02 SES 14 B, Integration Into New Learning and Working Cultures
An important debate is taking place within the research on second generation migrants' educational success.
On the one hand, students with migration background are generally less successful in the educational system in most of the OECD countries (OECD, 2012). This is especially true for Switzerland with its highly selective and early segregated pathways, where students after sixth grade are streamed into different educational tracks at lower secondary school. This first decision has long-lasting effects on later educational success in post-compulsory and tertiary education (Meyer, 2018). For the transition towards post-obligatory pathways (especially female) migrants are over represented in transitional solutions (Sacchi & Meyer, 2016). Moreover, a discriminating effect for (especially female) migrants in the selection process towards vocational education and training is shown by several studies (Hupka-Brunner & Kriesi, 2013; Imdorf, 2010). In addition, particularly vulnerable immigrant groups – in Switzerland Turkey and former Yugoslavia – participate fewer in tertiary education (Murdoch et al., 2016).
On the other hand there is another strand of research, focussing on immigrants who ‘succeed against the odds’ – meaning that when taking into account accumulated disadvantages (low SES, parents with lower educational attainment) – descendants from migrant families succeed to a higher amount compared to natives with the same SES. Research on success against the odds has a long-lasting tradition in the US, as studies show unexpected successful educational pathways - measured by test scores, academic achievement and participation in post-secondary education (Fuligni, 1997; Glick & White, 2004). In Switzerland, we also find evidence for success against the odds of immigrant students: Griga (2014) showed a positive effect for (male) second generation migrants on the entry and completion of higher education. This phenomenon is referred to as the immigrant paradox (Feliciano & Lanuza, 2017).
Parental and young adult's educational aspirations (Fuligini, 1997) as well as parental engagement or involvement in the education of their children (Altschul, 2011; Liu & White, 2017) are discussed as possible explanations for this paradox.
To extend the knowledge on immigrants’ success against the odds, the actual proposal will focus on how parental aspirations contribute to a successful pathway for second generation migrants in Switzerland on the first crucial transition towards higher secondary education. In contrast to most of the research on migrants’ success against the odds, and in taking into account the comparatively high reputation of the Swiss vocational education and training system, success on upper secondary level will also take into account the hybrid form of apprenticeship and baccalaureate. Educational/vocational success is measured both objectively and subjectively. While objective success focusses on observable, measurable indicators of success (as a high level of academic achievement at lower secondary school or successfully finding an academic/vocational training place at higher secondary level) subjective educational/vocational success focusses on the individual perception of this achievement (satisfaction, educational/vocational fit, self-efficacy) (Neuenschwander & Nägele, 2014). Moreover, an individual perception of success in one's educational career allows an inductive re-evaluation of the concept “subjective educational/vocational success”.
Mostly it is assumed that high parental aspirations have a positive effect on educational success (e.g. Fuligini, 1997; Griga, 2014). However, there are also findings that show that high parental aspirations can have negative effects on the perception of subjective vocational success. Kamm and Gebhardt (2019) reveal, based on quantitative and qualitative data, that high parental aspirations restrict active agency in the transition process and can therefore have a negative effect on subjective vocational success at the entrance into higher secondary education and training.
To answer our question about how parental aspiration influences successful pathways for immigrant descendants with low SES in Switzerland, we use the second cohort of TREE2 (Transitions from Education to Employment - with a nationally representative initial sample of n=7,734) that is a yearly longitudinal follow-up of the ÜGK 2016 (national benchmark) sample of compulsory school leavers. The t0 TREE2 data has been gathered during last year of compulsory school when students were around 15 years old. It includes comprehensive information on respondents’ school situation (e.g. type of requirement track, mathematics test scores), family characteristics and resources (parents’ level of education and their occupation, economic resources, etc.), ideal and realistic educational aspirations (educational parental aspiration, children’s educational and professional aspirations), parental investments in education (educational support for homework, social and cultural communication between parents and their children, etc.). Objective educational success is measured at two time points with different definitions. 1) At TREE2 t0, understanding a successful educational pathway as attaining the two most demanding tracks on lower secondary education. 2) At TREE t1 (~16years, n=5,542) understanding a successful educational pathway as attaining either an academic path or a vocational education and training path with high requirements (including vocational baccalaureate). At t1, subjective educational/vocational success indicators as satisfaction with education or training, professional/educational fit and self-efficacy will be a further point of interest. We control the analysis for gender and resources as research shows its importance for the Swiss case (Gomensoro & Bolzmann, 2015; Griega, 2014; Hupka-Brunner & Kriesi, 2013). Qualitative data of the TREE-in depth study PICE (n=72 qualitative interviews with young adults attending TREE2 at t4) will give an individual perspective of the concept educational/vocational success and add to re-evaluate the theoretical perception. Interviews are analysed following a structuring content analysis. We use regression analysis to ask for parental aspirations of the most important low-SES migrant groups and their relation to objective and subjective educational/vocational success. These groups can be separated into south-European migrants (Portugal, Spain, Italy) and non-European migrants (Ex-Yugoslavia, Turkey) (Gomensoro & Bolzman, 2015). We will focus on the second generation (defined as both parents coming from abroad, the young adult is born in Switzerland or arrived before the age of 5), as it is expected that in a highly selective educational system as Switzerland, first generation migrants face a lot more boundaries, and are scarcely comparable with native cases.
A first exploration of the TREE2-data shows that parental aspiration is higher for immigrants of the mentioned groups compared with Swiss natives, when controlling for their SES. The high aspiration of immigrant parents are in line with a preference of the second generation young adults for university degrees. We then analyse if and how parental aspirations are related to educational/vocational success, for which we assume the following hypotheses: H1) High parental aspirations from second generation migrant families have a positive effect on the objective educational/vocational success of young adults at t0 and t1 and compensate for the lack of resources. This hypothesis is based on the stated importance of parental aspiration for educational success at the transition towards upper secondary school (Glick & White, 2004; Gomensoro & Bolzman, 2015). H2) High parental aspiration of second generation migrant parents have a negative impact on the subjective educational/vocational success of young adults at t1. As parental aspiration can be a strong motivation but on the same time an enormous pressure (Kamm & Gebhardt, 2019), it is assumed that higher aspiration in migrant families leads to a lower subjective success at t1. The qualitative data reveal a diversity of individual understandings of educational/vocational success, starting with performance- and outcome-centred categories, followed by career-oriented and individual variations of the concept. This mixed-methods approach allows us to review pre-existing understandings of educational/career success while re-evaluating the concept in the Swiss context. This first analysis of the influence of parental aspirations on educational success has two important limitations. First, the actual design focusses on parental aspiration, even though research shows that further aspects of parental investment play a crucial role (Liu & White, 2017). Secondly, it is of interest to see how parental investment affects educational/vocational success over time.
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