Parental autonomy support in learning with mobile technology

Year: 2013

Author: Hong, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With societal progression and greater educational attainments, we see how raising incomes and technological quantum leaps have allowed parents and schools to place mobile technologies like smartphones into the hands of children for learning and communication purposes. In this context of high connectivity and technological advancements, researchers worked collaboratively with a Singapore Primary School to harness the features on the smartphones for teaching and learning and to explore how mobile learning can enhance learning outcomes.  All Grade 3 students in the school participated in the research and smartphones were used for learning during the English Language lessons.  Smartphones were placed in the hands of these students 24/7.  A study was conducted to investigate how parents of different personal backgrounds (i.e. educational levels and smartphone knowledge) are managing this technology in their autonomy support towards their children's learning and education.  A survey was conducted among 300 parents with children in Grade 3 on their perceptions towards their autonomy support and children's learning with smartphones.  These results were triangulated with the children's perception of their parents' autonomy support and their academic results in English Language.  A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was conducted and findings showed that parents who gave greater autonomy to their children had a more positive view of their child's learning using smartphones and their children achieved better results in their English Language test. The reverse was also true for parents who gave little autonomy, they had a less positive view of their child's learning and their children achieved lower English Language scores. Parents' backgrounds have no significant influence on autonomy support, but are significant to academic achievement and children's perception of parental autonomy support respectively. Parents have an enormous influence on their children's education. Research has identified parental autonomy support as an important dimension that contributes to student achievement and success.  Parental autonomy support refers to the affirmation of the child as a unique, active, and volitional being and is evidenced in behaviors such as acknowledging the child's perspective, encouraging independent thinking, and providing opportunities to make choices. Parents' support of their child's autonomy predicts academic achievement and positive school attitudes (child's learning).  It has been shown that parental involvement may be particularly beneficial for children when it is autonomy supportive. In contrast, the lack of parental autonomy support is detrimental to children if it is controlling and characterized by negative affect.