The key goal of this project is to identify how to help parents support children’s math learning in the early years of school to set a motivational foundation that will sustain children as they face challenges in math in the later years of school. We are examining parenting practices that may be important to children’s math learning and how to optimize such practices. It is our hope that knowledge from this study may be used by school personnel to easily engage parents in children’s math learning in a constructive manner. This project is funded by the National Institute of Science.
Parenting in the U.S. and China Projects
We have several projects that focus on understanding how parenting and its effects on children converge and diverge in the United States and China, with attention to why. These projects are designed to identify cultural socialization cascades in which the unique cultural orientations and societal structures of the two countries create differences in parents’ goals and beliefs that drive their parenting practices and ultimately shape children’s academic and emotional functioning in the two countries. These projects have received funding from the National Institute of Child Development, National Science Foundation, and Hong Kong Research Council.
Teen Stereotype Projects
Much of our research over the years indicates that the early adolescent years in the United States and China are different. For example, American children on average become less engaged in school (e.g., spend less time on it and are less interested in it), whereas this is not the case for Chinese children. The key goal of these projects is to understand why the early adolescent years differ in the two countries. A guiding principle in our work is that culture shapes ideas about adolescence—what might be considered stereotypes about teens—which in turn influence youth both directly and indirectly (e.g., via peers, parents, and teachers). We are examining if supporting children in holding positive teen stereotypes can foster more positive adjustment during adolescence.
The Parent-Teacher Conference Project
Teachers can provide information at parent-teacher conferences about how and what individual children are learning, which may be critical to parents being effectively involved in children’s learning. Despite substantial advice as to how teachers can optimally communicate with parents during parent-teacher conferences, such advice has little empirical basis. This project aims to quantitatively describe teachers’ communications to parents during parent-teacher conferences and the role such communications play in parents’ involvement in children’s learning. Funding for this work was provided by the Spencer Foundation.