Capstone/Dissertation Title

Schools and families of divorce: teacher assumptions of non-resident fathers





Degree Name



It has been widely shown that parental involvement via strong teacher-parent partnerships boosts academic achievement. Despite separate living arrangements, non-resident father involvement in their child's academic life positively impacts them academically and behaviorally. Schools and teachers can positively influence parent involvement with robust policies and practices that invite parents to participate in their child's education. Teacher beliefs in the efficacy of parental involvement are crucial in the success of teacher-parent partnerships. However, no studies have examined teacher assumptions of non-resident fathers and how they inform professional practice. Because a disparity in teacher outreach efforts between mothers and non-resident fathers has been shown to exist, this study explored how six elementary teachers described their assumptions of non-resident fathers. Teaches were recruited from five elementary schools from a large mid-western school district. Schools varied widely based on free and reduced lunch levels. Each teacher participated in a two hour qualitative interview. Grounded theory, Bronfenbrenner's ecological perspective, and systems theory were used to analyze the data. Results indicated that teachers base their assumptions of non-resident fathers on personal and professional experiences and not on training or current research. These experiences were often described as negative. Although absenteeism was cited by all the participants, teachers working in schools with high free and reduced lunch levels had the highest numbers of absentee fathers. Teachers primarily held impediment based assumptions of non-resident fathers. Teachers reported that they more often contacted the resident parent, usually the mother, than the non-resident parent. Teachers did employ less effective communications strategies such as 'email blasts' and web pages when they had non-resident father contact information. A Pygmalion effect could be triggered because impediment based assumptions of non-resident fathers resulted in teachers adopting less effective communication strategies.

This document is currently not available here.