Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Influence of Gender, Generation Level, Parents' Education Level, and Perceived Barriers on the Educational Aspirations of Mexican American High School Students

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Influence of Gender, Generation Level, Parents' Education Level, and Perceived Barriers on the Educational Aspirations of Mexican American High School Students

Article excerpt

A portion of social-cognitive career theory (R. W. Lent, S. D. Brown, & G. Hackett, 1994) was tested by examining contextual factors related to the educational aspirations of 186 Mexican American high school students. A 3-step hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to determine the influence of gender, generation level, parents' education level, and perceived educational barriers on educational aspirations. Results indicated that perceived educational barriers significantly predicted students' educational aspirations above and beyond the influence of gender, generation level, and parents' education level. Implications for Mexican American students' educational goals are provided.

In a study on educational aspirations, 90% of Mexican American junior high school students reported the following: "Education is the key to get ahead in this country. I'll get as much education as I can" (St-Hilaire, 2002, p. 1033). Nearly 50% of these students indicated aspirations of attending graduate school, yet only 30% of the students expected to reach that level. Clearly, Mexican Americans recognize the importance of an education; however, only 57% graduate from high school, and a mere 1 1% matriculate from college (Stoops, 2004). Bearing in mind that 35% of the Latina/o U.S. population is younger than 18 years old, it is important to examine the academic achievement of Latina/o youth, particularly youth of Mexican descent, because this subgroup represents more than half of the total Latina/o U.S. population (Ramirez & de la Cruz, 2003) and is a sizable group in the primary and secondary school pipeline. Thus, the main purpose of the current study was to examine the influence of several person-level variables on the educational aspirations of Mexican American high school students.

Social -Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT)

SCCT (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994, 2000) was selected as the theoretical framework for the current study given its emphasis on con-textual variables in career development and its applicability with diverse racial/ethnic groups (e.g., Flores & O'Brien, 2002; Ladany, Melincoff, Constantine, & Love 1997; Luzzo & McWhirter, 2001; Mau & Bikos, 2000). Through SCCT, Lent et al. (1994, 2000) theorized that person factors, which consist of an individual's predisposed biological attributes (e.g., gender, ethnicity), and background contextual factors (e.g., social support, environment) affect learning experiences. In turn, these learning experiences are hypothesized to influence self-efficacy and outcome expectations. Also critical to SCCT are proximal contextual factors (e.g., perceived barriers), which are hypothesized to play a crucial role during the decision-making and goal-setting process and may directly influence choice goals. Person factors, background contextual factors, and proximal contextual factors are all distinct variables yet are influential to goals via complex reciprocal relations (Lent et al., 1994). In essence, through SCCT, researchers can examine how varying levels of vocational aspirations are influenced by individuals' interests, decision making, and achievements as well as by personal and environmental variables (Lent et al., 1994). Our study extends this theory to the domain of educational goals and focuses on the links among person (i.e., generation level), background contextual (i.e., parents' education level), and proximal contextual (i.e., perceived educational barriers) variables on educational aspirations.

Most SCCT- based studies have focused on how career development is influenced by cognitive-person variables (e.g., goals, outcome expectations, self- efficacy), whereas the influence of environmental factors (e.g., social, cultural) on career development has received less attention (Lent et al., 2000). SCCT suggests that perceptions of barriers, or the likelihood that an individual will encounter an adverse condition, are influenced by environmental variables and individual characteristics. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.