Motivating parents to read at home with their child: an experimental investigation

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses – 2014 Archive

This page is no longer updated. Page archived on Thu, 14 Jul 2016

Orla Colgate

PhD thesis, conferred 2014

This thesis is concerned with one of the most important ways that parents can be involved in their child’s education – assisting them to become a proficient reader. It focuses on the three key motivators of that involvement: the teacher, the child, and the influence of other parents on parents’ expectations to read at home. Past research has indicated that invitations from both the classroom teacher and children themselves may impact upon parents’ decisions to be involved in their child’s education at home.

Taking a broader view of parents’ motivation for involvement, this thesis explores not only the influence of teacher and child invitations on parents’ actual involvement in the natural environment, but also the impact of the behaviour of other parents in raising parent expectations to read at home.

Quasi-experiments were conducted in two schools in Kindergarten to Year 2, testing three interventions: a) a teacher invitation to the parent, b) a child invitation to the parent, and c) past parent behaviour information provided to parents to raise their expectations to read with their child. Results show that all interventions resulted in significantly more parents reading at home with their child in contrast to the control groups. Of note was the substantial effect size difference between girls’ and boys’ reading behaviour following the child invitation to parents. The experiments were followed up with questionnaires that explored whether parents acknowledged the influence of the interventions on their reading behaviour with their child.

The teacher and child invitations were recognised as an influence but the information regarding the reading behaviour of other parents was not offered as a persuading factor for parents to read with their children. This is despite the fact that, relative to control groups, this intervention was as successful as the other two interventions.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Nigel Bagnall