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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources

LIFE - Children, Youth and Families at risk

Research Review

The academic resilience of Mexican American high school students

Gonzalez, R. & Padilla, A.M. (1997). The academic resilience of Mexican American high school students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 19(3), 301-318.

PURPOSE: Examined whether a supportive academic environment, a sense of belonging to school, and cultural loyalty enhanced resilience.


  • Alva & Padilla (1995) stressed the importance of taking sociocultural factors into account when using a model of resilience.
  • Gandara (19982, 1995) found that family support and individual persistence contributed most to academic success.
  • Alva (1991) discovered that students’ subjective appraisal of their preparation for college was the most significant predictor of GPA. Other predictors included educational support, and control over academic future.
  • Goodenow (1992) believed that a students’ sense of belonging has a reinforcing effect on positive academic behavior.
  • Hernandez (1993) discovered that extracurricular activities increased students’ sense of engagement with school. Also found that teacher support, peer support, and parental motivation contributed to academic achievement.


  • Sample: Surveys were collected from 2,169 Mexican American students, 214 met he selection criterion for the study.
  • Instrument: 314-item questionnaire that measured self-esteem, delinquency, stressful life events, psychosocial maturity, school bonding, parental involvement, and ethnic pride and awareness.
  • Procedure: Factor analysis using varimax rotation, 3-ANOVA using Scheffe pair-wise comparisons, stepwise regression, and discriminant analysis were used to evaluate the data.


  • Regression analysis revealed that the only significant predictor of student grades was a sense of belonging to school. A supportive academic environment and a sense of belonging to school were predictors of resilience status.
  • In t-test analyses on resilient status and regression analyses on GPA, family and peer support and value placed on school were predictors of academic resilience.
  • Although cultural loyalty overall was not a significant predictor of resilience, certain cultural influences contributed to resilient outcomes. Cultural pride and awareness were significant predictors of GPA.
  • Reinforced that resilience is not a trait, but rather develops in the context of environmental support.

Prepared by Kosha Sabin for UW honors course HP4152, Spring 1999

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