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Student retention and academic success among ethnic communities

The purpose of this research program was to determine the value of autonomy for ethnic minorities. Self-determination theory (SDT) has argued that the need for autonomy is universal. Subsequently, it was expected that, across a broad range of ethnicities, autonomous internalization of cultural norms would be associated with well-being. Furthermore, how multicultural individuals integrate their identities was also anticipated to impact on their well-being and their daily functioning.

These results demonstrate the significance of autonomy and cultural integration for minorities’ well-being.

The present thesis is comprised of four studies. Study 1 assessed ethnic minorities’ internalization of their host and heritage cultures. The results indicated that autonomous internalization was associated with cultural competence and context specific well-being. Furthermore, coming from an egalitarian heritage culture was associated with greater cultural internalization. Cultural adaptation in both heritage and English-Canadian cultures combined to predict psychological well-being.

Studies 2 and 3 examined the impact of parental autonomy support on heritage culture internalization. Study 2 was comprised of a sample of ethnic minorities living in Canada. Regression analyses revealed that parental autonomy support was related to autonomous internalization of the heritage culture and to higher self- and peer-reported well-being.

Study 4 used the Rochester Interaction Record to examine the relation of perceived evaluations of a multicultural person’s heritage group to the nature and quality of their social interactions. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses revealed that the valence of the evaluation of one’s heritage culture impacted on the characteristics of the interaction.

Together, these results demonstrate the significance of autonomy and cultural integration for minorities’ well-being.


Main researcher: Michelle Downie, McGill University

Original title: La persévérance et la réussite scolaires auprès des élèves provenant des communautés ethniques

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