The Parent-Teacher E-mail Relationship
Abstract: This study focused on the relationship between parents and teachers who communicate via emailand the effects of e-mail communication on the formation and development of the parentteacherrelationship. By interviewing parents and teachers on the subject of e-mailcommunication, an understanding of how relationships are formed and maintained wasachieved. Parents and teachers described their experiences using e-mail to communicate withone another, as well as what they perceived were the biggest advantages and disadvantages.The interviews were analyzed using Social Information Processing Theory (SIPT) whichdescribes three different communicative phases (Impersonal, Interpersonal, Hyperpersonal)that influence how relationships are formed when communicating via Computer-MediatedCommunication (CMC). After applying the three phases of CMC to the acquired interview data,it became apparent that parents and teachers often communicated from different phases. Itappears that e-mail communication has a complicating effect on the parent-teacher relationship.The results from this study suggest that parents and teachers struggle to manage impressionsand form relationships when communicating via e-mail. It is possible that when parents andteachers communicate from different phases of CMC, frustration and misunderstanding occurs,resulting in complications to the formation and development of relationships. It is thereforerecommended that parents and teachers discuss, create, and agree upon a protocol that will serveas a standard for the type of communication they are willing to engage in. By working togetherto determine an appropriate e-mail etiquette, parents and teachers might have a better chanceof achieving mutual understanding in their communication, thereby facilitating the formationand development of the parent-teacher relationship.
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