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An Investigation of Greek Teachers' Views on Parental Involvement in


Education
Konstantina Koutrouba, Ekaterini Antonopoulou, Georgios Tsitsas and Eleni Zenakou
School Psychology International 2009; 30; 311
DOI: 10.1177/0143034309106497

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An Investigation of Greek Teachers Views on
Parental Involvement in Education

KONSTANTINA KOUTROUBA, EKATERINI


ANTONOPOULOU, GEORGIOS TSITSAS and
ELENI ZENAKOU
Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

ABSTRACT Parents involvement in their childrens education has


been shown to have positive results in various aspects of child develop-
ment such as behaviour, social-emotional development and academic
performance. This article focuses on teachers views of the major
problems affecting home-school partnership and possible solutions to
improve communication between school and family. It examines
teachers accounts of the components of parental participation in the
process of pupil learning and evaluates teachers suggestions for
improving teacher-parent collaboration in Greek schools. The results
show that Greek secondary school teachers have a positive attitude
towards parental involvement in school but find that in fact parental
involvement in Greek schooling is poor and infrequent. Most teachers
ascribe poor parent-school relationship to factors such as parental
unwillingness to respond to school initiated partnership schemes and
to the parents educational and social background. Generally speaking,
Greek teachers appear to be in favour of an active collaboration with
parents which will benefit schools, families and pupils.

KEY WORDS: parental involvement; students development; teachers


views

Introduction
Parental involvement is a core issue in school psychology. Over the last
two decades school psychologists have been particularly interested in
promoting child development by nurturing home-school collaboration
(DfES, 2004; Farrell et al., 2006; Squires et al., 2006, 2007). Recent
research suggests that school psychologists are engaging in a range of
family-school collaboration activities in order to promote their role as

School Psychology International Copyright 2009 SAGE Publications (Los Angeles,


London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC), Vol. 30(3): 311328.
DOI: 10.1177/0143034309106497

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School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)

direct resource to and advisor of families (Crozier, 2000; Pelco et al.,


2000).
The term parental involvement is used to describe: (i) parental
beliefs and expectations in academic achievement and (ii) parental
multifaceted behaviour at home and in school in order to improve their
childrens educational performance (Epstein, 2001; Epstein and
Sanders, 2002; Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Hill and Taylor, 2004).
Parental involvement, therefore, refers to parents participation
throughout the entire educational process (Cooper et al., 2000; Steven-
son and Baker, 1987).
A number of international studies have highlighted the benefits of
home-school communication on children, parents, teachers and schools.
The results from over 30 years of research suggest that pupils of all
ages and economic background are likely to benefit from parental
involvement in their childrens education in both their academic skills
and their social-behavioural profile (Bacete and Rodriguez, 2004;
Hogue et al., 2002; Jeynes, 2005; Sheldon and Epstein, 2005; Thorkild-
sen and Stein, 1998). Moreover, parents who are involved in their
childrens education demonstrate good communication and parental
skills (Becher, 1984; Brown, 1989), a keen interest in school matters
(Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler, 1997) and a good understanding of
their childrens needs. They have a positive attitude towards school
(Brown, 1989; Epstein, 1996) and tend to be supportive with homework
on a regular basis (Epstein, 1995).
Furthermore, family-school collaboration holds promise of a variety
of benefits for teachers given the fact that teachers and parents are
considered to be mutual allies from a pedagogical point of view: this
helps teachers to be confident (Garcia, 2004; Hoover-Dempsey et al.,
2001), feel accepted and rewarded (Ryan and Cooper, 2007; Tozer et al.,
2006), hold high levels of job satisfaction (Christenson and Cleary,
1990) and show a positive attitude to community initiatives (Coleman,
1991). In addition, teachers who have a close relationship with parents
are generally more capable of forming a better understanding of, and
consequently of more effectively meeting, a childs multiple needs
(Molland, 2004). Finally, teachers who collaborate with parents appear
to be willing to be involved with curriculum issues (Moll, 1992), adopt a
pupil-oriented teaching style (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2002) and
improve their teaching skills (Christenson, 1995; Desimone et al.,
2000). Similarly, schools that promote parental involvement achieve
high effectiveness ratings, implement a variety of flexible programmes
(Christenson and Sheridan, 2001) and show a spirit of collaboration
and keen interest when working with the community (Coleman, 1991;
Henry, 1996; Noddings, 1992).
However, it is not always easy for a teacher to develop a positive

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Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement

relationship with parents, and many teachers either avoid contact with
parents (Cullingford and Morrison, 1999), report parents unwilling-
ness to become involved (Dauber and Epstein, 1993; Epstein and
Dauber, 1991) or feel it is not necessary to communicate with parents of
older children (Tozer et al., 2006). Parents think teachers give them
less opportunities for involvement as their children get older (Chavkin
and Williams, 1993; Davies, 1987), while, in many cases, parents rate
their involvement higher than the teachers (Lareau, 2000).
In addition, empirical evidence shows that teachers often encourage
parental involvement in areas like their childrens general well-being
and homework support, but actually provide parents with few or no
instructions as to how to help their children with homework (Finders
and Lewis, 1994). In fact, teachers strongly resist any type of parental
input in areas of professional practice and teaching (Ranson et al.,
2004). Frequently, teachers prefer parents to be compliant supporters
of their own views and ask for parental support only when parents are
willing to follow their instructions in areas that teachers consider to be
their domain (Finders and Lewis, 1994; Tett, 2001). Furthermore,
teacher-parent meetings are scheduled at a time that is convenient for
the teachers, without taking into account the parents availability
(Koonce and Harper, 2005). Other factors that affect teacher-parent
relationships include the size of the class, the pupils heterogeneous
background, their race and socio-economic status (Dornbusch and
Ritter, 1988; Epstein and Becker, 1982).
There have been to date very few surveys on parental involvement in
the Greek educational system and even fewer on teachers views
regarding this involvement. In a recent study, Pnevmatikos et al.
(2008) concluded that Greek parents tend to believe that their chil-
drens school performance improves when parents actively collaborate
with the teachers; however, parental homework support is considered
to be less effective with regard to the childrens academic achieve-
ments. Moreover, Poulou and Matsagouras (2007) suggested that most
Greek parents considered themselves to be the exclusive guardians of
their childrens socio-emotional development and while the teachers
were seen as experts solely in the childrens cognitive build-up; thus,
parental involvement is limited to a simple interchange of information
in which both parties mutually respect each others field of influence.
In addition, Manesis survey (2008) demonstrated that Greek teach-
ers tend to provide well-to-do parents with more extensive information
on their childrens school progress and in-class teaching procedures.
Furthermore, the survey carried out by Bonia et al. (2008) indicated
that Greek primary education teachers believe that factors such as
teachers not being aware of parental involvement issues, lack of time
for communication, parents different language and cultural background

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School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)

and parents inefficiency to provide homework support can hinder


teacher-parent communication. Finally, Mylonakou and Kekes (2007)
proposed a model of syn-education (synergy and education), where
children and adults (both teachers and parents) collaborate in a com-
mon educational experience of mutual mentoring.
To sum up, there are many facets to family involvement in childrens
education. Empirical research focuses on the investigation of attitudes
towards parental involvement and its implementation, parental
involvement in homework and parental involvement in interpersonal
and socio-cultural contexts. The present study falls into the first
research category, which centres on teachers views of parental involve-
ment in education.
More specifically, the study examines teachers views on the follow-
ing issues:
Components of teacher-parent communication and affecting factors;
Obstacles to this communication and suggestions for improvement.

Methods

Participants profile
Two hundred and thirteen secondary school teachers (109 female, 51.2
percent and 104 male, 48.8 percent) from a total of 16 Greek public
secondary schools in the Athens area took part in this survey. Schools
were not chosen at random but formed a convenience sample (Peers,
1996) selected through personal contact on the basis of availability and
area proximity.
Most of the participants (81.3 percent) were between 36 and 55 years
of age with more than 16 years teaching experience (61.3 percent). The
subjects taught ranged from literature and art (i.e. Greek language and
literature, foreign language, religion, fine arts, etc.) 50.8 percent
and science (i.e. mathematics, physics and chemistry, computer
science, home economics, etc.) 49.2 percent.
A small number of participants (9.8 percent) had postgraduate quali-
fications. An overwhelming majority of the teachers (91.9 percent) had
participated in the recent past in at least one education seminar held
by public or private educational organizations.

Procedure
A specially devised structured questionnaire of 21 questions was sent
to all 16 secondary schools. Six questions in the questionnaire referred
to the participants profile, whereas 15 questions addressed teachers
views on teacher-parent communication (Table 1 and Table 2).

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Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement

Table 1 Distribution of variables looking at teachers views on the


components of teacher-parent communication and affecting factors (in
percentages)
1 2 3 4

1 Importance of teacher-parent communication 0.6 0.9 34.7 63.8


(1 = minimally important, 2 = slightly important,
3 = fairly important, 4 = very important)

2 Aims of teacher-parent communication


(1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Inform parents about childs academic achievement 0 28.6 71.4
Promote a flow of information between teachers 1.9 32.1 66
and parents
Encourage support for children with learning difficulties 4.8 45 50.2
Develop ways in which parents can help children 2.3 47.2 50.5

3 Factors affecting pupils performance


(1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Extent and quality of parental support with homework 12.2 50.5 37.3
Child-parent relationship 2.3 29.9 67.8
Parent-teacher relationship 9 46.2 44.8
Pupils trust in teacher 1 22.4 76.6

4 Existence of school visiting programme (1 = no, 2 = yes) 11.7 88.3

5 Parental response to school meetings (1 = minimally, 2.8 52.8 36.4 8


2 = insufficiently, 3 = strong enough, 4 = very strong)

6 Factors affecting the frequency of parents visits to school


(1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Parental education 6.1 48.4 45.5
Parental social background 25.5 53.8 20.7
Parents profession 25.6 51.2 23.2
Parents nationality 51.2 34.8 14
Pupils age 35.9 39.7 24.4
Pupils gender 67 24.9 8.1

7 Awareness of pupils needs (1 = very minimal, 1 19.2 66.7 13.1


2 = moderate, 3 = fairly good, 4 = very good)

8 Source of information about pupils individual needs


(1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = fairly often, 4 = very often)
Parents 0.5 22.7 46.9 29.9
Pupils 3.9 24.8 49 22.3
School principal 3.3 17.4 52.7 26.6
Colleagues 1.4 12.5 60.1 26

continues

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Table 1 Cont.
1 2 3 4

9 Issues of which parents are informed (1 = never,


2 = rarely, 3 = fairly often, 4 = very often)
Performance in written examinations 0 3.8 40.2 56
Performance in oral examinations 0.5 5.3 45.9 48.3
Behaviour in the classroom 0.5 11.7 55.4 32.4
Relationship with peers 9.6 46.2 37.1 7.1
Self-confidence 1.9 22.7 53.6 21.8
Predisposition to improvement 0 12.3 51.7 36

10 Problems that parents experience with their children


(1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = fairly often, 4 = very often)
Learning difficulties 0 15 49.8 35.2
Behavioural problems 1.4 23.7 54.5 20.4
Parent-child communication 3.3 40.4 37.1 19.2
Relationship with friends and peers 9 55.5 27 8.5

A total of 213 answers were received and a high response rate of 85.9
percent was achieved. The questionnaire was developed on the basis of
relevant research (Schwarz and Oyserman, 2001). The scoring of the
majority of the questions was based on nominal scales, incorporating
properties of labelling and classification.

Results

Initial data analysis


Teachers views on the components of teacher-parent communication
and affecting factors. A remarkably high percentage of the respondents
(98.5 percent) considered regular and systematic teacher-parent com-
munication as very important and fairly important. According to the
respondents, teacher-parent communication aims primarily at inform-
ing parents of a childs cognitive progress and academic achievement
(100 percent), encouraging support for children with learning or behav-
ioural difficulties at home and in school (98.1 percent), developing and
improving ways in which parents can satisfactorily help their children
with school demands (97.7 percent) and, finally, promoting a constant
flow of information between teachers and parents on the pupils per-
sonal needs and general development (95.2 percent).
When asked to define the factors that in their opinion affect pupils
performance, they stated trust in their teacher to be a very important
to fairly important factor (99 percent). Other very important to fairly
important factors include child-parent relationship (97.7 percent),

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Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement

Table 2 Distribution of variables examining teachers views on the


difficulties that arise in the communication between teachers and
parents and teachers suggestions for improvement (in percentages)
1 2 3 4

1 Factors hindering parent-teacher communication


(1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Parents lack of interest in school matters 13.5 37.5 49
Language barrier with non-Greek speaking parents 46.2 41.8 12
Parents working schedule 7.1 44.8 48.1
Parents apprehension that teachers will put the 46 41.6 12.4
blame on them if children dont do well at school
Parents ungrounded belief in their childrens 37.9 46.6 15.5
good performance
A range of family problems 17.6 43.4 39

2 Problems in teacher-parent communication


(1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = fairly often, 4 = very often)
Parents overestimate childrens school performance 2.8 29.4 47.9 19.9
Parents are not aware of teachers difficulties 20.3 24 31.2 24.5
Language barrier with non-Greek speaking parents 11.4 43.6 34.6 10.4
Parents tend to under-rate teaching profession 16.7 50 30.5 2.9
Parents behave arrogantly when communicating 13.8 57.3 25.6 3.3
with teachers

3 Factors that limit teachers motivation to communicate


with parents (1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Lack of in-school support 36.5 42.2 21.3
Lack of time due to busy teaching programme 32.2 44.1 23.7
Unimportance of parental opinion on school issues 67.5 25.1 7.4
Disapproval of parental interfering with teaching 76.8 21.3 1.9

4 Difficulties that parents encounter when helping with


homework (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = fairly often,
4 = very often)
Parents cannot cope because of professional duties 0.5 10.9 57.8 30.8
Children neglect homework because of many 1 17.1 53.3 28.6
extra-curricular activities
Parents do not live with their children and cannot help 13.5 59 25.2 2.3

5 Teachers proposed ways to improve communication


with parents (1 = slightly important, 2 = fairly important,
3 = very important)
Meet with parents on appointment in teachers office 5.3 33.3 61.4
Develop friendly and personal contact 2.8 38.7 58.5
Create a relaxed and welcoming environment 10.9 42.2 46.9
Use informal language 10 39.3 50.7
Provide parents with clear explanations 1.8 31.5 66.7

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School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)

parent-teacher relationship (91 percent) and finally, the extent and


quality of parental support with homework (87.8 percent).
With respect to parents visits to school, 88.3 percent of the teachers
reported the existence of a school-integrated visiting programme
scheduled at the beginning of each school year. Only 11.7 percent of the
teachers said that they worked in schools where parent-school partner-
ship policy was not implemented.
According to the majority of teachers, parents respond to the invita-
tions to school meetings in very small numbers and insufficiently
(55.6 percent). Only a very small percentage of teachers (8 percent)
found parents attendance at school meetings to be useful and regular.
In reference to the factors that affect the frequency of parents visits
to school, teachers reported that parental education (93.9 percent), pro-
fession (74.4 percent) and social background (73.8), pupils age (63.4
percent), parents nationality (48.8 percent) and finally pupils gender
(33 percent) are very important and fairly important.
Teachers were also asked to report whether they were aware of their
pupils needs. A high percentage (79.8 percent) reported a very good to
fairly good knowledge of their pupils needs and character, while only
19.2 percent reported a minimal to moderate knowledge thereof.
With regard to the teachers sources of information about their pupils
individual needs, teachers answered that very often and fairly often
their colleagues (86.1 percent), the school principal (79.3 percent), the
parents (76.8 percent) and finally, the pupils themselves (71.3 percent)
were good sources of information.
Teachers reported that parents very often and fairly often want to
be informed about their childrens performance in written (96.2 percent)
and oral examinations (94.2 percent). In addition, they want to be
informed about their childrens behaviour in the classroom (87.8 per-
cent), their childrens predisposition to improvement (87.7 percent),
their childrens self-confidence (75.4 percent) and finally, their chil-
drens relationships with their peers (44.2 percent).
Teachers were also asked to identify the problems that, in their
opinion, parents experience with their children. Teachers reported that
parents very often and fairly often speak about their childrens learn-
ing difficulties (85 percent) and behavioural problems (74.9 percent).
Parents are also concerned with their own relationship with their
children (56.3 percent) and their childrens social relationships with
peers and friends (35.5 percent).
Teachers views on the difficulties that arise in the communication
between teachers and parents and teachers suggestions for improve-
ment. Teachers were asked to define the factors that, in their opinion,
hindered communication between parents and teachers. Teachers
believe that the main issue here is the parents working schedule and

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Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement

the resulting lack of available time (92.9 percent). Other factors include
parents lack of interest in school matters (86.5 percent), a range of
family problems (82.4 percent), a sometimes ungrounded belief in their
childrens good performance (62.1 percent) accompanied by the appre-
hension that teachers will put the blame on them if their children dont
do well at school (54 percent) and, finally, the language barrier with
non-Greek speaking parents of children belonging to various ethnic
minorities (53.8 percent). Teachers rated all these factors as very
important to fairly important in hindering parent-school communica-
tion.
As for the specific problems teachers confront in their communica-
tion with parents, 67.8 percent of the respondents answered that very
often to fairly often parents tend to overestimate their childrens
school performance and achievements. Teachers also said that parents
are often not aware of the difficulties a teacher faces in everyday teach-
ing (55.7 percent), they tend to under-rate the teaching profession (33.4
percent) and behave arrogantly when communicating with teachers
(28.9 percent). In addition, teachers mentioned the problem in commu-
nicating with parents belonging to minorities whose native language is
not Greek (45 percent).
When asked to name the factors that limit teachers motivation to
communicate with parents, teachers mentioned a lack of time due to
their busy teaching-programme (67.8 percent), the fact that they do not
receive any in-school support (63.5 percent), the fact that they do not
value parents opinion on school issues (32.5 percent) and finally, that
they do not approve of parents interfering with their teaching (23.2
percent).
Moreover, teachers stated that parents very often and often com-
ment on the difficulties they encounter when helping their children
with homework. On many occasions, parents feel they cannot cope
because of their own professional duties (88.6 percent); on the other
hand, many parents believe that children neglect their homework
because of too many extra-curricular activities (81.9 percent) or heavy
parental supervision (76.6 percent). Finally, 27.5 percent of teachers
said that some parents very often and often worry because they do
not live in the same house as their children and therefore cannot help
them with their homework on a daily basis.
Finally, teachers were asked to propose ways to improve communica-
tion with parents. Teachers viewed it as very important to fairly
important to provide parents with clear explanations (98.2 percent), to
develop more friendly and personal contact (97.2 percent) by meeting
with parents on appointment in the teachers own office (94.7 percent),
the use of a more informal language (90 percent) and finally, to create a
relaxed and welcoming environment for these encounters (89.1 percent).

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School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)

Correlational analysis
Spearmans rho correlations were performed with ranked scores
(Peers, 1996) in order to gain insight into the relations between
teachers views of parental involvement in childrens education (factors
and obstacles) and teachers suggestions for developing and improving
parental involvement. The results are presented in Table 3 with the
more outstanding correlations marked in bold script. The analysis
show significant associations between a number of variables in
teachers views of teacher-parent communication, the importance of
parental involvement, the aims of parental school involvement, factors
hindering parent-school communication and factors limiting the
teachers willingness to collaborate with parents, as well as a number
of variables indicating teachers suggestions for improvement such as
adopting friendly behaviour and providing parents with clear explana-
tions in informal language.
The teachers obvious positive attitude when making suggestions to
improve family-school collaboration must be emphasized. Moreover,
teachers who believe that the teacher-parent communication is highly
affected by difficulties parents have to face up to, tend to suggest posi-
tive ways to overcome these problems in order to improve parental
involvement. Furthermore, there seems to be a relation between the
teachers views on what limits their willingness to be actively involved
in family-school partnership namely, the complexity of the task,
insufficient time, parents indifference or possible fear of interfering
with the teachers work and their practical solutions and ideas as to
how to bridge the family-school communication gap. In fact, there is a
direct correlation between the complex situation teachers have to face
in getting parents involved in their childrens education due to the
amount of extra time and work it requires and the suggestions
teachers make to improve this situation. Finally, it is very interesting
to note that teachers positive views on parent-teacher communication
are not related to the existence of integrated parental programmes. In
other words, teachers hold positive views about parental involvement
in childrens education whether their schools encourage or not family-
school collaboration.

Discussion
The present study examines teachers views on parental involvement
in their childrens education in Greek secondary schools. The findings
of this study suggest that Greek secondary school teachers believe that
parental involvement in childrens and adolescents education is very
important for several reasons, namely the teachers better understand-
ing of their pupils needs, efficient parental homework support,

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Table 3 Correlations among variables indicating teachers views of parental involvement and variables indicating
teachers suggestions for improvement

Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement


1 2a 2b 2c 2d

1 Importance of teacher-parent communication


2 Aims of teacher-parent communication:
2a. Inform parents of childs academic achievement
2b. Promote a flow of information between teachers and parents
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2c. Encourage support for children with learning difficulties


2d. Develop ways in which parents can help children
Teachers proposed ways to improve communication with parents
Develop friendly and personal contact 0.30** 0.18* 0.20** 0.32** 0.39**
Create a relaxed and welcoming environment 0.35** 0.17* 0.22** 0.38** 0.30**
Use informal language 0.18** 0.11 0.28** 0.26** 0.21**
321

Provide parents with clear explanations 0.34** 0.13 0.37** 0.34** 0.32**
Existence of school visiting programme 0.08 0.07 0.05 0.00 0.02
Parental response to school meeting 0.02 0.03 0.01 0.01 0.05

Factors hindering parent-teacher communication 1 2 3 4 5

1. Language barrier with non-Greek speaking parents


2. Parents working schedule
3. Parents apprehension that teachers will put the blame on them if children dont
do well at school
4. Parents ungrounded belief in their childrens good performance
5. A range of family problems
Difficulties that parents encounter when helping with homework
Parents cannot cope because of professional duties 0.26** 0.40** 0.01 0.03 0.18**
continues
Table 3 Cont.
Factors hindering parent-teacher communication 1 2 3 4 5

Teachers proposed ways to improve communication with parents

School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)


Develop friendly and personal contact 0.21** 0.26** 0.15* 0.28** 0.33**
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Create a relaxed and welcoming environment 0.08 0.17* 0.20** 0.22** 0.28**
Use informal language 0.16* 0.24** 0.21** 0.21** 0.40**
Provide parents with clear explanations 0.35** 0.36** 0.13 0.25** 0.50**

Factors that limit teachers motivation to communicate with parents 1 2 3 4

1. Lack of in-school support


2. Lack of time due to busy teaching programme
3. Unimportance of parental opinion on school issues
322

4. Disapproval of parental interfering with teaching


Teachers proposed ways to improve communication with parents
Provide parents with clear explanations 0.37** 0.34** 0.38** 0.39**

*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01.


Koutrouba et al.: Greek Teachers Views on Parental Involvement

parental awareness of their childrens difficulties at school. Previous


studies have shown similar results highlighting the importance of
parent-teacher communication which can lead parents and teachers to
collaborate in such issues as the development of childrens character,
childrens strengths and weaknesses, as well as childrens educational
potential and ultimate goals (Molland, 2004; Mylonakou and Kekes,
2007).
Results also indicate that teachers views on teacher-parent commu-
nication are not influenced by their schools practice and school-family
partnership is considered useful by all teachers whether they have or
not previous experience in working with parents. In addition, teachers
whose schools encourage parental involvement, hold a positive attitude
to parental involvement irrespective of the degree of parental response
to their schools initiatives in this sector. This suggests that parental
school involvement, traditionally associated with positive aspects of
schooling and academic performance, appears to be generally seen as a
tool that can be used in many different settings and for many different
reasons in the field of education (Christenson and Sheridan, 2001).
The study broadens our understanding of parental involvement in
childrens education, as it focuses on Greek data and on a population
segment mostly involved in childrens education. The findings also
provide an expanded database with useful descriptive information on
teachers views providing a more detailed understanding of those
teachers who are less motivated in developing active communication
with parents (Bonia et al., 2008; Cullingford and Morrison, 1999;
Ranson et al., 2004).
Although previous research on teachers views regarding parental
involvement has contributed much to our understanding of teachers
and parents attitudes towards family-school initiatives (Ryan and
Cooper, 2007), this study is useful in that it emphasizes the fact that
the research results in teachers views should not be evaluated without
taking into account the variables in parents views. The present study
shows that Greek secondary school teachers, similar to their colleagues
in other countries (Tozer et al., 2006), have a positive attitude towards
parental involvement; they identify school-related and family-related
problems and suggest ways of overcoming difficulties in order to
improve collaboration with parents.
More specifically, Greek secondary school teachers describe family-
school involvement as fairly frequent but one-directional. Most teachers
ascribe this weak parent-school relationship to factors such as parental
educational and social background, parental interests and relationship
with teachers. Although communication between parents and teachers
is believed to play a significant role in the academic performance of ado-
lescents (Ryan and Cooper, 2007) and although Greek teachers tend to

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School Psychology International (2009), Vol. 30(3)

be in favour of an active collaboration with families, Greek secondary


schools, as happens in many other countries (Dornbusch and Ritter,
1988, Koonce and Harper, 2005), exclude parental participation and
lack the infrastructure required to promote parental involvement. One
possible explanation might be that due to lack of educational psycholo-
gists provision in Greek public mainstream schools, there is shortage of
specially trained staff whose responsibility would be to help educators
and parents collaborate effectively.
The potential applications of the data compiled in this study are
significant. Schools must engage parents in a decision-making process
in order to give them a feeling of participation and belonging inside the
school community. In addition, schools can organize activities to
enhance parental participation and give parents adequate information
on the school and its functions (Mylonakou and Kekes, 2007). At the
same time a large-scale study should be carried out on how best to
include parental collaboration within the Greek educational system in
order to improve school efficiency.
Finally, future teachers in Greece and elsewhere should take special
undergraduate courses in communication with a view to develop their
communication skills with adults of diverse social and educational
backgrounds, and also in order to acquire a better understanding of
the importance of integrated school-society collaboration. Promoting
family-school collaboration should therefore become a core subject
within teachers and school psychologists academic and professional
training. However, at present, only a few university departments of
education include within their syllabuses courses such as The Devel-
opment of Communication Skills in Education, focusing primarily on
teacher-student communication and less on teacher-parent/adult col-
laboration (Matsagouras, 2008). The case for developing educational
practice which encourages family-school partnership is particularly
challenging.

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Konstantina Koutrouba is an Assistant Professor in the Department of


Home Economics and Ecology at Harokopio University, Athens, Greece. She
followed postgraduate studies and received her PhD at the National and
Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece at the Department of Pedagogy.
Her research interests focus on the investigation and implementation of alter-
native teaching strategies during the learning process, on involvement of
teachers personality and professionalism into the teaching practice and
his/her communication with students and parents. Address: Harokopio Uni-
versity, 70, El. Venizelou Str., 176 71, Athens, Greece. Email: kkout@hua.gr

Ekaterini Antonopoulou is a Lecturer in the Department of Home Econ-


omics and Ecology at Harokopio University, Athens, Greece. She followed
postgraduate studies in Educational Psychology at the University of Manches-
ter and then received her PhD at the University of Sheffield. She has teaching
experience in the education of children with special educational needs. Her
research focuses on learning and communication difficulties of children and
adolescents, with particular reference to inclusive education. Address:
Harokopio University, 70, El. Venizelou Str., 176 71, Athens, Greece.

George Tsitsas is a Counselling Psychologist working in the Counselling


Centre of Harokopio University in Athens, Greece. His research interests
include psychotherapy, teacher attitudes and empathy. Address: Harokopio
University, 70, El. Venizelou Str., 176 71, Athens, Greece.

Elena Zenakou is a PhD student at the Department of Home Economics and


Ecology of Harokopio University. She holds BA degrees in English Studies and
in German Studies from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
She is a tutor of German Language in Harokopio University and her scientific
interests focus on personality and learning styles, parenting styles and
childrens personality characteristics, listener skills in referential communica-
tion and learning styles in primary school aged children. Address: Harokopio
University, 70, El. Venizelou Str., 176 71, Athens, Greece.

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