School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Sharon Farrell


parent-teacher communication, student motivation, collaboration, relationships, motivational outcomes


Education | Elementary Education


The purpose of this multiple case study was to understand parent-teacher communication and its role in motivating students in elementary school. The work was guided by the following central research question and two sub-questions: CRQ) How do parent-teacher relationships motivate students? SQ1) How does a met or not met basic need dictate the motivational outcomes of students? SQ2) How do elementary school students perceive the role of parents and teachers in their motivation to learn? A qualitative research design was used to gather individual experiences and participants’ perspectives. The multiple case study design allowed many participants to share varying perspectives on the issue and collected in-depth descriptions from a cohesive group of participants. The study participants consisted of teachers, parents, and first through sixth grade students. Teacher and parent participants were selected using purposeful sampling via Facebook. Teacher participants completed an interview, student participants completed an interview as well as a word association task, and parent participants completed an interview and participated in a focus group. Content analysis was used to assemble the data, categorizing by highlighting and color-coding information collected, then the data was triangulated across all three participant groups. Findings revealed the need for teachers to implement the use of a number of communication methods with families; the need for a mix of communication, positive and negative along with academic, behavioral, and socio-emotional updates, to be relayed to families on a frequent basis; and the importance of parental follow up from parent-teacher communication. This study showed that employing these strategies in parent-teacher communication will maximize student motivation and improve parental involvement.