Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Using social media to connect families and kindergarten classrooms
by Zywica, Jolene, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2013, 245; 3585542
Abstract (Summary)

Schools are generally disconnected from all other areas of children’s lives and educational institutions have not been successful at integrating school learning with learning that occurs outside the classroom (NRCNA, 2009; Ryan, Adams, Gullotta, Weissberg, & Hampton, 1995). Addressing this problem is vital, because positive connections between school and home can increase students’ motivation to learn, achievement and well-being (Christenson, 1999; Epstein, 1994; Pianta, Rimm-Kaufman, & Cox, 1999; Fan & Chen, 2001). This case study describes a project co-designed with teachers and implemented in kindergarten classrooms that leverages social media to link home and school and increase families’ involvement in their child’s academic learning. Six kindergarten teachers and thirty-two families from a southwestern Pennsylvania lab school participated in the study. I investigated how families participated in and perceived the project, used social media, and interacted with other families. I examined ways teachers used the project to further their learning goals and the extent to which the project strengthened the kindergarten community. Data was collected through classroom, online and home observations, interviews and questionnaires. Results indicated that not all parents felt more involved as a result of the project, but most families had opportunities to be involved in new ways and families thought the project helped to bridge home and school. The project provided access to families’ “funds of knowledge”, which helped to contextualize content learning in the classroom and individualize conversations between teachers and students (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992). During the project, participants learned more about one another, which in turn, strengthened the kindergarten community. This study explores a potential way forward for making families’ home culture and experiences a part of academic learning. The project is a model for using technology to support family involvement in classroom instruction and learning. This study contributes to prior literature on the Connected Learning Model (Ito, et al., 2013) by more thoroughly linking the model to learning and engagement theories and describing ways in which the model can be used to design curricular projects that bridge home and school for elementary-school children and their families.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Matsumura, Lindsay Clare, Gomez, Kimberley
Commitee: Bachman, Heather, Crawford, Patricia, Davidson, Drew, Gomez, Kimberley, Herman, Phillip
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: Learning Sciences and Policy
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 75/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Elementary education, Individual & family studies, Educational technology, Curriculum development
Keywords: Connected learning, Curricular projects, Kindergarten community, Learning integration, Parent involvement, Social media
Publication Number: 3585542
ISBN: 978-1-303-78039-4
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