Adolescent academic achievement in Chinese immigrant families : the direct effects of individual and dyadic acculturation processes and the indirect effects of family obligation and academic engagement



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The Asian immigrant population is growing more rapidly than any other group in the U.S. (Social Science Data Analysis Network, 2004), and Chinese Americans represent the largest Asian subgroup (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Assuming recent trends continue, the number of first- and second-generation Chinese children will increase dramatically, and their developmental needs will demand special attention. Using structural equation modeling to analyze two waves of data from a study on 444 Chinese families, this project aims to provide a better understanding of the relations between family members’ adaptations to life in the U.S. and adolescents’ academic grade point average (GPA).
Chinese children of immigrants have been found to succeed in school (Fuligni, Tseng, & Lam, 1999). However, little is known about the ways in which their academic achievement may be related to acculturation, the process through which an individual or group makes socio-cultural or behavioral adjustments through repeated contact with another group or culture (Gordon, 1964; Berry, 2003). Exploring the variation in acculturative processes among Chinese immigrant family members and identifying how the various acculturative strategies may relate to adolescent academic achievement would bridge a gap in the extant literature.
Therefore, the first objective of this study was to assess whether fathers’, mothers’, and adolescents’ individual acculturation to American and Chinese cultures were related to adolescents’ GPA. The second goal was to test for moderation effects in these relations. Interaction terms were created for parents’ acculturation in relation to adolescents’ acculturation to test whether the connections between adolescents’ acculturation to the American and Chinese cultures and adolescents’ GPA were conditional on either fathers’ or mothers’ American or Chinese orientation. Third, this study included two culturally salient factors as mediators of potential relations found between individual and dyadic acculturative processes and adolescents’ academic achievement. These mediators were adolescents’ sense of family obligation and adolescents’ level of behavioral academic engagement. The fourth and final objective was to assess whether there was invariance by adolescent gender in the structural model.