1 AN ANA L YSIS OF TEACHER COMMUNICATION PATTERNS WITH PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN ATTEND AN ONLINE SCHOOL By MICHELLE FIORE LICATA A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMEN T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
2 Â© 2014 Michelle Fiore Licata
3 To my mother, Angela Fiore; my grandparents, Saverio and Angelina Caputi ; my husband, Vi ncenzo Licata ; and my sons , Enzo and Gino Licata
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS C ompletion of this dissertation signifies the end of a long personal goal to obtain a doctorate . M any people made this goal possible. My mother, Angela Fiore, instilled in me from an e arly age an appreciation for learning. I owe an exorbitant debt of gratitude to my family, particularly to my husband, Vin ny . I thank him for creating the opportunity for me to chase my dream and for supporting me through these four years. I thank my chil dren, Enzo and Gino, for their patience, encouragement , and excitement as I worked through this process. I thank my brother, Sal and my nieces, Samantha and Sophie , for providing love to my boys when I traveled to attend classes . I thank my supervisory committee c hair, Dr. Bernard Oliver. Throughout this process, he continually provided support and expertise. His guidance brought t he seemingly unattainable into reach. Dr. Linda Eldridge, Dr. R. Craig Wood, and Dr. Jean Crockett e ach provided excellent support as instructors and members of my supervisory committee. In addition to my committee, I was fortunate enough to hav e Dr. Bruce Mousa as my advisor. His honesty, commitment , and words of encouragement kept me going throughout t his whole p rocess. I was also blessed to have the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh, my mentor and the leading researcher in online learning. Her expertise provided a platform for me and her guidance helped show me the way. Dr. Carmen Contari ni Gonzalez and Dr. Danielle Hadeed each provided seems inadequate for the time they both spent listening to me and for their words of encouragement and support. The friendship we share is more like t hat of sisters than friends.
5 I had amazing support when visiting Gainesville from Marie and John and the Mitchell family. I thank them for opening their home and hearts to me and for their continued support. I had an amazing cohort. Their support and fri endship were invaluable. I especially want to thank Sarah Burd, Rebecca Merha r, and Janine Bertol o tti for thei r encouragement. John Omundsen deserves special thanks for his encouragement, guidance, and friendship. I particularly thank the social studies te achers at the Florida Virtual School .
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ........................... 10 LIST OF DEFINITIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ . 11 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 14 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 14 Role of Familial Involvement in Traditional Schools ................................ ................ 16 Role of Familial Involvement in Online Schools ................................ ...................... 19 Purpose of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 22 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 23 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 23 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................................ ................................ .................... 24 Overview of Familial Involvement on a C ................................ ....... 24 ................................ .............. 29 Government Policies and Mandates for Familial Involvemen t ................................ 32 Models of Familial Involvement ................................ ................................ ............... 36 Family Involvement and Communication in Virtual Schools ................................ .... 41 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 48 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 52 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 52 Population ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 55 Sample and Sampling Procedures ................................ ................................ ......... 55 Procedure for Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................. 56 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 59 Method of Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ......................... 59 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 60 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 64
7 Sample ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 64 Research Question 1: What is the Relationship Between Teacher Characteristics and Communication Patterns? ................................ ............. 65 Research Question 2: What Are the Communication Patterns of Online Middle School and High School Social Studies Teachers? .......................... 65 Middle school teachers ................................ ................................ .............. 65 High school teachers ................................ ................................ ................. 67 Research Question 3: How Often Do Teachers Communicat e with Families in an online school? ................................ ................................ ...................... 68 Summary of Findings ................................ ................................ .............................. 69 5 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ....... 75 Introductuctory Remarks ................................ ................................ ......................... 75 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 76 Research Question 1: What is the relationship between teacher characteristics and communication patterns? ................................ ............... 76 Research Question 2: What are the communication patterns of online middle school and high school social studies teachers? .............................. 77 Research Question 3: How often do teachers communicate with families in an online school? ................................ ................................ .......................... 79 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 80 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 83 Recommendations ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 85 Recommendations for Future Research ................................ ........................... 87 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 88 APPENDIX A SURVEY INSTRUMENT ................................ ................................ ......................... 90 B INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETT ER ................................ ..... 93 C INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD REVISED PROTOCOL ................................ .. 94 D FIORE LICATA SURVEY ................................ ................................ ....................... 95 E EPSTEIN & SALINAS SURVEY (1993) ................................ ................................ .. 96 F INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ .......................... 97 G FLORIDA VIRTUAL SCHOOL RESEARCH APPROVAL ................................ ....... 98 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 99 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 114
8 LIST OF TABLES page 4 1 Regression coefficients and values:how years of online t eaching experience and middle and high school impact contact b ehavior ................................ ......... 74
9 LIST OF FIGURES page Figure 2 1 Hoover Dempsey & Sandler model of parental involvement revised (2005). ..... 49 2 2 pping spheres of influence. Sanders, M. G., & Epstein , J. L. (2000).. ................................ ............ 50 2 3 Florida Virtual School (FLVS) completion history ................................ ................ 51 3 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ . 61 3 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 61 3 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 62 3 4 ................................ ................................ ............................. 62 3 5 ................................ ............................... 63 4 1 Middle sch school ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 71 4 2 High .... 72 4 3 Contact Method and Percentage of families contacted by online teachers ........... 73
10 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS FLVS Florida Virtual School (FLVS), an online, accredited, free public school is the larg est provider of online learning in the world I NACOL International Association for K 12 Online Learning SREB Southern Region Education Board
11 LIST OF DEFINITIONS BRICK AND MORTAR Another name for a traditional instructional building where content is deliv ered face to face in a school building. ONLINE SCHOOL Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily via the Internet (also called virtual school). TRADITIONAL SCHOOL Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily fa ce to face , in a school building. VIRTUAL SCHOOL Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily via the Internet (also called online school).
12 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education A N ANA L YSIS OF TEACHER COMMUNICATION PATTERNS WITH PAREN T S WHOSE CHILDREN ATTEND AN ONLINE SCHOOL By Michelle Fiore Licata August 2014 Chair: Bernard Oliver Maj or: Educational Leadership Online schools are a more widely adopted learners. While online learning at the kindergarten to twelfth g rade level has grown in popularity, research based investigations into teacher communicati on patterns with parents whose children attend an online school are limited. The re is reason to believe relationship s between online teacher s and stud families are as important as, if not more important than , those relationships in the traditional sc hool setting . R esearch studies on parental involve ment and teacher communication focus solely on tradit ional schools . F ew empirical studies in kindergarten through twelfth grade virtual schooling incorporate teacher communication patterns. Therefore , analy sis of teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend an online school could improve development of new communication frequency and strategies for online school teachers, schools, and parents. The purpose of this study was to analyze te acher communication patterns with parents whose children attend a virtual school, to examine middle school and high of teacher initiated contact with the families . This ex ploratory study used an online
13 survey adapted from research by Joyce Epstein and Karen Salinas, sampling online social studies teachers from one online school in the state of Florida. Results indicate t hat online social studies teachers from the selected online school communicate more than twelve hours per week with parents . Implications of these findings could increase the effectiveness of teacher and parent communications and develop communicati ons policies for online schools. This study also contribute s to future research on teacher communication patterns with families . Such research could increase the success of students in an online school.
14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Background Parent involvement is associated with increased student success, especiall y when it includes a two way exchange of information between home and school (Adams, Womack, Shatzer, & Caldarella, 2010 ; & Cox, 2005). Communication from the school to home is sometimes c According to Epstein (1986), comm and most of these activities are considered one way . Teachers send information home to the family about schedules, special events, progress reports, and in traditional school, emergency procedures. primary caregiver. The caregiver may be two parents, a single parent, grandparents, foster parents, and in some cases, older siblings. The No Child L eft Behind Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) Public Law PL 107 110 moved family involvement to the forefront of enhancing student achievement through fam ily and community partnerships . a strong correlation bet ween schools with highly rated family partnership program s and students making gains on state tests . Oakes , Rogers and Lipton (1999) researched race and socioeconomic orientations in the context of school to home r elatio ns tories in many 335). Parents have a desire for their children to do well in school. Regardless of educational level, ethnic background, or income level, parents want their child ren to be
15 successful in school (Epstein, 1986). According to Hoffman (1991), parents are involved to a greater and more consistent degree when they view their participation as directly linked to the achievement of their children . Cripps & Zyrom ski (2009), showed that parental involvement in schools can improve achievement in mathematics (Sirvani, 2007) and literacy (Whitmore & Norton Meier, 2008) and that parental involvement in middle school ca n positively impact future high school graduation ( Englund, Egeland, & Collins, 2008). While parental involvement improves student achievement, reduce s problematic behaviors in schools, and create s positive self efficacy for studen ts (Epstein &Sheldon, 2002; Hoover Dempsey & Sand ler, 1995; Van Voorhis, 200 3), parental involvement tends to decline in secondary schools ( Van Roekel, 2008 ). According to Sheldon (2002 ) , parental involvement decreases as the social network decreases for parents. Less educated parents are less involved because they are not as know ulum in middle and high school. Low income parents do not have ready access to information about schools; these parents lack confidence that would enable them to involve themselves in school (Oaks and Lipton, 1999). O ften, a lack of parental involvement is blamed for low student achievement or engagement (Barnard, 2004; Desimone, 1999; Hill & Craft, 2003; Hill & Taylor , 2004 ; Jeynes, 2011). According to Henderson and Mapp (2002), when parents are involved in educa tion, the child is successful. This success includes improved understanding resulting in improved grades , improved behavior, and enrollment in higher education (Henderson & Mapp , 2002). Parental involvement has consistently been associated with school success in a multitude of areas such as better
16 achievement and behavior, lower absenteeism, and more positive attitudes toward school (Cole Hende rson, 2000; Jeynes, 2005 ; Taylor, Hinton, & Wilson, 1995) . Role of Familial Involvement in Traditional School s According to Carlisle (2005), the extent to which parents are willing to be ed to the quality of experience they had in their own education. Title I, Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged Â§ 1001(12) gives parents meaningful and considerable opportunities to participate in The H.R. 1804 Section 2 of Goals 2000: Educate America Act financially helps primary and secondary schools inv olve parents in their children ac ademic work at home and encourages skills to advocate for their children at school. Eligibility for Title I money is now contingent on development of school family compacts arning (Baker, Kessler Skylar, Piotrkowski, & Parker, 1999). success (Epstein, 198 6 , 1995; Henderson & Berla, 1984), there is little consensus about what constitutes effective pa rent involvement. Parents have always been viewed by From the early years in America, parental activities were carried out privately in the family, rather than publically in schools (1994). Beginning with colonial schools, parents were expected to be invol ved with school governance, support for the curriculum, selection of teachers, and backing of religious teachings (Hiatt, 1994). In colonial times, schools carried out the religious teaching s set forth in the homes , and parental involvemen t was the norm ( 1994) . As public education evolved in America, so has t he concept of parental involvement.
17 Gardner (1983) life and expectatio ns 1983 report highlighted the quality o f teaching and learning in the n public and private schools ( 1983 ) . In addition, Parent and Teacher Associations (PTAs) were created wit control sch ool. Family involvement can be defined in many ways. Epstein (1985) identifie d six standards of family involvement: welcoming all families into the school community; using two way, regular communicati on; supporting student success; collaboration between s chool and home; advocating for their child; and collaborating with the community to enhance learning. The traditional definition of parental involvement includes activities in the school and at home. V olunteering in the school and helping children with the ir homework are the most common types of parental involvement. O ther possibilities include attending school functions, vi siting the classroom, sharing expertise as a guest speaker, ser ving in leadership and decision making roles , and collaborating with tea chers including sharing strategies useful at home to help with s tudent success (Carlisle, Stanley, & Kemple , 2005). According to Snipes (1995), research does not support which type of parental involvement is most effective. Further, parents volunteering in school have shown a significant academic effect only for white students (Desimone, 1999) . In terms of parental involvement, Black and Hispanic parents scored lower than Caucasian parents ( Simon i and Adelman, 1993) . Hoover Dempsey & Sandler (1992) said par ents can provide direct and indirect instruction of a cademic skills. Hoover Dempsey and Sandler (1995) discuss ed three First through their
18 rents have learned to become involved. Second, the parents self emoti onal arousal induced by society (p. 320). T hird, families were invited by their child, school, or teachers (1995) . Hoover Dempsey, Bassler and Brissie (1992) said lack of teacher efficacy also influenced parental involvement. Singh, Bickley, Keith, Trivette and Anderson (1995), in another perspective, recognized four components of parental involvement : parental aspiratio ns for childr education, parent child communication about school , home structure, and parental participati on in school related activities . Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski and Apostoleris (1997) specified three levels of parental involvement. In the first level, the focu s is on parent and child characteristics . I n the second level, these individuals may be seen acting within a context su rrounding family circumstances ( such as marital status of the parent, or income level ) . The third level focuses on other institutions tha t interact with the family ( teacher p ractices and school environment) . S ome research has demonstrated that parental involvement in education is school (Catsambis, 2001; H ill et al., 2004). The most widely cited among existing Epstein, 1987; Epstein, 1995; Sanders, Epstein & Connors Tadros, 1999 ; Epstein & Sanders, 2002), which includes school home based involvement strategies. In her research, Epst ein (1995; 2010) said when schools and home recognize their shared inte rests in and responsibilities for and development, they develop a partnership. This partnership, as explained by Epstein, places the student at the center of each c hoice made. The Partnership for
19 Schools Com prehensive School Reform Model ( CSR ) , developed by Joyce Epstein, and based on the theory of overlapping spheres of influence (Epstein, 2001), says r to support , p. 159 ). The spheres of influence design, engages, guides, energizes, and motivates students to produce their own success. The assumption is if children feel cared for and encouraged, they ar e more likely to work hard and remain in school. According to Barge & Loges (2003), a variety of parent characteristics influence : efficacy in involvement (Ames, Khoju, & W atkins, 1993); level of education (Baker & Stevenson, 1986); socio economic status (Kerbow & Bernhardt, 1993; Ho Sui Chi & Willms, 1996) ; negative experiences while in school (Aronson, 1996) ; and lack of transportation (Moles, 1993) . The intricacy of curriculum choices and course tracking in middle school complicates parental involvement. According to Hill and Tyson (2009), some parents find middle schools complex, large buildings that leave them confused about how to be involved effectively. T he l arge number of students in a middle school pr oductive relations hips with parents; thus making it difficult for parents to know who to contact regarding their child. Role of Fam ilial Involvement in Online Schools Online learning is teacher led education that takes place over the Internet, with the teacher and st udent separated geographically. Web based educational delivery system software provides the learning environment. The course may be synchronous (communication in which participants interact in real time, such as online video) or
20 asynchronous (communication separated in time, such as email or online discussion forums). Students may access their course from various settings (in school and/or out of school buildings) (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, Rapp, 2013 ). Online learning environments offer multiple mechanisms to provide rich feedback and communicate about student performance (Dennen 2005 ; Rice, Dawley, Gazel, & Florez, 2 008; Swan 2004). With the rise of online schools, according to The International Associ ation for K 1 2 Online Learning ( iNACOL ) , thirty states , including Washington, D.C. , have statewide, full time, kindergarten to twelfth grade, online schools. In 2009 20 10, approximately 1,816,400 online kindergarten to twelfth grade co urse enrollments were offered compared to 10 years ago (400,000) taking online and blended courses than ever before, but because so many of thes e students are in programs that are not tracked the exact number is unknown et al . , 2013 , p. 5 ). Many districts and states are using online learning to replace or supplement teachi ng in traditional schools (Bakia, Shear, Toyoma, & Lasseter , 201 2). According to Bakia et al . (2012), in late 2010, online learning opportunities were made available to students in 48 states and Washington, D.C. The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the main supplemental provider of online learning . The FLVS had 303,329 su pplemental course enrollments in 2011 12, a 17% increase from 2010 11 (Watso n et al., 2013 ). The FLVS, an online, accredited, free public school is the largest provider of online learning in the world. Florida is the f irst state to provide full time and pa rt time funded options to all students in kindergarten to twelfth grade ( Watson et al . , 2013 ) . In
21 the 2012 2013 school year, according to Watson, et.al, (2013) , an estimated 240,000 students took one online class with FLVS ; and FLVS successfully served 410 ,962 course enrollments. According to Florida TaxWatch 2007, evidence suggests that FLVS views parents as partners in student success and FLVS values family involvement. Parents are given a Guardian Account with 24/ ed assignments and personal grade book. Additionally, parents receive at least one telephone call per month from teachers, monthly progress reports emailed to the D aily access to teachers is extens ive , with established hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the week and additional hours on the weekend ( Florida TaxWatch, 2007) . The FLVS te achers communicate by var ious methods including telephone; e mail messages; text messages ; and online video/audio conferencing with students and their parents, in a three way dialogue, wi th the goal of partnering with . The state of Florida does not require professional development for online teachers ( Watson et al. , 2013), howe ver, FLVS teachers undergo extensive, three phase, 60 day , New Educator Training (NEO) on how to be an effective online teacher. This training emphasizes t education. P rofessional learning extends throu One professional learning expectation is for teachers to read specific books about customer service , enter of every decisio n we make (FLVS, 2014). According to the FLVS website, all courses are written by a curriculum team and are
22 universally designed to meet the needs of all learners. The courses are housed in a learning management system (LMS) and teachers teach from a cour se shell. The Purpose of Study One area of research that has not received adequate attention is online teacher communication patterns with parents in an online school. This study explore d the role of teac her communication patterns (verbal, written, and electronic) on familial involvement . The purpose of this study was to analyze teacher communication patterns with parents whose ch ildren attend a virtual school; to examine middle school and high school soci al initiated contact with the families. patterns w ith parents in online learning , because p revious research has been limited or nonexistent. These findings may also be useful to traditional schools and other online schools . Knowledge of teacher communication patterns contributes to parent involvement in a I nformation gained from this s tudy could be used by the district schools to understand the impact of teacher parent communication on communication. The rese arch question s were as follows: What is the relationship between teacher characteristics and communication patterns with parents ? What are the communication patterns of online middle school and high school social studies teachers ? How often do teachers communicate with families in an online school ?
23 Limitations One of regarding family involvement and virtual schools. Therefore, this study is exploratory in nature and analyzes communication patterns of teachers at one online school. Exploratory r esearch design is conducted when there are few or no earlier studies to refer to (Cuthill , 2002). Therefore, f indings should be used cautiously, if at all, by other districts since focus was one online school. Limitations are further clarified in Chapter 5 . Additionally, teacher quality and characteristic s were not the focus of this study and were not considered, even though both would influence parent engagement in any setting. Furthermore, c onducting research about online learning i s chall eng ing (Thomas, 2009 ) as in any educational setting , because of the many variables and the difficult y controlling them . Summary To summarize, in a 1983 report, Thomas restated the need to reconnect the . Tho report highlighted the quality . The purpose of this study was to analyze teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend a virtual school, to examine middle school a nd high school social studies initiated contact with the families.
24 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE Familial involvement has been identified as a crucial component of student achievem ent in the traditional school environment. Several studies suggest greater mprove homework habits; facilitate a positive attitude toward school; and thereby maintain a positive attendance record which will enhance student achievement (Fehrmann, Keith, Reimes, 1987; Lareau, 1987; Stevenson & Baker, 1987; and Darsch, Miao, & Shippen, 2004). Several researchers suggest a role of familial involvement for students in virtual schools (Clark, 2001; Rice, 2006). The goal of Chapter 2 is to review literature pertaining to teacher communication and to parental involvement in virtual schools by establishing the context of parental involvement in traditional schools. This review of literature establishes a context for teacher communication in virtual schools and provides the platform for discussing the role of familial involvement in virtual schools. Overview of Familial Involvement Generally , education ( Gardner, 1983; Sheldon, 2002 ). is used to describe participation by whether that is a single parent , two parents, grandparents, foster parents, or an older sib ling. most inte rested teachers. This critical role of educating their child continues when
25 children enter school (Larocque, Kleiman, & Darling 2011). Students whose parents are actively involved in their education have higher grades and test scores, enroll in higher leve l programs, graduate from high school, and go on to post secondary education (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). More broad ly, many parent involvement programs also address the needs of the entire family and include . Hoover Dempsey and Sandler (1995) define parental involvement as interactions between the child and parent outside school ( learning related behaviors; attitudes or s trategies, parental activities) for helping with homework. Familial involvement has been identified as a crucial component of student achievement in the traditional school environment. Seve ral studies suggest greater positive attitude toward school; and thereby maintain a positive attendance record which will enhance student achievement (Fehrmann, Keith, Reimes, 1987; Lareau, 1987; Stevenson & Baker, 1987; and Darsch, Miao, & Shippen, 2004). Other possibilities of parental involvement include helping in the classroom, sharing expertise, participating in parent groups, serving on school leadership boards, and telling teachers which strategies are successful at home (Haxby, 1998; Jordan, 1998) . Parent involvement aids in student success. Children whose parents are involved in their education demonstrate higher gains in academic achievement, have more favora ble attitudes toward school, and have better homework habits than those whose
26 parents are not involved (Epstein, 1985; Baum & Murray Schwartz, 2004) Many s tudies have shown that students in secondary schools earn higher grades in English and math, attain b etter reading and writing skills, have better attendance, and exhibit fewer behavior problems when pare nts are involved (Catsambis, 2001; Catsambis & Beveridge, 2001; Desimone, 1999; Ho & Willms, 1996; Keith, Keith, Jroutman, Bickley, Trivette & Singh, 199 3; Lee & Croninger, 1994; Parcel & Dafur, 2001; Sanders & Epstein, 2000; Simon, 2004 ). Research shows parental involvement has a positive effect on a child's social and academic success (Clark, 1983; Snow, Barnes, Chandler, Goodman, & Hemphill, 1991 ; Chow a, Masa, & Tucker, 2013) ). Parental involvement is important for the quality of education students receive beyond just achievement, such as parent and student satisfaction with school, fewer discipline problems, positive attitudes and more effective progra ms and schools (Lewis, 1993). Some educators have increasingly identified parental involvement as the primary vehicle by which to raise academic achievement from current levels. Topor, Keane, Shelton, and Calkins (2010) research included 158 children, thei r mothers, and their teachers. Results showed parental involvement improves the academic achievement of children. A parent who believes he or she has the ability to make a difference in their l. Hoover Dempsey 7) theory of self ir involvement in their
27 (Anderson & Minke (2007). Compared to parents with low self efficacy, parents with high self efficacy generally set higher goals and are more l ikely to invest the time to reach those goals (Hoover Dempsey & Sandler, 1997; Bandura 1977). Other barriers, (such as inconvenient meeting times, transportation, child care, and communication from the school) were identified by parents that prevent parent s from being more perceptions of racism (Johnson, Pugach and Hawkins, 2004) and their own negative school experiences and poverty (Hill & Taylor, 2004) also deterred from fami lial involvement. Teachers play a crucial role in the school to home relationship and also affect parental involvement (Barge & Loges, 2003). Parent involvement helps teachers gain St udies show offer added benefits to teachers and schools, including greater job satisfaction and improved classroom behavior (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). Parents and teachers who work together are less incli ned to blame one another for lack of student motivation, misconduct, or poor friendly ways (Carlisle , Stanley, & Kemple, 2005, p. 155). There is reason to suspect family involvement plays an equal, if not more important role, in student achievement in online learning (Russell, 2004). Several researchers suggest a role f or familial involvement for studen ts in virtual schools ( Downs & Miller, 1999; Darling, 2000; Clark, 2001; Cavanaugh, Gillian, Kromrey, Hess,
28 & Blomeyr, 2004; Morris, 2005; Rice, 2006 ; U.S. Department of Education, 2010; Hawkins, Barbour, & Graham, 2011 ). While it is tempting to assume the same factors influence student achievement in the two types of schools, the current literature on parental involvement focuses mainly on the traditional school setting for kindergarten to twelfth grade education (Black, 2009; Liu, Black, Algina, Cavanaugh , & Dawson, 2010). Unfortunately, no published studies empirically investigate the impact of parental Ferdig, DiPietro, 2008; Borup, Graham, and Davies , 2013) . only held in the K learning. However, little research has examined parental involvement in an online Familial involvement, for some parents, depends on their home situation, their experience with school , and their ex perience with teachers. Kohl, Lengua, and McMahon (2000) reported on family factors that potentially p ut parental involvement at risk: p teacher and th eir degree of comfort in communicating with teachers might reflect on their own education experience . In addition, meager or limited parental education may diminish parental involvement in , as may single parent status. Single paren t status might place limits, especially regarding of time available to support the child educationally (Kohl et al., 2000). Harry (1992) reported that many low socioeconomic level parents in the United States found home school contacts unnatural, insubstan tial, and awkward. A poor or limited personal education might leave the parent lacking in vision or confidence or competence in sup porting the child. Parents in two parent families were
29 more likely to participate and provide higher levels of home supervis ion than were single parents, but the extent to which parents discussed school programs or communicated with school staff was not related to family structure (Sui Chu & Willms, 1996 ). ider the socioeconomic level of the family. L ower resource families may respond differently than do families with greater resources (Anderson & Minke, 2007). participate or comply with teacher expectations also differ because of vary ing levels of resources. According to Anderson and Mi n ke (2007), middle class families tend to have more flexible work schedules and e asier access to transportation. Parents from higher socioeconomic c lasses have more opportunity, compared to those in lowe r classes, for school involvement; particularly when physical presence is required (McGrath & Kuriloff, 1999). Virtual schools may off opportunities to decrease the social class barrier. Griffith (1998) reported that African American families are involved less often in n parents. Discrimination and bi as experienced by many African Americas has resulted in a mistrust of school and teachers by many African American parents (Lareau, 1987; Obgu, 1978). However, Ho & Willms (1996) reported no difference between the two groups. Few studies look at teacher characteristics and teacher communication with parents or students. A literature search at the University of Florida library was done using Academic Search Premier Database, ProQuest Database, and Google Scholar with the following search terms: teacher c ommunication, communication with p arents, communication with s tudents, and student t eacher and t eacher parent c ommunication .
30 Mentions o f teacher communica tion in contemporary literature were limited to: Simpson & Erikson (1983); Eaves (1985) Baum (2000); and Berger, (2004 ). In a study by Baum (2000) , pre service teachers emphasized the importance of communication with parents. While it is not uncommon for parent involvement/ communication textbooks to include a chapter on communication with parents, it is likely that a more comprehensive approach to teaching communications skills would be beneficial (Wright & Stegelin, 2003; Berger, 2004). According to Baum, (2000) teacher educators stress the importance of appropriate communication between teacher and family, but seldom teach students the skills n eeded to be successful communicators. Pre service teachers can attend parent oriented meetings and parent advisory boards and support groups, and can observe parent teacher conferences to create further understanding. Since many pre service teachers do not have children, they are lacking in empathic communication (Baum, 2000). Simpson and Erikson ( 1983 ) observed teachers verbal and nonverbal behaviors for the independent variables of student race, student gender, and teacher gender. R esults showed that whi te teachers directed more verbal praise , criticism, and nonverbal praise toward males. In contrast, teachers directed more nonverbal criticism to black males than to black females or w hite males. The race of the child and the race of the teacher, according mediate the interpretation of appropriate and inappropriat w hite teachers are more likely to rate black children as deviant and white children less deviant compared to t
31 echoed those results and found that black children receive more negative academic and behavioral feedback than do their white peers. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES , 1994) i ndicated that Asian (Hong & Ho, 2005) . Hong and ethnic groups concluded, for the Asian American sample, parental a spiration was effective for immediate achie vement but was not long lasting. P arental communication did not have an immediate effect , but had a successive effect on student achievement. For the Hispanic sample, parental communication proved the o nly effecti ve involvement factor. It had an immediate initial effect and was not long lasting across 4 years . In the same study, parental communication and parental aspiration for the Caucasian sample were most effective . They had bot h immediate and subsequent long l asting effects on student achievement (2005). Teacher communication connects the school and the home. It is important for teachers to communicate with families about their students. Schools and teachers are in an advantageous position when it comes to fur thering parental involvement and ensuring an effective exchange of information pertaining to the student (Oostdam & Hooge, 2009 , Larocque et al.,2011; Chowa et al., 2013 ). Effective communication by the teacher and school is on e of the most significant com ponents of effective instruction (Irvine, 1985). A 1983 Gallup poll provides further evidence of teacher communication. The public rated the abili ty to communicate as the number one desirable characteristic of an effective teacher.
32 Another factor i n paren tal involvement is parenting style. Authoritarian/ autocratic Authoritative/democratic parents communicate with children in a nurturing way and are able to maintain friendly rela tions hips with peers and cooperate with adults (Santrock, 2004) which create the opportunity for teacher parent communication to work well for students. Whereas, p ermissive/laissez faire parents establish minimum amounts of control and do not actively part ici (Santrock, 2004) . As a result, parents cannot be viewed as a homogeneous group because they do not participate the same way; some have more of a presence in the school than do others. Given that increased parental involve ment in schools, and in the education of their children is positively correlated with increasing educational achievement, Larocque, Kleiman, and Darling (2011) said there is a need to move from the idea that parents are the same, with the same needs given that increased parental involvement in schools. Government Policies and Mandates for Familial Involvement According to the U.S. Department of Education , Â§ 1111 (USDOE, 2004), parental involvement means the participation of parents in three distinct ways: ( 1) engage in two and school; and The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (Elementary and Secondary Educational Title IX, Â§ 9101(32) Parental Involvement) requires schools to develop ways to get parents involved in thei
33 choices for their child ( 2002). A Nation at Risk (1985) expressed the importance of h ome and school li ves to connect (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). Required in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), family involvement builds positive relationships b etween home and the school; reinforces new behaviors and skills ; a nd increases optimism among students, parents and teachers ( Parent Participation , Â§ 300.322). The No Child Left Behind Act ( Elementary and Secondary Educational Title IX, Â§ 9101(32) Parental Involvement ) defines parental parents in regular, two way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, (NCLB, Â§ 9101(32)) including ensuring T hat parents play an integral role in assisting their child's learning; T hat parents are encour aged to be actively involved in their child's education at school; T hat parents are full partners in their child's education and are included, as appropriate, in decision making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child ; T he carr The National Education Technology Plan (2010) promotes a change in the traditional views of kindergarten through twelfth grade education . According to Rice (2010) , the emphasis on vir tual schools in the National Education Technology plan is no coincidence. Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), virtual schools are considered A virtual school can be among schools to which eligible students a re offered the opportunity to transfer as long as that school is a public
34 elementary or secondary school as defined by (U.S. Department of Education, 2004, p. 13). The U.S. Department of Education N ational Technology Plan (2005) supports e learn ing and virtual schools. The National Technology Plan Provides every student access to e learning Enables every teacher to participate in training Explores creative ways to fund e learning Uses e learning options to meet NCLB Develops e learning quality mea sures and standards . Carlisle and Kemple (2005) provided an example of two way communication as communica tions in person or on the phone, or video and pictures to keep the family connected. Teacher communication with families can help to make the school experience safe and supportive for children and their parents ( Carlisle & Kemple, 2005). T he N AEYC) Code of Ethical Conduct, Section II Principle 1.2 fam ily as parents and those respo nsively involved with the child. 1999). The U.S. Department of Education said parents need to be more fully integrated interact ions with their children and with In traditional schools and in non traditional forms of education, parental involvement is a key Dempsey, 2007). With the ad vent of technology, parents and teachers have the possibili ty of communicating regularly. The proliferation of technology using electronic communication tools has brought correspondence instruction into the mainstream of educational delive ry systems
35 and ha s modified it so interaction between student and teacher is more immediate a nd in some cases instantaneous (Watson & Ryan, 2006). Several ethical principles facilitate communication between school and family. In the 1940s, parents of all social classes co nsidered monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings a mandatory community event and during the first part of the 20 th century, there was a strong PTA connection (Hiatt, 1994). Project Head Start in 1965 required families and community members to ser ve on boards and participate in classroom activities ( U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012 ). The Association of American Educators Code of Ethics (Principle IV, 1994) for Educators makes concerted effor ts to communicate to parents all informa tion that should be revealed in the interest of the student. The National Association for the Education of ( Principle 2.4 ) s a ys e shall inform families of and, when appropriate, involve them in significan t decisions affecting The communication from teacher to parent has been focused on misbehavior (poor performance, missing class, failed exam, etc.) and reports of good behavior are unexpected by parents ( Em mer & Evertson, 2012) . Schools in m ore economically depressed communities make more contacts with families about the problems and difficulties their children are having, unless they work at developing balanced partnership programs that include contacts about positive accomplishments of stud ents (Epstein, 1995). There are challenges associated with communications. Schools do need to consider parents who are non English speakers or who may need large type font (Epstein, 1985). In addition, teachers and administrators are encouraged to review
36 t he readability, clarity, and frequency of all memos, notices, and other print and non print communications . Epstein (1987) said to expect to disagree with parents every so often and embrace this disagreement as an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Teachers can make significant strides toward improving student achievement if they are able to involve parents (McDermott & Rothenberg, 2001). Other challenges to 3): (p.340) despite the fact th almost all parents indicated they owned a cel l 8 ). The same study asked teachers if they would be willing to use text messaging as a form of communication with p arents. Most (n=5; 7 1.4%) Models of Familial Involvement The Hoover Dempsey and Sa ndler Model of Parental Involvement (1995; 2005) shows levels of parental involvement. Their study showed how student achievement is affected Cotton and R eed Wikelund (199 9) found that active forms of par ent involvement, such as participating in phone calls with teachers, reading and signing homeschool communications , and participating in parent teacher conferences, produce greater achievement benefi ts than more passive form produce. Best practices for sch y establishing and maintaining respectful and collaborative attitudes toward families (Griffith, 1998; Lawson, 2003) and facilitating frequent two way communication between teacher and parents (Adams & Christenson, 2 000). Strategies to increase parental
37 involvement, according to Hoover Dempsey and colleagues (2005) focus on developing two way communication, adapting and improving communication between home and school, and seek ing community and district support for new communication mediums ( such as email , blog, websites ) ( Figure 2 1 ) . common lens through which to explore and understand the relationship between families and schools. Parent invo lvement has been examined from many different angles. For example, Epstein (1987) devised a framework based on a theory of overlapping spheres of influence. Overlap (Figure 2 2 ) among h ome, school, and community increase d involvement of families in schools . the cooperation and collaboration of schools and families and locates the student in the middle. Spheres representing family and school may be pushed together or pulled apart by three forces. Time (Force A); the characteristics , philosophies, and practices of the family (Force B); and those of the school (Force C). According to Olmstead (2013), these forces may or may not help create opportunity for shared activities between family and school. These spheres overlap to a greater primary school years; when parents participate in the education (Force B), the zone of interaction between the two spheres increases. This scenario is repeated when involvement in schooling (Force C) Epstein (1995; 2010). Based on the theory of overlapping spheres of influence and years of research in schools across the country, a framework of the six types of school family involvement was created (Epstein, 1995). Pe rhaps the most widely used and comprehensive
38 2003). to home relationships: parenting, commu nicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community. Although both frameworks (Hoover to face learning environment, they may provide insights applicable to online le arning environments . This research Domain framework to examine and explore the communication patterns of social studies teachers in an online school. The goal was to gain a c omprehensive understanding , as it relates to communication; of parental involvement within the context of virtual schooling . This research study addresses communication, patterns on teachers in an online school environment. Standards identified by the N ational Parent Teacher Association (NPTA; Epstein, 1985) build on six types of parental involvement: parenting skills, home school connection, volunteering, learning at home, decision making at school, and collaborating with the community (Florida TaxWatch , 2007). According to the National Center for School Engagement, t he Epstein Model of Six Types of Involvement provides a framework to review research that ties family and community involvement in schools to positive st udent outcomes (Hoover Dempsey et al. , 1992). frequently with teachers , after high school have children more likely to graduate from high school and to pursue post secondary education (Henderson & Berla,1994). According to Epstein (2010) , at all
39 grade levels, evidence suggests that school policies, teacher practices and family practices are more important than race, parent education, family size, mari tal status , and even grade level , in determining whether parents continue to be part of their A study by Epstein and Sanders (2006) explored the preparation of future teachers and educational leaders to conduct school, fami ly, and c ommunity partnerships . Results: 55% strongly agreed and 40% agreed that school principals wanted to hire teachers who knew how to communicate a nd work well with all families. Nevertheless, many principals and teachers report that lack of parent involvement continues to be an obstacle to increasing student achievement at school (Epstein, Sanders, Simon, Salinas, Jansorn, & Van Voorhis, 2002). the development of numerous typologies that highlight the wide variety of communicative relationships families can create as they become involved with their child and school ( Jones 1993; Honig, 1990; Berger, 1991; & Bauch, 1994 ). Examples of how teachers interact with parents include notes and telephone calls, newsletters, paren t teacher conferences, home visits, weekly folders, dialogue journals, and open house nights ( Fredericks & Rasinski, 1990; Epstein & Salinas, 1993; Baskwill, 1996; Bohler, Eichenlaub,& Litteken, 1996; Farris, Fuhler, & Walther, 2004). A study by Epstein (1 986) found that school related issues ( such as lack of adequate communicati on between teachers and parents) influenced the level of parental involvement. Bouffard (2008) , however, said only 36% of families indicated that teachers use the Internet to commun icate with them, even though 60% of principals reported that teachers use the Internet in this way.
40 reported never receiving correspondence from the teachers, 35% reported never having parent teacher conferences, and 60% repor ted never speaking directly to the teachers , p. 281 ). ramework includes sample practices, challenges, redefinitions , and expected results. Epstein and Van Vooris amily and Community Partnerships recommend the following : C onferences at least once per year, with follow ups as needed L anguage translators to assist when needed W eekly or monthly folders of student work sent home for review P arent/student pickup of repo rt card, with conferences for improving grades R egular schedule of useful notices, memos, phone calls, newsletters, and other communications C lear information on choosing schools or courses, programs, and activities within schools C lear information on all school policies, programs, reforms, transitions . This research study aligned the conceptual framework of The 5 Cs, developed by Jeanne Repetto and Cathy Cavanaugh (2011). According to Repetto and Cavanaugh (2011), five general themes need to be evident to impact practice with students: a connection between the skill they are learning and the skills they need outside the behavior; curriculum grounded in effective teache r strategies; and a caring community that values them as learner and person. Each of these objectives relate s to one or more of the 5 Cs ( connect, climate, control, curriculum and community ) and is supported by recent research findings in virtual schooling (Repetto & Cavanaugh, 2011). In effort to
41 understand the connection of the 5 Cs and virtual schooling, professional standards from the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) and the International Associ ation for K 12 Online Learning ( iNACOL ) were reviewed (Council for Exceptional Children, 2009). These 2 organizations r epresent special education (CEC) and vir tual schooling (iNACOL) (Repetto & Cavanaugh, 2011). Family Involvement and Communication in Virtual Schools The iNACOL Research Committee (2009) deve loped and sent a survey to 108 virtual schools regarding policies surrounding communication among teachers and students, teachers and parents/guardians , and students with students. T hei r study highly facilitated interaction . Barbour, Brown, Diamond, Lowes, Powell, Rose, Schieck , and Van der Molan (2009) highly facilitated interaction implies the use of emails, frequent phone conversations, and the use of collaborative to ols such as threaded discussions and synchronous chats . In addition, highly effective online teachers u se a disciplined approach to k eep the lines of communication open as part of the daily routin e. Since the early 1930s, elementary and secondary students have learned by using electronic distance learning systems (Cavanaugh, Ginnan , Romrey, & Blomeyer, 2004). The 1980 s and 1990s saw the rise of online education and networki ng at all levels of education evidenced by the invention of email and the developmen t of computer networking (Harasim, 2000). According to Hafner and Lyon (1996), networked create broad opportu and interconnected social a nd
42 cognitive commu nities (p. 206). Thus the 21 st century began with a shift in thinking about online education. Cavanaugh et al . (2004) reported several ben efits for kindergarten to twelfth grade distance education , including greater parental influence on B enefit s, according to Cavanaugh et al. (2004) included increased educational opportunities for students and increased student teacher communication. With this comes the need for adult supervision of most kindergarten to twelfth grade students , to encourage and monitor their learning. Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily via the Internet can be defined as online learning (Florida TaxWatch, 2007). Many kindergarten to twelfth grade online learning programs in North America are referred to as virtual schools or e learning (Kennedy , Cavanaugh, & Dawson, 2013). Clark (2001) defined a at offers K 12 courses through internet or w eb F or students in underserved regions , virtual schools create acces s to educational opportunities; extensive educational opportunities for students unab le to attend traditional school; and access to resources, including instructors not locally available (Hiatt, 1994). Virt ual kindergarten to twelfth grade education is a form of distance education. Distance education might be defined as formal education in which most instruction occurs while t eacher and learner are separate (Verduin & Clark, 1991). It includes delivery metho ds such as synchronous and asynchronous study, using videoconferencing and other instructional technologies (Clark, 2001). Although kindergarten through twelfth grade online learning programs have evolved and grown over the past decade, there is a limited amount of published research on virtual schooling practice (Barbour & Reeves, 2009).
43 Virtual schools offer the one on one environment to all students and create a student centric learning experience (Christensen & Horn 2008). Student centric teaching in o nline courses creates a personal connection between learner and teacher because of the increased communication in an online course. According to Cornelius White (2008), positive student outcomes (including motivation and critical thinking , as well as dropo ut prevention) s tem from the relationship of student and teacher. According to Pomerantz and Litwack (2007), w hen online courses replace homewo rk time in an expanded learning time school, family involvement opportunities shift from home based to school ba sed a form of involvement associated with student skill and motivation development . Furthermore, the need for more parent involvement with F lorida Virtual School (FLVS) is a free online public school for students livin g in the state of Florida. Originally called The Florida High School, FLVS was a government grant pilot project between two county initiatives. During summer 1996, Orange County Public Schools piloted The Florida High School (FHS) with web school was a catalyst for Orange and Alachua Public Schools and was overseen by the Florida Department of Education (Florida TaxWatch, 2007). In 1996, the Florida Department of Education gave the two districts $200,00 break the mol d grant. After forming the FHS alliance, in August 1997, FHS was officially launched. From 1997 to 2004, specific legislative appropriations controlled the funding. I n 2000, legislation established FLVS as an independent education entity. Legislation enac ted in 2002 and 2003 granted parental rights for public school choi ce: 108 listed FLVS as an option, and defined full time equivalent (FTE) students for FLVS based on
44 cou rse completion and performance rather than on seat t ime (Watson, 2012). Governed by Fl orida State Statute 1002.37 , in 1997 (the inception year) , the FLVS served 75 students . In 2011 2012, the FLVS completed over 31 4 ,000 enrollments. In 2003 2004, FLVS transitioned from a grant based funding school to the Florida E ducation Finance Program ( F EFP ) (Florida TaxWatch, 2007). Today, the FLVS offers a c lassic , part t ime p rogram that houses most students who choose the courses as part of their curriculum for many reasons . Some students use the FLVS courses as part of their homeschool curriculum; o th er students attend traditional school and take courses that are not offered at their school or for credit recovery. Some students are taking FLVS courses while pursuing their dream as an actor or athlete, while other students choose FLVS due to illness . Th e ful l t ime public p rogram was created in 2011 for kindergarten to twelfth grade students wishing to take courses online and receive their diploma (Florida Virtual School , 2012 ). Students and parents retain the right to choose FLVS courses to satisfy their educational goals. Florida Virtual School courses are universally designed to meet the needs of all populations of learners through regular contact via phone, text, email , and syn chronous live lessons. The teacher, according to the FLVS Student Handbook (2013 2014) , is the primary contact for students and parents/guardians and each teacher is qualified to provide instructional interventional strategies to handle student needs. Acco rding to the Student Handbook (2013 2014), students and guardians are required to have regular communication with their teachers at least once per month. In addition, hour week) are expected to have weekly contact with the ir students in the form of text,
45 email, live video chat, phone, and gradin g feedback to ensure continuous learning gains. Examples of how online teachers interact with parents and students include text message notes, email notes, telephone calls, video con ferencing, and virtual open house. a high level of interaction as an important factor in assisting student learning in online learning. The FLVS i s accredited through two a gencies: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and The Commission of International and Trans Regional Accreditation (CITA) . In addition , the course curriculum has been approved by National Collegiate Athletic Association ( NCAA ) (Florida V irtual School , 2012 ). According to Florida TaxWatch (2007), evidence suggests that FLVS views par ents as partners in their education. Each parent is given a guardian account granting access to the itted and graded assignme nts twenty four hours a day, seven days a week . Additionally, parents receive at least one monthly call, monthly , as . Teachers engage in pro fessional learning , training them to establish and maintain partnerships with parents throughout the time the student is in the course. The FLVS teache r s are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days per week (Florida TaxWatch, 2007) and are require d to return phone calls and email/text messages within 24 hours. Most FLVS teachers work full time. The FLVS employs 1150 full time teachers and 30 part time teachers (Florida Virtual School, 2013).
46 According to Picciano and Seaman (2009), kindergarten to twelfth grade online enrollments are increasing rapidly and more students are taking courses from their home, thereby requiring parents to assume more responsibility f or the This may make kindergarten to twelfth grade parental involvemen t more important in online learning than in traditional school settings (Russell, 2004; Liu, Black, Algina, Cavanaugh, & Dawson, 2010). Scant literature exists regarding family involvement and virtual schools. Liu et al. (2010) said researchers have negle cted to give proper attention to parental involvement in virtual schooling. National policy initiatives focused on expanding educational opportunities for all students (Hassell & Terrell, 2004; U . S . Department of Education 2004; Web Based Education Commiss ion, 2000), overcrowded traditional sc hools and shortages of funding, (Clark 2001), and an exploration of alternative routes for education (Collins, 2001; Herring 2004) are examples of the forces fueling the expansion of kindergarten to twelfth grade educa tion programs and schools. A literature search was done at the University of Florida using the Academic Search Premier Database, ProQuest Database, and Google Scholar using the following search terms: o nline l earning, f amilial i nvolvement, f amily, parents , virtual s chool, Florida Virtua l School, involvement, and t eacher parent c ommunication . P arental involvement in virtual schools was only mentioned by Clark (2001); Russell (2004); Black, Ferdig and DiPietro (2008); Liu, Black, Algina, Cavanaugh and Dawson (2010); and Borup, Graham, Davies (2013) received adequate attention is the effect of parental involvement on student achievement in virtual schools. The lack of research is exacerbated by a fundamental
47 shortag e of assessments validated with K 12 v et al . , 2010 , p. 112 ). The current literature on parental involvement focuses mainly on the traditional face to face setting for kinder garten to twelfth grade education (Black, 2009; Liu et al . , 2010). According to Russell (2004), virtual schools should encourage parental involvement because of the asynchronous nature of learning and the degree to which parental involvement is an important component of W ith the e xception of two virtual schools ( Kiel eSchool in Wisconsin and Florida Virtual School), no other virtual schools track and account for parental involvement (Ferdig, publications and papers from refereed conferences in the field of virtual schooling is limited DiPietro et al. , 2008 , p. 14 ). seem commonplace, Black, Ferdig and DiPietro (2008) found that few virtual schools track parental involvement act ivities. According to Cavanaugh (2009) national survey, 43 of the 81 responding virtual schools had policies in place regarding the frequency of the parent instructor interactions and 13 schools were in the process of creating similar policies. T he contact method for communication was typically not specified and onl y 26% of the policies addressed the need for synchronous interaction. Some research i ndicates that parents do not understand their role in th eir online learning (Litke, 1998; Boulton, 2008; Murphy & Rodriguez Manzanares, 2009). Litke (1998) encouraged parents to more fully understand their essential role in their .
48 Summary Recent research provides evidence of familial involvement and student success in traditional schools. In traditional schools and non traditional forms of education, Hoover Dempsey, 2007) . Although kinderga rten to twelfth grade online learning programs have evolved, there is limited published research on virtual schooling practices (Barbour & Reeves, 2009) to inform new policy and practice for online schools. This literature review provides a basis for deter mining communication patterns of teachers and the role of familial involvement in children enrolled in an online school .
49 Figure 2 1. Hoover Dempsey & Sandler model of parental involvement revised (2005) reprinted with permission from the family school partnership lab. Psychology and Human Development Department, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from http://www.vanderbilt.edu/peabody/family school/model.html .
50 Figure 2 2. Adapted from (1998) O verlapping spheres of influence. Sanders, M. G., & Epstein , J. L. (2000). The National Network of Partnership Schools: How research influences educational practice. Journal of Education for Students Plac ed At Risk , 5(61) p.3.
51 Figure 2 3 . Florida Virtual School (FLVS) completion history
52 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY The research study surveyed online teachers regarding their communication patterns, mode of contact , Res earch Design A survey instrument designed by Epstein and Salinas (1993) was adapted for this research study (Appendix A) . The instrument was developed by The National Network of Partnership Schools ( NNP S ) at the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryla nd) . The School and Family Partnerships: Survey and Summary: The Survey of Teachers in Elementary and Middle Grades Questionnaire assesses the degree to which teachers view parent involvement as important. After receiving written permission (Appendix B) fr om NNPs, t his portion of the instrument was used for this study an d was adjusted for online teachers. According to NNPS, the scales and measures were used practices in sch ools and families, attitudes, interests and needed improvements in programs of family and community involvement and to explore related research questions (Nation al Network of Partnership Schools Website , 2013 ). The Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, and Apostler is (1997) model is based on the Survey of Teachers in Elementary and Middle Grades Questionnaire , adapted from Epstein and Salinas (1993) . Groel nick et al . . According to Groelnick et al . (1997), Epstein and Salinas the Survey of Teachers in Elementary and Middle Grades Questionnaire model assesses the degree to which teachers view parent involvement as important . In addition,
53 Grolenick et al . (1997) used and adapted the T eacher Behavior Inventory to assess the frequency to which teachers solicit par ent involvement in various w ays. The researcher in this study obtained permission and used Joyce Epstein and Karen Clark Salinas School and Family Partnerships: Surveys and Su mmaries Questionnaires (SPSS) for Teachers, 1993 for this exploratory study . The survey questionnaires have been used by various researchers (Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997 ; Brilliant, 2001 ) and were tested for reliability and validity ( Ep stein and Salinas, 1993). This exploratory study used the same two portions of the Epstein and Salinas survey instrument (Appendix C ). The researcher used a focus group to test the adapted survey instrument for good fit. Therefore, i t can be assumed that t he survey instrument used in this study clear, even to naÃ¯ve respondents, the survey is said to have high face validity (Nevo, 1995; Gay et al., 2009). Epstein, Salinas , and Horsey (1994) repo rted t he reliability of the 1993 Teacher Attitude toward Parent Involvement Questionnaire . R eliabilities of the teacher and parent scale reported reliability in terms of internal consistency through use of type items. The reliabilities range d from modest ( us efulness for research purposes (Epstein & Salinas , 1994 ). The six items of the Ways Teacher Contact Families , on the showed a reliability of . 70. According to the Epstein and Salina s (1993) report , i tems were coded from 0 to 100% of the 224 surveys returned . R esults indicated a mean of 31.07, a standard deviatio n of 17.89, and a range of 2.50 to 81.67. Subsequently, t o determine how the selected teachers contact their
54 ies , based on the reliability coefficient of their study, Epstein and Salinas (1993) survey was used. Epstein and Salinas (1993) i nstrument w as revised by excluding questions. Because virtual school teachers live throughout the state of Florida and the course is online, is different for traditional school teachers . For example, teacher home visits are a challenge if a teacher live s in a different county than the student. With the assistance of a focus gro up consisting of seven online , middle school , non social studies teacher s , the i nstrument was adapted for online school teachers. According to Gay, Mills, and Airasian (2009), a questionnaire Pilot testing the questionnaire provides information about instrument deficiencies as well as suggestions (p.182). Middle school language arts teachers were chosen for the fo cus group study , as t he goal of the focus study was to verify the type of communication online teachers use , and to avoid studying the same respondents in the focus group and the final survey (Babbie, 1990) as eliminating email addresses for the final surv ey was not a possibility. According to Epstein (2014 ) contact method and frequency are not influenced by the subject taught. Preliminary responses helped to adapt the survey for online teachers. The refined teacher survey was then subjected to content revi ew by a subject m atter expert. Through this process, the survey was made more appropriate for use with an online learning population. The revised survey consists of three sections : demographic,
55 communication type , and frequency of contact. Based on finding s, the IRB protocol was revised to encompass a portion of the survey. Population The target population was middle and high school online social studies teachers in the state of Florida for the 2012 2013 school year. The online school comprises 1150 teache rs living in the state of Florida and beyond. According to the FLVS website, all teachers possess a valid Florida certificate and are cert ified in the subject they teach: 125 instructo rs are national board certified ( Florida Virtual School, 201 3 ) . The online teachers are primarily Caucasian (82%, n=1057) women (84%, n=1073), with an average of 3 years online teaching experience. Advanced degrees a re held by 50% of the teachers. Sample and Sampling Procedures The online sc hool used for this study has established data infrastructures allow ing access to the research manager who sends the survey to the email addresses. Teachers were recruited from 154 full time, online social studies, G rade 6 to 12 teachers at FLVS. Teachers served students in the state of Florida in the 2012 2013 school year. The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) , founded in 1997, is an online educational program that uses the Internet to provide course instruction to kindergarten to twelfth grade stude nts. Students log into classes, access lessons , and w ork on assignments and projects ( Florida TaxWatch, 2007). In 2000, the Florida Legislature established FLVS as an independent entity with a g overnor appointed board. The FLVS is the only public school th at uses performance based funding. Students set their own pace but must complete assignments to remain active in the course. Florida certified teachers
56 are u sed and 1150 faculty members live in the state of Florida and beyond , including 125 National Board Certified teachers. The FLVS is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is NCAA approved (Florida Virtual School , 2012 ) . According to its website, FLVS serve d over 148,000 students in 303,329 half credit enrollments in the 2011 2 012 school year. Enrollment is free and op en to public, private, and home school students in the state of Florida. Full time, online social studies t eachers were recruite d to participate in the survey. Social studies were chosen because this subject area i s not on the state assessment for the 2012 2013 school year. This opens the possibility of teacher communication for reasons other than content. Surveys were created in SurveyMonkey .com. Survey Monkey provides templates for developing of questionnaires usi ng a variety of response strategies (multiple choice, rating scales, and drop down ) and the survey can be adm inister ed online. According to Truell, Bartlett and Alexander (2002) , several benefits of email distributed surveys, include respo n se rate, speed , and completeness. Internet based surveys produce significantly higher l evels of completeness . Procedure for Data Collection This research study falls under the scrutiny of the U niversity of F lorida Institutional Review Board (IRB) . The Behavioral and Non Medical IRB ( IRB02 ) , is responsible for reviewing and monitoring research with human subjects collected at the University. Before engaging participants in the study, a research proposal was approved by the Univ ersity of Florida (Appendix C) and by the rese arch review board at Fl orida Virtual S chool ( Appendix D ) .
57 Data were collected u sing Survey Monkey (http://surveymonkey.com) , a secure, web based survey interface. Teachers were contacted by the research manager at the online school via email explaining th e survey and inviting participation. This email briefly explained the study and offered teachers the opportunity to remove themselves from the survey. Seven days after the initial survey invitation, a subsequent reminder was sent to the teachers. Factor a analysis is used to discover patterns among the variations in values of several values of several variables, essentially through the generation of artificial dimensions (factors) th Gay et al. (1990), factor analysis determines how variables group together based on what they have in common. The independent variables are the teacher characteristics: a ge, gender, ethnic background, education level, total years teaching, years teaching online and level of teaching experience (middle or high school). For data analysis, R software was used; the analysis for each factor is presented in this chapter. D ata w ere reviewed and coded , and descriptive statistics were generated for the entire data set and for the middle and high school data sets. A factor analysis was completed, disaggregating the data by the number of times teachers communicated with families and by each of the categories identified. This process allowed the researcher to conduct analysis of these data to identify areas of focus for online school with regard to communication patterns between teachers and parents. An a priori multivariate analysis o f variance (MANOVA) was then performed to determine if
58 there is a significant statistical difference between contact behavio rs. Multivariate analysis is the simultaneous examination of two or more variables (Babbie, 1990). The goal was to analyze communica tion patterns of online teachers with parents whose children attend an online school. The aim was not to generalize communication patterns of teachers , but to conduct an exploratory study in an online school district . A Likert style survey was used . A Like rt scale is an ordered scale from which respondents choose one option that aligns best with their view. Respondents are given a statem ent and are asked fixed answers (Babbie, 1 990 ). Data were exported from Survey Monkey and organized and sorted using R So ftware to efficiently code and transform data for analysis. A statistical analysis procedure was used to analyze . For the middle school survey , missing data accounted for as little as .036% of responses to a question and as many as 100% responses to a ques tion. In the high school survey, m issing data accounted for as little as .085% of responses to a questio n and as many as 100% responses to a question . P recautions were taken to protect Steneck, 2004, before res earching, a responsible researcher understands how data m anagement issues relate to the responsible conduct of research. K ey principles (Coulehan & Wells, 2000) instituted to ensure da ta protection and integrity are Notice: The researcher obtained researc h approval from the online school and the online school has been notified about the purposes for which the data was collected, the data will not be used for any other purpose. The school may contact the University of Florida for any inquiries regarding the study. Privacy: The researcher works to limit the collection of identifiable information related to the teachers including their name, phone number , address , or other identifiable information. Data i ntegrity : P recautions were taken to protect access to d ata. The researcher strictly followed
59 to create the survey and data integrity. According to the Survey Monkey website (2013) , d atabase servers are updated and backed up regularly and use of firewalls and intrusion detection software were used to monitor access. An acceptable response rate was determined: 98% for middle school teachers and 50% for high school teachers. Participants This study was conducted in one online school containing bo th middle and high school. P articipants comprised 30 middle school and 124 high school online social studies teachers. R espondents were asked to provide demographic characteristic information including information related to gender, race, age, education le vel, number of years as a teacher and specifically, number of years as an o nline teacher. Participants reflect the population at the online school. The social studies teachers are primarily Caucasian (93%) women (79%), with a mean of 9 years teaching exper ience, and an average of 4.5 years of online teaching experience . Advanced degrees are held by 40% of the participants (Figures 3 1 to 3 5). Method of Data Analysis After data sources were located, d ata w ere organized and disaggregated, and a thorough fact or analysis was conducted . D ata w ere coded and a correlational analysis was completed, disaggregating the data by the number of times teachers communicated with families and by each of the categories identified. This process allowed analysis of these data , to identify areas of focus for FLVS regarding communication patterns between teachers and parents. A multivariate ANOVA was used to explore the in dependent variables : age, gender, ethnic background, education level, total years teaching, years teaching o nline , and level of teaching experience (middle or high school). T he MANOVA was used to
60 test for a link between any of the in dependent variables and any of the dependent variables: the amount of time spent contacting families and type of communication . Su mmary This chapter presented and explained the methodology used for this study as it related to the selected online school was to analyze teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend a virtual school and to examine the frequency of tea cher initiated contact with the families by exploring teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend one online school . Results from the data analysis were discussed in Chapter 4.
61 Figure 3 1 ender Figure 3 2. Teacher race
62 Figure 3 Figure 3
63 Figure 3
64 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to analyze communication patterns of teachers with parents whose c hi ldren attend a virtual school, to examine the frequency of teacher init iated contact with the families, and to examine middle school and high school social studies t area of research that has not received adequa te attention. This study e xplored online teacher verbal, written, and electronic communication patterns. Sample Mid dle school and high school, online social studies teachers from the Florida Virtual School were chosen for this exploratory study. The Fl orida Virtual School (FLVS) employs 154 total social studies teachers . Al l of them were contacted, via email, with a request to take part in the study. When used correctly, exploratory surveys can be useful either as in dependent research or more often, as the preliminary phase of a descriptive or explanatory study. E xploratory surveys can be used to become more familiar with a topic, to explore it, and to try out preliminary concepts about it (Pinsonneault, 1993) . To expedite the contact and data collectio n, an online survey application, Survey Monkey, was u sed . The respondent population can be divided i nto two distinct groups: middle school social studies teachers and high school social studies teachers. The middle school group consists of 30 teachers with a response rate of 98% . The high school group consisted of 124 teachers with a 50% response rate . The total response rate of those teachers participating in this stu d y was 59% Of the 154 total social studies teachers, 77 responded to the survey. Thus, the teacher response rate based on a
65 possible 154 responses was 59%. A response rate of at least 50% is generally considered adequ ate for analysis and reporting of survey data (Babbie, 1990). Re search Question 1: What is the R elationship Between Teacher Char acteristics and C ommunication P atterns ? The sample of online social studies teachers was primarily Caucasian (93%); young, with a median age of 38 ; and primarily female (79%). Overall teaching experience was evenly distributed among the sample. The median number of years of experience was 7 and the mean was 9. O nline teaching experience was fairly evenly distributed for experienced online teachers, with an additional large contingent of first and second year online teachers. R esults showed teacher character istics do not influence communication patterns , overall, except for the number of years teaching online . The MANOVA showed years teaching online were a bette r predictor than teacher age. Each year of experience teaching online adds 2.2 percentage points (p value=.0043) to the number of families contacted ( Table 4 1 ). From the data , we can conclude that a tenth year online teacher will send 10% more letters to families than a fifth year teacher will. Over time, behaviors change: teachers tend to communicate less with text and less with video. This could be a result of teachers being older. Main determinants of behavior were grade level (middle versus high school) and years of online teaching experience. In general, race , gender, and education level did not in fluence contact behavior. Research Question 2: What A re the C ommunic ation P atterns of O nline M iddle S chool and H igh School S ocial S tudies T eachers ? Middle s cho ol t eachers The middle school teache rs consisted of 30 individuals: 29 chose to participate an d 28 submi tted viable surveys. The middle school social studies teachers were
66 primarily Caucasian (82%); young , with a median ag e of 39; and primarily female ( 71 %) . Overall teaching experience was evenly distributed among the sample. The median number of y ears of experience was 7 and the mean wa s 7.6 . O nline teaching experience was fairly evenly distributed for experienced online teachers, with an additional large contingent of first and second year online teachers. Middle school teachers spent more than 1 3 hours per week contacting parents ( Figure 4 1 ). Most ( 68 % , n =20 ) did not contact families using letters ; only 4 teachers (14%) contacted families by letter . Roughly half ( n=13) contacted families by email . Most (62%, n=18) middle school teachers contact ed 25 to 75% of families by text message. Most ( 68% , n =20) contacted at least half of their student families by email. Patterns were similar for phone conversations : 82 % (n=24) contacted all families by phone and 89% (n=26) contacted at least half of famil ies by phone. Contact by scheduled call was evenly distributed with 55% of teachers (n=16) contacting families. The rarest contact method was video: 58% of teachers (n=17 ) contacted 10% or fewer families via video. There is a strong relationship between pr evalence of contact by phone versus email (r=0.76 ). Contact by letter had no significant relationship with any other contact type, indicating that the use of letters is not likely a substitute for other forms of communication. Data analysis paired communic ation patterns: email and phone ; phone and text ; text and email ; and scheduled calls and texts and emails and showed no significant difference in patterns teachers used to communicate with parents. For example, teachers used email at relatively same freque ncy as phone.
67 High school t eachers H igh school teachers in the sample consisted of 124 individuals, 62 of whom responded to the survey. O f the responses , 15 were incomplete; so 47 surveys were viable. H i gh school teachers were primarily female (83%); Cauc asian (100%); and young , with a median age of 37. The median number of years of experience was 8 and the mean wa s 9.9. O nline teaching experience was fairly evenly distributed . Like the middle school teachers, most high school teachers spent more than 11 hours per week contacting parents (Figure 4 2 ). Most (82%, n=38 ) d id not contact families using letters; only 4 teachers ( 13 %) said they contacted families by letter. About half , 47% ( n= 22), contacted families by email ; and 79 % (n=37) contacted at least ha lf of their student families by email. Patterns were similar for phone conversations: 91% (n=43) contacted all families by phone and 77% (n=36) contacted at least half of families by phone . Contact by scheduled call was evenly distributed , with a mean of 4 9% of teachers (n= 23) contacting families. As for the middle school teachers, the rarest contact method was video : 49% of teachers (n=23) contacted 5% or fewer families via video . There is a strong relationship between prevalence of contact by phone versus email ( r=0 .74). As with the middle school teachers, c ontact by letter had no significant relationship with any other contact type, indicating that the use of letters is not likely a substitute for other forms of communication. Data analysis paired communi cation patterns: email and phone; phone and text; text and email; and scheduled calls and texts and emails and showed no significant difference in patterns teachers used to communicate with parents. For example, teachers used text at relatively same freque ncy as phone.
68 Middle school teachers are more likely to use letters, scheduled phone calls , and video conferences; and tend to spend an extra hour and a families c ompared to high school teachers ( Figure 4 3 ). Middle school teach e rs are less inclined than high school teachers to use text messages. Research Question 3: How Often Do Teachers C ommunicate with F amilies in an online school? An initial model using all of the independent variables found only years of online teaching exp erience in the on line school to be significant. Most ( 68% ) spent more than 12 hours per week contacting families in the online school . On average, teachers spent more than 1 2 hours per week contacting families at the onlin e school. Most (77% , n=58 ) d id no t contact families using letters : only 13 teachers (17%) contacted families by letter. Nearly all (96% , n=72 ) contacted families by email ; 75% (n=56) contacted at least half of their student families by email. Patterns were similar for phone conversation s : 93% (n=70) contacted all families by phone. Contact by scheduled call was evenly distributed , with a mean of 51% (n=38) of teachers contacting families. The rarest contact mode was video : 49% of teachers (n=37) contacted 5% or fe wer families via video . There is a strong relationship between prevalence of contact by phone versus email ( r= 0.75) . Contact by letter had no significant relationship with any other contact type, indicating that the use of letters is not likely a substitute for other forms of com munication. There was also a positive correlation ( r=0.1978 ) between ye ars of online teaching experience and the number of hours spent contacting families (Table 4 1) .
69 The data show that teacher s contact 3 % more families by email for each additional year o f experience. A teacher with 5 years of online experience would contact 6 % more families by email than a teacher with 3 years of online experience school. Data analysis paired communication patterns: email and phone; phone and text; text and email; and sch eduled calls and texts and emails and data analysis showed no significant difference in patterns teachers used to communicate with parents. For example, teachers used email at relatively same frequency as phone. This study use d a linear model, not a logi stic model. A technical error in the survey for online high hours contacting families 12 or more hours families ( 12 15 hours and 15 or more hours . Therefore, I combined the m into a single group. This should not have a significant impact on the findings. Summary of Findings The rese arch question s sought to explore the following : What is the relationship between teacher characteristics and communica tion patterns? What are the communication patterns of online middle school and high school social studies teachers ? How often do teachers communicate with families in an online school? O utcomes provide evidence that teacher communication occurs frequentl y each week . Findings suggest teachers use various modes of communication with phone, email, and text preferred. Results also show that the Epstein and Salinas (1993) assessment, adapted for this study, elicited internally reliable results. These results w e re applied to three research questions to provide a basis for analyzing teacher communication patterns with parents whose ch ildren attend an online school. A nalysis
70 of these data showed several areas that should be addressed , as r ecommendations to the dis trict ( Chapter 5 ) .
71 Figure 4 1 . Middle er week contacting families in the online s chool
72 Figure 4 2 . High school t hours p er w eek c ontacting f amilies in the o nline s choo l
73 Figure 4 3 . Contact Method and P ercenta ge of families c ontacted by online t eachers
74 Table 4 1. Regression c oefficients and p values: how number years of o nline t eaching experience in m iddle and h igh school i mpact contact b ehavior L etter E mail P hone T ext C all V ideo H ours online p value 1.178 58.488 60.7008 69.052 42.343 10.7358 10.7821 9.7008 2.1299 10.6055 18.49 6.6436 3.831 1.527 0.0007 2.2992 3.1119 2.7661 0.724 0.5685 0.6984 0.1914 0.0043
75 C HAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS Introdu ctory Remarks In an effort to analyze commu nication patterns of online teachers, an online survey was adapted from research by Epstein and Salinas (1993), sampling middle school and high school social studies teachers from an online school in the Southeastern United States. R esearchers have neglect ed to give proper attention to parental involvement in virtual schooling ( Liu et al ., 2010). With the exception of two virtual schools, ( Kiel eSchool in Wisconsin and Florida Virtual School), no other virtual schools track and account for parental involvem ent (Ferdig, 2006 ; Watson et al., 2013). A better understanding of factors and strategies of successful kindergarten through twelfth grade online educators is crucial (Yang & Cornelious, 2005). Parental involvement is seen as a significant factor in other non traditional forms of education, including charter schools and home schooling (Green & Hoover Dempsey, 2007; Bulkley & Fisler, 2003). There is reason to suspect family involvement plays an equal, if not more important role, in student achievement in on line learning (Russell, 2004). can reasonably assume that teacher communication can impact parent involvement. To explore this concept, data were collected from a sample of online social studies teachers. Responses were analyzed and a factor analysis was performed. Statistical analysis procedures were used to interpret the data. This chapter discusses outcomes and review s implications associated with three research quest ions providing foundation for this study. This study sought to analyze teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend a virtual school; to
76 examine the frequency of teacher initiated contact with families; and examine to patterns of middl e school and high school social chapter also discusses limitations, and recommendations based on results of this study. Discussion Research Question 1: What is the relationship between teacher characteristics and commu nication patterns? Some studies report t eachers' age, teaching experience, and gender are some factors that affect communication . These factors have been ex amined by Egbert, Paulus & Nakamichi, ( 2002 ) ; Teo, ( 2008 ) ; Todman, ( 2000 ) ; Yaghi, ( 2001 ) . These stu dies have found different results. For example, two contrasted results are reported in the studies about the impact of teachers' gender on communication . The first one (2002) found tha t teachers' gender affects the communication , but the second one (2008) found that teacher gender had no effect. The results of this study support the Teo findings; gender had no effect on communication. Furthermore, t his study revealed age, ethnic background, education level, total years teaching, and level of teach ing experience (middle or high school) had no impact on communication. The online social s tudies teachers in this study were primarily Caucasian (93%); young, with a median age of 38; and primarily female (79%). Overall teaching experience was evenly distr ibuted among the sample. The median number of years of experience was 7 and the mean was 9. The number of years as an online teacher was 4.5 years. T he results related to research question one, which seeks to determine the relationship between teacher char acteristics and communication patterns, found only the number of years teaching online was the only the teacher characteristic that influences communication patterns. Data reveal for each year of online teaching
77 experience online adds 2.2 percentage point s (p value=.0043) to the number of families contacted. The data show that teachers contact 3% more families by email for each additional year of online teaching experience. Therefore, it can be assumed, a teacher with 5 years of online experience would co ntact 6% more families by email than a teacher with 3 yea rs of online experience . Research Question 2: What are the communication patterns of online middle school and high school social studies teachers? The researcher conducted a focus study and from th e results, reframed the Epstein and Salinas (1993) survey (given to traditional school teachers) to better match communication styles of online teachers. The identified modes of communication for online teachers in this study were phone calls, text message s, email messages, letters, and video conferencing. These communication patterns foster communication between between the online teacher and the parent could lead to improv ed student understanding (Watson et al., 2013) . F requent two way communication between teac her and parents (Adams & Christenson, 2000) . ion patterns. Question two sought to do this by examining the online middle school and high Data provide evidence that teachers use email, phone, and text messages most frequently. For the middle sch ool teachers: m ost (68 %, n=20 ) did not contact families using letters ; only 4 teachers (14%) contacted families by letter . Roughly half ( n=13) contacted families by email . Most (62%, n=18) middle school teachers contacted 25 to
78 75% of families by text mes sage and contacted at least half of their student families by email ( 68% , n=20) . Patterns were similar for phone conversations : 82 % (n=24) contacted all families by phone and 89% (n=26) contacted at least half of families by phone. Contact by scheduled cal l was evenly distributed with 55% of teachers (n=16) contacting families. The rarest contact method was video: 58% of teachers (n=17) contacted 10% or fewer families via video. The patterns for contacting parents are similar for the h igh school teachers. M ost (82%, n=38 ) d id not contact families using letters; only 4 teachers ( 13 %) said they contacted families by letter. About half , 47% ( n=22), contacted families by email ; and 79 % (n=37) contacted at least half of their student families by email. Patterns w ere similar for phone conversations: 91% (n=43) contacted all families by phone and 77% (n=36) contacted at least half of families by phone . Contact by scheduled call was evenly distributed , with a mean of 49% of teachers (n= 23) contacting families. As for the middle school teachers, the rarest contact method was video : 49% of teachers (n=23) contacted 5% or fewer families via video . There is a strong relationship between prevalence of contact by phone versus email ( r=0 .74). As with the middle school teache rs, c ontact by letter had no significant relationship with any other contact type, indicating that the use of letters is not likely a substitute for other forms of communication. Data analysis paired communication patterns: email and phone; phone and text; text and email; and scheduled calls and texts and emails and showed no significant difference in patterns teachers used to communicate with parents. For example, teachers used text at relatively same frequency as phone.
79 Middle school teachers are more li kely to use letters, scheduled phone calls, and video conferences; and tend to spend an extra hour and a families compared to high school teachers. Middle school teachers are less inclined than high school teachers to use text mes sages. The iNCAOL study (2009) identified highly effective online teachers as those who According to Cavanaugh, and colleagues (2009) highly facilitated interaction implies the use of emails, frequent phone conversa tions, and the use of collaborative tools such as threaded di scussions and synchronous chats. In addition, highly effective online teachers use a disciplined approach to keep the lines of communication open as part of the daily routine. As mentioned previo usly, data provide evidence that teachers use email, phone, and text messages most frequently. Teachers who have highly facilitated interactions are related to increased student success shown in previous studies (Kortering & Braziel, 1999; Rice, et al., 20 08; Repetto, et al., 2010). Research Question 3: How often do teachers communicate with families in an online school? The results for research question three seek to reveal the frequ ency of communication. Data reveal m iddle school teachers spent more than 13 hours per week contacting parents; like the middle school teachers, most high school teachers spent more than 11 hours per week contacting parents. Based on a 40 hour work week, these teachers spent 30% of their time contacting parents. Several studi increase homework habits; facilitate a positive attitude toward school; and thereby maintain a positive attendance record which will enhance student achievement
80 (Fehrmann, Keith, Reimes, 1987; Lareau, 1987; Stevenson & Baker, 1987; and Darsch, Miao, & Shippen, 2004). Findings of this study indicate that online social studies teac hers communicate with parents 11 (or more) hours per week in the form of written, verbal, and online communicati on. Data revealed teachers from this research study connect school and home as evidenced by the various modes and frequency of contact. Florida State Statute Title XLV Â§ 100.20 K 12 Student and Parent Rights states parents of public school students must re ceive accurate and timely information ). Florida Virtual School Student Handbook (2013) states the student and parent will receive a minimum of one monthly telephone call from the teac her. In addition, each call, email, and text message will be returned within 24 hours. Thus, it can be assumed teachers are seeking to involve parents in timely manner Implications Findings of this study indicate only the amount of years teaching online impacts communication patterns . Therefore , the results can assist instructional staffing specialists and educational leaders in retention and school leaders develop professional development opportunities . The resul ts of this study also have implications for teac her preparation and pre service programs. The results of this study also have hiring parents. Staffing specialists would need t o be better trained to select rÃ©sum Ã© s for potentially highly qualified teachers . In addition, t he interviewers would need to be trained to utilize questions designed to elicit responses finding teachers who are a good organizational fit.
81 According to Baum , (2000) teacher educators stress the importance of appropriate communication between teacher and family, but seldom teach students the skills needed to be successful communicators. Since many pre service teachers do not have children, they are la cking in empathic communication (Baum, 2000). The results of this study reveal pre service teacher programs must prepare teachers to communicate effectively with parents. The results of this study reveal online te utilizing sy nchronistic and asynchronistic communication types (email, phone, text) with parents but the parent preferred method is unknown. Future research should assess parental preference in communication. This analysis is particularly important for teachers to ens ure the communication types they are using are congruent with parents. The results of this stu dy can assist educational leaders in developing professional learning opportunities for teachers on the following: 1. How to effectively communicate and build m eaningful connections with students and their families. 2. Effective practices for engaging in purposeful, two way communications with parents and students. These learning opportunities can equip teachers with tools to effectively communicate their message . In addition, educational leaders can conduct a needs communication. Online teachers communicate with parents , according to this study, 30% of their work week. In additio n, teachers are expected to provide personalized feedback on 48 hours, teach synchronous lessons each week, provided one on one instruction to students, and are paid for 40 hours. Teachers are
82 also expected to reply to emails, calls, and text messages within 24 hours, 7 days a week. The amount of work coupled with the current pay, have the potential to lead to teacher burn out and the inability to retain well trained teachers. The results of this study can assist polic y makers in developing higher pay and bonus structure for online teachers. Policy makers should be cognizant of the amount of work and implement higher pay for teachers and provide bonus structure to those teachers who are spending more time with parents a nd demonstrating the value for student achievement. Senate Bill 1514 (2013) changed the funding structure for all schools, traditional and virtual, including FLVS. With the passage of SB1514, students can no longer generate more than one full time equivale FTE is distributed proportionally by the department of education (DOE) to each district (FLVS is considered a district) for as many courses as the student takes (Florida Department of Education, 2013). When a student chooses an online course, and does not complete the course, the district does not get paid. T he teacher could spend up to 18 weeks with the student. Therefore, it is recommended policymakers investigate the amount of time teachers spend communicating with parents about student performance and if this provides an additional amount of workload for teachers. Based upon the results of this study and the amount of time teachers communicate with parents changes the FTE as teachers are spending 30% more of their time comm unicating with parents. Policy makers could investigate the amount of time teachers spend communicating with parents about student performance and if this provides an additional amount of workload for teachers.
83 Limitations Few studies focus on teacher co mmunication patterns in one online learning school . Therefore, this research is an exploratory, case study, the first limitation of this study. Case studies aim at the understanding of a single idiosyncratic case (Babbie, 2009). Past research in online lea rning focused on student characteristics, student achievement, and predictive measures for student success in online environments ( Hara, 1998; Singh, et al., 1995; Keith, et al., 1993; Parcel & Dufur, 2001; Henderson, 2002; Van Voorhis, 2003; Cavanaugh et al., 2004; Hong & Ho, 2005; Irvine, 2005; Black, 2009, Topor, et al., 2010) . There has been limited research on online teacher communication patterns. Additionally, few studies look at teacher characteristics and teacher communication with parents or stude nts. This study was designed to analyze teacher communication patterns of online teachers with parents whose children attend an online s chool. Scant literature exists on as the rese archer did not include other subjects. Given recent research on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas, teacher communication patterns and STEM may be valuable in enhancing communication and achievement in this area . A third limita tion of this research study is that it did not investigate teacher quality and other characteristics pertaining to subject matter. Another limitation within this study is t eacher quality and the impact of other characteristics on communication patterns (et hnicity, preparation programs, etc.). In addition, p arents were not surveyed in this study and could aid in an online provide their perspective of the communication patterns and discern if the
8 4 communication method teachers are using matches the communication method preferred by the family. Virtual school administrators need to question whether teachers are receiving adequate professional learning related to the importance of parental communication and involvement. In this study reliability was based on previous study by Epstein and Salinas however, the researcher did not conduct reliability for this population could be another limitation for this study. The researcher used a f ocus group to test the instrument for good fit (Gay, et al., 2009) . Given the previous research (Brilliant, 2001; Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997) the validity of adaptive survey was based on previous research by Epstein and Salinas, 1993. clear, even to the naÃ¯ve respondents, the survey is said to have high face validity (Nevo, 1995; Gay et al., 2009). Altering a test may suggest an impact on reliability. The based on previous research by Grolnick, Benjet, Kurowski, & Apostoleris, 1997 and Brillia nt, 2001 . However, i t is important to note that altering the items of an established instrument has the potential of impacting/affecting the established reliability an d validity. This survey was altered and was consider minor, so reliability would not be impacted. In addition, this study was conducted with online teachers from one online school in Southeast Florida regarding their verbal, written and electronic communi cation patterns with parents. Specifically, teachers were asked about their frequency of text m essages, calling parents, scheduled calls with parents, email messages, letters and video conferencing. Nevertheless , there may be other contact methods not aske d on the survey (such as social media) . Finally, teachers were surveyed in December 2013
85 and asked to report on their communication patterns in the 2011 2012 school year. Timing and administering of surveys have potential to impact responses and reliabilit y Babbie, 2009) ; d Recommendations Several recommendations for teachers, parents, l eadership , and policy can be drawn from the outcomes associated with the three research question s . These recommendations provide a roadmap for future investigation into the characteristics of teacher communication patterns with parents in an online school and, at times, for all types of schools. It is recommended that teachers use various methods of communication to r each Further research that is recommended that engage teachers in ongoing professional learning opportunities where they learn how to utilize preferred communication patter ns desired by parents to make better connections between h ome and school . It is recommended that school leaders and teachers familiarize p arents, whose children attend online schools, with the Studen t Handbook at the online school. Parents may find comfort in knowing the teacher will call at least once a month, per the Student Handbook (2013 2014) and the will not need to walk into a large, complex building for their ch who have special needs , such as needing large type font , may find comfort in the accommodations (the written communication font may be easily adjusted ) . Parents can sha ring strategies that work at home with
86 be a willing partner to ensure academic success. It is recommended that e ducational leaders develop education program efforts to g of the triad relationship (parent, teacher, and student) and its impact on student success, in all learning environments. This assertion is further supported by Cavanaugh (2009) whose research indicates a parent of an online student is an additional supp ort to the student. It is also recommended that educational leaders address possible teacher to teacher coaching that enhances As some virtual schools have rolling admissions (students may enter the online lea rning environment any day of the year), it is recommended that educational leaders host the parent education programs regularly to ensure equity among families. The establishment of best practices for virtual communications is essential due to the r apid gr owth of virtual programs. Without uniform standards for communications and other aspects of educational effectiveness, virtual schools will not be able to conform to the expectations that parents and school administrators have established ( U.S. Department of Education, 2008 ; Ferdig, Cavanaugh, DiPietro, Black, & Dawson, 2009 ).
87 Recommendations for Future Research This study points to the need for further research on the variables that impact parental involvement at the secondary level. Future research shou ld include Virtual schools have the opportunity to enhance the entire educational field in the incorporation and adoption of specific, methodologically sound standards for the e valuation of family involvement. A comprehensive understanding of the impact of the family, com municated effectively to policy makers could have a tremendous impact on future virtual school funding. A longitudinal assessment of parental involvement and the success of their child at a virtual school should be initiated. This assessment should not be limited just to survey data, as qualitative data is necessary to build a comprehensive understanding of the parent, or families, role this study, are part tim e programs where students choose to enroll and take courses as needed/desired. With the rolling admission, student data is not easily tracked. When online schools are given access to state and district level databases, online teachers will have a well roun ded understanding of the students and the holistic ability to monitor student growth. This study used one online school, whose 154 social studies teachers had a mean of 5 years teaching experience and an average of 4.5 years online teaching experience. To broaden the sample size and increase generalizability, future researchers might use all teachers at one online school or choose all social studies tea chers at several online schools and focus on the importance of teacher communication and student success. A study on the degree to which parents whose children attend online school A study on how parents perceive their role in online school versus traditional parental perceptions in brick and mortar sch ool. Litke (1998) said This study focused on teacher communication patterns and surveyed online teachers. Therefore it is unknown whether parents understand thei r role in online school . An In this study of online teachers , the teachers communicated with parents by phone, text and email, but whether these methods are the preferred methods of par ents (text message, phone call, email, video conference, scheduled call) is the su bject to further investigation. Future research is needed on a n investigation of the relationship between online teaching experience and the frequency modes of contact by the teacher. In this study, teachers tended to use email, phone, and text to contact parents. Other communication methods might have more of an impact on student learning which were not investigated in this study.
88 An investigation of the relationship betwe en teacher communication with parents and student achievement. Previous studies have indicated c hildren whose parents are involved in their education demonstrate higher gains in academic achievement, have more favorable attitudes toward school, and have ho mework habits better than those whose parents are not involved (Epstein, 1985; Baum & Murray Schwartz, 2004) . However, this study was not specific to student achievement; therefore, it is worth investigating whether teacher communication contributes to s tu dent achievement in online or traditional schools. Research indicates that teacher parent communication is one of the most significant components of student learning. However, r esearch is needed on teacher preparation program that addresses parent teache r communication. A study on teacher quality and characteristics and the impact both would have on engaging parents in communication, both in an online setting or in a traditional brick and mortar school setting. Although, t eacher quality and characterist ic s were not the focus of this study there is some evidence that these factors would be helpful for future research. Therefore it is unknown whether certain teacher qualities and characteristics disproportionately affected the frequency of contact. Summ ary This research study represents an analysis of online teacher communication patterns in online learning environment. Online schools are a more widely adopted the kindergarten to twelfth grade level has grown in popularity, research based investigations into teacher communication patterns with parents whose children attend an online school are limited . Virtual s chools have the opportunity to enhance the entire educational field in incorp orating and adopting specific, methodologically sound standards for evaluating family involvement. This dissertation focused on the communication patterns (mode and frequency) of online teachers as a foundation for future researchers who can work and build a body of evidence that affirming teacher communication, parental involvement, and student success in online learning and virtual schools. The communication between
89 a teacher and a parent is a key factor in learning for all children regardless of social c lass, living conditions, or physical location .
90 APPENDIX A SURVEY I NSTRUMENT
92 APPENDIX B PERMISSION T O USE EPSTEIN AND SALINAS 1993 SUR VEY
93 APPENDIX C INS T ITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTER
94 APPENDIX D INS T ITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD REVISE D PROTOCOL
95 APPENDIX E FIORE LICATA SURVEY
96 APPENDIX F EPSTEIN & SALINAS SURVEY (1993)
97 APPENDIX G INFORMED CONSENT
98 APPENDIX H FLORIDA VIRTUAL SCHOOL RESEARCH APPROVAL
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114 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michelle Fiore Lic ata grew up in Sunrise, Florida , and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State Univers ity (Tallahassee, FL) in 1996, with a major in s ocial s tudies e ducation. S he completed her Master of Science degree in mental health c ounseling from Nova Southeastern University ( Fort Lauderdale, Florida ) in 2001 . In the summer 2010, she began a part time doctoral program while working full time as a n online lead middle school social studies teacher. She graduated in August 2012 with an Education Specialist degree in e duc ational leadership from the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) before attaining he r Doctor of Education degree in educat ional leadership in August 2014. Michelle taught traditional middle school and high school social studies from 1997 until 2006 , in Broward County , Florida. In 2006, she began her career as an online instructor with the Fl orida Virtual School (FLVS) . She has served as a curriculum writer, specialist, teacher, and lead teacher. Michelle was the FLVS district teacher of the year . She was a named finalist for National Online Teacher of the Year award and currently serves as a lead teacher with FLVS . Michelle is married to Vincenzo Licata, R.N. They are the proud pare nts of two children: Enzo, age 10; and Gino age 6. .