Objective. Educational research suggests that close-knit, supportive immigrant communities can encourage students' school success; however, less agreement exists about why students outside of those communities—particularly in urban areas—do not always do as well in school, even when those students perceive themselves to be working as hard as their higher-performing immigrant peers. This article explores the relationship between Chinese-immigrant and second-generation Chinese students' perceptions and social/cultural factors that influence their lives in a large urban school.
Methods. Longitudinal interviews with students, as well as observations at the school, took place from September 2000 to May 2001.
Results. Chinese immigrants in this study are motivated to work hard and value demanding teachers, difficult curriculum, and discipline more than their second-generation Chinese peers; the second-generation students talk of wanting more entertaining, knowledgeable teachers while not being willing or able to work as hard for school success.
Conclusions. These findings indicate that differences in students' perceptions of their own effort and success in school may depend greatly on the social environment in which students find themselves, as well as the culturally-driven actions available within those environments.