What are Parents’ Perceptions of the Nature of Their Participation at the High School Level?


  • Rita Lal University of Lethbridge
  • Dr. Pamela Adams University of Lethbridge
  • Dr. Carmen Mombourquette University of Lethbridge




The purpose of this study was to gain insight from parents and guardians about their experiences of involvement in the education of their high school aged children. Data were gathered using interviews for nine randomly selected participants from an urban high school in Alberta, Canada. Thematic analysis identified the types of activities parents perceived to constitute participation, barriers encountered, and potential school structures to enhance future involvement. Findings revealed that parents considered volunteering, attending activities, academic support, school council, and providing feedback as valued types of participation. Barriers were classified as child-based challenges, school-based challenges, and parent-based limitations.

Key words: secondary education, parent engagement, parent participation, educational administration, school leadership

L'objectif de cette étude était d'obtenir des informations de la part des parents et des tuteurs sur leurs expériences de participation à l'éducation de leurs enfants en âge de fréquenter l'école secondaire. Les données ont été recueillies au moyen d'entretiens avec neuf participants choisis au hasard dans une école secondaire en milieu urbain en Alberta, au Canada. L'analyse thématique a permis d'identifier les types d'activités que les parents considèrent comme constituant une participation, les obstacles rencontrés et les structures scolaires potentielles pour améliorer la participation à l’avenir. Les résultats ont révélé que les parents considéraient le bénévolat, la participation aux activités, le soutien scolaire, le conseil d'école et le fait de fournir des commentaires comme des types de participation appréciés. Les obstacles ont été classés comme des défis liés à l'enfant, des défis liés à l'école et des limites liées aux parents.

Mots-clés: enseignement secondaire, engagement des parents, participation des parents, administration de l'éducation, direction des écoles

Author Biographies

Rita Lal, University of Lethbridge

Rita Lal has taught as both a primary and secondary teacher in a variety of communities in Alberta over the past 19 years. She has leadership experience in relation to both special education and secondary parent engagement. Rita established and coordinated parent volunteer opportunities at a large urban high school. Upon recent completion of her Master of Education in leadership at the University of Lethbridge, Rita is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in Educational Administration and Leadership, with a specialization in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta. Rita continues to explore findings that involve the nature of relationships between parents and schools at the secondary level.

Dr. Pamela Adams, University of Lethbridge

Dr. Adams was an educator in public schools in Alberta for 17 years before joining the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge in 1996, teaching at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. In 2005, she was appointed a Teaching Fellow in the Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and served as an Assistant Dean in the faculty and faculty liaison for the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) for 10 years. Over the past five years, she has conducted collaborative inquiry research in 9 school authorities and over 150 schools, investigating themes of school and organizational leadership, teaching effectiveness, school improvement, inquiry-based professional growth, and essential conditions for professional learning. In 2009, Dr. Adams co-authored a book with Dr. David Townsend, entitled The Essential Equation: A Handbook for School Improvement. Her recent book with authors Drs. Carmen Mombourquette and David Townsend is entitled Leadership in Education: The Power of Generative Dialogue (2019).

Dr. Carmen Mombourquette, University of Lethbridge

Dr. Carmen Mombourquette is an Associate Professor of Education specializing in Educational Leadership at the University of Lethbridge. For many years he was an elementary, junior high school, and high school principal in Alberta and Ontario. His publications and presentations include articles and book chapters on school leadership, instructional leadership, First Nation school leadership, gender and its impact student performance, parental influence on student success, and the impact of assessment policies on student performance. He is the co-author of two books: Enacting Alberta School Leaders’ Professional Practice Competencies: A Toolkit, and Leadership in Education: The Power of Generative Dialogue.




How to Cite

Lal, R., Adams, P. ., & Mombourquette, C. (2021). What are Parents’ Perceptions of the Nature of Their Participation at the High School Level?. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 67(2), 219–235. https://doi.org/10.11575/ajer.v67i2.69899