SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Title: The Role of Siblings and Familism Values in the Science Motivation of Mexican-Origin Adolescents
Session: Socialization of Cognitive and Socioemotional Development Across Cultures
Authors: Kayla Puente, Sandy Simpkins
Abstract: Studies on family support have largely focused on parents. Older siblings, however, may play a critical role in the education of their younger sibling if their parents were not able to graduate high school or are not familiar with the American educational system, which may be the case for many low-income Mexican families where parents immigrated to the U.S. Research on Mexican-origin sibling relationships have highlighted the positive effects of sibling involvement in education; for example, the quality of sibling relationships predicts greater academic support and motivation of the younger siblings (Alfaro & Umaña-Taylor, 2010). Often, these studies include the impact of familism, a cultural value associated with Mexican culture described as the strong connection between individuals and their family that also plays a role in their identity (Streit et al., 2017, p. 1060; Knight et al., 2010). Familism has been associated with closer sibling relationships along with positive ethnic identity development and prosocial behaviors (Streit et al., 2017; Killoren, Alfaro & Kline, 2016).
Framed by the bioecological theory described by Vélez-Agosto et al. (2017), this study aims to understand a) how Mexican-origin siblings support the high school science education of their younger sibling; b) how sibling support is related to the science motivational beliefs of ability self-concept and task value described in the expectancy-value theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000); and c) how familism relates to levels of sibling support and whether it moderates the relations.
Both the younger and older siblings completed questionnaires that included measures on science self-concept (12 items, α = .93), science task value (15 items, α = .94), familism values (20 items, α = .90), and sibling support (25 items, α = .93). Participants (n = 88) were 9th grade Mexican-origin adolescents (47 male, 41 female) from three public high schools and their older sibling (44 male, 44 female). Over half of parents (67%) and their spouses (69.33%) were not born in the U.S. and had a high school degree or less (64.77% & 70.45%).
Results indicated that familism values were related to how much support 9th grade adolescents received from their older siblings, such that the higher the familism values, the more the older sibling supported their younger sibling. Significant interactions suggest that the association between older sibling support and adolescent’s science motivation was only significant when the older sibling’s familism values were higher.
Overall, sibling support and their values were positively related to how adolescents view the usefulness of science and how they view their abilities. Older siblings can thus be a significant resource to promote motivation among their younger siblings. Along with fostering motivation, older siblings who are more connected with their family may also help their younger siblings to navigate the American educational system, serving as both cultural and social capital. Future studies should look at how sibling support in combination with parent support impact adolescent academic motivation to get a clearer picture of how families work together to foster motivation and academic success.