Educational Resilience in Children from Immigrant Families: The Protective Role of Culture and Self-Regulation
Novoa, Cristina Maria
Moghaddam, Fathali M.
A growing literature on children's developmental outcomes indicates that children from immigrant families enjoy academic and behavioral advantages over their native-born co-ethnic peers. Aided by the release of rigorous, nationally representative studies like the federally funded Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort (ECLS-K), researchers are able to draw conclusions that generalize to the entire population of immigrant children in the United States. Despite the value of these data, research using these studies has not kept pace with theoretical and empirical work on acculturation. This is problematic because acculturation--the psychological changes that occur with respect to both host and heritage culture as a result of intercultural contact--plays a large role in many popular and scholarly explanations for declining outcomes over generations. To address this limitation, this dissertation addresses three objectives: (1) To expand how acculturation is conceptualized and assessed in one such study (ECLS-K), (2) To explore how different dimensions of acculturation might influence self-regulatory classroom behaviors over time, and (3) To investigate how acculturation and classroom behavior together may give rise to different patterns of academic achievement.Findings suggest that language skills reflecting particular acculturation strategies (e.g. English proficiency, fluency in a non-English language) predict better academic performance in fifth grade as well as better approaches to learning (ATL), a suite of self-regulatory behaviors that children display during learning activities, throughout elementary school. However, participating in cultural events and discussions had no effect on these classroom behaviors. To the extent that the two can be separated, this research suggests that bilingualism rather than maintenance of cultural practices supports positive classroom behaviors, which in turn predicts academic achievement.
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