The academic orientation of first and second generation Nicaraguan immigrant adolescents

Lisa Noel Konczal, Florida International University


The rise in diversity and numbers of U.S. immigrants since 1965 has spawned a number of studies about the education of these immigrants and their children. Most of this research finds that school-age immigrants arriving in the last 20 years have the highest drop-out rates, lowest test scores, and are less likely than their native born peers to go to college. This dissertation examines the experiences of Nicaraguan immigrant youth living in Miami and the factors that make some of these adolescents feel positive about education, while others have negative attitudes about education. The method for this study combined structured and unstructured interviews, participant observation, focus groups, and data collected from a larger data set to understand the academic orientation of 25 Nicaraguan youths over a 4-year period. One of the independent variables is length of time in the United States. During the time of my initial contact with the subjects, 6 had been living in the United States for less than 3 years, 14 had been living in the United States between 6 and 12 years, and 6 had been living in the in the United States most or all of their lives (either they were born in the United States or had resided here for over 12 years). Results are based on the students' particular experiences, which influence the dependent variable, academic orientation. Besides length of time, the independent variables also include ethnic self-identity, perceived discrimination, social capital in Miami, and peer influence. The study finds that those who are very recent arrivals have a “dual frame of reference,” that is, they directly compare their educational opportunities here in the United States, with their prior, often less favorable, situation in their homeland. Many of those who were born in Nicaragua, but have been residing in Miami most of their lives, have a less favorable view of education based on a higher degree of perceived discrimination. However, those who are second generation Nicaraguans deliberately take advantage of the strength inherent in their co-ethnic community unique to Miami. Recognition of this ethnic community prompts them to perceive education as worthwhile.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Konczal, Lisa Noel, "The academic orientation of first and second generation Nicaraguan immigrant adolescents" (2002). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3049783.