Latina parent involvement: An action research study exploring a Spanish teaching and learning program

Open Access
Barlet, Katelyn Danielle
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 26, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Robin Redmon Wright, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Robin Redmon Wright, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Elizabeth Jean Tisdell, Committee Member
  • Chiara Sabina, Committee Member
  • Mary Napoli, Committee Member
  • Latina
  • parent
  • involvement
  • teaching
  • education
  • Latino
This action research study examined an eight-week parent involvement program known as the Spanish Teaching and Learning Program. This program was developed as a parent involvement/education initiative for mothers of students in an urban elementary school. Throughout this program, Latina mothers taught basic Spanish to non Spanish-speaking mothers. The experience of the Latina mothers as they assumed a teaching/leadership role in this program was a primary focus of this study; however, the specific purpose of this study was twofold: to examine the identity development of Latina mothers as they led a parent education program and to examine the intercultural relationships that formed as a result of this parent involvement experience from the perspective of both the teachers and the learners. The theoretical framework for the study was grounded in sociocultural theory and was supplemented by Latina feminist perspectives as well as critical multicultural education perspectives. Data collection consisted of pre and post-program interviews with the teachers as well as a focus group interview with the learners at the end of the program. Weekly reflection forms completed by all participants provided additional written data throughout the program in addition to my observation notes and audio recordings from each session which were transcribed and analyzed. The findings of the study were grouped into six thematic sections. The first, fostering meaning-making through sociocultural connections, revealed the importance of eliciting funds of knowledge, fostering contextually-based learning, and the development of empathy which was evoked throughout the language learning experience. The second, establishing meaningful intercultural relationships, highlighted the mothers’ ability to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers as they participated in the program as well as the program’s impact on the greater school community. The third finding, embracing the role of teacher/leader, highlighted the teachers’ journey in successfully navigating their teaching role, their meaningful connections with one another, and their insightful reflections on the leadership experience. A fourth finding of the study was the program’s ability to enhance communication within the school community through both increasing individual communication capacity and fostering an environment through which the mothers used communication as a form of connection with one another. The fifth section of the findings revealed the mothers’ desire to maintain authentic and practical sessions which addressed the learners’ strengths and needs as well as the mothers’ heightened positivity toward participating in future programs as a result of the program. Finally, the program revealed positive aspects which extended beyond the adult learners in the group and related specifically to the children of the mothers participating in the program including more structured homework routines and the opportunity for the mothers to lead by example and show their children the importance of lifelong learning. The study culminates with a discussion of these findings in connection with theory and offers implications for adult education practice and future research.