Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Elizabeth Cramer

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Liana Gonzalez

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Tonette Rocco

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Joan Wynne

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

African American, Parent Involvement, Special Education, Disabilities, Culturally Diverse

Date of Defense

5-11-2017

Abstract

Parents in disenfranchised groups, namely African American parents of children with special needs, are less likely to be involved in their child’s education, although involvement is associated with positive educational outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate African American parents’ perceptions of special education programs, of teacher actions, and of school policies that influence parent involvement of African American parents of children with special needs.

A phenomenological study was conducted with 15 African American mothers of children with special needs. These parents participated in individual face-to-face interviews, which included a discussion of the child’s Individualized Education Plan. Audio recordings from the interviews were transcribed and data from the transcriptions were thoroughly analyzed.

The findings were categorized into four overall themes. In theme one, Perceptions of Parent Involvement, it was found that these mothers perceived themselves as being involved in their children’s education. In theme two, Facilitators of Parent Involvement, it was found that parents were more compelled to be involved in their children’s education when educators communicated effectively, valued parent input, and exhibited love and positive attitudes towards parents and children. Findings showed that the absence of these traits were Barriers of Parent Involvement, which was theme three. In the last theme, Recommendations to Teachers and School Administrators to Increase Parent Involvement, study participants shared several recommendations to increase parent involvement.

My study concluded that professionals in the field should broaden their definition of parent involvement to include home-based activities of African American parents of children with special needs, such as engaging their children in home learning activities to teach them independence. Moreover, parents felt more compelled to visit the school and engage in other parent involvement activities, like attending school meetings, for example, when they perceived that school personnel valued parents’ contributions. These parents’ views were similar to insights gathered from African American parents in previous research. However, views that emerged from this current research that are different from previous studies include parents’ recommendations that school personnel communicate with parents using the parents’ preferred method, and that teachers and school staff exhibit love and positive attitudes towards parents and children.

Identifier

FIDC001908

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