February 2018 Spotlight, Florrie Ng, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Florrie Ng (florrieng@cuhk.edu.hk) as our member in spotlight. Dr. Ng is  an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Her research focuses on parenting, motivation and achievement, executive functioning, cross-cultural research, adjustment of immigrant populations, and technology for learning.

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1) We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area?

When I first started graduate school, I read classic papers about the effects of different types of praise on children. Although I found this research fascinating, I felt that it did not quite capture my experience when I was growing up in Hong Kong. As a child, when I went home with, say, 95 out of 100 on a test, my mother would not really praise me but focus on the missing 5 points (I imagine this resonates with many members of the Asian Caucus who grew up in an Asian family). With the support and guidance of my then-advisor, Dr. Eva Pomerantz, and in collaboration with Dr. Qian Wang, who was also a graduate student in Dr. Pomerantz’s lab, I conducted my first cross-cultural study to examine how European American and Chinese parents responded to children’s successes and failures. Later when I moved to New York City and did a postdoc under the mentorship of Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, I had the opportunity to work with Chinese American families. As I heard the stories of these families, I became interested in understanding Asian American parents’ socialization goals and practices, especially in the academic arena.

Looking back, I feel very blessed to have worked with mentors like Dr. Pomerantz and Dr. Tamis-LeMonda, who not only showed me what theoretically-guided and rigorous research should be like, but were also open-minded and willing to guide me on research topics with which they were not familiar. They are my role models both in the science they do and in their personal lives. I think it is really important for junior researchers to find supportive mentors who may or may not be ethnic minorities themselves. I would also encourage junior researchers to draw on their experiences as cultural “insiders” to inform their research and to try to address gaps in the literature.

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it. Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

I am very excited about a paper that was published in Child Development last year, with the title “Immigrant Chinese Mothers’ Socialization of Achievement in Children: A Strategic Adaptation to the Host Society.” In this paper, my co-authors and I analyzed the stories that mothers shared with their young children about achievement. We found that immigrant Chinese mothers in the US were more likely than African American mothers to communicate high performance standards and the importance of hard work. Interestingly, we found a similar pattern in Hong Kong, with immigrant mothers from Mainland China conveying higher expectations to their young children than local-born Chinese mothers, even though both groups shared a Chinese heritage. Our findings suggest that, although Asian American parents’ high expectations for children are often attributed to their cultural heritage, such expectations may also represent a strategy for adapting to challenges associated with an immigrant and minority status.

More recently, I co-authored a book chapter titled “Asian and Asian American Parenting” with my wonderful long-time collaborator Qian Wang. The chapter will be published in 2019 in the third edition of the Handbook of Parenting edited by Dr. Marc Bornstein. Although we cannot possibly do justice to the literature on Asian and Asian American parenting, we hope that the chapter can be a resource for those who are interested in this field.

3) If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great! These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community.

I still remember attending the inaugural meeting of the Asian Caucus in Boston about ten years ago. It was an amazing experience to be in a room full of researchers who shared a common interest in families of Asian descent. As the rights of minority groups come under threat in the United States, the Asian Caucus has become important like never before in drawing us together and making our voices heard.

4) Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

Together with Qian Wang, I am putting together a workshop on parenting among Asians. We hope that this workshop, to take place in 2019 in Hong Kong, can support the career development of early career scholars in Asia.

 

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