Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Reading (Elementary); Education, Elementary--Parent participation; African Americans--Education; African American parents--Attitudes; Teachers--Attitudes;


In this study, the perceptions were investigated of how African American adult family members, children, and teachers viewed the family members' roles in assisting their elementary school-aged children to become better readers. These perceptions were explored to provide a detailed account of ideas that can impact the home-school relationship. To conduct this study, the researcher examined how similar or different the perceptions were among the three subgroups regarding: (a) the child's reading level; (b) what families do to assist children in reading; and (c) the perceived barriers and opportunities in adult family members' decisions to assist their children to become better readers. Thirty-five family members, their third and fourth grade children, and seven associated teachers participated in the study. Survey questionnaires and interviews were used to collect data from each subgroup. Among those who returned the survey, 13 adult family member respondents, their children, and 7 teachers were selected and interviewed. Responses obtained from the survey and interviews were compared to determine whether or not the respondents had a shared understanding of family reading practices in the homes. The child's score on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and indices of congruence regarding the child's perceived reading level were compared to perceptions of the adult family member's reading practices. Adult family reading practice indicators included knowledge of a child's reading level, the family's provision for reading materials, the regularity of reading time at home for the child, the identification of family members who read to a child, the sharing of reading concerns with the child's teacher, and the family's attendance at a parent education meeting about literacy. The study also examined the perceived opportunities for, or barriers to, families' decisions to assist a child with reading. Findings indicated a mismatch among a majority of respondents, suggesting a lack of shared understanding---a perspective that warrants our rethinking of the home-school literacy connection. However, in those instances where all three respondents agreed on a variable (i.e., reading to or with a child regularly), children were scored as reading above or at the class average. These shared orientations provided a framework for increasing mutually shared perspectives regarding ways to assist a child to become a better reader. Differences in beliefs reflected processes unique to the African American adult family member, the child, and the teacher, and pointed out conflicts in home and school relations. The inability to share reading concerns, family members' work schedules, and the necessity of taking care of other children were identified as barriers to a family's decision to assist children in their reading endeavors. These factors and several others that could account for disagreement among the respondents were explored.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Linda May Fitzgerald, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xii, 179 pages)



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