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Parental influences on mathematics achievement of children of immigrant backgrounds Kerr, Zuzana

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to compare the mathematical performance of children who have foreign born parents and English as a second language (ESL) to the performance of native English speaking children with Canadian born parents from kindergarten to grade 6. The function of the country of origin as a possible variable having an impact on mathematical achievement was also considered. In grades 5 and 6, children and parents were given a questionnaire addressing attitudes towards education and mathematics, parental involvement and the home learning environment. The relationship between these factors and the children's performance was investigated. It was found that, on all numeracy measures, immigrant/ESL children performed as well or better than native English speaking children with Canadian born parents. This difference was more profound in grades 3 to 6, in which immigrant/ESL children performed higher on a number of numeracy measures compared to native English speaking children with Canadian born parents. In grades 2 to 6, East Asian students had the highest scores on numeracy measures compared to Europeans, Middle Eastern and Filipino students. Immigrant parents showed higher involvement in their children's mathematical learning (e.g., tutoring, aspiration for higher education and better grades for their children) when compared to Canadian born parents. These attitudes were reflected in the children's beliefs about mathematics and their performance. There were only a few significant differences between the questionnaire responses of the three immigrant groups (East Asian, Filipino and Middle Eastern). Both parents' and children's attitudes towards mathematics and the learning environment at home were related to the children's numeracy performance. Findings of the present study help to understand the factors associated with the school achievement of students with recent immigrant backgrounds and the importance of family influences on motivation and school success of these students.

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