Thesis Adrienne Van Der Zalm

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parents' involvement in math

Text of Thesis Adrienne Van Der Zalm

  • ENHANCING THE INVOLVEMENT OF PARENTS IN THE MATHEMATICS EDUCATION OF THEIR

    ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

    by

    Adrienne Van der Zalm Master of Arts, San Diego State University, 1996 Bachelor of Arts, Simon Fraser University, 1992

    DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

    DOCTOR OF EDUCATION

    in the

    Faculty of Education

    Adrienne Van der Zalm SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

    Fall 2010

    All rights reserved. However, in accordance with the Copyright Act of Canada, this

    work may be reproduced, without authorization, under the conditions for Fair Dealing. Therefore, limited reproduction of this work for the purposes of private study, research, criticism, review

    and news reporting is likely to be in accordance with the law, particularly if cited appropriately.

  • ii

    APPROVAL

    Name: Adrienne Van der Zalm

    Degree: Doctor of Education

    Title: Enhancing the Involvement of Parents in the Mathematics Education of Their Elementary School Children

    Examining Committee: Chair: Geoff Madoc-Jones, Ph.D.

    Simon Fraser University, Assistant Professor

    Peter Liljedahl, Ph.D. Senior Supervisor Simon Fraser University, Associate Professor

    Douglas McDougall, Ed.D. Supervisor Ontario Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto, Associate Professor

    Fred Renihan, Ph. D., Supervisor Simon Fraser University, Associate Professor

    Robyn Brayne, Ph.D. Simon Fraser University, Assistant Professor

    Charles F. Webber, Ph.D. External Examiner Faculty of Education, Dean Thompson Rivers University

    Date Defended/Approved:

  • iii

    ABSTRACT

    An emergent construct in modern education is the recognition by educators and policy

    makers that involving parents in the education of their children is an important matter.

    This is clear in the policies of the British Columbia Ministry of Education and the efforts

    of educational leaders internationally which aim to create conditions, attitudes and

    supports for parents to become more instrumentally involved in schooling. The object of

    this study is to clarify how a principal can increase effective parental involvement in

    learning at home. The curricular area of focus was intermediate level mathematics.

    Parents were invited to attend two workshops with the goal of promoting increased

    parent knowledge and comfort with mathematics as taught in contemporary classrooms

    in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Survey and interview data helped to build the

    profiles of attitudes, beliefs and practices of four participants selected as case studies.

    The resulting profiles combined with a comprehensive literature review helped to answer

    three research questions: What difficulties do parents express with respect to their involvement in mathematics? What is the effect of attending parent workshops about

    supporting students in mathematics? What gives parents confidence and motivates them

    to be involved?

    Results revealed a greater understanding and acceptance of change and a willingness

    to engage with their children and their homework at a deeper level than before the

    workshop experience. There were subtle, yet notable, shifts in understanding of

    curriculum change and the education system. Since reform-minded educational leaders

    seek first to prepare the community in a way that facilitates change, these subtle shifts

    may be significant. The time limitations of this study prohibit comment on long-term

    effects, which points to the need for further research on the effect of parent attendance

    at curriculum-related workshops.

    Keywords: Parental involvement; elementary mathematics; leadership; role of principal; educational reform; educational change

  • iv

    DEDICATION

    Idedicatethisdissertationtoprincipalsandalleducationalleaders

    workingtoenhancepartnershipswithparentsforthegoodofchildren.

    Maythesehumblefindingsenhanceyourendeavours.

  • v

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I would like to thank my parents and daughter without whose love and support I

    would not have been able to complete this dissertation. Secondly, I would like to

    recognize the contributions made by the workshop participants who allowed me to

    interview them and thereby gave me the substance for this study. The need for

    anonymity prevents thanking them by name.

    Finally, I am indebted to my professors and advisors who faithfully guided and

    encouraged me in this intellectual pursuit. Thanks to you, I have enjoyed the journey and

    learned much. Dr. Peter Liljedahl has been an outstanding advisor over the last few

    years. He has commented on multiple drafts, connected me with key people in the

    mathematics world and been both patient and encouraging. Dr. Doug McDougall flew

    across the country to meet with me on several occasions and readily shared his wisdom,

    humour and resources with me. Thank you both, for making me more comfortable in the

    world of mathematics and seeing the value in my topic. You are phenomenal educators.

    I am also indebted to my third advisor and professor, Dr. Fred Renihan, who helped to

    ground my study in the world of leadership so that it is relevant to my work and the work

    of other principals.

  • vi

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Approval .............................................................................................................................iiAbstract ............................................................................................................................. iiiDedication .........................................................................................................................ivAcknowledgements ........................................................................................................... vTable of Contents ..............................................................................................................viList of Tables ................................................................................................................... viiiList of Figures.................................................................................................................. viii

    Chapter 1. Introduction ................................................................................................... 11.1. Introduction .............................................................................................................. 11.2. Definitions ................................................................................................................ 11.3. Research Context .................................................................................................... 31.4. Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................ 51.5. Research Questions ................................................................................................. 61.6. Significance of the Study .......................................................................................... 71.7. Limitations of the Study ............................................................................................ 91.8. Researcher ............................................................................................................. 101.9. Plan of Dissertation ................................................................................................ 13

    Chapter 2. Literature Review ........................................................................................ 152.1. Introduction ............................................................................................................ 152.2. Effective Parental Involvement ............................................................................... 162.3. Principals Role in Facilitating Parental Involvement .............................................. 222.4. Challenges of Enhancing Effective Parental Involvement ...................................... 302.5. Numeracy Development ......................................................................................... 362.6. Challenges to Parental Involvement ...................................................................... 432.7. Summary ................................................................................................................ 50

    Chapter 3. Methodology ............................................................................................... 523.1. Introduction ............................................................................................................ 52

    3.1.1. Sample ....................................................................................................... 533.2. Data Collection ....................................................................................................... 53

    3.2.1. Procedure ................................................................................................... 533.2.2. Instruments ................................................................................................. 553.2.3. Description of Workshops ........................................................................... 58

    3.3. Data Analysis ......................................................................................................... 613.4. Ethical Considerations ........................................................................................... 643.5. Summary ...........................................