Communication, collaboration and control: investigating conversations between parents and teachers in an English secondary school

Bilton, Richard (2017) Communication, collaboration and control: investigating conversations between parents and teachers in an English secondary school. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria (awarded by Lancaster University). Item availability may be restricted.

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Abstract

Parent-teacher meetings are well-established and attended by a high proportion of parents. This places significant demands on both schools and families. However, little research involving direct observation within secondary schools has been reported. I have investigated parent-teacher meetings at one English secondary school, my aims being to explore the aims of parents and teachers and the nature of their relationships. My findings will be of interest to parents and teachers, as well as researchers and school leaders. I collected audio recordings of parent-teacher conversations over two years and conducted one-to-one interviews with parents, students and teachers. I analysed my data using conversation analysis and interpreted my findings using politeness theory. I found that the aims of parents and teachers can be divided into two categories. Instrumental aims are directly concerned with educational outcomes, whereas interpersonal aims relate to the individual needs of the participants and do not necessarily affect students’ learning. I also found that the behaviour of the participants in my study was not consistent with models based on partnership, opposition, or market forces. My findings do, however, support a model in which teachers assume the role of ‘expert’ and control conversations. For researchers, my findings question the way in which Epstein’s typology is used to classify parent-teacher meetings and suggest that the presence of students during meetings may be significant. My study has also highlighted politeness theory as a useful tool for interpreting parent-teacher behaviour. For families and schools, my research raises questions regarding the use of parent-teacher meetings to influence students. My study also suggests that parents and teachers do not make productive use of their limited contact time. My study provides up-to-date and reliable data regarding a widespread educational practice. My methodology may also provide a useful template for researchers wishing to investigate parent-teacher conversations. Future research involving contrasting schools would indicate whether my findings were context-related or more general. The occupational backgrounds of parents and the roles played by students may also be worthy of further investigation.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Non-Initial Teacher Education (Non-ITE)
Depositing User: RICHARD BILTON
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2018 09:24
Last Modified: 11 May 2018 23:47
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3650

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