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Digital technologies in communication between teachers and parents

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Rogulj, Edita. (2019). Digital technologies in communication between teachers and parents. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Information Science.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti) [mentor Bakić-Tomić, Ljubica].

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Abstract

Doctoral dissertation titled Digital technology in communication between kindergarten teachers and parents gives an overview of the theoretical and conceptual basis and conclusions obtained through research on opinions and attitudes of parents on the use of digital technology in mutual communication. Since the 60s, when the interest among scientists regarding the question of collaboration between families and educational institutions first started to emerge, until today, a series of studies have been published, seeking to answer why and how to collaborate (Stričević, 2010; Jackson & Needham, 2014). In their research on kindergarten teacher-parent relationships, scientists use various terms – parental involvement, collaboration with parents, parental participation, work with parents, and partnership with parents (Maleš, 1996; Hornby & Lafaele 2011). Over time, there occured a change in the relationship between parents and educational institutions with regard to the power, role, and mode of communication of the participants in this relationship. It is this fact that is a source of inspiration for conducting research on this topic today, in the time of digital technology. The paper begins with giving an overview of the theories from the very beginnings of communication until today, with a special emphasis on theories based on the use of digital technology in the process of communication, with an emphasis on communication services such as Viber, WhatsApp, and social networks Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, which also enable communication among their users. The mentioned services and social networks were investigated with regard to the extent to which they are used in the communication process in institutions for early childhood and preschool education, with an emphasis on the role of kindergarten teachers in the context of the use of digital technology, their IT literacy, and the development of communication from traditional to contemporary, in relation to the users of the services of institutions, or parents of children of early and preschool age. Communicative competences and IT literacy of kindergarten teachers were observed as a knowledge constructor for the development of more quality communication processes. The aim of this research was to examine the opinions and attitudes, as well as habits, of kindergarten teachers and parents regarding the use of digital technology in mutual communication. Given the set aim, the following research question arose: What changes does the use of digital technology bring in communication between parents and kindergarten teachers? The research was approached by means of quantitative and qualitative research methods, starting from the hypothesis that the digital technology encourages the development of positive communication between kindergarten teachers and parents and the preferred forms of communication, from traditional to contemporary ones. The data were collected by means of questionnaires and focus groups. Since no suitable instrument was found, one has been designed for the purposes of this research, based on the defined key communication actors and communication services. The instrument was piloted to determine the metric values which showed the validity of questionnaire items. The opinions and habits of kindergarten teachers and parents regarding communication in general, as well as mutual communication, were examined, with an emphasis on the use of digital technology. Research procedures were carried out in May 2017. The paper presents an extensive research of digital communication between parents and kindergarten teachers in the City of Zagreb. Empirical research was conducted on a demographically stratified sample (with regard to the geographical area). In this way, a uniformity of parents and kindergarten teachers across different institutions for early childhood and preschool education in the City of Zagreb was sought to be achieved. The institutions which took part in the research cover the entire territory of the City of Zagreb (all four cardinal directions and the downtown). Nine institutions for early childhood and preschool education took part in this research: “Bukovac”, “Vedri dani”, “Maksimir”, “Cvrčak”, “Siget”, “Utrine”, “Sunčana”, “Prečko” and “Različak”. The survey was conducted on a random sample of parents who at the time of the research had a child aged 5 to 6 attending one of the mentioned institutions. The research was conducted on the total of N=742 respondents, or N=342 kindergarten teachers and N=356 parents. Based on the results, (M=4.3; SD=0.94) kindergarten teachers and (M=4.7; SD=0.60) parents consider that digital technology is very useful, and this can be considered a fundamental starting point in the uniformity of parents’ and kindergarten teachers’ opinions. According to the results of this research, the first hypothesis, H1, was partially confirmed, because the opinions of kindergarten teachers and those of parents collide when it comes to encouraging positive communication through digital technology. The sixth hypothesis, H6, was discarded because no statistically significant correlation was found between the teachers’ and parents’ length of work experience and the choice of communication services. Other hypotheses have been confirmed and, therefore, accepted, so it can be said that digital technology has a significant influence on the parent-teacher communication. The results provide a clearer insight into opinions and habits of kindergarten teachers and parents regarding communication, and the preference of traditional or modern means of communication. In addition to identifying preferences of parents and kindergarten teachers regarding the means of communication, the contribution of this research is based on discovering changes in communication between kindergarten teachers and parents that ensued under the influence of contemporary digital environment as compared to the traditional means of communication, as the determinants of their interrelationships. The results obtained can be fundamental guidelines for changes in education of kindergarten teachers regarding communication with parents, and organization and functioning of preschool institutions in general, because the communication is a mirror of organization. This research has shown there is a need for changes in communication between kindergarten teachers and parents, as well as for providing possibilities for more active use of digital technology in this process (O'Hara, Massimi, Harper, Rubens & Morris, 2014). There are certain differences in forms of communication which are preferred by parents and those preferred by kindergarten teachers, however, they both share the opinion that face to face communication is the basis of communication. The digital technology contributes to the upgrading of traditional forms of communication and is seeking to make communication more functional, faster, and more easily accessible to all, regardless of current location and distance from the early childhood and preschool education institution, or the kindergarten teacher as the subject in the process of communication (Sully, Barbour i Roberts-King, 2015). The scientific contribution of this research is visible on several levels. The first level is based on the theoretical approach to the parent-teacher communication, from the traditional to contemporary, which has not yet been presented in this way, so it can be considered a scientific contribution. Furthermore, no instruments have been found measuring parents’ and teachers’ preferences regarding mutual communication by means of digital technology which would be appropriate for the use on Croatian kindergarten teachers and parents, considering their cultural specificity, therefore the development of the instrument used for this research represents another level of scientific contribution. When it comes to the last level of scientific contribution, there is a possibility to use the results of this research as a starting point for new research on communication between kindergarten teachers and parents through digital technology.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital technology, types of communication, communication services, digital competences of kindergarten teachers, infrastructure of the early childhood and preschool education institutions
Subjects: Information sciences
Pedagogy
Departments: Department of Information Science
Supervisor: Bakić-Tomić, Ljubica
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2019 12:22
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2019 12:22
URI: http://darhiv.ffzg.unizg.hr/id/eprint/10788

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