Educational turbulence and New Zealand Army children : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
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Military employment involves a high rate of geographic mobility which, it is often presumed, disadvantages service children educationally. This cross-sectional study was undertaken to empirically evaluate this presumption by comparing, in relation to educational turbulence, the academic achievement and personalities of 84 army and 130 civilian children. Relationships between parental attitudes to military and itinerant employment and the children's academic achievement were also investigated. The Form II subjects of both sexes attended six selected schools; three predominently populated by army children and three predominently populated by civilian children. The civilian and army groups were comparable in terms of age, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity and school environment. Official school records provided biographic and mobility (number of schools attended) data as well as Progressive Achievement Test raw scores on the Reading Comprehension, Reading Vocabulary, Listening Comprehension and Mathematic tests. The Junior Eysenck Personality Inventory was used to measure the children's degree of extraversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability. A self administered Parent Questionnaire, collected educational turbulence data in terms of mobility and the amount of short and long term absence of the father from home. Four attitude scales were constructed within the Parent Questionnaire to measure parental attitudes towards: (a) The effects of mobility on education (b) The effect of the service environment on the family (c) Involvement in their children's education and (d) Shifting the family home. Army children were found to have experienced more than twice as much educational turbulence as the civilian children. There was no evidence however that they achieved less academically than comparable civilian children; nor did the groups differ on the personality dimensions of extraversion-introversion and neuroticism-stability. Furthermore, no strong and consistent relationships between parental attitudes measured and the children's academic achievement were found. There is however some evidence that army children whose parents believe the military environment detrimentally effects [i.e. affects] the family achieve higher academic results, most apparent in Mathematics Test performance, than those army children whose parents do not. It is suggested that compensatory efforts may be made by some army parents for the perceived deleterious effects of the service environment. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research and the New Zealand context.
Student mobility, Children of military personnel, Army children's education