My colleague Frances Harper led a survey and data mining study of how parents and caretakers helped their children to continue to learn at home during the pandemic. Frances involved me in the analysis of social media data, and it was a great opportunity for me to work with Frances as well as a talented and fun research team.
We found through our analysis of responses from a moderately large number of parents that they worked to continue to engage their children in learning mathematics, especially through engaging with mathematics in everyday life, and that they used resources that their children’s teachers provided and those they identified on their own.
The social media conversation around teaching math at home (organized around the #mathathome hashtag on Twitter) were driven by a) teachers, b) school accounts, c) organizations, d) instructional coaches, and e) university faculty - parents (or the parenting-related concerns of individuals associated with the other professional roles) were not prominent. In this way, social media is a great context to engage parents, but, this context/resource may be under-used (or not widely-known) to parents. In other words, social media in education scholars (and advocates) - we should consider the role of parents to a greater extent, especially when parents are tasked with supporting (or leading!) their children’s learning.
The abstract for the article is here:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools abruptly transitioned to emergency remote instruction. Consequently, expectations for parental involvement in school mathematics rose to unprecedented levels. We sought to understand the experiences of parents to reimagine possibilities for engagement in mathematics during and beyond the pandemic. Leveraging data from tweets using #mathathome and survey responses from parents, we identified who supported continued mathematics learning at home and explored the nature of the mathematics taught there. We found that Twitter and survey data sources described two largely distinct groups of those supporting parents to continue mathematics education at home, but similar findings emerged from analyses of each data source, suggesting that themes were common among different groups. Namely, we saw a commitment to continued mathematics learning and engagement with a range of mathematics topics. These topics mostly focused on elementary-level content, especially counting, through everyday activities/objects and mathematical sense-making. Most parents used resources provided by the school alongside resources they identified and provided on their own. School responses to emergency remote instruction were mostly asynchronous, and parents expressed a need for more opportunities to interact directly with their children’s teachers. We discuss what the mathematics education community might learn from these experiences to support parental engagement during and beyond periods of remote emergency instruction.
The full text (open-access) of the article is here: https://www.mdpi.com/2227-7102/11/2/60/htm