Hong Kong pre-service early childhood teachers’ attitudes towards parental involvement and the role of their family relationship quality

Countries: 
Published: 
September, 2019

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, 45:4, 417-433

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The first goal of the authors in the present study was to examine Hong Kong pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards parental involvement, including their perceived level of the benefits of parental involvement for different stakeholders, as well as their perceived importance, feasibility and confidence towards different types of parental involvement.
The authors feel that this can help understand the degree to which they support and feel comfortable in adopting the learning-centred parental engagement model as described by Goodall (2017).
In view of the Hong Kong culture, the authors hypothesized that pre-service teachers regarded:

(1) parental involvement as the most beneficial for ‘families’ (compared to ‘teachers’ and ‘children’);
(2) ‘communicating’ as the most important and feasible strategy and felt the most confident in implementing it;
(3) ‘decision making’ as the least important and feasible strategy and felt the least confident in implementing it.

In addition, given that pre-service teachers’ attitudes are somehow influenced by their own family backgrounds and relevant prior experiences, the second goal of the present study was to investigate whether pre-service teachers’ different attitudes towards parental involvement were related to the relationship quality of their family of origin.
The authors hypothesized that positive attitudes towards parental involvement were associated with higher levels of ‘cohesion’ and ‘expressiveness’ and lower levels of ‘conflicts’ in their own family.

Method
Participants - 163 Chinese university students were recruited from one of the largest undergraduate early childhood education programmes in Hong Kong.

Measures
Benefits of parental involvement - Nine items of the questionnaire were generated from the work of Faust-Horn (2003). Respondents indicated their level of agreement for each item on a seven-point Likert scale .
Three items were about ‘benefits for families’. Three items were about ‘benefits for children’. Three items were about ‘benefits for teachers’.
Perceived importance, feasibility and confidence towards parental involvement - Fifteen parental involvement strategies were adopted from the work of Epstein et al. (2005).
In three sections, respondents rated each strategy on a seven-point Likert scale the extent to which they think it was important for teachers to adopt it was feasible for teachers to adopt, and they feel confident in implementing it in early childhood education settings respectively. Six types of parental involvement were assessed with the items.
Family relationship quality - Thirteen items were adopted from the Brief Family Relationship Scale of Fok et al. (2014).
Respondents rated on a seven-point Likert scale the degree of which each item was a correct description of their own family. Three dimensions of family relationship quality were assessed.
Five items were about ‘cohesion’. Three items were about ‘expressiveness’. Five items were about ‘conflict’.

Findings and discussion
The authors reported that their findings showed that pre-service early childhood teachers’ attitudes towards different types of home-school relationships varied but were generally positive.
To a certain extent, these attitudes were related to the positive qualities of their own family relationship.

Belief about the parties benefitted from parental involvement
Similar to the authors’ initial speculation and results of studies conducted in the West, the pre-service early childhood teachers in the studies’ Hong Kong sample believed that parental involvement could bring benefits for families, children as well as teachers. Compared to families and teachers, children were perceived as benefitting the least.

Attitudes towards different types of parental involvement
As expected by the authors, among the six types of parental involvement, ‘decision making’ consistently received the lowest rating.
The pre-service teachers in their sample regarded it as the least important and feasible and felt the least confident in implementing it.
Interestingly, there were discrepancies between what the pre-service teachers in their sample believed as important and feasible and felt confident in implementing.
Partly aligned with the authors’ hypothesis and with previous studies, ‘parenting’ and ‘communicating’ were regarded as the two most important, but their feasibility levels were only in the mid-range among the six types.
In terms of pre-service teachers’ confidence in implementing a parental involvement strategy, ‘parenting’ even got the second lowest score.
The authors suggest that pre-service teachers might think that it is their basic obligation to inform parents about their children’s performance at school.
Nevertheless, in practice, some parents feel offended when teachers tell them about their children’s problems at school or how to improve their parenting skills. This might make pre-service teachers believe that there is a certain difficulty level for implementing these strategies.

Role of pre-service teachers’ family relationship quality in their attitudes towards parental involvement
Among the three components of the quality of pre-service teachers’ own family relationship, cohesion was found by the authors to have the closest relationship with their attitudes towards parental involvement.
As expected, the higher the level of cohesion in pre-service teachers’ own family, the higher their perceived level of the benefits of parental involvement for different parties, and the more positive their attitudes towards some types of parental involvement strategies.
The authors suggest that the strong emotional bonding pre-service teachers experience in their family might promote their confidence in getting parents involved in their children’s education by making them easier to develop trust towards others and equipping them with better social skills.
As expected by the authors, the results of the correlation analyses showed that the level of expressiveness in the pre-service teachers’ own family was positively associated with various aspects of their attitudes towards parental involvement.
Surprisingly, the level of conflicts in the pre-service teachers’ family was not associated with any aspects of their attitudes towards parental involvement.
The authors suggest that perhaps family conflicts are not necessarily bad. In fact, if the conflicts are handled well, they can provide valuable opportunities for the development of problem-solving skills and social perspective taking skills.

Implications for teacher education
The authors conclude that findings of the present study have two major implications:
First, teacher educators in Hong Kong should continue to help pre-service teachers recognize the importance of the learning-centred approach to parental engagement (Goodall 2017), as well as equip them with the skills of implementing different types of parental involvement activities and overcoming the challenges of their implementation.
Second, as Stewart, Coll, and Osguthorpe (2013) suggested, the present study reminds teacher educators to consider pre-service teachers’ family background and experiences when preparing them to work with parents.

References
Epstein, J. L., L. Coates, K. Salinas, M. G. Sanders, and B. S. Simon. 2005. Epstein’s Framework of Six Types of Involvement. Baltimore, MD: Center for the Social Organization of Schools.
Faust-Horn, K. L. (2003). Parent and teacher perception of the relationship between home-school collaboration and student success in the classroom (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Wisconsin-South, U.S.A
Fok, C. C. T., J. Allen, D. Henry, and P. A. Team. 2014. “The Brief Family Relationship Scale: A Brief Measure of the Relationship Dimension in Family Functioning.” Assessment 21: 67–72. doi:10.1177/1073191111425856
Goodall, J. 2017. “Learning-centred Parental Engagement: Freire Reimagined.” Educational Review 1–19. doi:10.1080/00131911.2017.1358697
Stewart, R., K. Coll, and R. Osguthorpe. 2013. “Family Background of Beginning Education Students: Implications for Teacher Educators.” College Student Journal 47: 627–634 

Updated: Jan. 21, 2020
Print
Comment

Share:

Facebook comments:

Add comment: