Collecting Our Data

Looking Into Previous Models

The primary goal of this project is to determine the best ways to get immigrant/migrant parents involved in the education of their newly arrived teens. Our first step was to look into previous models of engagement to determine what practices worked well and which did not. Each of the articles included the concept that parental engagement is not dependent on just one factor, but rather a plethora of elements including the family, the school, and the community. Having a healthy social life and strong relationships with others not only from an academic setting and but also the community creates a strong environment for positive parental engagement to occur.

Conducting Interviews

After looking into previous models meant to increase parent engagement, we realized two things: effective parent engagement doesn’t need to happen in a classroom, and it was imperative to collect data that was unique to Hartford. In total, we collected 19 interviews, six of which were conducted in and translated from Spanish. Before we began this process, we were unaware of how many refugees with teenagers were actually coming to Hartford, and we didn’t know where to start recruiting people to interview. Reaching out to our faculty advisory, we set up a meeting with the teachers from Capital Community College’s ESL Center. We conducted four interviews with students in these classes. Over Spring Break, Ali was able to conduct five interviews back home in Kansas City, seven were conducted at the American Place, and remaining three interviews were conducted by our personal connections to those who met our criteria.

The group of people we interviewed was quite diverse; we interviewed people from Africa, the Caribbean, other places in Latin America, and one person from Asia. We recruited people from the Hartford Public Library (from The American Place, specifically), Capital Community College, and Kansas City.

For this project we interviewed families who recently arrived to the United States with adolescents knowing little to no English. It was preferred for participants to have arrived in the last five years to ensure that fresh, relevant data was collected. In addition to being late arrivals, it was best for participants to fit a certain age criteria: namely, the participants needed to be the parent of or be a young adult or child had of at least 13 years old having arrived with little English literacy. It was best for participants to fit these criteria because it would be relevant to the people who attend classes at The American Place, which is the program we are working in conjunction with.


Along with the interviews were survey asking to rate their interest in different forms of parent engagement. The surveys included a list of activities to do around Hartford, different homework assignments that require parents and their kids to work together, and different types of resources that would allow parents to have better idea of what’s going on in the classroom. Lastly, we looked at previous models of parent engagement to decide what would be the best practices.


Despite the plethora of interviews conducted, it was important to represent the population that was not represented in our interview and survey collections.  We considered this by looking at demographics of Hartford of residents who recently arrived. Because the program we are working with is focused on helping adolescents learn English, we thought it would be best to first look into which languages are being spoken in the homes of Hartford residents. We discovered that the most commonly spoken language aside from English was Spanish; from that information we decided it was best to look into racial distribution of the Hispanic and Latinx community in Hartford. An interactive map of the information is displayed on the page Who’s Coming to Hartford?

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