Empowerment/disempowerment issues in immigrant parents’ school involvement experiences in their children’s schooling : Korean immigrant mothers’ perceptions

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Kwon, Yi Jeong

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Using Delgado-Gaitan and Trueba’s (1991) empowerment/disempowerment definition as a framework, this dissertation investigated how Korean immigrant mothers perceived and practiced parental involvement in their children’s schooling, and how an empowerment/disempowerment process occurred during their involvement. To inquire into the research questions, this study used the qualitative case study method, and five Korean immigrant mothers were the cases. The interview method was used to gather data, and an unstructured interview protocol, as well as a semi-structured interview protocol, was used for the interviews. Each mother was interviewed three times. From this study, I found these things: For the concept of schooling, all the Korean mothers in this study agreed that schooling is all activities relevant to acquiring abilities related to having a better school life, and that the concept of parental involvement includes all the activities to support their children’s schooling, regardless of activity types. In a comparison of their beliefs and their practices for involvement, they show accord in terms of the comprehensive nature of parental involvement. However, there were also discrepancies between their perceptions and practices of involvement. To get an understanding of the discrepancy issue, their involvement experiences were explored, based on an empowerment/disempowerment framework. The Korean immigrant mothers showed distinctive features in empowerment and disempowerment while they were involved in their children’s schooling. First, they felt contradictory feelings—guilt and pride-- toward their identity, and this influenced their empowerment and disempowerment. The second feature was the struggles that the Korean immigrant mothers reported: cultural differences, exclusion, and a lack of English skill for involvement. Last, the most salient feature to influence their empowerment/disempowerment was the standard they were using to evaluate their involvement. These findings were discussed in terms of the features of empowerment/ disempowerment and the factors that influenced their empowerment and disempowerment. The Korean mothers’ standard of evaluation was discussed in depth, since it was determined to be the most basic issue to impact their empowerment/ disempowerment experiences. Based on the findings, this dissertation concluded with presenting implications for teachers, educational administrators, and Korean immigrant mothers themselves, and with suggestions for future research.



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