The findings of a recent study have extended our understanding of the role of parental scaffolding in kindergarten pupils’ self-regulated learning (SRL) in the Chinese context. Zhang and Whitebread, from the University of Cambridge, conducted a study on 130 pupils and their parents from three kindergartens in Beijing to examine the relationship between children’s SRL strategic behaviours, their task performance and parental scaffolding behaviours.
The study involved two stages of test. The children were asked to complete a puzzle task and an origami task with their parents first. Three weeks later, children were assigned to accomplish the same two tasks by themselves. The difficulty of the parent-child tasks and the child-alone tasks was different for studying parents’ scaffolding behaviours and pupil’s SRL strategic behaviours respectively. The problem-solving processes were video-taped for an in-depth observational analyses.
Pupil’s task performance was predicted by the use of metacognitive strategic behaviours. Well-performed pupils used behaviours such as indicative of planning, self-monitoring and awareness of errors. They, for instances, talked to themselves “I have to put pieces of the lions together” before started working on the puzzle. Parental contingency, instead of cognitive and emotional support, independently predicted children’s SRL behaviours. Parents’ abilities to provide instructions contingent on children’s levels of understanding enable children to use SRL strategies. Neither posing yes/no questions when children had a clear understanding of the task, nor using questions to encourage performance monitoring when children understood the task poorly was considered as contingent.
This Chinese study found a higher level of motivational strategic behaviours usage among children comparing to previous research, which may be related to the Confucian teaching’s emphasis of effort. The researchers remarked that the sample may not reflect the diversity of the Chinese population.
Source: Zhang, H., & Whitebread, D. (2017). Linking parental scaffolding with self-regulated learning in Chinese kindergarten children. Learning and Instruction, 49, 121-130.