Asian-American students tend to excel in school because they try harder, this is according to a US study seeking to find an explanation for the “Asian-American educational advantage over whites”.
The findings were based on an analysis of surveys tracking several thousands of “whites and Asians in the US” from kindergarden through high school and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday (abstract here).
Researchers Queens College of New York, the University of Michigan and Peking University in Beijing examined factors such as grades, test scores, teacher ratings, family income and education level and immigration status, AFP relays.
“Asian-Americans enter school with no discernible academic advantage over whites,” said the study, noting that “advantage grows over time”.
By fifth grade, or age 10-11, Asian-Americans “significantly outperform whites”, and the peak difference is reached by grade 10, or age 15-16.
“Overall, these results suggest that the growing achievement gap can be attributed to a widening gap in academic effort rather than to differences in cognitive ability.”
Asian-Americans tend to be motivated by cultural teachings that instil the notion that effort is more important than inborn ability, researchers said.
They also endure “greater parental pressures to succeed than in the case of comparable white peers”.
Researchers added that the stereotype of a hard-working Asian may actually work in the benefit of young Asian-Americans by encouraging achievement.
On the other hand, these children tend to feel more negatively about themselves, have more conflicts with their parents and ‘say they spend less time with friends than whites’.
[Image via SDSU.Edu]