(Psychological and Social) Factors Influencing the Educational Outcomes of North Korean Students in South Korean Schools

  • Author / Creator
    Jang, Jeongsuk
  • This dissertation includes two studies. The first study investigated the relationship between psychological factors related to linguistic differences and reading outcomes among North Korean students in South Korea. Specifically, the study assessed if North and South Korean children studying in South Korea differ in their reading, vocabulary, and literacy-related cognitive skills, and whether language and literacy-related skills contribute to reading outcomes among North and South Korean children in the same way. Of the total of 246 students, 123 were from North Korea and 123 from South Korea (Grade 3 to 8). The results showed that there were significant differences between the two groups in all reading tasks and in both measures of vocabulary size and South Korean vocabulary that specifically targeted lexical differences. However, there were no differences in visual processing skills, and differences in phonological awareness and rapid naming were limited to tasks that likely captured experience or education differences rather than basic cognitive processing differences. The relationships between cognitive skills, vocabulary knowledge, word and nonword reading skills, and reading comprehension varied across the two groups. Our findings suggest that it is necessary to consider linguistic characteristics when examining the variations in reading skills and vocabulary knowledge of North Korean students in South Korean schools. These findings have implications for Korean children’s literacy instruction. The second study examined how social factors affect the achievement gap between North Korean students in South Korean schools and their South Korean peers. Specifically, the study explored whether two social factors, family background and home literacy practices, are associated with the achievement gap between North and South Korean students. A total of 191 North and 154 South Korean students participated. A total of 103 North and 146 South Korean parents also responded to the parents' home literacy practice questionnaire. The results showed that there were significant differences in academic achievement, and the largest difference was observed in English followed by social studies. Family's socioeconomic status explained the observed academic achievement differences with the exception of social studies. The two groups differed significantly in parents' home literacy practices, and the largest difference was observed in parents' reported academic interest and support with their children. The two groups also differed significantly on students' home literacy practices. The largest difference was observed in the number of academic subjects that the students studied in private tutoring (Hagwons) followed by hours per day spent in Hagwons for academic subjects during vacations. The number of digital devices available in the household was positively associated with all academic outcome measures for the North Korean students. In contrast, attending after-school learning activities (private education) was an especially important contributor to achievement among South Korean students. These results suggest that socioeconomic status contributes to the achievement gap between the North and South Korean students. The North Korean students’ demographic characteristics are particularly important in addressing their academic underachievement. In considering the challenges facing North Korean students in South Korean schools, it is essential to explore the associations between their academic achievement and home literacy environment as a part of the overall environment that influences academic achievement. These findings have implications for teacher education and the role of North Korean parents in supporting their children's education.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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