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Presentation on theme: "C HINESE I MMIGRANT P ARENTS ’ C OMMUNICATION WITH T HEIR C HILDREN ’ S S CHOOL T EACHERS George Zhou, PhD Faculty of Education University of Windsor."— Presentation transcript:


2 B ACKGROUND Parental Involvement Beneficial Outcomes Communication Shared Goals Avoid Misunderstanding Guiding Involvement Activities

3 R ESEARCH Q UESTIONS What are Chinese immigrant parents’ communication experiences with school teachers? How do the psychological factors such as self- efficacy and perceptions of parental roles mediate the patterns of their communication? How do school teachers perceive their communication with Chinese immigrant parents?

4 T HEORETICAL F RAMEWORK Psychological Constructs of Parental Involvement (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1995; Hoover- Dempsey & Sandler, 1997; Walker et al., 2005) Parents’ Motivational Beliefs. Parents’ role construction Parents’ self-efficacy Parents’ perceptions of invitations from others. Students Teachers Parents’ perceived life context. Perceived time, energy, knowledge and skills for involvement

5 C ROSS CULTURE COMMUNICATION Three necessary and interdependent ingredients of communication competence: (a) knowledge, (b) motivation, and (c) behavior. -- Spitzberg & Cupach (1984) Intercultural communication consists of the cognitive, affective, and behavioral ability of participants in the communication process -- Spinthourakis, Karatzia-Stalioti, & Roussakis (2009) Intercultural communication with the fourth component-situational features --Neuliep (2006)

6 M ETHODOLOGY Mix methods design Survey Covers: demographic information, communication behavior and overall experience, psychological factors Distributed at a few occasions: cultural events, Chinese schools, Chinese church 167 valid questionnaires

7 M ETHODOLOGY Semi-structured interviews 21 Chinese immigrant parents 19 school teachers 12 elementary school teachers 7 secondary school teacher




11 E MPLOYMENT STATUS Full time54% Part time13% Long term55% Temporary12% Self employed1% Not employed32% Full time66% Part time11% Long term63% Temporary14% Self employed1% Not employed23% ParticipantsSpouse


13 P ARENTS ’ CONCERNS AT THE P-T CONFERENCE ConcernsPercentage Make sense of the report card47% To get some of my questions answered58% To listen to teachers’ comments on my child71% Other, specify please_____ (“the development of child’s social skills,” “how their children get along with other children at school, “ “in what aspects their children need to and could be improved,” “in what aspects they can help their children to make improvement.” “talking about and making sense of the curriculum, textbook, and teaching methods used by schools.” 6%



16 C OMMUNICATION EXPERIENCE ContentRespond Percentage Academic-related issues73% Behavioral issues60% Children’s relationships with other students 45% Other, specify please_____ “children’s social activities,” “parenting responsibilities,” and “educational plans for students with special needs.” 5%


18 C OMMUNICATION SATISFACTION DANAMSD I was satisfied with the overall quality of the communication with my child’s teacher 238604.590.839 I felt comfortable to communicate with my child’s teacher 231674.720.890 My child’s teacher has knowledge of my culture 3353143.131.265 My child’s teacher understands my concerns about my child 544514.391.007

19 C OMMUNICATION EXPECTATION DANAMSD I hope that I can have better influence on school activities through communication with my child’s teacher 631634.661.110 I hope that my child’s teacher has better knowledge of my culture 227714.881.047 I hope that my child’s teacher understands my concerns better 123765.050.920

20 P SYCHOLOGICAL C ONSTRUCTS Psychological ConstructMean Value Role construction in communicating with school teachers 4.79 Communication self-efficacy with school teacher 4.30 Perceptions of teacher invitation 4.01 Perceptions of child invitation 3.64 Perceived life context 3.91

21 All measured psychological factors were significantly related with parents’ communication patterns. Parents who communicated with teachers several times a semester scored significantly higher on all of the five scales than the parents who had never communicated with teachers. Those who had initiated a communication with teachers scored significantly higher on the scale Communication self- efficacy than those who had not initiated a communication.

22 P ARENT I NTERVIEW FINDINGS Participants Well educated and white collar job in China Reasons for moving to Canada Not satisfied with China’s education system for Children Fierce competition in china Excessive homework Too much focus on academic Fell behind and special need child

23 P-T CONFERENCE Attendance Most interviewees participated, Only two did not Content Academic performance Report card Suggestions for how to help child improve Socialization with classmates Teachers’ teaching and curriculum

24 “To learn children’s academic performance, communication with classmates, and as well to address my concerns with report cards. If children have difficulty in learning, I want to know where the difficulty is and what needs to be improved, and how we parents can help the children. Usually my children are doing well in academic, therefore the main purpose often is to know how they communicate with other kid and how they resolve conflicts, etc. because we come from a different culture… I want to know how my children live well with other. Usually there is no problem, that is great. But I still take advantage of the parent-teaching conference. This is a great opportunity to communicate with the teacher and learn how he/she approach teaching.”

25 P-T CONFERENCE Issues Not enough time, Not enough information Little negative comments from teachers Different criteria between parents and teachers Lack of access to teachers

26 Report card has marks for all subjects. Where do my child’s marks stand in the class? This is what I am concerned with. For example, 90 [for one subject], it does not tell me much about whether this is a good mark. If a majority of students in the class got 95, 90 means a gap. I want to know where my child stands in the class: at the middle, above average, or excellent? Teachers do not provide such information. They always say “very good.” Some may tell you “above average,” but they will not tell you that your child is the number one. What they told you is very vague, general, and not accurate. For example your child is in top 5% or 10%, they do not tell you such information.

27 C HALLENGES IN COMMUNICATION Language Barriers Cultural Barriers Unfamiliarity with Schools

28 M AIN CONCLUSION ABOUT PARENTS Significant portion of participating Chinese parents had frequent communication with school teachers. In-person communication was a preferred communication method of exchanging information with teachers. Chinese immigrant parents adopted more active roles in communicating with teachers than the literature says. Speaking of the content of communications, Chinese parents talked about a wider range of topics instead of solely focusing on children’s academic progress (particularly for elementary kids’ parents) Secondary school students’ parents tend to focus on marks at the communication

29 I NTERVIEWS WITH TEACHERS More Chinese parents come to P-T conference Not enough time to see all parents Language issues Students vs. translators Too much focus on academic Some Chinese parents can be quite aggressive Chinese parents control children too much

30 They [parents] wait patiently. We usually have spots for about 35 parents [180 in total], that’s all we have time for unfortunately. So it’s a five minute interview, from 5:00 until 8:00. So each parent is given only 5 minutes, unfortunately. Many parents don’t feel that’s enough, so we are usually here very late. (Teacher)

31 [marks] That’s the number 1 concern. Because on their report card they have a grade, a class median, so they want to know where the child ranks. “Does my child rank in the top of the class? How far? How many children are above my child?” So they want to know what the rankings are. I think if we post it on the board, they would be very happy. (Teacher)

32 Most of the parents want to know how to improve from an 85% to a 95%. That’s what they want to know. 85% is not enough, how do I go from a 85% to a 95%? And when they see the test paper, if the kid does one single mistake, the parents become so upset… If the kid is not working hard, if the kid is not listening, if the kid is not even making an attempt that’s when you should be concerned. When the kids are responsible by themselves, I think that’s what you should appreciate. So I do encourage them to do that, don’t just take one single question making a mistake, error is only human. (secondary science teacher) I also want the kid to be a hard worker and to do well and to be sincere, but for me the mark is not the end of all. That’s where sometimes we clash, where the parents say, 85-95%, no, that’s not the goal. The goal is making sure the kid gets all the skills of working hard, doing the right thing, coming for extra help. Those skills, if we can instill, I think they’d be okay. (Teacher)

33 two days before the report card, in my grade 11 class everybody was crying. Because some of them said, “Having an 82 is terrible.” That’s what they said, 82 in physics. I said, “Excuse me? 82 in physics is such an awesome mark, what are you talking about?” And their like, “No Miss, can you please come and tell my parents, they won’t understand this.” So they are all terrified of their parents saying, “You have to get that 95, you have to go to US school, you have to go to Ivy league, SAT you need to write.” The stress on the kids is enormous. (Teacher)

34 Yes, they put a lot of pressure on their kids. And they cry. They are terrified. I think kids here go through a lot of stress, a lot of peer pressure. Somebody got into MIT, I have to do that. Somebody finished the SAT, I have to do that. Somebody did very well in all the courses, I have to do that. My parents want me to be like this person. My parents want me to go to this school. Rather than what I want, what I want to accomplish, what I want to be. (Teacher)

35 D ISPUTE IN THE COMMUNICATION Parents’ high expectation on academics Encouragement vs. criticism

36 My response to that is, “Why do you need to know that. What difference does it make where everyone falls, we’re here to talk about your son/daughter. The competition doesn’t mean anything to how he’s doing. It won’t make him any better.” But they are very interested in those numbers and it really does come down to numbers, and that is very frustrating because we teach people, and we want parents to be invested in their children. Not as just an output on a report card. And sometimes it’s very frustrating, they’re very dismissive of their children, “Why didn’t you do more?” (Teacher)

37 And I’ve had parents actually take my computer and insist in seeing that information, and I’ve had to take my computer back and say, “That’s private confidential information and you can’t have that.” They want printouts of other student marks, all kinds of things that they will ask. I generally try to direct the conversation back to the child, and focus on the child. (Teacher)

38 Because they have that, they are successful in terms of test taking and things like that, but we are trying to build a better person overall. And sometimes that’s not our common goal between teachers and parents. (Teacher) But there’s no margin for failure. In the class they will call anything under an 80 an ‘Asian fail.’ Anything under an 80 doesn’t exist, you may as well not have written the test at all. (Teacher)

39 So often, the conversation about marks at grade 12 is very much about, “My child is going to MIT, my child is going to UPenn, my child is going to Princeton, what can you do to make that happen?” (Teacher)

40 As English teachers we see the more artistic side of students. And students, often by grade 12, become very frustrated because their parents have one very clear path for them… “You’re going to go into biochemistry, and you’re going become a doctor.” Where they’ve spent all this time nurturing the other side of their child in terms of musical abilities, and then they discover perhaps film studies, or art- they’re the most beautiful artists, and would like to pursue that, but their parents absolutely forbid it. (Teacher)

41 Initially, I have many expectation on his career… As a parent, expectation is a must, a motivation or direction for a child. However, the direction should not be too rigorous. It should be changeable based on a child’s progress. (Parent) Considering their cultural background, high mark is a reasonable expectation…Such a expectation on academic performance is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Of course, if the expectation is not met, parents should not thing children did not achieve anything or punish them. [Parents] should encourage them. (Parent)

42 I MPLICATIONS AND SOLUTION I don’t ever have a problem with what their trying to convey to me. Obviously the language barriers can be problematic, but generally we understand because this is something we hear again and again. I think the fundamental issue is that we don’t share the same values, that our concern for their child is different than their concerns. And that’s not unusual for the parent-teacher relationships, but the values of the Canadian educational system seem to be so much different than the Chinese. And we respect that, and we appreciate those differences, and we try to nurture an understanding and try to get them to appreciate from where we are coming. That can be very much a challenge for them to understand from where we are coming. When you have a language barrier, to be able to explain an educational system in five minutes is very difficult. We’ve asked a number of times to have information meetings for Chinese parents, particularly where enriched is concern, so they can have a full understanding of what is expected of your child, what is expected of the teachers, etc. (Teacher)

43 Support Immigrant Parents and Students Understanding Adequate Services Recognition Bidirectional Learning

44 D IFFERENCES ChinaCanada  Basics knowledge and skills  Productivity  Intellectual development  Social ability and creativity  Parents support teachers and schools  Parents set up directions for children  Parents influence schools  Follow kids’ interests  Teachers are accessible 24/7  Lack of diligence leads to failure  Teacher has a life  Teachers are often blamed  Diligence redeems stupidity  Criticism and push  Differentiated instruction  Respect and encourage  Independent learning ability  Competition  Group learning  Less competition

45 P ERSPECTIVES OF P ARENTING Highly value education Intellectual achievements can bring honor, respect, power, status and everything good in life Parents have obligation to ensure which way their children will take Parents are willing to sacrifice for their children’s welfare Pour hope on their children Children success will bring pride to the family Children should bring honor to the family Especially with the one child policy, children receive a lot of attention as well pressure from their parents.


47 T IGER MOTHER My daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to: attend a sleepover have a play date be in a school play complain about not being in a school play watch TV or play computer games choose their own extracurricular activities get any grade less than an A not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama play any instrument other than the piano or violin not play the piano or violin.

48 T IGER MOTHER Unlike typical Western over-scheduling soccer mom, the Chinese mother believes that: (1) schoolwork always comes first; (2) an A-minus is a bad grade; (3) your children must be two years ahead of their classmates in math; (4) you must never compliment your children in public; (5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach, you must always take the side of the teacher or coach; (6) the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal; and (7) that medal must be gold.

49 A CKNOWLEDGEMENT Financially funded by a CERIS grant Greatly supported by the community partner: Chinese Association of Greater Windsor Faculty collaborator: Zuochen Zhang Research assistants: Fan Jiang, Lan Zhong, Ju Huang, Stephanie Palazoolo

50 C ONTACT INFORMATION George Zhou University of Windsor

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