The number of foreign immigrants living in the Autonomous Region of the Basque Country (ARBC) has increased considerably over recent years. In 1998, foreign immigrants accounted for 0.72% of the total population, while by 2013, this figure had risen to 6.8% (INE, 2013). Although over the past year the immigrant population has for the first time decreased, with the figure dropping by 2.5% in comparison with the previous year (2012), the Basque Country continues to be, along with Cantabria and Aragón, one of the Autonomous Region’s of Spain with the lowest decrease in this sense.
According to the data published by the Department of Education, Universities and Research (2012), during the 2011-2012 academic year, 33,381 students came from immigrant families, with 25% being enrolled in primary school. Diversity in relation to family origin is clear. In the 2011-2012 academic year, 35.9% of immigrant students came from South America, 22.9% from North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, etc.), 14.8% from EU countries, 9.4% from Asia/Oceania, 9.4% from other parts of Africa (Senegal, Nigeria, etc.), 5.3 from the rest of America and 2.3% from the rest of Europe. Thus, the native language of just under two thirds of all immigrant students in the education system is different from the official languages of the ARBC. This increase in language diversity, as well as in cultural and social diversity and diversity of educational experiences, changes the way we must act in order to respond satisfactorily to the needs of both students themselves and their families.
In this sense, the Basque education system has adopted a number of educational measures aimed at facilitating the adaptation and integration of immigrant students. Examples of this include the publication by the Department of Education of a book entitled: Intercultural Education: guidelines for providing an educational response to ethnic and cultural diversity at school (Jaussi and Rubio, 1998), and the funding of intervention projects aimed at socially-disadvantaged students and those with integration problems. In 2003, the Department of Education published a set of instructions aimed at regulating school attendance by immigrant students arriving after the start of the school year, with the aim of ensuring their even distribution between publicly-funded schools and encouraging enrolment in bilingual teaching models (Basque Government, 2003).
Since that time, three educational programmes have been set up with the aim of fostering the school, social and cultural integration of all immigrant students. In the first programme (Basque Government, 2004), which formed part of the 1st Basque Immigration Plan, special emphasis was placed on the need to ensure oral and written fluency in the official languages of the ARBC (Basque and Spanish), as well as on immigrant students’ induction into the school curriculum and their gradual increase in personal autonomy, both at school and in society in general. The most important resources envisaged by the first programme were language support classrooms and the language support teachers provided to help recently-arrived immigrant students who did not speak the school language(s). The aim was to facilitate their integration and language learning and respond to their specific, individual needs in a more personal manner (Basque Government, 2007a).
The second programme, which was established in 2007 as part of the 2nd Basque Immigration Plan, was called the Interculturalism and inclusion programme for recently-arrived students (Basque Government, 2007b). This programme adopted a broader perceptive, viewing the school and social inclusion of all students as the main backbone of educational intervention. The programme’s specific objectives were: 1) to foster the school and social inclusion of recently-arrived students, guaranteeing adequate induction and integration procedures and avoiding any type of discrimination; 2) to promote intercultural education, based on equality, solidarity and respect for cultural diversity; and 3) to contribute to the academic success of recently-arrived students by helping them learn both the official languages of our region, with special emphasis being placed on the Basque language. The programme continued the measures taken in the 2004 plan and proposed new ones, such as training, new material resources, the creation of a new figure in the school environment (interculturalism coordinator) and guidelines for developing individual intervention plans for recently-arrived students, etc.
The most recent programme, which is entitled: Strategic plan for diversity in the framework of an inclusive school 2012-2015, is located within the inclusive paradigm and aims to impregnate culture, politics and educational praxis with an intercultural perspective (Basque Government, 2012). Its three specific aims are: 1) to strengthen the intercultural approach of schools through teacher training and counselling, as well as through innovative initiatives within the school organisation; 2) to update and adapt regulations, programmes and protocols in accordance with criteria that will enable inclusive schooling for all students; and 3) to enhance the efficacy and coordination of specific resources for improving schools’ ability to rise to the challenges posed by more diverse working environments.
The educational measures implemented by the Basque Government over recent years show how attitudes to diversity have changed over time. In the 2004 programme, the priority concern was immigrant students themselves and their mastery of the official languages. Later programmes, on the other hand, attach more importance to the need to address the issue from a more inclusive perspective, stressing the need to provide all students with an intercultural education based on equality, solidarity and respect for cultural diversity. Later programmes also highlight the need for interventions to be carried out by schools themselves, coordinating and cooperating with local institutions and associations. This change in attitude within the government in relation to how to address the question of diversity in the educational field prompts us to consider the importance of other variables in our attempt to understand this phenomenon. In this sense, the expectations of teachers and families may constitute a key variable in relation to students’ educational experience.
Little research has been conducted into the expectations of families and teachers in the specific context of the Basque Country and that which has been carried out has focused more on teachers' perceptions regarding the arrival of new immigrant students. These studies have generally found that Basque teachers have a positive attitude to the arrival of immigrant students, although they regard the training and resources provided by the Basque Government as being insufficient for ensuring the effective handling of this issue (Septién, 2006; Vicente, 2007). In a study conducted by Etxeberria, Karrera and Murua (2010) with 200 Basque infant and primary school teachers, the authors found that when asked about their satisfaction and expectations regarding their work with immigrant students, respondents rated the specific training received for this task very poorly. One aspect that concerns teachers is the difficulty of teaching Basque to students who join their classes after the official enrolment period (i.e. once the school year has already started).
Teachers’ expectations regarding their students are not always positive. A study on the beliefs and representations of Basque trainee teachers regarding immigration and immigrants (Barquín, Alzola, Madinabeitia and Urizar, 2010) revealed the plethora of different outlooks and attitudes that exist in relation to this phenomenon, although trainee teachers in general acknowledge that their view of immigration is somewhat limited and are aware that many attitudes are based on stereotypes and generalisations.
This study aims to redress the lack of research focusing specifically on the expectations of teachers and immigrant families in the Basque Country. Its contribution to the field is based on two main aspects: 1) it analyses the expectations of both form tutors and immigrant families throughout the whole Autonomous Region of the Basque Country (ARBC), by means of a representative sample; and 2) it analyses not only academic expectations (the most commonly studied kind) but also professional expectations and expectations related to languages (Basque, Spanish, English and native language) and social relations. The reason for this is that all these expectations are significant for the integration of immigrant students into their new society.
The study firstly describes some of the theories which contribute to our knowledge of teachers’ and immigrant families’ expectations regarding their students/children, before moving on to present the research work carried out using a quantitative methodology. Finally, the results obtained are outlined and their implications discussed.
Expectations refer to the hope of achieving something if the desired opportunity presents itself (Burell i Floriá, 1997; Espasa, 2001). It is important to stress that, in the study of expectations regarding the immigrant population, many authors distinguish between two different terms: expectations and aspirations. Goldenberg, Gallimore, Reese and Garnier (2001) define educational expectations as “the educational level that one realistically believes can be achieved”, and educational aspirations as "the level of formal education one hopes to achieve". In their study with Latin American immigrants, these authors found that families tended to have high aspirations regarding their children’s formal educational level, regardless of the academic outcomes obtained. However, they also found that expectations varied at the primary level, and were influenced by students' actual academic performance. Other authors such as Portes and Rumbaut (2001: 215) define aspirations as the desired level of achievement (what people want to happen) and expectations as beliefs about the probable future of things (what people think is going to happen). Aspirations are less realistic, since they reflect peoples' desires, which in the majority of cases exceed what can rationally be expected.
In this study, educational expectations are understood to be closely linked to perceptions, values and beliefs regarding education, as well as to desires stemming from participants’ own life experience in relation to the process of immigration. Immigration itself can be considered a process which exposes those involved in it to certain ruptures and certain continuities, thus prompting a certain restructuring of their general and educational aims and goals. Consequently, a great deal of importance may be attached to education as part of the immigration experience, reflecting parents' desire to offer their children the chance to gain better qualifications and enjoy a broader range of professional options (Aparicio, 2003).
The section below outlines the theoretical basis for and research carried out into the expectations of both teachers and immigrant families.
Expectations of teachers and immigrant families
Since Merton first coined the term “self-fulfilling prophecy” in 1948, a long line of studies (the first being the one by Rosental and Jacobson in 1968) have demonstrated how erroneous teacher expectations can prompt students to perform in accordance with that expected of them. Although authors such as Jussim and Harber (2005) have used the results of the research carried out over the last 35 years to point out certain controversies in relation to the concept itself, its measurement and its influence in the classroom, it is nevertheless true that many studies have supported the idea that positive teacher expectations may serve as a motivating force for students’ academic achievement (Alexander and Schofield, 2006; Benner and Mistry, 2007; Gillborn, Rollock, Vincent and Ball, 2012; Rubie-Davies, Peterson, Irving, Widdowson and Dixon, 2010; Weinstein, 2002).
A recurring aspect of research into this question has been the observation of differences in teacher expectations in accordance with the social and ethnic origin of students and their families. Research in this field has shown that teachers tend to have lower expectations of students from more disadvantaged social backgrounds or ethnic minorities, such as African-American or Hispanic students (Jussim and Harber, 2005; Tenenbaum and Ruck, 2007; Weinstein, 2002).
In this sense, authors such as Hauser-Cram, Sirin and Stipek (2003) and Rubie-Davies et al. (2010) observed lower teacher expectations in relation to students from families whose educational values differed from their own. This assessment was based on their beliefs regarding the lack of family support. Huss-Keeler (1997) drew similar conclusions from her case study of students of Pakistani origin at a school in the United Kingdom. Teachers' ignorance of these students’ families resulted in a negative misinterpretation of the interest taken by parents in their children's education, which in turn gave rise to low expectations regarding students' language learning and achievement. This may have important implications, suggesting that minority groups may be more negatively affected by low expectations due to the existence of social stereotypes that support such underestimations (Jussim, Eccles and Madon, 1996). It should also be remembered that some research indicates that high teacher expectations have a greater impact on disadvantaged students (Croninger and Lee, 2001).
It is important to note that the expectations of families have been less widely studied than those of teachers (Rubie Davies et al., 2010), even though their impact on children’s achievement should not be underestimated. Of those studies focusing on the expectations of immigrant families in relation to their children’s education, one of the most important is the work by Portes and Rumbaut (2001), who conducted a broad study in the United States of 30 immigrant groups. The study, which was called the CILS (Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study), aimed to chart the educational experiences of young second-generation immigrants. Although the analysis focuses mainly on the expectations of the students themselves, 2,500 immigrant families of 9 different nationalities were also interviewed. The authors concluded that regardless of origin, the majority of families (73.9%) expected their children to attend university, although lower means were found in relation to this expectation among families from Cambodia, refugee families fleeing from traumatic persecution experiences, families from Mexico, those who had admission and integration problems and those who themselves had a low educational level.
Similarly, other authors have also found that immigrant families tend to have high expectations, regardless of origin. This has been observed in England with the Caribbean (Tomlinson, 1984) and Asian communities (Batthi, 1998) and in the United States with the Asian (Ji and Klobinsky, 2009; Trueba, Li, Cheng and Kenj, 1993) and Latin American communities (Chrispeels and Rivero, 2001; Jacobson, 2005). Nevertheless, it may be that more underprivileged family conditions lead to lower expectations, since families may see economic difficulties as an obstacle to their children attending university (Aparicio, 2003; Goldenberg et al., 2001; Márquez, 2010).
In a study conducted by Cheng and Starks (2002) with 4,874 ethnic minority students and 12,127 white students, the authors found that although the families of all communities had high expectations for their children, differences were observed in the influence that these expectations had on students’ achievement. The results of the study showed that mothers of Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans and fathers of African-Americans had less influence on achievement than white parents. According to the authors, this may be due to the social contexts of these families, the types of parent-child interactions established and the significant role played by other family members.
In Spain, studies have found high educational expectations in immigrant families (Bartolomé, 1999; Aguado, Ballesteros, Malik and Sánchez, 2003; Terrén and Carrasco, 2007), although a number of differences were also observed. In his work with the African community living in Lérida, Garreta (1994) observed that expectations varied in accordance with the family's reasons for immigrating. For their part, Aparicio (2003) and Barreiro, Lorenzo and Santos (2007) observed more uncertain expectations among Moroccan families.
The section below analyses those studies that have focused on the expectations of both teachers and families.
Joint study of the expectations of both teachers and families
We accept that teachers’ expectations develop in relation to multiple contextual influences and may be influenced by other forces such as the family’s expectations, cultural factors and school policy (Jones, Miron, Kelaher-Young, 2012). Consequently, ecology theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) was taken as the basic framework of reference for this study and the exchange of expectations between the two contexts (school-family) is considered to be something that may benefit students.
Research in this area indicates that when the expectations of both the school and the family are positive, they in turn have a positive influence on the student's own expectations. Furthermore, in their study of African-American youths from low-income families, Wood et al. found that teachers’ expectations are a decisive factor, since when they are high they have a positive influence on the expectations of students themselves, regardless of their family situation. Benner and Mistry (2007) studied the effects of congruent or dissonant teacher/parent expectations on student achievement, concluding not only that positive expectations from both contexts have a positive effect on students, but also that when teacher expectations are lower, high maternal expectations have a buffering effect. These authors found that although the children of mothers with high expectations did not attain such good academic results as students for whom expectations were high in both contexts, they did achieve more than those whose parents had low expectations.
In a study carried out with 117 low-income mothers from different origins and 45 teachers, Peet, Powel and O’Donnell (1997) aim to determined whether teachers’ and families’ views of their students’/children’s competence and commitment in the classroom were associated with their actual level of achievement. The authors found that in some cases the perceptions of mothers and teachers coincided, while in others they did not, although they were unable to associate this difference with ethnic origin. Congruent perceptions by school and family regarding children’s development and academic performance were positively correlated with their actual level of achievement, with this association being stronger the older the child.
As stated above, the present study focuses not only on academic expectations, but also on expectations regarding professional level, language learning and social relations. To the best of our knowledge, only a few studies have focused to date on expectations regarding achievement in relation to language learning, and those that have are located within the framework of social psychology, focusing on acculturation and adaptation, in which one of the priority aspects analysed is the adoption and maintenance of language by immigrant communities (Kim and Gudynskunt, 1988). As regards social expectations, the closest area of study we found was in state-wide research initiatives, such as those carried out by Aparicio (2005) and Etxeberria et al. (2011), which analyse the social networks of immigrant communities.
In this present study, we believe that analysing the expectations of teachers and families together may help us gain a broader view of students' situations. This is of special interest in the case of immigrant families living in societies whose values and sociocultural situations are very different from their own. The inter-adaptation process which takes place between immigrant communities and the host society involves both processes of change and processes of continuity in relation to roles, values and expectations for the future. A more in-depth knowledge of the expectations of both contexts (teachers and parents) may provide greater insight into students’ educational processes, as well as help improve relations between the school and the family. The methodology used in the study is outlined below.
Aims and hypotheses
The study’s main aim was to identify any differences which may exist between the academic, linguistic and social expectations of form tutors and immigrant families in relation to primary school students in the ARBC. The specific aims were:
1. To determine whether or not differences exist between the expectations of form tutors and those of immigrant families regarding their students’/children’s academic achievement.
2. To determine whether or not differences exist between the expectations of form tutors and those of immigrant families regarding their students’/children’s professional development.
3. To determine whether or not differences exist between the expectations of form tutors and those of immigrant families regarding their students’/children’s level of achievement in Basque, Spanish, English and their language of origin.
4. To determine whether or not differences exist between the expectations of form tutors and those of immigrant families regarding the level of friendship attained by their students/children with people from their country of origin, from other countries and those born in the Basque Country.
These aims led to the establishment of the study's working hypotheses. The specific hypotheses established were as follows: families' expectations are more positive than those of form tutors in relation to students’ academic achievement (1), professional development (2), level of achievement in Basque, Spanish, English and language of origin (3) and the level of friendship attained with people from their family’s country of origin, other countries and those born in the Basque Country (4).
The sample group comprised 302 immigrant parents currently living in the ARBC who have children enrolled at primary level in the Basque education system, as well as the form tutors of those children.
The school was taken as the sampling unit. The sample group was selected by means of random, stratified sampling of primary schools in the Autonomous Region of the Basque Country, taking the following criteria into account: funding model (public/private but with some state funding), language model (A-B-D)[i] and province (Álava/Araba, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa).
Table 1 - Distribution of the family sample
The family sample was mainly made up by women (81.5%) with a mean age of 35 and a standard deviation of 6.7 years. A large percentage spoke Spanish as their native language (48.7%) and 51.3% spoke a language other than Spanish as their native tongue. This is due to the high proportion of immigrants from South America (50%) in this region, followed by people from other parts of the European Union (22.8%) and the Maghreb (13.6%).
In relation to formal education, 30.9% had higher education qualifications, 22.9% had a basic primary level and 21.6% had received a secondary school education. 9.3% had vocational/technical training qualifications and 11.6% had a university degree. A small number of participants (2%) claimed to have only basic reading and writing skills and 1.7% said they were illiterate.
The questionnaire was administered to families in relation to one of their children enrolled in primary school, as well as to the form tutors of those 302 children. In total, 123 form tutors participated in the study, providing information about 246 students. Table 2 describes the characteristics of participating teachers:
Table 2 - Distribution of the teacher sample
84.8% of teachers were women. The majority (47.2%) lived in the province of Gipuzkoa, 23.6% lived in Bizkaia and 29.3% in Álava/Araba. 11.7% taught in Model A, 25.8% in Model B and 62.5% in Model D. As regards the level at which they taught, 12% taught in year 1, 19.7% in year 2, 20.5% in year 3, 17.9% in year 4, 12% in year 5 and 17.9% in year 6.
Permission was requested from the Basque Government Department of Education for access to the census of immigrant students enrolled in the Basque education system and its breakdown in accordance with type of school (public/private with some state funding), language model (A-B-D) and province (Álava/Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa). Once the sampling had been completed, meetings were arranged with members of the management teams of the selected schools in order to inform them of the reasons for and aims of the study and to request their authorisation and collaboration. 24 schools agreed to participate in the study.
Once the schools had given their permission, contact was made with the families in order to explain the importance of the study and to ask for their participation. The language diversity of the families was taken into account during this phase, and contact was made by means of a letter written in various different languages, including Arabic, Romanian and the official languages of the ARBC. The questionnaire was administered by means of a face-to-face interview.
Once the questionnaire had been completed by the families, it was administered to the form tutors. The school management teams were responsible for distributing the questionnaires to their members of staff. Teachers completed the questionnaires individually, and were given the choice of using either the Basque or the Spanish version of the instrument.
Data was gathered from both groups (families and teachers) using the same questionnaire. The instrument measured:
1) Expectations regarding formal education. Participants were asked to respond to the following question: “What level of education do you think your child/student will attain in the future?” Four alternative answers were provided: Compulsory education; Higher education; Vocational/technical training; University degree. The alternatives provided for this variable are based on a previous piece of qualitative research conducted with immigrant families, as well as on the references provided in other studies (Barreiro, Lorenzo and Santos, 2007). The number of categories was reduced to the bare minimum because some immigrant families have a very poor knowledge of the working of the Basque education system. Also, and bearing in mind that stipulated by the 2007 National Survey of Immigrants (INE, 2008) regarding the advantages of using a small number of categories, we decided to present teachers with the same alternatives in order to facilitate the comparison of the results and limit the scope of possible discrepancies between different education systems.
2) Expectations regarding future professional profile. Participants were asked to respond to the following question: “What professional level do you think your child/student will attain in the future?” The alternatives provided were: 1) manager, director or owner of a company with more than 25 employees; 2) professional job requiring a university degree; 3) professional job requiring mid-level qualifications such as a diploma or advanced vocational/technical training (sales manager, administrative assistant, etc.); 4) owner of a company or store with less than 25 employees, auxiliary staff, sales rep., etc.; 5) worker specialising in the services sector (mechanic, police officer, plumber, etc.); 6) farm labourer; 7) labourer, seasonal worker, security guard, shop assistant, carer, etc.; Others. The categories were established by grouping the alternatives together as follows: high (alternatives 1 and 2), medium-high (alternatives 3 and 4), medium-low (alternative 5) and low (alternatives 6 and 7).
3) Expectations regarding achievement in Basque, Spanish, English and language of origin. “What level do you think your child/student will have attained in the following languages by the time they leave school?” Each of the items included in this block (Basque, Spanish, English and language of origin) was scored on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high).
4) Expectations regarding social relations with friends from their country of origin, other nationalities and native Basques. Participants were asked to respond to the following question: "What kind of friends do you think your child/student will have by the time they leave school?”. Each of the items included in this block (friends from their own country, friends from other countries, friends born here in the Basque Country) was scored on a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (none) to 5 (many).
A descriptive analysis of the data was conducted, obtaining frequency distributions for the qualitative variables and the means and standard deviations for the quantitative variables. An inferential analysis was also carried out by comparing the means of family expectation variables and teacher expectation variables. The relationships for academic and professional expectations (qualitative variables) were analysed using contingency tables and Chi-squared tests. The t test for related samples was used to establish comparisons between family and teacher expectations in relation to language achievement and social relations.
The results for family and teacher expectations regarding academic, professional and language-related achievement and social relations are given below.
Figure 1: Immigrant families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding academic achievement
As shown in Figure 1, families have higher expectations of their children attending university (60.6%) than form tutors (22%), who tend to expect their students to gain vocational/technical training qualifications (38.3%). The expectations of families and teachers are similar in relation to higher education (around 7%), while they tend to vary more in relation to compulsory education (13.8% in the case of teachers and 5.6% in the case of families). A high percentage of participants from both groups also responded that they did not know (19.1% of families and 16.2% of teachers). In this sense, economic uncertainty was the reason most commonly given by families, although in other cases responses evidenced somewhat vague goals: “until they finish” or “right up to the end”. This may reflect families’ lack of knowledge regarding the different phases of the education system. Some form tutors also failed to answer this question, explaining that it is not a good idea to generate expectations in students because many different factors may influence their future achievement: “You cannot pigeonhole students at this moment in time. It’s nothing but gratuitous forecasting.”
The following is a contingency table showing the academic expectations of teachers in relation to those expressed by families.
Table 3 - Relationship between teachers' and families’ academic expectations
The Chi-squared value of the contingency table (Table 3) is not reliable, since the application condition referring to the expected distribution is not met. It is therefore only possible to describe the association between the different variables on the basis of Haberman's adjusted residuals. The families of students whose teachers believe that they will attend university have a greater tendency to believe that their children will attain this level of academic achievement than other families. Furthermore, the families of students whose teachers believe that they will only gain a Compulsory education also have a greater tendency to believe that their children will only reach this level of academic achievement.
Figure 2: Immigrant families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding professional level
Families also have higher expectations than teachers regarding their children's future professional level. Figure 2 shows that while families mainly tend to expect their children to attain a high professional level (41.7%), form tutors' expectations are more evenly spread over all the available options, although they lean slightly towards expecting students to gain medium-high (24.6%) and medium-low (25.6%) levels. It is worth noting the high percentage of uncertainty demonstrated by both groups, with 24.5% of families and 18.5% of teachers responding that they did not know. Families believe that their children are still too young to enable realistic expectations about their professional future, although they also argued that this factor would depend on the course taken by their children’s lives in the future (friendships, motivation to study, etc.). The form tutors who responded that they did not know what their expectations were justified this response by saying that students were still developing and had many changes yet to go through. For example: “It will depend on the effort they make and on what society permits them to do.” “I don’t know, it’s still too early to say. Their desires and capacities are not yet fully developed.”
The results of the Chi-squared test confirm that no significant relationship exists between the means (Chi2 = 20.793 df = 16 p = .187).
Table 4 shows expectations regarding language achievement.
Table 4 - Means comparison of immigrant families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding language achievement.
*p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
As shown in Table 4, there is a direct positive relationship between families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding Basque language achievement, with families’ expectations being even higher than teachers’ (3.69 and 2.98, respectively). There is not enough evidence to affirm a relationship between families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding achievement in Spanish, although families have higher expectations (4.20) than teachers (3.68) in this respect. There is a direct relationship between families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding achievement in English, although there is little difference between the means. And finally, in relation to language of origin, no relationship or differences were observed between the means.
Table 5 - Means comparison of immigrant families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding students’ social relations.
*p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
As shown in Table 5, no direct relationships were found between families' and teachers’ expectations regarding students' social relationships. The means comparison indicates that teachers have higher expectations than families that immigrant students will establish friendships with children from other countries (3.53 and 3.06, respectively), while families have higher expectations than teachers that their children will establish friendships with children born in the Basque Country (4.27 and 3.75, respectively).
The families studied here expressed higher expectations for their children than teachers, particularly as regards formal education level, professional level, language achievement and social relations in terms of friendships established with children born in the Basque Country. Families’ expectations may indicate their aspiration and hope for intergenerational upward social mobility, and their desire to adapt to their host country. Schooling constitutes an important factor in the way immigrant families see their children’s future expectations and possibilities for cognitive, linguistic and social development in the host society. Many have an idealised image of the power of education, and their desire for their children to get on in life often exceeds the educational reality in which said children live. These results are consistent with the findings of international research, which has observed high educational expectations among immigrant families (Lareau, 1989; Portes and Rumbaut, 2001), as well as with state-wide research, which has reported this desire for upward social mobility (Garreta, 1994; Terrén and Carrasco, 2007). Teachers, on the other hand, run the risk of hampering immigrant students' academic advancement and failing to recognise the potential of these youths for developing different competences (cognitive, linguistic and social).
The results of this present study show that teachers’ and families’ expectations regarding students’ academic achievement coincide in the case of both university degrees and compulsory education. In other words, when students are either evidently going to succeed or fail academically in accordance with their exam results, their academic future becomes clearer for both their teachers and their parents. We should not forget that these expectations may in turn affect students’ performance, as Rubie-Davies et al. (2010) point out in their study, which found that high family expectations may generate in anxiety in children and actually slow up their learning. When teacher’s expectations are negative these authors found that students were perceived being more vulnerable, since their self-esteem decreased in these situations, along with their motivation and academic performance.
Expectations regarding Basque and Spanish language achievement are significantly higher in families, and teachers’ expectations do not always coincide with this positive outlook. Teachers are in continuous contact with students during their learning process, and are aware of their academic difficulties, which may in turn be influenced by many different factors. The research into language acquisition difficulties carried out by Cummins (1981) shows that while young children are capable of quickly acquiring good levels of linguistic comprehension and fluidity, this is not enough to guarantee academic success since the language skills required for their academic development are much more advanced and take longer to acquire. School-based learning requires language with a greater capacity for abstraction and de-contextualised language.
No significant differences were observed between teachers’ and families’ expectations regarding achievement in English and language of origin, possibly because, unlike Basque and Spanish, these languages are not key vehicular languages in the current education system. It is worth noting that family and school expectations coincide fairly closely in this respect, possibly because they both value the use of language of origin in the home environment.
The direct positive relationship observed between teachers’ and families’ expectations regarding achievement in Basque and English indicates that the higher the teacher’s expectations, the higher the family’s. This in turn may suggest that families abide by what their children’s teachers tell them, since they do not feel that they are in a position to create their own expectations. This highlights the importance of fluent, ongoing communications between teachers and families, as a way of sharing and clarifying any issue related to children’s language development and a means of facilitating guidance and adaptation strategies.
Teachers’ expectations regarding students’ social relations are significantly higher for friendships established with others from their own country than for friendships established with children born in the Basque Country. Families, on the other hand, expect their children to become more integrated into Basque society. During meetings between families and teachers, a tendency has been observed among teachers to provide recently-arrived immigrant families with less information regarding the possibility of their children participating in extracurricular activities that may help foster their social relations with other children in the local environment (Etxeberria, Intxausti and Joaristi, 2013). This lack of a common outlook between families and teachers regarding expectations for their students’/children's social relations highlights the importance of including social issues in the topics discussed during parent-teacher meetings, with the aim of fostering more interactive relations between students of different origins.
This piece of research has prompted us to reflect on the need to study expectations within the framework of school-family relations. Expectations may affect the type of relationships established between the school and the family and, depending on its nature, this relationship may in turn help re-orientate expectations in both contexts.
In order to gain a more in-depth understanding of how students from immigrant families are incorporated into the formal education system and their new social context, and the processes involved, it is important to learn more about the characteristics of these students and to establish channels of communication and engagement between families and schools. It is also important to create new contexts for educational praxis designed to address the discrepancies that may occur between the expectations of teachers and parents. Authors such as Connors and Epstein (1995) have argued that bi-directional communication between teachers and families about the school curriculum, students' expectations and development and family characteristics and interests is beneficial for family-school relations. This may be particularly true in the case of the immigrant population, in which different families may have different experiences and attitudes to formal learning and the relationship established between school and family.
Other studies have concluded that immigrant families' high expectations may result in an overestimation of the efficacy of the school system and teaching staff (Aguado et al., 2003; Hoffman and Stavans, 2007; Jacobson, 2005; Tomlinson, 1984; Valdés, 1996), which may in turn prompt them to become less involved in the academic activities of their children. Although state-wide research has shown that families attach a great deal of importance to education (Santos, Lorenzo and Priegue, 2011; Terrén and Carrasco, 2007), it has also shown that both teachers (Soriano and González, 2010) and the chairs of Parent Associations (Garreta, 2008) believe that the level of participation of immigrant families in the school is low. This warns of a possible risk that has been highlighted repeatedly in other studies also (Rubie-Davies et al., 2010), regarding the fact that teachers tend to have lower expectations of students from families whose values are different from those held by the school.
As Epstein (2009) has reiterated on many occasions, the key role played by interpersonal and organisational factors in the working model established between family and school should not be overlooked. The frequency and quality of the communication established between families and school, coupled with the promotion of bi-directional communication, may prove decisive in any attempt to ensure congruent expectations and the effective socialisation of students in different areas. The aim is to move towards student-centred collaboration, in order to generate conditions conducive to their success through good communication between families and teachers (Christenson and Sheridan, 2001).
In light of the results of this study, future research should focus on: 1) determining whether expectations vary in accordance with the communications approach established between the school and the family; and 2) a joint study of teachers’ and families’ expectations, in order to determine, as key studies in the theoretical framework have done (Benner and Mistry, 2007; Peet, Powel and O’Donnell, 1997; Wood et al., 2007), whether the similarities or differences between them are linked to students’ academic outcomes.
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[i] The Basque education system is governed by the 1983 Decree on Bilingualism, which establishes the bilingual teaching models A, B and D. The aim of the law is to guarantee families’ right to have their children educated in the language of their choice:
ARTICLE RECORD / FICHA DEL ARTÍCULO
Intxausti, Nahia; Etxeberria, Feli & Joaristi, Luis (2014). Are the expectations of families the same as those of teachers in relation to immigrant students?. RELIEVE, v. 20 (1), art. 2. DOI: 10.7203/relieve.20.1.3804
Title / Título
Are the expectations of families the same as those of teachers in relation to immigrant students?. [¿Coinciden las expectativas escolares de la familia y del profesorado acerca del alumnado de origen inmigrante?].
Authors / Autores
Intxausti, Nahia; Etxeberria, Feli & Joaristi, Luis
Review / Revista
|RELIEVE (Revista ELectrónica de Investigación y EValuación Educativa), v. 20 n. 1|
Publication date /
Fecha de publicación
2014 (Reception Date: 2013 July 12 ; Approval Date: 2014 May 30. Publication Date: 2014 June 4)
Abstract / Resumen
This research aims to describe future expectations of immigrant families and classroom teachers about students of Primary Education in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. First generation transnational immigrant settlement in the last decade highlights the need to pay attention to the processes of incorporation of their children. Expectations with respect to academic and professional achievements, language learning and development of social relationships of 302 immigrant families and their form tutor are studied. Results indicate a direct relationship between the expectations of families and teachers in academic achievement when it comes to college expectations and Secondary Education. It highlights, simultaneously, a direct positive relationship between teachers’ and families’ expectations towards Basque and English achievement, being highest the families’ ones towards Basque achievement, and very similar in the case of English achievement. The families’ and teachers’ expectations regarding professional achievement, Spanish language learning, the maintenance of the language of origin as well as the development of social relations are not directly related.
Esta investigación pretende conocer las expectativas de futuro de familias inmigrantes y profesorado sobre los estudiantes de Educación Primaria en la Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco. El proceso de asentamiento de la primera generación de inmigrantes transnacionales en la última década pone de manifiesto la necesidad de seguir de cerca los procesos de incorporación de sus hijos/as en el nuevo país. Se han estudiado las expectativas de 302 familias inmigrantes y del profesorado tutor de sus hijos en referencia a logros académicos y profesionales, aprendizaje de lenguas y desarrollo de las relaciones sociales del alumnado. Se manifiesta que existe una relación directa entre las expectativas de las familias y el profesorado en logros académicos cuando se refiere a expectativas universitarias y de Educación Secundaria. Simultáneamente, se da una relación positiva directa entre las expectativas hacia el logro del euskera e inglés de familia y profesorado, siendo mayores las de las familias en el caso del euskera, y muy parecidas en el caso del inglés. Las expectativas respecto al nivel profesional, hacia el logro en castellano y lengua de origen así como hacia el desarrollo de las relaciones sociales no guardan una relación directa.
Keywords / Descriptores
Expectatives, family, teacher, school-family relation, immigrant families, inclusive school.
Expectativas, familia, profesorado, relación familia-escuela, familias inmigrantes, escuela inclusiva.
Institution / Institución
University of the Basque Country (Spain).
Publication site / Dirección
Language / Idioma
Español & English version (Title, abstract and keywords in English & Spanish)
Volumen 20, n. 1
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© Copyright, RELIEVE. Se autoriza la reproducción y distribución de este artículo siempre que no se modifique el contenido y se indique su origen (RELIEVE, volumen, número y dirección electrónica del documento).
[ ISSN: 1134-4032 ]
Revista ELectrónica de Investigación y EValuación Educativa
E-Journal of Educational Research, Assessment and Evaluation