles and responsibilities were reconfigured and individual and collective agency expanded. Complexities that surfaced when implementing the coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing approach were outweighed by the multiple benefits that accrued for all involved. These benefits included the development of community-relevant and culturally-significant curricula that increased student agency and learning outcomes, heightened parent self-efficacy for participating in and contributing to formal educational processes, and enhanced teacher professionalism.

This case study contributes to existing theory, knowledge and practice, and methodology in the research areas of parent-teacher relationships, specifically in secondary schools, and coteaching and cogenerative dialoguing. The study is particularly relevant given the challenges schools and teachers increasingly face to meaningfully connect with parents to better meet the needs of educational stakeholders in times of continual, complex, and rapid societal change.

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ID Code: 63306
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Watters, James, Exley, Beryl, & Ritchie, Stephen
Keywords: agency/passivity, agency/structure, capitals, cogenerative dialoguing, coteaching, dialectic, engagement, fields, habitus, individual/collective, margin/centre, parents, parent-teacher relationships, secondary school
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Oct 2013 23:29
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 07:01

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