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China’s former One Child Policy had profound effects on the parenting of children in the country. As China promoted the policy, extolling the benefits of “high-quality” only children, parents began to devote extraordinary time, attention, and resources to their single child. The children also felt pressure to be the “great” offspring that their parents and country expected them to be.

It was thought that such inordinate attention to and pressure on only children would create generations of “Little Emperors,” children with an exceedingly high self-regard, leading to egocentric character traits considered negative, especially in Chinese society.

Educational Psychology Professor Toni Falbo has spent much of her career studying the effects of China’s One Child Policy on children. Her latest study evaluated research previously published about China’s only children through a new lens that included what has been learned in intervening years.

Head shot of Professor Toni Falbo

Toni Falbo

Falbo’s research compared how only children saw themselves and how they were seen by others, such as the parents and classmates. The results show that singleton boys had a high regard for themselves, a high level that did not match the assessment others had of them. Meanwhile, singleton girls assessed themselves as others saw them.

Says Falbo, “Gender seems to moderate the self-enhancement attributes of the only children we studied. Whereas the boys described themselves more positively than did their parents and peers, the girls described themselves as positively as their parents and peers.” In fact, says Falbo, the girls’ self-assessment was comparable to the self-assessment of girls with siblings.

“While China’s One Child Policy caused parents to favor boys with some negative consequences regarding their egocentricity, it had a positive impact on girls,” says Falbo. She believes that this is because parents devoted resources and attention to girls in a manner that they would not have prior to the policy. “The One Child Policy opened up opportunities for girls, which created a positive effect for female only children.”

To read more, download “Evaluations of the behavioral attributes of only children in Beijing, China: moderating effects of gender and the one-child policy” and listen to a BBC story about only children that features Falbo’s research.

-Feature photo by Lau keith on Unsplash

Two girls participate in a writing exercise

Young Latinas infuse culture, tradition, and family into their writing

“My students and their families have important stories to share,” says Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy Tracey Flores, “and writing has the power to build community and solidarity.”

That’s why Flores began an afterschool bilingual family writing workshop while she was a second-grade teacher in Arizona. In the workshops, students met in her classroom for 12 weeks to draw, write, and tell stories from their lives.

Tracey Flores works on writing with the students

“At the workshops, I modeled my own writing, we read mentor texts for inspiration, and used writing, drawing, and oral storytelling as tools to share ourselves and connect with one another,” says Flores. “Each week parents sat alongside their children at Con Mi Madre—each penning their own personal stories and working together throughout the entire writing process. In the classroom, students wrote more, began to integrate some of the strategies we practiced at workshops and, for the first time, many infused Spanish into their personal writing.”

Flores continues this work at the University of Texas at Austin. In fact, this summer, young Latinas and their families from across the Austin area participated in a Somos Escritoras writing camp on campus.

The work of infusing the students’ and their families’ culture, traditions, and language into their writing is important, says Flores, because many of the Mexican and Mexican American students in her Arizona classrooms were viewed as deficient and placed in English Language Development classrooms in which they received a different curriculum, a restrictive language and literacy curriculum, than that of their English-speaking peers.

Photo of Fabiola

Fabiola

“As I worked within and against these oppressive and racist structures, I saw how these mandates were silencing and controlling the voices of my students,” says Flores.

Flores says that she’s learned from the girls in this summer’s Somos Escritoras performative space “more about the concerns that are most important in the girls’ lives and the ways that they are defining themselves and naming themselves, through writing, theater, art and other performative acts. This work will inform future workshops for girls and will inform the ways that I plan and facilitate my Language Arts and Community Literacies courses for pre-service teachers.”

Photo of Genevieve

Genevieve

Says Fabiola, a 12-year-old girl who participated in the camp, “I wanted to find a place to fit in. I write a lot of poems in my free time, but I was afraid to share them. I feel more confident in myself as a Chicana and was able to share my stories with everyone. I have been sharing what I do in camp with my family, and they are really proud of me and that makes me proud of myself.”

Genevieve, a 7th grader, appreciated the sense of community the camp provided. “It’s been really nice to have a group that’s so open. I didn’t really get to have that in other places. This place makes me feel comfortable. We are each unique, but we have a lot in common. We were able to talk about both the discrimination we face and our triumph as Latinas. I really like hearing about others’ experiences and relating them to mine.”

Nathaly S. Batista-Morales is a doctoral student who works with Flores. She says that participating in Somos Escritoras fit into her education in the field of Bilingual and Bicultural Education because it offered her a model to see research in a new light. She says, “It showed me how to build relationships in the community, how to conduct research with the girls, and how to design opportunities that benefit my community now rather than later. Additionally, it fit well with my research focus on critical literacy, since the core of the program was reading and writing to speak back to issues of injustice, language, ethnic identity, and sexual orientation as we decentered notions of what young Latina women should look and be like.”

Says Flores, “The end goal is to engage my pre-service teachers in considering the practices of Latina girls and the work of spaces like Somos Escritoras, to privilege marginalized voices specifically, and Latina girls particularly, in their own future classrooms.”

Tracey Flores is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction within the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tracey Flores with workshop participants and graduate students

Virtual Reality in the real world

Courtesy of David Grandmougin on Unsplash

Many teenagers’ fascination with virtual worlds online can result in isolation from natural and cultural environments, says College of Education Curriculum and Instruction doctoral students Wenting Ellen Zou and Hsiao-Ping Hsu. “Yet education is in constant change and technology plays a vital role in changing the ways we are teaching and learning,” they say.

Elementary Students were collaboratively editing the teacher interview data for building the mobile AR Campus Tour Guide System.

Elementary students were collaboratively editing the teacher interview data for building the mobile AR Campus Tour Guide System.

To incorporate technology that engages youth while helping them develop skills that counteract the isolation it can bring, the two initiated an afterschool program in Taiwan that provides a blended, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning experience. The goal was to raise what they have called K-12 students’ “21st century skills.” Those skills include information management, collaboration, communication, creativity, evaluation, problem-solving, and awareness of natural and cultural heritage in their communities.

Their award-winning project originated from previous research that analyzed how social media supported project-based learning in K-12 digital literacy. The two built international partnerships with two K-12 Taiwanese schools seeking to increase their external resources to develop immersive technology-based pedagogy to design a curriculum and investigate the potentials of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in digital literacy education.

Conducting the Research

Their pilot research in Taiwan examined the program outcomes from the two schools. Student participants produced creative AR/VR products that were later embedded in formal curricula for teaching over 1,100 students. The positive results encouraged them to implement the program across additional school districts.

In the afterschool program, high school students used VR and AR creation tools (Roundme and Aurasma) to build artifacts, products that students made by using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies, to introduce local natural and cultural heritage. In this process, a variety of online tools were used to facilitate self-directed learning (YouTube), critical thinking (internet search engines), collaboration and communication (Google or One Drive and Facebook or Edmodo), and problem-solving (Xmind). Students used their own smartphones and tablets or borrowed devices from schools.

Middle school students were using peer-made AR and VR Tour Guide System to learn local history.

Middle school students were using peer-made AR and VR Tour Guide System to learn local history.

The students worked individually or in groups to figure out how to use new technologies to present their ideas to solve varied technical problems, manage group data, and communicate information with group members to make progress in digital literacy.

In their partner elementary school, students created AR student ID cards and used AR storytelling for individual projects while also creating a mobile AR Campus Tour Guide System as a group project. The middle school students created a mobile AR/VR Tour Guide System for a local ecological and historic preserve park of their community. This system was also used as formal instructional material in the school, which they documented.

Results

By watching the children creatively design and interact with the content using various digital tools, Hsiao and Wenting noticed students’ creativity, communication, collaboration, information management, and problem-solving abilities improve. Their research can assist educators who want to create curricula using AR, VR, and other digital literacies.

Photo of Hsiao-Ping Hsu, Wenting Ellen Zou, and Joan Hughes

From left to right: Hsiao-Ping Hsu, Wenting Ellen Zou, and Joan Hughes

“Our approach expands the knowledge scope related to AR/VR in digital literacy education. Teachers not only developed experience and skills in conducting project-based instruction, but also acquired knowledge of AR/VR, social media in digital literacy as well as 21st century education skills,” say Hsiao and Wenting.

The project earned third place in the 2018 Reimagine Education Awards Competition and was supported by Associate Professor Joan Hughes of The University of Texas at Austin.

-Inside photos provided by Wenting Ellen Zou and Hsiao-Ping Hsu.