Abstract: An Exploratory Study of Positive Parenting and Parent Involvement in Children's Education in China (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

An Exploratory Study of Positive Parenting and Parent Involvement in Children's Education in China

Friday, January 17, 2020
Monument, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Donghang Zhang, Doctoral Student, University of Louisville, KY
Emma Sterrett-Hong, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Qiuping Wu, MSW, Social worker, Guangxi Normal University, China
Background/Purpose: Parental influence, in the form of positive parenting, in general, and parental academic involvement, has been found to be associated with children’s academic performance in Western contexts (Frick et al., 1999; Hoover-Dempsey & Sander, 1995). Positive parenting refers to parenting based on mutual respect and non-coercive methods of encouraging compliance (Daphne, 2009). Parental academic involvement involves parental expectations and behaviors that support academic achievement (Seginer, 2006). Although Chinese parents are extremely invested in their children's education (Hau & Ho, 2010), which parenting behaviors are most strongly associated with academic achievement in a Chinese context is still unclear (Zong et al., 2018). To address this limitation, this study focuses on exploring the relationship of the domains of positive parenting and parental academic involvement with children’s educational achievement among a large sample of families in China.

Methods: The China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) is a national longitudinal survey that uses a complex sampling frame centering on families beginning in 2010. This study was conducted with a youth subsample (N=1479), age 10 to 15, of the 2014-year CFPS data. Of the participants, 54.6% were male and 45.4% female. Academic achievement was measured by averaging children’s grades in Chinese language and Math. The Positive Parenting scale, with Cronbach’s Alpha = .78, was adapted from the parental bonding instrument (Parker et al., 1979). Parent involvement was measured by the frequencies of homework involvement, attending parent-teacher conferences, and parent-child communication. Other parent-based factors included parent education expectations for their children, parental responsibility, parent-child relationship, and couple relationship, with three covariates (child gender, age, and household registration type).  

Results: Multinomial logistic regression analyses indicated that children were 1.83 times more likely to be in the middle academic achievement group than in the low group (p < 0.01), controlling for other predictors. Higher levels of parents’ high educational expectations (OR = .1.38, p < 0.01) and communication about schooling experience (OR = 1.21, p < 0.05) was associated with a higher likelihood of children being in the middle academic achievement group compared to the low group, controlling for other predictors. Regarding predictors of high level of academic outcome compared to low level, results also showed that positive parenting (OR = 2.91, p < 0.01), parents’ high educational expectations(OR = 1.70, p < 0.001), and communication about schooling experience (OR = 1.38, p < 0.01) were associated with a higher likelihood of academic outcomes, controlling for other predictors.

Conclusions: The findings reveal the essential impact of positive parenting and parental academic involvement, specifically communication, on child academic outcomes, consistent with findings set in Western contexts (Fan & Chen, 2001; Wilder, 2013). The findings also indicate the nonsignificant relationship between parental homework involvement and academic outcomes. This study produces significant implications for informing policymakers to intervention program design for underserved parents on supporting positive parenting and effective parental involvement. Future research is needed to examine mechanisms of the influence of positive parenting and parent involvement activities on children’s academic achievement, such as children’s self-efficacy, among Chinese families.