Formation of educational aspirations among Asian American students



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study explores how Asian Americans’ educational aspirations are different from other racial groups as well as uncovers differences among Asian American subgroups. This study developed a hypothesized model on the formation of educational aspiration. Among factors affecting educational aspirations that were derived from the literature review, students’ academic effort and performance, students’ perceived academic self-efficacy, and support received from students’ significant others were hypothesized to have direct effects on students’ educational aspirations. In addition, students’ perceived self-efficacy and academic effort were hypothesized to have indirect effects on students’ educational aspirations through students’ academic performance. Students’ demographic and socio-economic characteristics were controlled to examine if they had any direct and indirect effects on educational aspirations. In order to test validity of the hypothesized model on educational aspiration, this study adopted structural education modeling (SEM) to analyze the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09). As a result, the hypothesized model was confirmed because of its adequate model fit. In addition, this study found that Asian American students’ educational aspirations were different from other racial groups. First, neither academic effort nor performance affects Asian Americans’ educational aspirations whereas both affect aspirations significantly in the entire sample. Second, there was a positive effect of academic self-efficacy on Asian Americans’ educational aspirations whereas efficacy did not affect aspirations in the entire sample. Third, there was a positive effect of support with college information from significant others on Asian Americans’ aspirations, which was not statistically significant in the results of the entire sample. This indicates that Asian American students’ educational aspirations are more influenced by subjective or perceived factors such as academic self-efficacy and support with college information received from significant others, rather than objective indicators such as academic performance and academic effort. Moreover, there are differences in aspirations by Asian American ethnic subgroups even after controlling for other variables. Compared to Filipino Americans, all other four Asian American subgroups show significantly higher educational aspirations. The findings of this study help to understand how high school students’ educational aspirations are formed in general by examining the conceptual model with the entire data. In addition, the findings help to fill the gap in the literature about debunking the model minority myth about Asian American students by proving that they are heterogeneous.