Explaining Asian Americans’ academic advantage

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Apr 2014

The superior academic achievement of Asian Americans is a well-documented phenomenon that lacks a widely accepted explanation. Asian Americans’ advantage in this respect has been attributed to three groups of factors:

  1. socio-demographic characteristics,
  2. cognitive ability, and
  3. academic effort as measured by characteristics such as attentiveness and work ethic.

We combine data from two nationally representative cohort longitudinal surveys to compare Asian-American and white students in their educational trajectories from kindergarten through high school.

We find that the Asian-American educational advantage is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics. We test explanations for the Asian–white gap in academic effort and find that the gap can be further attributed to (i) cultural differences in beliefs regarding the connection between effort and achievement and (ii) immigration status. Finally, we highlight the potential psychological and social costs associated with Asian-American achievement success.

From the Supplement: for E. Asians, the academic achievement gap appears to be ~ 1/3 due to cognitive ability and ~ 2/3 due to academic effort, with large uncertainties.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s