An investigation of parents' and children's beliefs of early literacy acquisition from a cross-cultural perspective

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Lisbeth A. Dixon-Krauss

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Adriana McEachem

Third Advisor's Name

Mohammed K. Farouk

Fourth Advisor's Name

Leonard Bliss

Date of Defense



It has been reported that the cultural-historical experiences of ethnic group members can play a role in the literacy beliefs of those members. Socioeconomic conditions can also influence the belief system of the groups' constituents. This study investigated parents' and children's beliefs pertaining to early literacy acquisition as related to the ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) of the participants. The objectives were to determine (a) the differential patterns regarding emergent literacy and traditional skills approaches as they interact with ethnicity and SES and (b) the correspondence between parents and children's beliefs about literacy acquisition.

The study was conducted with 152 parents (38 low-income Hispanic, 38 middle-income Hispanic, 38 low-income African-American, and 38 middle-income African-American) and 36 of their 3-, 4-, or 5-year-old children (18 male and 18 female).

The parents were asked to check those items with which they agreed on a survey that consisted of an equal number of items from the traditional skills-based and emergent literacy orientations. These responses were used to determine the differences and interaction by ethnicity and SES. The children responded to open-ended questions related to the instruction of reading and writing skills. The parents' responses and children's answers were compared to ascertain the matching parent-child dyads by ethnicity and SES.

An item analysis was conducted to strengthen the internal reliability consistency coefficient of the traditional skills-based and emergent literacy scales as measured by the Cronbach Alpha.

A two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a significant difference in traditional skill-based beliefs for the low-income African-American and Hispanic parents. There were no significant findings for the parents' traditional skill-based or emergent literacy beliefs based on ethnicity, for the interaction between ethnicity and SES, or for the relationship between parents' and children's literacy beliefs by ethnicity and SES.

It can be concluded that low-income African-American and Hispanic parents believe in the traditional skills approach, indicating that these parents find it necessary for children to have sufficient school readiness skills prior to learning to read or write. In addition, the parent and child dyads had a strong tendency toward emergent literacy beliefs.



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