Cultural background and parental involvement in children’s education : a mixed-method study comparing Chinese and European New Zealand parents.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Background: During the last few decades, research investigating the cross-cultural differences in parent involvement (PI) in children’s education has been an active domain. The current investigation extends this work by comparing and contrasting the style and degree of parental involvement in two small samples of New Zealand parents. Participants: A total of 22 Chinese New Zealand (CNZ) and 21 European New Zealand (ENZ) parents of primary school-aged children living in Christchurch, New Zealand, were recruited. Participants were primarily female (71.4% of ENZ and 81.8% of CNZ) with a mean age of 38 years (SD = 4.87). Method: A mixed methodology was employed in the current study to compare and contrast the ENZ and CNZ parents’ differences in their PI behaviors, beliefs, perceptions of the effectiveness of their PI, perceived contextual barriers, as well as idiosyncratic experiences of PI. In addition, the acculturation of the CNZ participants and their children was also examined. Findings: CNZ parents reported a higher level of involvement in establishing a home learning environment and applying rules for media/technology use for children than ENZ parents. CNZ parents also held stronger parental expectations for their children’s educational future and perceived greater positive receptivity from the school and child to their PI efforts than ENZ parents. Both ENZ and CNZ parents’ level of involvement across all three types of PI support were highly associated with parental expectations of children’s education future, and parents’ perceptions of their children’s receptivity to their PI effort. The path between ethnicity and parents’ involvement in establishing a home learning environment was fully mediated by parents’ expectations and parents’ self-efficacy of PI skills and experiences. Likewise, the path between ethnicity and parents’ involvement level in applying rules for media/technology use for children was fully mediated by parents’ expectations. Qualitative data showed that CNZ parents’ beliefs in education are results-oriented, while the ENZ parents place more value on the learning process. Meanwhile, CNZ parents believe that parental instructions should be organized and structured, while ENZ parents consider PI more effective when it is innovative. Discussion: The results are discussed from Walker and colleagues (2005) and Hornby and Lafaele’s (2011) theoretical models of PI. The results from the present study show that although PI expressions varied largely based on parents’ ethnicity, these PI variances based on ethnicity can be fully explained by the discrepancies between ENZ and CNZ parents’ psychological factors (parental expectations and self-efficacy) of PI. This suggests that cultural factors help shape parental expectations and beliefs concerning children’s education, which then influences the extent and expression of parental involvement.