Nav: Home

Asian-American students have strong academic support -- but is it too much?

March 23, 2017

Despite having the strongest academic support from parents, teachers, and friends, second-generation Asian American adolescents benefit much less from these supports than others, finds a study by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The findings, published in the Asian American Journal of Psychology, suggest that support may be experienced as pressure and that stereotyping Asian Americans as high achievers can be problematic.

"The tension produced from immigrant parents' high expectations and their children's efforts to fulfill these expectations might exacerbate the academic pressures experienced by second-generation Asian Americans," said Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, assistant professor of international education at NYU Steinhardt and author of the study.

Support from parents, friends, and teachers is a vital resource for adolescents when they form their own academic expectations. High academic expectations and support from others are linked with students having higher expectations for themselves and other important academic outcomes, such as getting good grades or going to college.

However, academic social support and its benefits are not necessarily uniform across students of different racial and generational backgrounds. In the case of Asian American youth, scholars have described two theories that may shape the academic expectations of Asian Americans: the Immigrant Bargain and the Model Minority Stereotype. The Immigrant Bargain explains how immigrant children, who are aware of their parents' sacrifices, feel obligated to be successful in order to justify the hardships experienced by their parents. The Model Minority Stereotype constructs Asian American identity around high academic achievement.

In this study, Cherng and his co-author, NYU Steinhardt doctoral student Jia-Lin Liu, sought to understand whether academic social support from parents, friends, and teachers actually helps Asian American students or compounds the pressure that the youth experience.

The researchers used data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a nationally representative dataset of 15,360 high school students. They looked at information reported by the students, students' parents, and teachers during the students' sophomore year, including whether parents and teachers expected students to go to college. This information was linked to academic expectations reported by students in their senior year of high school - specifically, whether they anticipated completing a college degree. The researchers also looked at demographics, such as race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and immigration status (first-generation, second-generation, and third-generation and beyond).

They found that academic social support was an important ingredient in the formation of college-going expectations and that second-generation Asian Americans had the strongest social support. However, the influence of parents, friends, and teachers was not uniform: second-generation Asian Americans benefited less - or sometimes not at all - from academic social support despite having parents and teachers with the highest expectations and friends who were the most academically oriented.

For example, second-generation Asian Americans who had the highest level of support actually had lower probabilities of going to college, at 74 percent, compared to their peers with lower levels of support, at 83 percent. In contrast, third-generation Whites who had the highest level of support had 3 percent higher probabilities of expecting to go to college than did their peers with less support.

In addition to second-generation Asian Americans, parents of all generations of Latino students, third-generation Black students, and second-generation White students had significantly higher academic expectations compared to parents of third-generation White students.

Teacher's academic expectations also varied on students based on students' backgrounds. Both first- and second-generation Asian Americans and White students had teachers with higher expectations compared to third-generation White students. Teachers had significantly lower expectations towards Latino and Black students from all generations.

"Although sometimes thought of as a 'positive stereotype,' the Model Minority Stereotype not only can place pressure on Asian American youth to excel, but does not fully reflect the history and achievement of Asian Americans," Cherng said. "Teachers and policymakers who believe that all Asian Americans excel can overlook the educational needs of those who need assistance."

Given the negative influence the Model Minority Stereotype can have on Asian American youth, the authors conclude that more efforts should be taken to recognize and address this issue. For example, teachers can facilitate productive dialogue about Asian American stereotypes with students and families.



About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)


Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.

New York University

Related Education Articles:

Education a top priority
Various studies have revealed that a majority of Western European populations support increased investment in education.
Dementia on the downslide, especially among people with more education
In a hopeful sign for the health of the nation's brains, the percentage of American seniors with dementia is dropping, a new study finds.
A vision for revamping neuroscience education
The expanding scope and growing number of tools used for neuroscience is moving beyond what is taught in traditional graduate programs, say leaders in American neuroscience education, funding, and policy.
Scientific education through films?
Magic swords, wands, cauldrons and cloaks of invisibility do not exist in reality.
What should be the role of computer games in education?
Game advocates are calling for a sweeping transformation of conventional education to replace traditional curricula with game-based instruction.
Up, up and away, in the name of science education
US researchers extol the virtues of high-altitude balloons for science education in a research paper published in the International Journal of Learning Technology.
Minorities underrepresented in US special education classrooms
Although minority children are frequently reported to be overrepresented in special education classrooms, a team of researchers suggests that minority children are less likely than otherwise similar white children to receive help for disabilities.
Accentuate the positive when it comes to nutrition education
If you want people to choose healthier foods, emphasize the positive, says a new Cornell University study.
How do students use video in higher education?
A new SAGE white paper out today reveals the types of educational videos that appeal to students and where they go to find them.

Related Education Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...