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Selected Research Project
Project Title Longitudinal Predictors of Behavioral Regulation, Oral Language and Reading-Related Cognitive Skills in Chinese Reading Achievement across Chinese Children from Different SES Backgrounds
Principal Investigator Professor Chung Kien Hoa, Kevin
Area of Research Project
Educational Measurement and Assessment
Project Period
From 1/2009 To 6/2012
  1. To determine whether Chinese children from low- and middle-socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds have different development patterns of behavioural regulation, oral, and reading-related skills, and the extent to which these skills account for improvement in Chinese reading performance;
  2. To investigate how children from low-SES backgrounds fare in reading development from kindergarten to primary school compared to children from middle-SES backgrounds;
  3. To assess the different predictive strengths of these skills in kindergarten for reading achievement in second grade; and
  4. To examine whether SES differences modulate the relationship among behavioural regulation, oral, and reading-related skills in predicting reading achievement across development from kindergarten to second grade.
Methods Used

A total of 199 and 219 Chinese K2 and K3 children from 22 local kindergartens participated in this study. These children were followed up until they reached the second grade of primary school. SES information was obtained from parent questionnaires asking about household income, parental education, and parental occupation. Children from the same kindergartens were assigned to (1) low-SES group and (2) middle-SES group based on the collected SES information. Individual assessments were carried out once per year over three years. At each time point, all children were assessed on Chinese and English reading and cognitive-linguistic skills (e.g., oral language, phonological awareness, morphological awareness, and executive functioning).

Summary of Findings
  • The objective of the project is to advance the understanding of the socioeconomic status (SES)
    that can impact on Chinese children’s academic achievement.
  • Results showed that children of low-SES backgrounds tended to show lower overall levels of executive functioning, oral language skills, reading-related cognitive skills, and reading performance compared to their middle-SES background counterparts.
  • Phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge modestly predicted reading at Grade 1 and Grade 2 primary school year.
  • Phonological awareness and executive functioning showed full mediating effect on the relationship between SES and reading achievement.
  • Findings suggest that SES inequalities influence executive functioning, oral language skills, reading-related cognitive skills and in turn they may play critical roles in Chinese children’s reading development.
  • This project could inform educational policies and curriculum development for children from low SES families.
  1. Understanding the long-term effects of executive functioning, oral, and reading-related skills on children’s reading achievements and of literacy development for children from low-SES families; and
  2. Providing insight to policy makers and teachers on ways to improve educational policies and curriculum development for young Hong Kong children from low-SES backgrounds.
Selected Publications Related to the Study
  1. Chung, K. K.-H., & McBride-Chang, C. (2011). Executive functioning skills uniquely predict Chinese word reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 909-921.
  2. Chung, K. K.-H., McBride-Chang, C., Cheung, H., & Wong, S. W.-L. (2011). General auditory processing, speech perception and phonological awareness skills in Chinese-English biliteracy. Journal of Research in Reading. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2011.01500.x
Biography of Principal Investigator

Professor Kevin Chung is a professor at and the acting Head of the Department of Special Education and Counselling. He was the Associate Dean (Research) from July 2008 to August 2010 of the Faculty of Education Studies, as well as the Coordinator of KRA: Learning and Assessment. Prior to joining the Institute, he was the Program Director of MED and PCAES (Special and Inclusive Education) in the University of Hong Kong. He also taught high school in Sydney, Australia, for more than 4 years before embarking on a different track in his academic career. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He won research grants 4 from the General Education Fund, 2 from the Quality Education Fund, and 2 from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities. His research interests are developmental dyslexia, language/reading acquisition and instruction, and inclusive/special education.

Funding Source
General Research Fund