Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Schrier, Leslie

First Committee Member

Everson, Michael

Second Committee Member

Wesely, Pamela

Third Committee Member

Plakans, Lia

Fourth Committee Member

Wanat, Carolyn


This qualitative study focuses on the motivations and decision-making processes of parents who choose to send their children to new German immersion schools. Immersion programs have been identified as the vanguard of effective K-12 foreign language teaching. Despite their proven effectiveness and benefits they remain relatively unknown to the larger public. Yet the recent national momentum toward developing a language-competent society has brought with it an opportunity to both improve and learn from these programs. Parents, as primary stakeholders in their children's education, are a key feature in making a school program effective and successful. Attitudes and beliefs have been recognized to influence parents' decisions to become involved in their child's education. In their research, Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995, 1997) found motivational beliefs to be a foundational part of parents' involvement process. Their construct of parents' motivational beliefs formed the conceptual framework for this study. Based on this construct, semi-structured interview questions were developed to examine how parents' educational goals, language beliefs, program perceptions and expectations impact the educational decisions they make. As a second aspect, this study investigated the kinds of roles parents have constructed for themselves by asking parents about their own school experience, and perceived roles and responsibilities in their children's education. Using content analysis, this study examined sixteen parent interviews. The study found that parents are of utmost importance to immersion programs. Participants enrolled their children in immersion programs because of reasons such as their family language background or a true passion for language learning. Parents appeared very reflective and knowledgeable of immersion education, child rearing, and their impact on their children's education. They had very high expectations but saw themselves as partners to schools in providing their children with the best education possible. Implications for immersion administrators, teachers, and parents are offered.


German, Immersion


ix, 139 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 133-139).


Copyright 2011 Fatima Baig