Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Angela Eckhoff

Committee Member

Anne Perrotti

Committee Member

Kristine Sunday


This qualitative, single embedded case study, framed on Bioecological Systems Theory, Adult Learning Theory, and a Family-Systems Intervention Model investigates the reasons parents and caregivers of young children enroll in and complete parent education classes during the birth to three-year period, as well as the supports that may contribute to positive early parent-child communication or the barriers that may prevent these interactions from occurring (Bronfenbrenner, 2005; Dunst & Trivette, 2009; Knowles et al., 2020). Convenience sampling was used to recruit adult participants from a community organization in the Southeastern USA whose mission was to improve the school readiness of its youngest citizens. The case boundary was placed around a specific facet of the community organization that provided group parent education classes using both virtual and in-person delivery methods. Data collection for the case consisted of archived program documents, semi-structured individual interviews, and participant created artifacts. Twenty-seven adults completed a programmatic enrollment form, twenty-six completed a pre-class parent survey, twenty-one completed an end of course feedback questionnaire, ten participated in individual interview sessions, and three created a participant artifact about early communication. Elemental coding procedures were utilized and included descriptive and In Vivo coding to highlight parent voice (Saldaña, 2021). The study population demonstrated lower attrition and a greater diversity in self-reported race, languages spoken in the homes, socioeconomic status, and educational levels as compared to previously published literature on the topic (Caron et al., 2015; Du Paul et al., 2013; Elmquist et al., 2021; Stephan & Miclea, 2013). Results also revealed diversity in the employment status of the individual interview participants and included the voices of fathers. Themes of accountability, empowerment, and inclusivity were reasons for enrolling in and completing the parent class. The findings also noted supports for success, barriers to participation, and the systems of influence that aided the caregivers with early parent-child interactions, highlighting the missing voices and preferences of adult caregivers with young children.


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Copyright, 2022, by Julie Dawn Sill, All Rights Reserved