Impact of Acculturation on Math Achievement in Community College Students



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We investigated the potential moderating role of cultural adoption and cultural maintenance on the WM-math relation in a diverse group of CC students (n = 94). We expected that higher levels of adoption and maintenance would decrease WM load (via cognitive load) and aid math performance. At higher levels of acculturation, the WM-math relation was hypothesized approximate meta-analytic findings. Alternatively, at low levels of acculturation, the WM-math correlation was anticipated to be attenuated due to the added variability in culture and negative impact low acculturation levels have on WM, by increasing cognitive load. Within our sample (N = 94), WM-math correlations averaged r = .38 (similar to prior work), but acculturation did not significantly relate to math performance. Neither cultural adoption (computations: F=1.68, p =.199; word problems: F=.42, p =.521) nor cultural maintenance (computations: F=.83, p = .364; word problems: F=.36, p = .550) moderated the WM-math relations. In this context, developing individualized interventions would not appear to be an efficient use of resources. Instead, institutions (e.g., schools, city/federal government) may benefit from redoubling their efforts in providing academic and non-academic resources and supports to provide a more equitable educational experience to all students and offer the best possibility at future success. Post-hoc analyses, however, revealed that the cultural adoption-math relationship varied across different levels of vocabulary and math abilities, although not in the direction anticipated. Findings suggest complex relationships between WM, acculturation, and math such that acculturation does impact math performance when either vocabulary or math abilities are strong. This suggests additional individual and/or population characteristics should be explored more thoroughly (SES, discrimination, culture of origin) to further elucidate these complex relations.



Culture, Achievement