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Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations are usually characterized as one of the most important reasons for Chinese students’ educational attainment and achievement. However, the understanding of the nature and formation of Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations is limited. It is important to examine Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations to gain a better understanding of their living and schooling experiences in Canada, in light of the fact that Chinese immigrants are one of the fastest growing ethnic minority group in Canada. This research is a qualitative multiple case study of twelve selected Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations. The research purposes include: to give detailed description and interpretation of Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations; to identify and analyze the factors affecting the formation of educational expectations in Chinese immigrant families; and to explore and summarize Chinese parents’ and children’s plans and strategies to fulfill their educational expectations. Semi-structured in-depth interviews was the main method to collect the data including the voices both from Chinese immigrant parents and children. I analyzed the data in three phases: refining and open coding, building categories and themes, and cross-case comparison and analytical generalization. The data were presented in six categories covering Chinese immigrant families’ experiences from the general living experiences of immigration to the detailed schooling experiences in Canada and then to their specific thoughts regarding educational expectations. The findings of this study revealed the complexity and variability in how educational expectations were constructed in Chinese immigrant families’ life course of immigration. There were two levels of meanings included in Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations: the specific expectations regarding children’s academic achievement and the general expectations regarding what kind of people children should become. Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations were affected by different factors: Chinese cultural values, acculturation gap, parents’ life experiences and perception of Canadian society, family’s social status, age of immigration, length of residence, immigrant status, gender, personalities, and peer influence. Different factors and different combinations of these factors would influence Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations in different ways. How Chinese immigrant parents transmitted their educational expectations to their children and actualized the expectations through parenting had an enormous impact on children’s eventual school performance and academic achievement. Chinese immigrant families’ cultural identification and acculturation were the most salient elements to explain how they formed their educational expectations and their practices to fulfill the expectations in Canada. Chinese immigrant families tried transplanting instead of uprooting Chinese culture, and acculturating instead of assimilating into Western culture. Chinese immigrant families chose to lean towards Chinese or Western culture according to specific situations and personal perceptions. Folk theory of Chinese immigrant families’ educational expectations was constructed in Chinese cultural model because the way Chinese immigrant parents and children “see” things and “do” things regarding educational issues in Canada were strongly influenced by Chinese cultural model. Implications for policy makers and educators were presented in the following aspects: improve the connections between parents and schools through multiple conversation channels and partnerships; promote a variety of occupation choices in different ethnic populations; pay more attention to Chinese immigrant students’ psychological health and well-being; and provide instructions that are meaningful and affirming to the cultural identities of students with diverse immigrant backgrounds. Future research directions were suggested concerning what might be done to continue improving the understanding of immigrants’ educational expectations in a wider and deeper sense.



Chinese immigrant families, Educational expectations



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Administration


Educational Administration


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