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Linking Acculturation Patterns, Acculturative Stress, and Education Policies to Educational Competence among Mexican-American Children

Kim, Yoon Mi (2013) Linking Acculturation Patterns, Acculturative Stress, and Education Policies to Educational Competence among Mexican-American Children. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The persistent educational underachievement of Latino children and adolescents has emerged as a public concern since they have become the fastest growing group of students in kindergarten through 12th grade in the U.S. This dissertation expands on what we already know about educational experiences among minority youth in general, and Mexican-American children in particular. Mexican-American children’s acculturative experiences are examined in this study through the various lenses of Latino and Mexican-American history, sociopolitical contexts, theories, and quantitative analyses. This study focuses primarily on the educational trajectory of Mexican-American children who are more likely to experience a relatively slow path of cultural integration while they struggle with dissonant acculturation. Beyond acculturation, it also addresses the different influences of two education policies—English Immersion and bilingual education—on children’s acculturation and educational achievement.
This dissertation is divided into seven chapters. Following the scope of the underachievement problem, Chapter 1 prioritizes research themes on the micro-level—Mexican-American children’s identity and acculturative contexts related to their immigrant parents—to the macro-level, potentially elusive aspects such as anti-immigrant sentiment and changes in educational settings. Chapter 2 explores Latino and Mexican-American history to understand how Mexicans have become Americans. It also illustrates how Mexican Americans and their culture have been viewed by American society and then discusses identity formation of minority youth based on the theories of identity, symbolic interactionism, stress and coping, and acculturation—all of which are incorporated to explain cultural adaptation and identity formation among Mexican-American youth. Delving deeper into their cultural adaptation, this chapter describes the acculturation process in terms of two competing theories—unidimensional and bidimensional acculturation models—and conceptualizes diverse acculturation patterns from the bidimensional acculturation perspective. Chapter 3 provides an extensive literature review on the relationships among acculturation factors, education policy, and educational achievement. It also includes an overview of the current use of unidimensional and bidimensional acculturation measurements.
In Chapter 4, research hypotheses and questions are proposed. The specific aims of this study are to 1) identify acculturation patterns; 2) to investigate whether any particular acculturation pattern affects educational achievement; and 3) to examine the impact of acculturation factors and education policy on educational achievement. Chapter 5 describes the sample of 295 Mexican-American children and provides preliminary analysis results. In Chapter 6, acculturation measurements are revised and validated by exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. During this study, three acculturation patterns emerged from a cluster analysis, and a particular acculturation pattern (i.e., separated pattern) was found to be related to higher educational competence among Mexican-American children. This study found that a bidimensional acculturation approach was more helpful than a unidimensional acculturation approach in understanding the impact of acculturation on educational competence. With respect to education policy, bilingual education was shown to promote children’s ability to maintain their Mexicanness. These culturally Mexican-oriented children showed higher educational competence than the highly Americanized children attending English Immersion schools. English Immersion increased children’s acculturative stress and general social stress, which negatively influenced their educational competence. In Chapter 7, implications and limitations of this study are discussed, and suggestions for future research and social work practice are presented.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kim, Yoon
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKoeske, Garygkoeske@pitt.eduGKOESKE
Committee MemberKim, Kevin Hkhkim@pitt.eduKHKIM
Committee MemberRafael, Engelrengel@pitt.eduRENGEL
Committee MemberCopeland, Valiresswvcc@pitt.eduSSWVCC
Date: 19 July 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 March 2013
Approval Date: 19 July 2013
Submission Date: 18 July 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 162
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Acculturation, Educational achievement, Latino, Mexican-American children, Education policy
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 18:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:14


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