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Motivation and Mexican-American high school students

1 June 1997


In order to answer the question "What motivates Mexican-American students in a U.S. history classroom," I set about researching the literature pertaining to Hispanic students and motivation. After obtaining significant insight on these subjects, I began my observational research in September 1996, and continued through December. I observed four Mexican-American students in my mentor teacher's high school U.S. history classroom focusing on five criteria determined through my literature review. On the basis of family influence, cultural influences, societal influences, teacher influences and self concept, I formulated my observations to answer" What motivates Mexican-American students in a U.S. history classroom". The five criteria I based my observations on were based on research done primarily by Okagaki; Gordon (1995) and Gordon (1996), Dodd (1989), and Abi-Nader (1991). But the two categories: r found of greatest importance to my observational research were found in the works of Hernandez-Gantes (1995), Fields (1988), Flores (1991), Gordon (1996), and Rodriguez (1996) concerning the teacher's influence and the student's self concept. This study took place in a suburban 9-12 grade high school in the Pacific Northwest. All participants were juniors, and were observed by me or responded ') through interviews and questionnaires. The names of the participants have been changed to protect privacy and anonymity. After collecting and organizing my observations and interviews, I found that the two greatest influences on Mexican-American students were teachers' influence and self-concept. These were the most prevalent observational answers, as well as being topics that could be manipulated to encourage more success. Teachers have a great influence on students and their self-concept. I have given suggestions at the end of this paper on how to better serve all students.


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