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Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Lisbeth Dixon-Krauss

First Advisor's Title

Commitee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer

Third Advisor's Name

Charles Bleiker

Fourth Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

Date of Defense

3-12-2009

Abstract

The National Center for Family Literacy (2003a) and the National Even Start Association (2005) have stated that the single most effective and influential factor in increasing student academic achievement is parental involvement. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine how participation in adult literacy courses influences parent-child interaction in various educationally related activities known as Interactive Literacy Activities (ILAs). This study investigated ILAs from the mothers‟ perspective, and examines the changes that occur in parental involvement or ILAs when immigrant parents of a limited educational background participate in an adult education program. The principal method of data collection was key informant interviews (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996). Other methods of data collection included observations of parent-child interactions and field observations. Data analysis methods included Memo-ing (Miles & Huberman, 1994), within case analysis and cross-case analysis.

Findings demonstrate that changes occurred in the parent-child relationship when mothers of a limited educational background participated in an adult literacy course. When participating in ILAs or English literacy activities related to second language acquisition (including reading and speaking for comprehension and pronunciation), the children of these mothers took on the role of the adult. Participation in literacy activities was often initiated by the child and the children were frequently concerned with their mother‟s literacy acquisition. Mothers reported that their children were more confident, worked harder on school related activities and were more open to communication.

It can be concluded from this study that, in the case of these immigrant families, a mother‟s participation in adult literacy classes is influential in the relationship between mother and child. These children participated in ILAs for the benefit of their mothers and initiated literacy activities more frequently. The children responded better to their parents during literacy activities because there was a positive change in the relationship between mother and child. The relationship between mother and child appeared to be strengthened by greater trust, a sense of pride and more communication.

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