The Effect Of Positive And Negative Friendships On Mexican-American Students’ School Adjustment

Espinoza et al. (2013) explored how positive and negative friendships influence Mexican-American students’ school adjustment. The purpose of this study was to test whether students’ friend associations (negative and positive) would affect school adjustment. This study was conducted with 412 Mexican adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16 and one of their caregivers in two Los Angeles public high schools. Students were given questionnaires and asked to keep daily diaries for 14 days. Intercorrelations and analyses of variance (ANOVA) tests were used to examine friend support, friend affiliations, and school adjustment. Espinoza et al. (2013) found that friend support was negatively correlated with deviant friends and positive correlated with achievement-oriented friends. Having achievement-oriented friends and high levels of friend support indicated high levels of educational attainment and aspirations. On the other hand, students who reported having deviant friends and high levels of friend support were found to have higher academic problems. These findings highlight the importance of friendship in educational attainment and aspirations.

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Furthermore, Vaquera (2009) paid close attention to the role of peer social ties as it relates to school belonging. The purpose of this study was to find out whether friendship status and location of the best friend had an impact on the educational well-being of the adolescents. The data for study was acquired from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which included 134 U. S. schools. The sample consisted of 90, 000 adolescents who self-identified as Hispanic or white between 7th and 12th grade. School engagement was calculated by measuring concentration and effort to learn. The number of years (1-6) the student attended school was used since the longer they are in the school system the more likely they are to make friends. Vaquera (2009) found that 88% of white students reported having a best friend and 66% said their best friend attended their school. Also, 76% of Mexicans reported having a best friend and 55% of them reported their best friend attended their school. Overall, students whose best friend did not attend the same school had lower levels of school belonging. However, while white students reported higher engagement when their best friend attended the same school, Hispanics were found to have higher engagement problems. Vaquera (2009) suggests that the reason for these findings is that Hispanics having their friends attend the same school is problematic because they share a negative sentiment towards the American culture and act out against authority for trying to take away their Hispanic identity.

The Expectations and Aspirations Gap

The literature presented in this section analyzes the gap between expectations and aspirations and its relationship with acculturation, and aspirations. Chavira, Cooper, and Vasquez-Salgado (2016) studied how career and educational aspirations/expectations affect career and educational attainment. Aspiration was defined as the hopes and dreams students had for their future. Expectations were defined as the realistic view or their future achievements. Twenty-four middle schoolers with Mexican-descent and their parents were interviewed in Central California. Students were asked questions about their career aspirations and expectations and their parents were asked about their aspirations and expectations for their children. Chavira et al. (2016) found that 78% of students reported that they wanted to become professionals. Additionally, 12 of those students reported aspirations of becoming executives. The other 22% wanted to become technicians, semi-professionals, or athletes. Furthermore, 75% of their parents reported that it was their child’s choice to choose what career they would want to pursue. Despite this first answer, when asked if they could choose their children’s career, their answer changed. Chavira et al. (2016) reported that 70% of the parents reported careers that required college degrees, 20% that required vocational training, and 10% that required high school education. Although students aspired to get a 4-year college education, their aspirations were found to be much higher than their educational expectations. Chavira et al. (2016) linked this gap to the students dreaming of obtaining the social mobility that their parents were not able to accomplish themselves through hard work in manual labor.

Additionally, St-Hilaire (2002) analyzed 728 Hispanic-descent students’ values and differences as far as educational aspirations and attainment. The participants were 8th and 9th grade students of Mexican-descent who were randomly selected from a 1992 survey in San Diego. St-Hilaire (2002) found that 90% of the students believed that education was the most important factor in obtaining success in the United States. In fact, while 99% wanted to finish high school, 88% wanted to finish at least some college and 50% wanted to finish graduate school. However, as far as realistic attainment, 99% still believed they would finish high school, 80% believed they would pursue some college, and 30% believed they would get to graduate school. The findings reveal that Hispanic students do value education but also, when it comes to realizing their dreams, they tend to bring down their aspirations. As Hispanic students acculturate to the American culture, it is important to take into account their environment. Hispanics whose parents had low SES had lower attainment and aspirations over time. These findings could be attributed to them living in poor neighborhoods and not attending good public schools which would be barriers to their educational attainment and future dreams.

Moreover, Ojeda et al. (2011) examined whether acculturation and enculturation would predict career decision self-efficacy. Acculturation is the process that takes place as an individual or group adapts to a host culture. Enculturation is essentially when an individual or group keep their origin culture’s beliefs and values while living in the host culture. The study examined 338 Latino seventh graders in an urban city in central Texas. The sample was made up of 46% boys and 54% girls. In order to measure acculturation and enculturation, 12 out of the 30 items in the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II (ARSMA-II) was used. A one-way multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) revealed the differences in enculturation and acculturation between genders. A hierarchical regression revealed that as far as career decision self-efficacy, the only significant predictor for boys was ethnic identity. On the other hand, both ethnic identity and acculturation were significant predictors for girls. The findings suggest that Latina girls are more bicultural than boys and because they are more secure in their identity, it would be easier for them to make career decisions.

15 July 2020

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