Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mexican origin parents with special needs children: Using a critically compassionate intellectualism model to support and foster their participation in U.S. schools through a Participatory Action Research project
by Santamaria, Cristina Corrine, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 473; 3352370
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this investigation was to support and foster parent participation among Mexican origin parents of special needs children. However, a limited amount of empirical research existed that considered Mexican origin parents’ understanding of participation in general and special education settings.

Parent participation was viewed as a dynamic and evolving process through which parent participants could construct knowledge and meaning. Novice (newcomer) parents worked with veteran (experienced) parents to learn about participation. Critical and reflective discussions were central to their learning and parents moved toward full participation as they developed confidence, skills, and awareness about themselves as agents of change.

A Critically Compassionate Intellectualism (CCI) model, derived from Sociocultural Theory and Critical Race Theory (CRT), was applied to analyze the ways parents demonstrated their understanding of participation through cooperation, caring, and critical consciousness. A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach was implemented as a method through which parents’ roles in the investigation and their definitions of participation were explored.

Primary data sources included individual and focus group interviews, discussion/planning sessions, and a debriefing session. Secondary sources consisted of weekly journals, an open-ended survey, and audio memos. Most data sources were transcribed and coded using an “open-coding” procedure. Then primary sources were coded a second time for a more detailed analysis of parents’ evolving views of participation.

Novice parents reported that within a cooperative environment they could share their thoughts and feelings about their children. They acknowledged that their voices were heard and, therefore, felt validated and supported. Parents’ critical consciousness was raised as they felt more confident in generating positive changes for their children. Both veteran and novice parents’ roles changed over time. Veteran parents’ leadership grew and novice parents became more active and vocal in the research process.

This study presented alternative ways to understand parent participation. Being listened to and respected by teachers and school administrators were important reasons for parents’ active participation. Feeling supported at IEP meetings and having open communication with teachers also were important factors contributing to parents’ participation. Definitions of participation should continue to expand to allow a space for parents’ diverse experiences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fletcher, Todd V., Cammarota, Julio
Commitee: Artiles, Alfredo J., Combs, Mary Carol, Maker, June C.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Special Education & Rehabilitation
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Bilingual education, Special education
Keywords: Bilingual special education, Critically compassionate intellectualism, Mexican families, Mexican-origin, Parent participation, Participatory Action Research, Social justice, Sociocultural theory, Special needs
Publication Number: 3352370
ISBN: 978-1-109-09233-2
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