Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A comparative study of average and high -achieving high school immigrant and non-immigrant students of Mexican heritage
by Rodriguez Cazares, Luis, Ed.D., University of Southern California, 2009, 349; 3368715
Abstract (Summary)

I searched for markers of academic engagement and success of average and high-achieving high school Mexican-heritage immigrant and non-immigrant students at El Portal Heights High School (EPHHS) through ethnographic interviews. The literature is replete with case studies on the underachievement and lack of engagement of Latinos. There is also little information about Latinos who are successful in completing high school and are college bound. This research was intended to have transferability to other contextually similar educational settings and students.

I found participants might not have disengaged from schooling to avoid being perceived as "acting white" nor exhibited an oppositional cultural identity to cope with this burden (Fordham and Obgu, 1986). They developed a positive orientation to schooling and a culture of learning. Participants might not have avoided succeeding in school believing they were unable to compete with peers from other groups. Significant findings point to students being burdened with constant incidences of explicitly demonstrated, implied discrimination and low expectations by the public at large in what emerged as the Burden of Being Mexicano [Mexican]. They coped by overachieving. Students identified other peers (low–achieving?) displaying a lack of caring for schooling and not doing well academically. Participants might not have experienced schooling in U.S. schools as a subtractive process that devalued their social and cultural capital. Contrarily, they might have augmented and strengthened their social and cultural capital (family support), which mediated their school success and helped pull "them" through. Participants also experienced a supportive staff and schooling environment, which facilitated their success.

Research implications allude to critical salient points. How might I, as a stakeholder, researcher and policymaker work to: extend this research to other groups; promote academic engagement and success of all students; empower students to engage in schooling; promote a positive orientation to schooling and a culture of learning in parallel to their ethnic cultures; recognize the burden of being Mexicano and help "pull similar but underperforming students through;" dispel the negative connotations ascribed to Mexican-heritage; expand social capital and networks; and sustain a supportive learning environment, which transforms the high school experience into an additive schooling process?

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Baca, Reynaldo
Commitee: Castruita, Rudy, Genzuk, Michael
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Bilingual education, Secondary education, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: High-achieving, Immigrant, Immigrant/non-immigrant, Mexican heritage, Negative stereotype threat, Social capital, Subtractive schooling, Voluntary/involuntary minorities
Publication Number: 3368715
ISBN: 978-1-109-29510-8
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