Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Joby Gardner


The phrase 孟母三迁(Meng Mu San Qian) refers to a traditional Chinese story in which a mother moves three times to better her child’s education. The story evokes considerable parental and family sacrifices to provide educational opportunities. Meng Mu San Qian (孟母三迁) offers a powerful metaphor for the experiences of migrant and immigrant parents who undertake tremendous and profoundly life-altering journeys to secure better education for their children. The story is especially useful in capturing the experiences of Chinese immigrant parents, particularly those who moved to the U.S. after 2016 and faced unprecedented challenges, in part due to xenophobia of the political climate after the 2016 election of Former President Donald Trump, the isolating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the move to online instruction, and travel and visa restrictions on transnational families.

This exploratory study documents narratives of five new Chinese immigrant parents’ involvement in their children’s public high school education. Participants all moved from mainland China after 2016 and had access to education in a suburban public school in the mid-western U.S. Participants were interviewed about issues including their involvement in their children’s school, their knowledge of their children’s school performance, their academic and career expectations for their children, and barriers to their involvement in their children’s education. Responses were analyzed using Epstein’s research-based framework of six types of family-school-community involvement. Findings and discussion address major barriers to school involvement among recent Chinese immigrant parents as well as opportunities to improve such involvement. Recommendations include that family-school-community partnerships be considered and facilitated as a shared responsibility of the school, family, and community in order to help students succeed in school and beyond. Additional implications of this study for educators, other new immigrant parents, and relevant scholarship are all discussed.

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