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The use of technology to support parental engagement

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Goodall
    Dr A Sandoval Hernandez
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

This PhD will examine the effectiveness of technology in supporting parents’ engagement with their children’s learning. The student will investigate and analyse existing qualitative and quantitative data held by the ELearning Foundation, as well as collecting new data over the life of the
Parental engagement in children’s learning is one of the best levers for improving schools [1, 2] and raising children’s achievement [3, 4]. There is some research around the use of technology in teaching but almost no research around the use of technology to support parental engagement. The possibilities opened up by increasing use of new technologies and the increased availability of broadband are enormous, particularly in relation to the group of parents often labelled “hard to reach”.
The ELearning Foundation has been providing devices for use by students since 2001; with a focus on supporting the most deprived students, they have provided ICT access for a quarter million children. The foundation has run three surveys for parents every year since 2005, amassing data from over 12,000 individuals. The student will begin by analysing this data using sophisticated statistical techniques (e.g. Hierarchical Linear Models and Structural Equation Models) to identify patterns in the conditions under which technology is more effective in supporting parents’ engagement. Then s/he will go on to collect primary data, in conjunction with the ELF. This data will be collected not only from schools, parents and students involved in the programme at the moment, but importantly will also collect data from past members of the programme, to allow longitudinal investigation of any impacts on achievement.
The student will benefit from supervision from two experienced members of staff: Dr Janet Goodall and Dr Andres Sandoval-Hernadez, as well as inclusion in two vibrant research clusters, the Education, Leadership, Management and Governance cluster, and Internationalisation and Globalisation of Education cluster. Goodall has been involved in this area of research for a number of years, and has published widely, including in peer reviewed publications [2, 5-9], literature reviews [10, 11] and practitioner based publications [12, 13]. She is the director of studies for the EdD, and experienced in supporting doctoral students. Sandoval-Hernandez has lectured extensively on research methods for social scientists at different universities and is an expert in secondary analysis of quantitative data. He has approached the topic of parental engagement from this perspective [14]. The studentship will also support the planned REF impact case study around parental engagement with children’s learning in the Department of Education. The student will also benefit from targeted support from the ELearning Foundation who will designate a member of staff to work with the student.


1. Harris, A., K. Andrew- Power, and J. Goodall, 2009, Do Parents Know They Matter? Raising achievement through parental engagement. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.
2. Harris, A. and J. Goodall, Do parents know they matter? Engaging all parents in learning. Educational Research, 2008. 50(3): p. 277 - 289.
3. Huat See, B. and S. Gorard, What do rigorous evaluations tell us about the most promising parental involvement interventions? A critical review of what works for disadvantaged children in different age groups. 2014, Nuffield Foundation
4. Huat See, B. and S. Gorard, The role of parents in young people’s education—a critical review of the causal evidence. Oxford Review of Education, 2015(ahead-of-print): p. 1-21.
5. Goodall, J., Parental engagement to support children's learning: a six point model. School Leadership & Management, 2012. 33(2): p. 1-18.
6. Goodall, J., Parental belief and parental engagement: how do they interact? Journal of Beliefs & Values, 2013. 34(1): p. 87-99.
7. Goodall, J. and K. Ghent, Parental belief and parental engagement in children’s learning. British Journal of Religious Education, 2013. 36(3): p. 332-352.
8. Goodall, J. and C. Montgomery, Parental involvement to parental engagement: a continuum. Educational Review, 2013(ahead-of-print): p. 1-12.
9. Goodall, J., Ofsted’s judgement of parental engagement A justification of its place in leadership and management. Management in Education, 2015: p. 0892020614567246.
10. Harris, A. and J. Goodall, Helping Families Support Children’s Success at School. 2009, Save the Children: London.
11. Goodall, J. and J. Vorhaus, Review of best practice in parental engagement. 2011, Department of Education: London.
12. Goodall, J. Break down the barriers to the “hard to reach”. Leading Parent Partnership Award Newsletter 2013. 6.
13. Goodall, J., Re-thinking Engagement, in Growing Engagement: Re-imagining relationships between schools, families and communities. 2014, Schools of Tomorrow. p. 10 - 18.
14. Klemenčič, E., Mirazchiyski, P. and Sandoval-Hernandez, A. Parental Involvement in School Activities and Student Reading Achievement. Solsko Polje, 2014. 24(3-4): p. 117-130.

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