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Social support, stress, and adaptation
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Research Proposal:
Social Support, Stress, and Adaptation in Immigrant Youth
The proposed study is designed to address two major deficits in knowledge regarding the
adaptation of immigrant students to the U. S. school environment, including a lack of information about the
impact of immigration on students at different age/grade levels and the absence of longitudinal data
regarding postmigration adjustment (Coll & Magnuson, 1997; Hernandez & Charney, 1998). Researchers
have identified a number of specific areas in need of study, including disruptions in social network relations,
processes of acculturation, the effects of immigration-related stress on families, the socioeconomic
background and receiving context of the immigrant family, and the effects of perceived prejudice and
discrimination (Barr & Lacey, 1998; Fuligni, 1998a,b; Hernandez & Charney, 1998; Suárez-Orozco &
Suárez-Orozco, 1995).
Recent overviews of the literature suggest that most immigrant children adapt successfully (Fuligni,
1998a,b; Hernandez, 1999). However, Kao and Tienda (1995) found that immigrant adolescents had
lower self-efficacy and were more alienated from peers than non-immigrants in a large national survey.
Academically, immigrant students tend to outperform nonimmigrant students of the same cultural
background (Fuligni, 1998a,b; Hernandez & Charney, 1998; Nord & Griffin, 1999; Suárez-Orozco &
Suárez-Orozco, 1995), but there is divergence across sociocultural boundaries. Latin American
immigrants, for example, have not shown the same achievement advantage as other groups and are more
likely to drop out of school (Fuligni, 1997; Kao & Tienda, 1995). Also, academic performance tends to
deteriorate the longer students reside in the U.S. (Barr & Lacey, 1998; Fuligni, 1998b), as poor minority
students in particular may assimilate to an urban underclass of peers antithetical to the educational
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