As per Pam Kay's request, I am responding to introduce myself and tell folks a little about my interests related to this SIG.
My name is Jim Van Haneghan and I am an associate professor in the Dept. of Behavioral Studies and Educational Technology at the University of South Alabama located in Mobile, Alabama.
My current interest in home school partnerships began a few years ago, when we began thinking about issues surrounding parent involvement in mathematics and science education. In particular, I was interested in how joint parent-child activities in informal learning settings (museums, media, and other places outside of school) could be used to facilitate changes in parent beliefs about learning and increase parental involvement. We wrote an unfunded planning grant, but go reasonable reviews and some direction to help us improve our future efforts.
In the mean time, completely independent the ideas we were pursuing, we came into contact with the Mobile Area Education Foundation. They had just begun a program to increase parent involvement in an area of Mobile called Maysville. They chose the area because the schools all fed into the same junior and senior high schools, and the schools were all neighborhood schools (there is also some sense of community in the area; e.g., strong churches). They also chose the area because the schools were failing and the area contained a disproportionately large number of poor and minority families. They contacted us, because they wanted to someone to collect data on what they were doing in Maysville, and to help further develop the programs they had started.
They are working with several different programs. They have parent coordinators in the schools, they have developed focus groups where parents, teachers, and administrators get together to discuss issues, and they started a "HIPPY" program for working with parents of preschoolers in the area. Last year, we did a parent involvement survey among parents and teachers of kindergarten children. We examined parent efficacy, home and school invovlement, demographics, logistical issues, and parent perceptions of how the schools were doing in relation to Epstein's six areas of school community partnerships. This August (during school registration) we will attempt to survey parents of elementary, junior, and senior high school students. We have been also asked to evaluate the HIPPY program.
Along with the parent involvement programs, they have an interest in reforming mathematics education in these schools. Hence, they are engaged in efforts to restructure teachers knowledge and pedagogical practice in mathematics. Associated with the mathematics reform, we will be writing a proposal to NSF to attempt to improve parent involvement in the area of mathematics. Our goal is to help parents better understand the changes in curriculum, as well as to have parent educators use reciprocal teaching techniques to help parents facilitate mathematics learning and motivation.
As you can see we have a great deal of work to do, and I suspect that I will be coming back to this group as a resource as more elements of these projects develop.
As per questions that puzzle me, probably the most burning question I have right now concerns motivating parents who have not been highly involved in the children's schooling. The foundation has used a number of extrinsic kinds of rewards to get parents into programs and such, but I think these kinds of extrinsic rewards undermine the intrinsic motivation parents should feel about facilitating their children's education. What ideas do others have about motivating parents?
Sorry if this posting is a bit lengthy. I am looking forward to participating on this listserve as well as with this SIG. My interactions with SIG members at AERA were truly a highlight of my visit.
Jim Van Haneghan
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UCOM 3705, College of Education
University of South Alabama
Mobile, AL 36688