Relationships of acculturation to the academic achievements and school adjustment of Hmong-American youths

Theresa Pao-chin Liu, Marquette University


Numerous studies (i.e., Mordkowitz and Ginsburg, 1987) have attributed the extraordinary achievements of Asian Americans to Asian cultural values, perceived as being different from mainstream American values. Will their achievement levels decrease and behavior problems increase with each successive generation as they acculturate to American society? This study attempted to investigate the effect of acculturation on the academic achievements and school adjustment of Hmong American youths. The Hmong-American Biographic Questionnaire and the Hmong- American Biculturalism Scale, developed by the author, were administered to 271 low-income middle and high school students, of whom nearly 60% maintained at least a "B" average. Participation was voluntary. Statistical procedures employed were factor analyses, Cronbach's alpha statistic for reliability coefficients and discriminant validation, ANOVA, and correlation analysis. The results of the study indicated that no differences in acculturation levels were found between males and females or between middle and high school students. Second generation acculturated at a significantly more rapid rate than first generation. Increased levels of acculturation for students seem to be related to higher performance on standardized achievement tests, but not necessarily to school grades. For students in the "low" and "medium" levels of acculturation, first generation had higher GPA and for students in the "high" level of acculturation, second generation had higher GPA. Increased levels of acculturation for parents seem to have a negative effect on the school adjustment of second generation children with a "bicultural" orientation. Highly acculturated students with "less" acculturated fathers, and "more" acculturated mothers enjoy the greatest adjustment in school as indicated by the lowest rates of incident referrals and class absences. In conclusion, when examining the academic achievements and school adjustments, one must take into account the acculturation levels of both immigrant youths and their parents. Students' increased acculturation levels seem to have a positive effect on their achievement test scores but parents' increased acculturation levels appear to have a negative effect on their children's school adjustment. The study does not support the tenet of the biculturalism model that individuals with the bicultural, rather than monocultural, orientation, enjoy the greatest psychological adjustment.

Recommended Citation

Liu, Theresa Pao-chin, "Relationships of acculturation to the academic achievements and school adjustment of Hmong-American youths" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9626936.