Macquarie University
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Cultural identity and mathematics learning of Chinese families living in Australia

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posted on 2022-03-28, 12:07 authored by Man Yee Angel Mok
Research studies on migration and education often see Chinese families as homogeneous and Chinese identity as fixed and stable. This view on homogeneity dismisses the growing complexity of cultural identities of Chinese people living overseas in this era when migrants have frequent and multiple connections with more than one social world. Expectations of homogeneity also produce stereotypes that misrepresent who Chinese people are. Stereotypes of Chinese families often portray parents as demanding and authoritative, who have high expectations on their children who are disciplined, diligent and good at mathematics. The last stereotype is supposedly confirmed by media reports of Asian students’ performance in international mathematics assessments such as TIMSS and PISA. Adopting a narrative approach, this ethnographic study conducted by a researcher with a Chinese cultural heritage explored the cultural identities of Chinese families living in Australian [sic] and how they might impact on their children’s mathematics learning. The notion of Chineseness in the diasporic context was interrogated and the impact of transnationalism on Chinese families’ belonging to both their homeland and Australia were also examined. Results showed that participating families have considerably different ties with both their homelands and Australia. Their identities as seen in how they relate to the people and practices in both places did not have much impact on their children’s mathematics learning. It was found that parents valued education and perceived mathematics more broadly as a subject to prepare their children for a better future. The extra help offered by parents or private tutoring was seen to provide the support their children need to achieve in mathematics.


Table of Contents

Part 1. Entering the story. Chapter 1. The narrator -- Chapter 2. The scene -- Chapter 3. The representation -- -- Part 2. Telling the stories. Chapter 4. The whole of its parts. The parts in the whole -- Chapter 5. Narratives of identity formation -- -- Part 3. Listening for the stories. Chapter 6. The unfinished -- Chapter 7. The end -- Appendices.


"February 2015" "A thesis submitted to Macquarie University in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy" Thesis by publication. Australasian digital theses. Bibliography: pages 296-306

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Education

Department, Centre or School

Department of Education

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David Saltmarsh


Copyright Man Yee Angel Mok 2015. Copyright disclaimer:






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