Ethnographic research has suggested that youth from immigrant families who identify with their parents’ cultural origins tend to be more attached to school and attain greater academic success than their peers who assume more Americanized identities. It is unclear, however, what might cause this association between ethnic identity and school success.
Since January 2003, Andrew Fuligni has seeking cause for this outcome with a longitudinal study of high school students in Los Angeles, California. With previous support from the Foundation, he tracked a group of 750 students through ninth and tenth grades, asking them about the extent to which they relate to their family and cultural backgrounds, and about their values and attitudes regarding education. With new funding, Fuligni will continue to follow these students throughout their remaining high school years. He hypothesizes that youths with a greater sense of family obligation and a stronger identification with their cultural background will have fewer negative events in their lives, will respond better to negative events when they occur, and will be less likely to allow other activities to interfere with their schooling. As a result, he expects that they will demonstrate better academic adaptation over time than others.