Theses Doctoral

The Experiences and Educational Involvement Practices of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Parents of Preschoolers with Disabilities: An Exploration of Cultural and Ecological Factors During the Kindergarten Transition

Gaspar, Catherine Rogers

This dissertation consists of three studies which examine the experiences and involvement of parents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as their preschooler with disabilities underwent the transition into kindergarten. The first study was a systematic review which explored the transition experiences and perceptions of parents (n = 467) across 20 studies as their children transitioned from early childhood special education services to school-based special education services. The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and thematic analysis was used to synthesize parent experiences across included studies. Themes revealed that parents’ transition experiences were rooted in various ecological contexts (i.e., family, school, and system levels). Parents reported challenges to the transition, including inconsistent communication and disconnects with their new schools, but also facilitators, such as support from their early childhood settings, and these experiences influenced their subsequent role on the school teams.

The second study used a one-year, prospective, longitudinal design to examine the transition and virtual learning experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse families (n = 15) as their families adjusted to kindergarten and kindergarten special education services during the COVID-19 pandemic (summer of 2020 to summer of 2021). Qualitative interview and focus group data was collected from families at five timepoints across one year, and interviews were conducted once with educational stakeholders (n = 10; teachers, social workers, psychologists, and administrators) who supported these families during the transition. Thematic analysis revealed that parents experienced a turbulent year characterized by disruptions to their children’s learning experiences, as well as shifts in their parent role and family functioning as their children transitioned to kindergarten during the pandemic. However, facilitators such as supports from their schools promoted parents’ coping.

The third study was a mixed method study which investigated the cultural values and involvement of culturally and linguistically diverse parents (n = 53) of preschool children with and without disabilities. Pearson correlations revealed positive relationships between parents’ home-based educational activities and aspects of their parent involvement. Hierarchical regressions revealed that educational values predicted parents’ home-based activities, and an interaction suggested the protective nature of educational values on parents’ home-based educational activities when parents reported low cognitive and contextual resources. Qualitative data were used to triangulate quantitative findings. Thematic analysis of eight family interviews revealed that parents reported strong educational values which they promoted with their children, along with various ways they engaged with their children in the home context.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Intellectual Disabilities-Autism
Thesis Advisors
Jahromi, Laudan B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 10, 2023