Mind the gap: a case study on the influence of parental involvement and infocomm technologies on the literacy level of Singapore's Malay pre-schoolers

Chong, Thomas (2017) Mind the gap: a case study on the influence of parental involvement and infocomm technologies on the literacy level of Singapore's Malay pre-schoolers. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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There is a (literacy) gap among Malay pre-schoolers – they are not reading at their age level – and more can be done to help affected families so that their preschool children may recognise words, spell, read and make sense of simple sentences. This case study focused on the influence of parental involvement and Information Communication Technology (ICT) on the literacy level of Singapore's Malay pre-schoolers. It started with a discussion on Singapore's state of ICT- readiness, the choice of preschool, access and potential bias, assumptions, delimitations of this study and a review of the literature before discussing the findings and conclusion.

This case study comprised a survey, a documentary analysis, and an analysis of narratives of Malay parents. The Malays are an aboriginal group commonly found in this part of South-east Asia comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore. In fact, the provision of assistance to the Malays is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.

The case study site is a group of 3 Singapore preschools under the People's Action Party Community Foundation, a large charity. The case study site is representative of preschools serving low-income families. Thirty-one teachers and 48 parents or care-givers of children from these participating pre-schools participated in interviews. Through this case study method, the issues are better understood. Hence, recommendations are made to enhance literacy levels of pre-schoolers among the Malays, who are over-represented among the poor and the under-performers in school.

There is also a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of the case study design. The subject of triangulation was also discussed and especially related issues such as validity and reliability. Triangulation involved the analyses of qualitative data as well as quantitative data. Triangulation involved a documentary analysis relating to parliamentary speeches and media releases from various government bodies, a narrative analysis of interviews with teachers and parents, and a survey questionnaire (quantitative data) completed voluntarily by teachers and parents. The documentary analysis centred on parliamentary speeches on pre-school policies and media releases from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Social and Family Development, and other different data sources such as journal articles and books. The narrative analysis focused on interviews with teachers and parents. The survey questionnaire for teachers was designed to gather information about the level of ICT-readiness among them while the survey questionnaire for parents was designed to gather information about their nature and level of parental involvement with their preschool children.

Broadly speaking, case studies are complex because they generally involved multiple sources of data and consequentially tended to produce large amounts of data for analysis. Nevertheless, with a more in-depth understanding of key questions such as 'why' and 'how', the critical success factors were identified. As was expected, a pattern emerged and several repeated themes surfaced from the narrative analysis. It was also interesting that a pair of somewhat unexpected factors emerged namely 'religious upbringing' and 'religiosity' which were then discussed in the context of how they helped or hindered the literacy development of the Malay pre-school children.

This study also served to illustrate how the case study research method could be used to answer the "why" and "how" research questions. This study concluded that ICT can enhance teaching and learning, if integrated and harnessed appropriately to bring about engaged learning in the preschool environment. It also concluded that more parental involvement in a child's literacy development might not lead to desired results if the parents were still struggling with bread-and-butter issues or if they were not well-equipped with parenting skills. It also briefly demonstrated the technique of discussing the case around a few repeated themes (including religiosity). Finally, this case study made the argument for more initiatives to be carried out upstream, from as early as the preschool years so as to raise the pre-school children's phonemic awareness and literacy, before making suggestions for further research.

Item ID: 53055
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aboriginal, case study, documentary analysis, ICT, literacy gap, Malay, narrative analysis, parental involvement, pre-schoolers, religiosity, and religious upbringing
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2018 04:56
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130102 Early Childhood Education (excl Maori) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement @ 100%
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