Sheppard, Wade Austin (1980) Background characteristics, opinions and attitudes of parents electing an early French immersion programme for their children. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
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This study focused on the parents of children being enrolled into kindergarten French immersion in the school year 1979-80 in Cape St. George, Newfoundland. Three aspects were investigated in the study. First, selected background characteristics of the parents and home were investigated. Second, a survey of parental opinion respecting various aspects of immersion French education and biculturalism was conducted. Third, parental attitudes with respect to biculturalism were measured. The purpose of the study was to discover if differences on these factors could be found between the groups of parents who elected to place their children in the immersion French stream and the group electing to place their children in the regular English stream. -- The sample for the study consisted of 19 fathers and 30 mothers of children entering kindergarten in September, 1979. The parents were divided into two groups, depending upon the kindergarten stream chosen by them for their children, and compared in the analysis on the various measures. All the data for the study was obtained during one to two hour interviews with each parent included in the sample. Background characteristics were investigated by a series of questionnaires developed by the researcher, while an opinionnaire was designed to gather information on parental opinion. Parental attitudes with respect to biculturalism were determined with the use of an attitude questionnaire comprised of five subscales designed by Jokobovits (1970), based on scales originally developed by Gardner and Lambert (1969). The major statistical procedures used in this study were analysis of variance, or chi square test for independence, and a factor analysis. -- Significant differences were found in all of the three main areas of investigation. The two groups differed in areas such as French speaking proficiency and various other language related background factors. Experience with immersion French, educational level of parents, and parental aspirations for their children all proved to be significantly different. Parents also differed with respect to their opinions on the effectiveness of the immersion French programme, economic benefits of the immersion programme as compared to the English programme, cultural benefits of the immersion French programme, as well as characteristics of students who are most successful in the immersion French programme. With respect to bicultural attitudes, the groups differed significantly in terms of French attitudes, authoritarianism, and anomie. The factor analysis indicated that French language background was a clear and independent factor in the parental decision-making process. It was also suggested that parents viewed the English and immersion French programmes as having different strengths. The English programme was seen to have more academic merit, while the immersion programme was seen to make an important cultural contribution. When academic merit was related to the economic benefits of the programme, the suggestion seems to be that the risk of academic failure is weighed against economic benefit when choosing one programme over the other. The factor analysis also indicated that persons who were less educated and had less direct experience with innovations in education are more likely to opt for the known, more traditional educational programmes unless they are endowed with unusual inner direction. -- In light of the study's findings, recommendations were made in two areas - programme evaluation and programme recruitment. Programme evaluation has to be viewed in the context of parental motivations for choosing one programme in favor of the other. Former simple comparisons of outcomes of the programme required the assumption that inputs into the two kindergarten classes had been the same, or else, had little to do with outcomes. This assumption must now be rejected. Arguments for programme recruitment, normally taking the stand that educational risks are minimal compared to potential it presents for cultural renewal and economic improvement, must now be modified.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Masters)|
|Additional Information:||Bibliography: leaves 61-64.|
|Department(s):||Education, Faculty of|
|Geographic Location:||Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Port au Port Peninsula--Cape St. George|
|Library of Congress Subject Heading:||Language and education--Newfoundland and Labrador--Cape St. George; Biculturalism--Newfoundland and Labrador--Cape St. George; Parents--Attitudes|
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