Generational and ethnic minority status as they relate to achievement values among early adolescents

Alexandra McGlashan, Pace University


This study examined academic underachievement among children of immigrants in the United States. Existing theories on academic failure among ethnic minority children suggest that achievement values are tied to issues of identity. This study examined whether or not differences in achievement value would exist between children of varying generational levels of Caribbean descent. Based on existing literature, it was hypothesized that participants who were recent immigrants (1st generation) would value education more than their more acculturated counterparts (2nd and 3rd generation). Additionally, foreign identified participants were expected to demonstrate high achievement value as compared to those who used a US national origin to identify themselves. A final hypothesis examined the role of gender in academic achievement. It was hypothesized that females would demonstrate high achievement value as compared to males. The sample consisted of 92 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 14 from a small Catholic school in an urban working class community. In order to measure achievement value, a peer nomination procedure took place in order to examine whether high achieving peers would be chosen. In addition, students were asked to complete the Attitude-Achievement scale. Level of acculturation was measured using an acculturation scale, as well as length of stay in the US of the participants' parents. Academic achievement was measured by averaging the participants' report card grades in 4 major subject areas. Results showed moderate support in favor of the hypotheses. When acculturation was measured by the mother's length of stay, a correlation was found between level of acculturation and achievement value in support of the hypothesis. One statistically significant ethnic identity effect was found in that foreign-identified participants reported significantly higher abstract scores than US national identified participants. Finally, some significant relationships between participant gender and achievement value as measured by the peer nomination method were found. Implications for School-Clinical Child Psychology were discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|African Americans|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

McGlashan, Alexandra, "Generational and ethnic minority status as they relate to achievement values among early adolescents" (2002). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3068003.



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