Distal Factors and Proximal Settings as Predictors of Latino Adolescents' Activities: Insights from Mixed Methods

Principal Investigator: Sandra Simpkins


  • Cecilia Menjivar (ASU)
  • Roger Millsap (ASU)

Funder: William T. Grant Foundation

Duration: 2013-2017  


Latino adolescents' participation in organized activities is associated with positive adjustment. Latino adolescents have, on average, the lowest rates of participation in organized activities compared to their peers. Research is needed to map the processes that promote and inhibit Latino adolescents' participation. Mapping the predictors of Latino adolescents' participation in organized activities is vital to design activities that effectively recruit and retain youth.

This project integrates motivation, family influence, and ecological theories to address three major questions: what predicts participation for Latino adolescents, what are the family predictors of participation, and how do culture and ethnicity in activity settings matter? To address these questions, the interdisciplinary team will analyze existing mixed methods case study data on 34 Mexican-origin families and quantitative data on 299 Latino and Caucasian families. Data in each study were collected from seventh-grade adolescents, their parents, and the leaders of the activities they attended. The qualitative data from the cases studies will provide insight into cultural meanings and the holistic perspective on people's decision making process in such multi-determined phenomenon. The quantitative data will address the generalizability of the qualitative findings as well as information on whether constructs, such as perceived discrimination at activities, can be measured reliably across activities and ethnic groups.

This study will (1) build knowledge on positive development of Latino youth, (2) advance scholarship on the measurement and processes of settings, and (3) provide essential tools for practitioners struggling to maintain participation.