Students' Self-Esteem in an Asian Educational System: Contribution of Parental Involvement and Parental Investment

By Ho, Esther Sui-chu | School Community Journal, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Students' Self-Esteem in an Asian Educational System: Contribution of Parental Involvement and Parental Investment


Ho, Esther Sui-chu, School Community Journal


Abstract

The contribution of parental involvement and investment to children's education has been a major topic in current educational reform around the world. The purpose of this study is to identify the parental involvement and investment factors which make the greatest contribution to children's self-esteem in Hong Kong. Data for this study was obtained from questionnaires collected from a sample of about 2100 middle grade students (Grades 6-9) and their parents, as well as parents of first grade students, from 18 schools. The study employed factor analysis and Hierarchical Linear Modeling. First, the different dimensions of parental involvement and investment manifest in Hong Kong were clarified. Secondly, the association between parental involvement and investment and family socioeconomic status was estimated. Finally, whether student self-esteem is related to different types of investment and involvement after controlling the background factors was examined.

Key Words: parental involvement, parental investment, home school collaboration, self-esteem

Background and Aims of the Study

A number of Asian areas, including Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, have obtained outstanding mathematics achievement in many international achievement tests (e.g., TIMSS, 1995). Although Asian students achieve high scores in international studies, they tend to have relatively lower self-confidence and self-esteem when compared to Western students (e.g., Leung & Wong, 1997). This paper focuses on the nurture of self-esteem in an Asian educational system, Hong Kong. I attempt to examine two important factors, parental involvement and parental investment, that contribute to the nurture of students' self-esteem.

The contribution of parental involvement and investment to children's education has been a major topic of home-school studies. Research in Western countries has shown that promoting parental involvement has significant benefits for the enhancement of students' learning outcomes (e.g., Bourdieu, 1986; Coleman, 1988, 1994; Epstein & Lee, 1995; Ho & Willms, 1996; Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997). Recent studies conducted in Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have discovered that, instead of participating and intervening in school teaching, Asian parents prefer to invest additional resources and time in home efforts to help their children (Cheng, 1997; Ho, 2000; Shen et. al., 1994). Previous studies of Asian educational systems focused on academic, rather than non-academic achievement by Asian students, yet little has been done to investigate to what extent and how different types of parental involvement and investment can be implemented to enhance children's self-esteem.

The purpose of this study is to identify the most important factors that affect parental involvement and investment, and how parental effort contributes to children's self-esteem in Asian educational systems. First, I will clarify the different dimensions of parental involvement and investment that manifest themselves in Hong Kong. Secondly, I will estimate to what extent and how family socioeconomic status is associated with parental involvement and investment. Finally, I will examine whether student's self-esteem is related to different types of investment and involvement after controlling for background factors.

Literature Review

Self-esteem or self-concept is an important factor contributing to children's academic outcomes as well as an important outcome in its own right. Battle (1982) defined the concept of self-esteem as a subjective, evaluative phenomenon which determines the individual's characteristic perception of self-worth. The concept of self-esteem and self-concept are often confused. A number of researchers argue that, conceptually, there are important distinctions between the two concepts. They argue that "self-concept" is a concept that thoroughly "describes" oneself, whereas "self-esteem" differs in being an evaluative judgment of one's self or "self-worth. …

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