CHILDREN’S BEHAVIORAL AND LEARNING SELF-REGULATION IN TRANSITION PERIOD: A STUDY OF FIRST GRADE STUDENTS IN TAIWAN

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CHILDREN’S BEHAVIORAL AND LEARNING SELF-REGULATION IN TRANSITION PERIOD: A STUDY OF FIRST GRADE STUDENTS IN TAIWAN

ABSTRACT

This study sought to increase teachers‘ and parents‘ attention to the importance of children‘s self-regulation behavior and identify effects on and potential changes to this behavior. Issues relating to children‘s self-regulation behavior have become serious concerns in recent years in Taiwan. The effects of head teachers‘ and parents‘ interactive attitudes toward and involvement in children‘s self-regulation behavior received particular emphasis. Study findings should provide further understanding of the factors that influence children‘s self-regulation behavior both at school and home.

Participants included 50 head teachers and 481 parents, randomly selected from 2 firstgrade classes per elementary school, from 6 elementary schools per district, in 4 different school districts in Taipei City, Taiwan. Participants filled out surveys, which was the main data collection method for this study.

Five research questions guided this study. The methods used to analyze the data in order to answer the research questions were: descriptive statistics, curve estimation, linear regression, bivariate correlation, one-way ANOVA, and independent samples t-test. Results showed that the parent, as the child‘s caregiver, was the only factor to correlate with children‘s self-regulation behavior; children‘s self-regulation behavior was most correlated by average time spent daily on

homework assignments; there was a significant difference between children‘s gender and their general, learning, and overall self-regulation behavior; children tended to exhibit self-regulation behavior more frequently at school than at home; the frequency of head teachers‘ contact with

children‘s parents, especially oral contact, was through reports about children‘s school work and behavior related to children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at school; head teachers‘ involvement with students, which included taking extra time to help children with their courses,

monitoring children‘s behavior, spending a lot of time with children, giving encouragement or prizes to children, and reminding children about certain tasks such as completing homework, had

significant effects on children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at school; and parents‘ interactions with head teachers and frequency of attendance of school activities affected children‘s overall self-regulation at home. With regard to parents‘ involvement in children‘s

behavior, making time to help children with homework or courses, monitoring children‘s behavior, communicating with children face-to-face, spending lots of time with children, giving encouragement or prizes to children, and reminding children about certain tasks such as completing homework, all affected children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at home; in addition, according to responses from both head teachers and parents, monitoring children‘s behavior, spending lots of time with children, giving encouragement or prizes to children, and reminding children about certain tasks such as completing homework had the greatest effects on children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at home.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF FIGURES ……………………………………………………………………………………….. x

LIST OF TABLES …………………………………………………………………………………………. xi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS …………………………………………………………………………….. xiii

Chapter 1  INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………….. 1

Statement of the Problem ………………………………………………………………………….. 1 Need for the Study …………………………………………………………………………………… 3 Purposes of the Study ………………………………………………………………………………. 4 Research Questions ………………………………………………………………………………….. 5 Delimitations of the Study ………………………………………………………………………… 6 Limitations of the Study …………………………………………………………………………… 6

Definition of Terms in the Study ……………………………………………………………….. 7

Chapter 2  LITERATURE REVIEW ………………………………………………………………… 11

Understanding of Self-Regulation ……………………………………………………………… 11 Concept of Self-Regulation ………………………………………………………………… 12 Development of Self-Regulation …………………………………………………………. 15

Strategies of Self-Regulation ………………………………………………………………. 17 Self-Monitoring ………………………………………………………………………….. 17 Self-Instruction …………………………………………………………………………… 18 Self-Reinforcement …………………………………………………………………….. 20

Goal Setting ……………………………………………………………………………….. 20

Understanding the Transition from Kindergarten to First Grade ……………………. 21 Differences and Similarities in Kindergarten and Elementary School

Environments ……………………………………………………………………………………. 22

Curriculum ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 23 Kindergarten ………………………………………………………………………………. 23

First Grade …………………………………………………………………………………. 24

Activities ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 25 Kindergarten ………………………………………………………………………………. 25

First Grade …………………………………………………………………………………. 26

Peers ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26 Kindergarten ………………………………………………………………………………. 26

First Grade …………………………………………………………………………………. 27

Parents‘ and Teachers‘ Attitudes toward Education ……………………………………… 29

Parents‘ Perception ……………………………………………………………………………. 29 Views on School …………………………………………………………………………. 29 Views on Teachers ……………………………………………………………………… 30

Attitudes towards Transition ………………………………………………………… 30

Teachers‘ Perception …………………………………………………………………………. 31 Views of Parents …………………………………………………………………………. 31

Attitudes towards Transition ………………………………………………………… 32

Parents‘ Roles and Parents‘ Involvement ……………………………………………………. 33

Parents‘ Roles …………………………………………………………………………………… 34 Nurturer …………………………………………………………………………………….. 34 Individual…………………………………………………………………………………… 34 Worker ………………………………………………………………………………………. 34 Consumer…………………………………………………………………………………… 35 Community Member …………………………………………………………………… 35

Educator…………………………………………………………………………………….. 35

Areas of Involvement ………………………………………………………………………… 36 Participating in Home Visits ………………………………………………………… 36 Volunteering in School ………………………………………………………………… 36

Involvement in Policy Making and Decision Making………………………. 37

Effects of Involvement ………………………………………………………………………. 37 Cognitive Development and Social Behaviors ………………………………… 37 Motivation towards School ………………………………………………………….. 37

Achievement in School ……………………………………………………………….. 38 Advantages and Disadvantages of Parental Involvement………………………… 38

Parents‘ Barriers ……………………………………………………………………………….. 39

Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 40

Chapter 3  METHODOLOGY …………………………………………………………………………. 42

Research Design ……………………………………………………………………………………… 42

Research Participants ……………………………………………………………………………….. 43 Instrumentation ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 47

Contents of Questionnaires …………………………………………………………………. 47

Section I: Respondents‘ and Students‘/Children‘s Background

Information ………………………………………………………………………….. 48

Section II: Respondents‘ Interactions (Head Teachers and Parents) ….. 48

Section III: Respondents‘ Interactions with Students/Children …………. 48

Section IV: Respondents‘ Understanding of Students‘/Children‘s

Behavior ……………………………………………………………………………… 48

Expert Panel Review …………………………………………………………………………. 50 Questionnaire designed in English ………………………………………………… 50

First Time Expert Panel Review …………………………………………………… 50 Questionnaire Translated into Chinese…………………………………………… 51

Second Time Expert Panel Review ……………………………………………….. 52

Pilot Study ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 52 Data Collection Procedures ………………………………………………………………………. 53

Data Analysis ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 54

Chapter 4  RESEARCH RESULTS ………………………………………………………………….. 59

Profiles of the Participants ………………………………………………………………………… 59 Head Teacher Participants ………………………………………………………………….. 60

Parent Participants …………………………………………………………………………….. 63 Reliability Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………. 65

Student Self-Regulation Behavior ……………………………………………………………… 67

Analysis of Children‘s Overall Self-Regulation Behavior at Home as

Influenced by Parents‘ Background …………………………………………………….. 69

Analysis of Children‘s Overall Self-Regulation Behavior at School and at

Home as Influenced by Other Factors ………………………………………………….. 73

Analysis of Difference between Children‘s Self-Regulation Behavior

(General, Learning, and Overall) and Their Gender ………………………………. 83 Bivariate Correlations ………………………………………………………………………… 83 Descriptive Statistics …………………………………………………………………………. 85

ANOVA Analysis ……………………………………………………………………………… 87

Analysis of Difference between Children‘s Self-Regulation Behavior

(General, Learning, and Overall) in School and Home Settings ………………. 90

Bivariate Correlations ………………………………………………………………………… 90

Descriptive Statistics …………………………………………………………………………. 90

Analysis of Children‘s Overall Self-Regulation Behavior Correlated with

Head Teachers‘ and Parents‘ Interactions and Involvement ……………………. 92

Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 106

Chapter 5  CONCLUSION ……………………………………………………………………………… 109

Purposes of the Study and Research Questions ……………………………………………. 109

Discussion of Findings and Theoretical Implications …………………………………… 110 Research Question One ……………………………………………………………………… 111

Research Question Two ……………………………………………………………………… 112

Research Question Three ……………………………………………………………………. 113

Research Question Four …………………………………………………………………….. 114

Research Question Five ……………………………………………………………………… 115 Recommendations for Further Research …………………………………………………….. 117

Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 118

References …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 120

Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION

 

The purpose of this research study was to gain an understanding of the factors that influence children‘s self-regulation behavior at school and at home, and attention was also paid to the effects of head teachers‘ and parents‘ interacted attitudes and involvements toward children‘s self-regulation behavior. This chapter provides an introduction to this research study. It is divided into the following sections: (1) statement of the problem, (2) need for the study, (3) purposes of the study, (4) research questions, (5) delimitations of the study, (6) limitations of the study, and (7) definition of terms in the study.

 

Statement of the Problem

 In Taiwan, due to economic challenges that led to a Depression, people began to have fewer children. According to the Department of Budget, Accounting and Statistics of Taipei City Government (2007), the overall crude birth rate in Taiwan has decreased every year since 2001. For Taipei City, the crude birth rate was 12.74‰ in 2000 and 10.23‰ in 2001. In 2007, the crude birth rate was 8.22‰. Since there are fewer children per household, parents have more time and vigor to focus on their children. In addition,

Taiwanese parents believe that they should not ―lose at the starting point‖, which means that children should begin to learn as early as possible, so that later on they will perform better than others. Thus, parents pay lots of attention to the transition from kindergarten to first grade since this is the first education stage for children, and contains big differences in various areas (e.g., new environment, courses, and rules). During this transition, parents and kindergarten teachers begin preparations so that children are able to enter first grade without any difficulties. Based on information from the Taipei County Kindergarten Education Network (http://info1.tpc.gov.tw/kid/), during the transition, parents begin preparations, such as reminding children to have a good lifestyle, initiating the habit of finishing work alone, having good manners towards others, etc. As for kindergarten teachers, they begin to help children form habits such as coming to school on time, communicating using manners, having good hygiene, arranging and organizing things, finishing work assigned by teachers, and working with other children (TCKEN, 2006). Therefore, most areas on which parents and teachers focus related to selfregulation behavior.

The problem with children‘s self-regulation behavior has become a serious one in recent years. In 2000, the Ministry of Education (MOE) started stated that punishment in the school should be abolished; the ―no punishment allowed in the school‖ law passed in

December 2006. Based on the MOE (2007), ―punishment‖ includes physical punishments (e.g., beating, slapping), mental punishments (e.g., insults, humiliation, threats), and other punishments (e.g., push-ups, run tracks, squat jumps). Thus, teachers in Taiwan have been frustrated and confused about ―suitable discipline‖. On June 24, 2008, Chinese Television System (CTS) news reported that a group of 7th-grade students brought vodka to school to drink and were caught by their head teacher. This head teacher punished them by making them stand in the sun during breaks. The students protested and complained about getting sunburns. However, the public only focuses on the part that teacher gave punishment and students got sunburn, but not the reason why these students got punished (Shieh, 2008). Since teachers‘ punishments are often misunderstood by the public and students are not willing to follow the rules, self-regulation is the better way to handle these issues (Hong, 2005). ―Self-regulation begins with life itself. All living things have self-regulating and self-organizing mechanisms that guide their development and adaptation‖ (Bronson, 2000, p. 1).

 

Need for the Study

 According to the problem statement and the Five-Year-Educational-Plan for

Taiwan, Republic of China, this study was conducted for five reasons. First, most studies relating to children‘s self-regulation behavior focus on strategies for children‘s selfregulated learning (Wei, 2007). Moreover, children in higher elementary school grades, or disadvantaged or talented children often are the populations being studied. Second, since there are fewer children per household, parents have more time to spend with their children and are able to pay more attention to children‘s self-regulation behavior. Third, due to ―no punishment allowed in the school‖, focusing on children‘s self-regulation in the early developmental stages may be a better way to solve teachers‘ frustration with guiding and educating children. Fourth, one of the Curriculum Goals is to make selfregulation a core competency in the Grade 1–9 Curriculum, which is the reformed curriculum followed in compulsory education that was put into practice by the Ministry of Education more than 10 years. Finally, one of the Ministry of Education‘s goals is to examine both teachers‘ and parents‘ views of their children. This is important, because knowledge of the changes in the ways in which teachers and parents guide and educate children in the 21st century will have a vital impact on their lives.

 In sum, based on study needs, findings from this research may have value because:

  1. They may give teachers and parents a better idea of what affects children‘s selfregulation behavior and what can be changed (e.g., parents‘ view of the importance of self-regulation, guiding and educating) to enhance children‘s self-regulation behavior.
  2. They may benefit teachers and parents by leading them to pay more attention to children‘s characteristics at school and at home.
  3. The study and its results can increase teachers and parents‘ attention to the importance of self-regulation, since first grade is an early developmental stage in children‘s self-regulation behavior.

 

Purposes of the Study

 The purpose of this research study was to gain an understanding of the factors that influence children‘s self-regulation behavior at school and at home, and attention was also paid to the effects of head teachers‘ and parents‘ interacted attitudes and involvements toward children‘s self-regulation behavior. The related goals in which the researcher is interested are to : (1) determine whether children‘s self-regulation behavior is affected by parents‘ personal background and the children‘s own background, (2) examine whether children‘s gender differences affect their self-regulation behavior, (3) examine whether children‘s self-regulation behavior differs when placed in different settings, and (4) determine how children‘s self-regulation behavior is affected by teachers‘ and parents‘ interactions with each other and their involvement in children‘s lives.

 

Research Questions

To accomplish the purpose of the study and related goals, five research questions were addressed in this study:

  1. How is children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at home influenced by parents‘: (a) gender, (b) age, (c) educational level, (d) primary occupation, (e) monthly household income, and (f) child‘s caregiver?
  2. How is children‘s overall self-regulation behavior influenced by other factors when examined by: (a) number of siblings, (b) birth order, (c) months attended school before going to first grade, (d) types of school attended before going to first grade, and (e) average time spent daily on homework assignments?
  3. Is there a significant difference between children‘s (general, learning, and overall)

self-regulation behavior and their gender?

  1. Is there a significant difference between children‘s (general, learning, and overall) self-regulation behavior in school setting and home setting?
  2. (a) How is children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at school related to both head teachers‘ interactions with parents and their involvements in children‘s behavior? (b) How is children‘s overall self-regulation behavior at home related to both parents‘ interactions with head teachers and their involvements in children‘s behavior?

 

 

Delimitations of the Study

This research study was delimitated by the following four factors:

  1. The data were collected in November and December 2008 from 24 municipal elementary schools in four districts (Neihu, Shilin, Wenshan, and Xinyi) of Taipei

City, Taiwan.

  1. In this study, the researcher only focused on children who attended municipal elementary schools, which means that the study excluded children from national and private elementary schools.
  2. The researcher focused on first-grade children‘s self-regulation behavior at school and at home, and in a more general way.
  3. The questionnaires were filled out by head teachers and parents, who are also observers and involved in children‘s lives.

 

Limitations of the Study

 The three factors that limit the results from this research study are as follows:

  1. This study was limited to the four districts (Neihu, Shilin, Wenshan, and Xinyi) of Taipei City, Taiwan. Therefore, the analyzed results may not represent other parts of Taiwan or other countries around the world.
  2. The study only focused on children in the first grade, although the questionnaires were filled out by head teachers and parents. In addition, the study also excluded children from national and private elementary schools. Thus, the results cannot be generalized to all students in Taiwan.
  3. Children‘s self-regulation behavior at school and at home was studied in a more general way, and questionnaires were used as the only instruments in this study. This may not cover all phenomena in children‘s self-regulation behavior at school and at home, nor capture head teachers‘ and parents‘ perceptions thoroughly.

 

Definition of Terms in the Study

 The following terms are frequently used in specific ways in this study. The terms and their definitions are listed below in alphabetical order.

 

Children (Students)

The children in this study are considered to be first-grade students in municipal elementary schools. They must be at least 6 years old on September 1, 2008 (Department of Education of Taipei City Government, 2007).

 

Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the mode which supports the task of maintaining one‘s actions in line with one‘s integrated self (Heckhausen & Dweck, 1998). However, theorists in the behavioral tradition consider ―self-regulation‖ and ―self-control‖ to have the same meaning (Bronson, 2000).

 

 

 

 

Transition

Transition is a change or movement from one environment to another environment, and usually indicates changes between places, teachers, curricula, and notions (Margetts, 1999). In the study, this transition was from kindergarten to first grade.

 

National Elementary School

This is another kind of public elementary school, in which applicants whose parents are university faculty and staff first are considered first (with no consideration of district). Then, if spaces are available, the school accepts children whose parents are nonuniversity faculty and staff (consideration of district is needed) (DOE, 2007).

 

Municipal Elementary Schools

This is one kind of public elementary school. As long as the family lives in the same district as the location of the municipal elementary school, parents may send their children to those schools (DOE, 2007).

 

Head Teacher

In Taiwan, the head teacher is a teacher who interacts with the class most often and knows each student the best. The similar term for head teacher in America is ―home room teacher‖, but the head teacher in Taiwan is most likely teaching one certain course, not other subjects. In addition, the head teacher may sit at the back of the classroom to observe students‘ behavior when other subject teachers come into the classroom to give lectures. Furthermore, the head teacher often interacts with students‘ parents.

Parents

 In this study, a parent is a father, a mother, or a guardian who has a child attended first grade in a municipal elementary school in fall 2008, in Taipei City, Taiwan.

 

Serial Number

Each questionnaire was assigned a number––for both head teachers‘ and parents‘ versions. There were five numbers in each serial number. The first number indicated the district; the following two indicated the school in the district; and the last two indicated which child was being evaluated. This system was used to match questionnaires from head teachers and parents for each child.

 

Identification (ID) Number

In Taiwan, every student has an identification number that represents him- or herself. The identification number only contains 1 to 2 digits. For example, if the class size is 30, then the ID number is from 1 to 30. In addition, the numbers are assigned to male students first, then female students––in other words, if the class has 15 male and 15 females, male students will have numbers from 1 to 15, and numbers 16 to 30 are assigned to female students. This identification number will be the same throughout the fall and spring semesters.

 

 

 

 

Interaction

Communication, negotiation, cooperation and conflicts are viewed as parts of interactions, and include valid and invalid, active and passive movements (Lu, 2003). In this study, interactions among head teachers, parents, and children were studied.

 

Involvement

Parents followed several methods for participating in activities relating to children‘s learning, such as supervising children while doing homework, communicating and interacting with teachers, and assisting with teaching activities––all to help children grow and learn happily and steadily (Chang, 2007).

 

Learning Behavior

Generally speaking, learning behavior is behavior that relates to learning. Learning is a system of progressive steps that make an individual who he or she is, and exert lasting changes on behavior or knowledge through experience or practice (Cheng, 2007). Learning behavior is the product of learning, which includes learning attitude and representation of learning competence.

CHILDREN’S BEHAVIORAL AND LEARNING SELF-REGULATION IN TRANSITION PERIOD: A STUDY OF FIRST GRADE STUDENTS IN TAIWAN

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