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Ethnicity and Ethnic Identity as Developmental Contexts for African-American Adolescents Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Celina M. Chatman, Carol Wong, & Oksana.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethnicity and Ethnic Identity as Developmental Contexts for African-American Adolescents Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Celina M. Chatman, Carol Wong, & Oksana."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethnicity and Ethnic Identity as Developmental Contexts for African-American Adolescents Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Celina M. Chatman, Carol Wong, & Oksana Malanchuk University of Michigan Paper presented at the ISSBD conference Ghent, Belgium July 2004

2 Broad Educational Issue African-American youth continue to do less well academically in school than European- American youth – High school grades – High school completion rates – Standardized test scores – College attendance rates

3 Two Most Popular Psychological Explanations Oppositional Identity – Fordham & Ogbu Stereotype Threat – Steele & Aronson

4 The first explanation suggests that African ‑ American students (and other stigmatized ethnic minority groups) develop oppositional ethnic identities in response to their belief in a glass ceiling (Fordham, 1988; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986; Ogbu, 1987). – That is, many African Americans perceive doing well in school as being rewarded by future job status attainment only among White students – As a consequence, in an attempt to sustain a positive African ‑ American identity, these youth disengage from school-achievement related attitudes and behaviors to avoid being accused of “acting white.”

5 The second explanation - Stereotype Threat - (Claude Steele) argues that: - African American youth believe that others think they are not as smart as European-American youth - This belief raises their anxiety - To cope with these anxieties, African-American youth will detach their self-esteem from academic achievement - Leading to a lowering of the personal importance placed on academic achievement - Although there is no explicit reference to racial identity, one might suggest that the higher one’s racial identity the more likely one would be affected by stereotype threat

6 Both of these theories call attention to the role of social identities in the context of marginalization, stigmatization, discrimination, and cultural stereotypes

7 The evidence linking African ‑ American identity to achievement is mixed Some studies have indicated that ethnic identity and achievement are unrelated, others have indicated a positive relation and others have found the predicted negative relation (e.g., Arroyo & Zigler, 1995; Fordham, 1988; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986; Hemmings, 1996; O'Connor, 1998; Taylor et al., 1994). Most have found either no relation or a positive relation

8 Furthermore, the limited research on the content of African American adolescents' notions of “acting Black” or “acting White” indicates that these beliefs are seldom related to achievement attitudes, behaviors, and performance (Carter, 1999). Finally, neither of these perspectives deals directly with the issue of daily experiences of racial discrimination and the role that ethnic identities might play in buffering the effects of racial discrimination on development and school achievement (Essed; Feagin).

9 Goals of my talk Look at the impact of perceived racial discrimination and anticipated racial discrimination on adolescent development Look at the role ethnic identity plays in helping African-American youth cope with discriminatory experiences in school Present findings from our longitudinal study of African-American youth living near Washington DC

10 Contributors to the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS) Jacquelynne Eccles, PI Arnold Sameroff, PI W. Todd Bartko Elaine Belansky Diane Early Kari Fraser Leslie Gutman Yael Harlap Katie Jodl Ariel Kalil Linda Kuhn Alice Michael Melanie Overby Stephen Peck Katherine Rosenblum Robert Roeser Sherri Steele Erika Taylor Cynthia Winston Carol Wong

11 Sample Respondent characteristics: – African-American – N=625 – Average age = 11 at Wave 1 – Seventh grade at W 1 – 53 % male – Data being presented today is from waves 1, 3, and 4; Grades 7, 8- 9, Family background: – Median Family Income (1993): $50-55,000 – Highest Education: 38% College Degree – Highest Occupation: 44% Skilled 30% Professional

12 Longitudinal Mixed Methods Longitudinal Mixed Methods Face-to-face, in home interviews with youth and their parents which included both close-ended and quite open-ended questions Self-administered questionnaires with youth and their parents Open-ended phone interviews with youth and their parents Repeated intensive interviews with a subset of the youth

13 Data Collection Fall of Grade 7, 1991 Summer after Grade 8, 1993 Winter and Spring terms of 11 th Grade, 1996 Winter and Spring of 1998 All of 2000

14 Today Discuss data from only the first two waves.

15 Study 1 : The association of ethnicity, ethnic identity and perceived racial discrimination with adolescent school achievement and motivation

16 Main Collaborators Carol Wong – University of Delaware Cythnia Winston – Howard University Elaine Belansky – University of Colorado

17 Grade Point Averages Working Class Lower Middle Class Upper Middle

18 Is Getting Good Grades Part of Acting Black? Percent

19 Academic Importance Beliefs By Race Controlling for SES

20 Instrumental Value of Education by Race Controlling for SES

21 Conclusion No evidence that African-American youth place less importance on education that European-American youth

22 Now lets turn to the role of discrimination

23 Is Getting Ahead in Life Difficult Because of Your Race? Percent

24 Percent of Adolescents Who Perceive a ‘Glass Ceiling” to Attaining Their Desired Education and Occupation Black Black White White Males Females Males Females

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27 Adolescents’ Race-Related Experiences in School Eighth Grade Call on You Grade You Harsher Think You Are Discourage Less Harder Discipline Less Smart From Taking Classes

28 Percent of Adolescents Experiencing Racial Discrimination at School

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30 Youth Perception of Glass Ceiling Youth Perception of Discrimination by Teachers Youth Perception of Discrimination by Peers Parent Perception of Discrimination at Work Parent Perception of Discrimination in Community Youth Value of School Academic Achievement Youth Self-Concept of Ability R 2 =.12 R 2 =.31 R 2 =.36.10* -.31*** -.25*** **.11* ***.11* -.11*.09**.22*** Effects of Different Types of Racial Discrimination on African American Adolescents’ Academic Motivation and Achievement

31 Youth Perception of Glass Ceiling Youth Perception of Discrimination by Teachers Youth Perception of Discrimination by Peers Youth Value of School Academic Achievement Youth Self-Concept of Ability R 2 =.12 R 2 =.31 R 2 =.36.10* -.31*** -.25***.11* ***.09**.22*** Effects of Different Types of Racial Discrimination on African American Adolescents’ Academic Motivation and Achievement

32 Thus, there is strong support for the undermining impact of daily experiences of discrimination in school on school achievement as well as on other indicators of healthy adolescent development.

33 There is no support in this sample for the idea that believing in a glass ceiling on average undermines school performance and motivation. We still need to explore whether this is true for some sub-groups.

34 Study 2: What role does African-American Identity play in helping African- American youth cope with daily experiences of discrimination?

35 Main Collaborator Carol Wong, University of Delaware

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44 Ethnic Identity as Buffer against Experiences of Racial Discrimination: Conclusions from Studies 1 and 2 Daily experiences of racial discrimination at school, although not frequent, undermine positive development in several domains Ethnic Identity (measured as strong positive cultural connections due to race) reduces this negative impact for African-American youth in several domains

45 Thank You!


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