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Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance of Preschool Children in Macao: A Case Study

Vitor M. Santos Teixeira and Ana M. Correia
University of Saint Joseph, Macau, China
Abstract—In the Special Administrative Region of Macao (Macao SAR) the private sector of education comprises ninety-six per cent of the total provision of non-tertiary education. The private schools, run by churches, religious orders, political organizations, cooperatives, and individuals, were founded long ago during the Portuguese colonial administration. Some of these schools are solid institutions with high prestige and a unique identity built up over many years, and thus they tend to resist innovation. The conservative approach to teaching, in particular, is seen as a way to preserve an image of excellence. The ‘good schools’ in the private sector have a strong academic orientation, a phenomenon easily observed as early as the kindergarten years. Although the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau urges schools not to introduce handwriting in K1, and to avoid accelerating kindergarten children into primary level work, the emphasis on competence and cognitive learning outcomes in these early years remains high. This study assesses how children aged 4 to 5 years and attending kindergarten in Macau, perceive their competence and their social acceptance. The participants in the study are a group of forty-four pre-school Chinese and non-Chinese children attending a private kindergarten in Macao. Harter’s Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children was used to assess the children’s perceived competence and social acceptance. The data obtained show that the participants’ average scores on the competence scales were significantly higher than the scores on the acceptance scales. No significant differences were found between the Chinese and the non-Chinese children and some differences were found between boys and girls. While some adjustments to the scale are suggested, the study provides preliminary support for the instrument’s appropriateness to a Chinese social context. Some suggestions for future researchers and educational policy makers are made.
Index Terms—early childhood education, children's psychology, perceived competence, social acceptance

Cite: Vitor M. Santos Teixeira and Ana M. Correia, "Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance of Preschool Children in Macao: A Case Study," International Journal of Learning and Teaching, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 226-231, June 2017. doi: 10.18178/ijlt.3.3.226-231
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