web stats
Selected Development Project
Project Title

Examining the Pivotal Factors of Attitudes towards Inclusive Education among Parents of Children with and without Special Educational Needs in a Chinese Community: Hong Kong


Principal Investigator Professor Kenneth SIN Kuen Fung 
Area of Research Project
Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration
Project Period
From 01/2015 To 06/2017
  1. Examining the current attitudes towards inclusive education among parents of children with and without SEN;
  2. Identifying the potential predicting factors of attitudes towards inclusive education among parents of children with and without SEN;
  3. Evaluating and comparing the differences in the current attitudes and predictors of attitudes towards inclusive education among parents of students with SEN and parents of students without SEN;
  4. Providing recommendations for improvement in policies and support services to both students with and without SEN, as well as their parents, in the Chinese community: Hong Kong.
Methods Used

The study adopted the mix-method approach in the data collection. A questionnaire was constructed to examine the attitude towards inclusive education (IE) among parents of students with and without SEN, and potential predicting factors of attitudes towards IE.
For the quantitative study, invitation letters were sent to schools in Hong Kong. A total of 1120 primary and secondary school parents and 1271 primary and secondary school students returned the questionnaires. Multiple statistical analyses, including reliability analysis and structural equation modelling, were conducted to investigate the relationships between the predicting factors and parents’ attitudes towards IE. 
For the qualitative study, a number of phone interviews were being conducted as an alternative methodological approach to gather in-depth information about parents’ perceptions, attitudes, ideas, and feelings about IE and their suggestions about the implementation of IE in Hong Kong. The approach attained a triangulation of research evidence in the study of factors predicting parents’ attitudes towards IE, apart from quantitative methods,

Summary of Findings
  • Based on descriptive statistics, both primary school parents (M = 3.06, S.D. = 1.15) and secondary school parents (M = 3.30, S.D. = 1.14) demonstrated slightly positive attitude towards inclusive education (seven-point scale; lower values mean more positive attitude). In comparison the attitudes towards inclusive education among parents of children with and without SEN by using independent sample t-tests, there was no significant difference between parents of children with SEN and without SEN for primary school parents (p > .05) in their attitudes towards inclusive education. For secondary school parents, parents of children with SEN were significantly more positive than parents of children without SEN in their attitude towards inclusive education (p < .05).
  • Results of correlation analyses on primary school data showed that, for parents of children with SEN, their attitudes towards inclusive education were highly correlated with their children’s school engagement (r = .232, p < .01), children’s self-reported self-determination (r = .233, p < .01), parents’ depression (r = .231, p<.01), and rating towards school inclusive measures (r = .398, p < .001). For parents of children without SEN, their attitudes towards inclusive education were highly correlated with their children’s school engagement (r = .114, p < .01), children’s self-determination reported by parents (r = .238, p < .001), children’s mental health (r = -.134, p < .01), parents’ marital satisfaction (r = .205, p < .001), and rating towards school inclusive measures (r = .363, p < .001).
  • As a preliminary analysis, regression analyses were conducted to examine significant predictors of parents’ attitude towards inclusive education for primary school SEN and non-SEN students and parents. Eleven independent variables were entered into a regression analysis to predict attitude towards inclusive education (AIE; dependent variable). For parents of SEN children, the predictors explain a significant amount of variance in the attitudes towards IE (F(11,113)= 3.55, p < .001 , R2 = .51, R2 adjusted = .184). Rating towards school inclusive measures was the only significant predictor of the attitudes towards IE (beta = .34, t(113) = 3.98, p < .001). For parents of non-SEN children, the predictors also explain a significant amount of variance in the attitudes towards IE (F(11, 534)= 12.75, p < .001 , R2 = .46, R2 adjusted = .21). Parental involvement (beta = -.12, t(534) = -2.74, p < .01), parental anxiety (beta = -.12, t(534) = -2.09, p < .05), children’s self-determination reported by parents (beta = .16, t(534) = 3.73, p < .001), parents’ marital satisfaction (beta = .17, t(534) = 4.00, p < .001), and ratings towards school inclusive measures (beta = .32, t(534) = 8.0, p < .001) significantly predict the attitudes towards IE.

Given the fact that parents play a significant role in the successful implementation of IE, it is important to study what factors significantly predict parents’ attitudes toward IE. In a theoretical sense, the current study will facilitate the building up of a model predicting factors related to parents’ attitudes towards IE. While there have been studies on this topic in Western societies, data about parents’ attitudes towards IE in Asia, or in the Chinese community, has been lacking. The current study seeks to fill this gap by examining the factors which are significantly related to parents’ attitudes towards IE in a Chinese cultural setting. With the identified areas of focus in a constructed framework, the findings will provide useful information for designing evidence-based intervention programmes to promote parents’ support in inclusive education. It is hoped that the research findings will facilitate the collaboration among parents, teachers and other stakeholders to construct an optimal inclusive learning environment for the benefits of students with and without SEN.

Policy implications of the research proposal
The current study’s systematic evaluation of parents’ attitudes and the factors predicting parents’ attitudes will help policy-makers understand better the causes that lead to parents’ support or resistance to the policy of IE, and to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current educational policy and system. Driven by the advocacy of the social model to remove any sorts of learning barriers to students with SEN, the resultant attitude change will help the realization of the “least restrictive educational environment” for students with SEN. The outcome also addresses some areas of concerns among parents of children with and without SEN students in the Chinese community. It sheds lights to the parent education in supporting children with SEN.
Selected Output

Lui, M., Yang, L. & Sin, K. F.* (in press). Parents’ perspective of the impact of school practices on the functioning of students with special educational needs. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education.

Lui, M.*, Sin, K. F., Yang, L., Forlin, C., & Ho, F. C.  (2015). Knowledge and perceived social norm predict parents’ attitudes towards inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19, 1052-1067. (SSCI; impact factor=0.35)  (DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2015.1037866)

*Corresponding author
Biography of Principal Investigator

Professor Sin Kuen-fung, Kenneth is the Director of the Centre for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education and the Professor of the Department of Special Education and Counselling at The Education University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong SAR, China. He has great consultancy experience in many local research projects as well as the training work for teachers teaching children with disabilities in Mainland China and Macau. He once led a project valued 51 million Hong Kong Dollars for three years funded by the Education Bureau. It aims at advancing the inclusion by organizing a wide range of professional development programs at different levels for Hong Kong teachers. Prof. Sin also takes part in many community activities, in relation to special needs and inclusion. Such services include school supervisor or council members of special schools, task groups in giftedness, inclusion, special needs in EDB, CDI and HKEAA, committee members in many NGOs for persons with visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities and autism. He is the vice chairman of the Hong Kong Special Education Society. Currently, he is leading researches on special needs and large projects on school based support in inclusive schools, teacher empowerment in BEd programs and special needs training in China.

Biography of Co-Investigator

The Co-I, Dr. Ming Lui, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Studies, HKBU. She is experienced in contacting with parents of SEN students via parents’ alliances, associations and schools in Hong Kong. With the substantial research experience in social science, she played a significant role in different research projects of inclusive education, including the “Study on Equal Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities under the Integrated Education System” commissioned by the Equal Opportunity Commission, “An Evaluation of Special Education in Macau” commissioned by the Macau government, and “The Survey of Hong Kong Regular Students’ Attitudes towards Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders” collaborating with the Spastics Association of Hong Kong, and the study on “Post-school Outcomes of Senior Secondary Graduates with Special Educational Needs” with funding support from the Research Grant Council, Hong Kong.

Funding Source

General Research Fund