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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Stewart Ehly
College of Education
The University of Iowa


Home/School/Community Partnerships is a three semester-hour course that provides the student with information on a broad array of issues relating to school and community collaboration with families to support children's education. The course meets Department of Education requirements for content on parent-teacher relationships and satisfies requirements for several degree plans within the College of Education at the University of Iowa.

Class sessions address system-level issues in working with children and their families. Attention is given to strategies and tactics used by school districts, community groups, and private sector organizations to support academic, health, and social goals for children and their families.

A quick note: While the course refers to “home” is its title, consideration within the course is not limited to biological and adoptive parents who have custody of children. Discussion can be considered to apply to all forms of adult custodial care of children and the methods adults use in their encounters with educators and community agencies.

Class Schedule

January 20 – Introduction to course
Overview of issues

January 22 – Parents and perceptions of the school
Schools and perceptions of parents
Read Barbour & Barbour (B&B), chapter 1

January 27 – School and perceptions of parents
Read B&B, chapter 2

January 29 – Influences on family functioning (Alice Atkinson)
Read B&B, chapter 3

February 3 – Strategies for effective communication
Read handouts

February 5 – Strategies for effective communication (cont.)

February 10 – The debate over service priorities
Read article distributed by instructor

February 12 – Case study of parental involvement (Pat Minor-Nidey)

February 17 – Mediation strategies
Read handouts from instructor

February 19 – Mediation case example

February 24 – Economic influences on families and neighborhoods
Read B&B, chapter 4

February 26 – Exam one

March 3 – Guest lecture: Julie Johnston on school-business partnerships

March 5 – Schools and business involvement: Follow-up discussion

March 10 – The politics of advocacy and community organizing
Read B&B, chapter 8

March 12 – Community involvement strategies (Michelle Young)

March 17/19 – Spring break (no class sessions)

March 24 – Schooling and the politics of education
Read B&B, chapters 5, 7

March 26 – School-community linkages
Read B&B, chapter 6

March 31 – School-community linkages (cont.)/Michelle Young
Read handouts

April 2 – Exam two

April 7 – Project Work Day – No scheduled class

April 9 – Public participation techniques

April 14 – Legal dimensions of education—parents as influences

April 16 – Guest lecture: Addressing special needs (Geri Pettitt)

April 21 – Addressing special needs
Read handouts

April 23 – Implementing system change
Read B&B, chapters 9, 10

April 28 – Professionalism and collaboration
Read B&B, chapters 11, 12

April 30 – Reports on projects and papers (tentative)

May 5 – Summary

May 7 – Exam three, option 1

May 13 – Exam three, option 2, 7pm

Required Reading

Readings are listed by class session; in addition, several other readings will be distributed by the instructor. The student is expected to read each handout, article, and chapter and be able to discuss materials during class sessions.

Textbook (on sale at Iowa Book and Supply)
Barbour, C., & Barbour, N. H. (1997). Families, schools, and communities: Building partnerships for educating children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Assignments and Grading

Students are responsible for regular attendance and participation, completion of three exams, and an optional paper (due May 12).


Students have the option of (1) completing the third exam on May 7 or (2) on May 13 (7pm) during exam week.

Each exam is structured to require three essay-length responses. On almost every exam, there will be three clusters of questions containing two choices that the student can select. The instructor looks for the following elements within a response:

  • Every section of the question is answered. While obvious, on occasion a student will forget to answer every part of the question.
  • The answer reflects content from the readings, class lectures and discussion, and personal experience (if appropriate).
  • The answer demonstrates the student's understanding of the issues raised within the question.
  • The student successfully synthesizes content from relevant sources and clearly states his or her argument.
  • The answer contains discussion that offers support for the student's arguments. The student provides a rationale or defense for the response given.
  • Answers that contain analysis of issues within a question, offer an assessment of cited research and applications, and evaluate the readings are preferred over responses that are limited to summarization of points made by others.

I am interested in finding out how you make sense of the content of this course. The exams and the project are my best means of determining how well you have grasped issues relating to parent-teacher communication.


The optional paper will require the development of a proposal (10 or more pages) for home/school/community involvement. Students who elect to complete the optional paper will be graded on a 400-point scale. Those who chose not to complete the paper will be evaluated on a 300-point scale. Each student electing to complete the optional paper will write a contract with the instructor to define the scope and content of the paper. The instructor, in class, will discuss possible choices for themes. All papers must be typewritten and double-spaced.


Grades for the course are assigned on a traditional scale, with + or - grades given. Points for the class activities are as follows:

Exams – 100 points each (300 combined)
Optional Paper – 100 points
Total – 300 points (no paper); 400 points (with paper)

Grades are calculated as follows:

Students completing optional paper/3 exams

A+ = 380–400 points
A = 368–379
A- = 360–367
B+ = 352–359
B = 328–351
B- = 320–327
C+ = 312–319
C = 288–311
C- = 280–287
D+ = 272–279
D = 248–271
D- = 240–247
F = below 240

Students completing 3 exams/no paper

A+ = 285–300 points
A = 276–284
A- = 270–275
B+ = 264–269
B = 246–263
B- = 240–245
C+ = 234–239
C = 216–233
C- = 210–215
D+ = 204–209
D = 186–203
D- = 180–185
F = below 180

Free. Available online only.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project