To Involve Parents in the Assessment of the Child in Parent–Teacher Conferences: A Case Study

Research paper by Ann-Marie Markström

Indexed on: 30 Nov '10Published on: 30 Nov '10Published in: Early Childhood Education Journal


This article explores the face-to-face interactions between parents and teachers in parent–teacher conferences in the Swedish preschool. The article highlights how the preschool teacher introduces the conference by using a specific artifact, so-called “strength cards” with words relating to characteristic behaviour and qualities. The theoretical framework is adopted from research of institutional talk and discourse analysis. The empirical material consists of two cases included in a larger study of parent–teacher conferences. The analysis reveals that the talk not only focuses on the assessment of the individual child but also is directed at the cards, the procedure, and the importance of parents being active and involved in learning the procedure. In addition, the cards are used by the teacher as a tool that governs parents towards becoming ‘good enough preschool parents’ who are cooperative and able to categorise and label their own children, that is, follow the institutional discourse. The analysis also shows that parents take control in order to overcome institutional barriers to parents’ involvement.