Working with Parents and Family: Factors That Influence Chinese Teachers' Attitudes toward Parent Involvement

Article excerpt

Student achievement and teacher-parent collaboration are strongly correlated to teachers' attitudes toward involvement (Muller & Kerbow, 1993; Swap, 1993). However, there is very little research in China (Gu, 2006) on examining factors that are well documented to show impacts on teachers' attitudes toward parent involvement.

This research explores potential relationships between Chinese teachers' demographic characteristics and their attitudinal perspectives concerning Chinese parent involvement approaches.

Chinese kindergarten teachers (N=159) participated in this study by completing a self designed questionnaire (Gu, 2006). This questionnaire consists of five questions concerning teachers' demographic characteristics (age, highest degree received, years in kindergarten teaching, class size and number of membership in professional organizations), 15 Likert-based questions assessing teachers' attitudes toward school-based parent involvement and 15 Likert-based questions assessing home-based parent involvement.

Two multiple regression analyses were performed to explore relationships between teachers' demographic characteristics (e.g., age) and their attitudes toward school-based (e.g., attending parent-teacher conference) and home-based (e.g., reading to child at home) parent involvement modes. The major results indicated that teachers with younger age and higher degree had more positive attitudes toward both school-based and home-based parent involvement.

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Positive influence of parent involvement on children's development has been widely documented by many researchers (e.g., McNeal, 1999; Scribner, Young, & Pedroza, 1999; Yan & Lin, 2002). Meanwhile, researches also indicate that as the key to actualize positive parent involvement, teachers are potentially very influential in parents' decisions about involvement in their child's education (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Shick (1997) points out that teachers with positive attitudes toward parent involvement are more likely to forge partnerships with parents. Meanwhile, researchers (e.g., Lazar & Slostad, 1999) also show that teacher's negative perceptions about parents and parent involvement, shaped by culture, history and schooling practices, may inhibit home-school linkages. Teachers' attitudes toward parents and parent involvement are of great importance to the level and quality of parent involvement, which play integral roles in the quality of childhood education.

In China, childhood education is still a comparatively new and emerging area. Very little research has been conducted to examine the critical factors that show impacts on teachers' attitudes toward parent involvement. The purpose of this study is to explore potential relationships between Chinese teachers' demographic characteristics and their attitudinal perspectives concerning Chinese parent involvement approaches to fill the research gap.

The research question of this study is: "Is there any relationship between teachers' attitudes toward parent involvement and the following variables?

1. Teacher's age

2. Teacher's highest degree

3. Years of kindergarten teaching experience

4. Class size

5. Membership in professional organizations

Method

The method of this research is explained below in four sections: participants, instrument, data collection and data treatment.

Participants

A total of 159 kindergarten teachers in the City of Nanjing, China participated in this study. The 159 teachers were randomly selected from 16 government kindergartens located in 11 administrative districts in Nanjing. Random selection meant each teacher was chosen entirely by chance from the teacher roster at the school principal's office. Table 1 below, as developed by the lead investigator, shows the distribution of selected kindergartens from the different districts in Nanjing. …