On 2 July 2019 at 14:00 Karmen Palts will defend her doctoral thesis “Parent-Teacher Communication Exemplified by Estonian Primary Schools” in the Council of the Institute of Social Studies.
Professor Halliki Harro-Loit
Professor Veronika Kalmus
Assistant Professor Merli Tamtik (PhD), University of Manitoba, Canada
Associate Professor Tiiu Kuurme (PhD), Tallinn University
When transitioning from kindergarten to school, a child along with her parents and the teacher(s) are strangers to one another whilst the adults need to routinely work together and maintain a dialogue in order to support the child. Research has proven the positive effects of parent-teacher cooperation on the well-being and development of the child but less is known about the building of the dialogue itself in order to ensure positive cooperation.
The intention of this thesis is to synthesize the varying aspects of parent-teacher communication. For this purpose, I have employed four directions in research, intertwining these into a singular and complete parent-teacher communication model. By applying qualitative content analysis (and elements of discourse analysis) the work analyses interview materials from 18 focus groups.
The first direction in research maps out the communication patterns of different parents and the parent-teacher communication needs. The results show that in addition to the different communication patterns and the teachers’ varying perception of their roles, the parent-teacher communication holds a number of already defined communication objectives (notification; asking and receiving feedback; giving and receiving advice). Such objectives may be realised via both, one-directional communication as well as dialogue. The work summarizes communication patterns, role perception and varying objectives into communication needs that have a great degree of variation.
The second direction in research relates to the discourse of organisational communication, namely genres and genre knowledge. The results conclude that increasing the genre knowledge of the parties involved provides an option for ensuring more effective communication.
The third direction in research builds on rapid changes in communication technology and is related to channel usage and preferences. The results indicate that prior agreements are often lacking in communication channel usage, leading to lack of channel overlap and dysfunction in parent-teacher communication.
The fourth direction in research has to do with the parents’ (and, to a degree, the teachers’) communication barriers. The results show the barriers to be directly connected to the parents’ communication patterns, embarrassment, a prior negative experience with and/or a reluctance toward using a specific communication channel.